Sellercast: E-Commerce Newsletters Do's and Don'ts



On June 17th, 2019, our Marketing Director, Andrew Maff, and Head of Accounts, Gina Milazzo, sat down to talk about e-commerce newsletters and what you should and should not do to make a great newsletter.


Andrew Maff:  Hello again, and welcome to episode number 32 of the Seller's Cast. I am Andrew Maff.

Gina Milazzo: 
I'm Gina Milazzo.

Andrew Maff:  And today we're talking about e-commerce newsletters dos and don'ts.

Gina Milazzo:  Don't!

Andrew Maff:  Wow.

Andrew Maff:  So. Here's what we're talking about. So, do we want to do all the dos and then all the don'ts, or we want to do a do, don't, do, don't, do, don't?

Gina Milazzo:  All dos and all don'ts.

Andrew Maff:  Okay. So, let's start with don'ts.

Gina Milazzo:  Oh, just kidding.

Andrew Maff:  What? Okay. So we're going to start with don't. So, here is a couple things.

Andrew Maff:  So, we're talking about newsletters, so to us, when we say newsletters, some people terminology's a little different, so I'm going to clarify. Newsletters are one-off emails that go to a majority of your list, or a specific... It's not an automated email that gets triggered. It's going out that you pushed manually for it to go. So, one-off things, basically.

Andrew Maff:  So. Newsletters, I'm talking about, starting with don'ts.

Andrew Maff:  One thing I'm not a big fan of, hard sells. Right?

Gina Milazzo:  Me either. I hate that.

Andrew Maff:  Super obnoxious. Like, "Hey, buy this," and that's it. There's not an analysis, there's no reason you send me this. I hate those. I see those and that's an immediate unsubscribe. Get your crap out of my email.

Gina Milazzo:  Actually also hate when there's dollar amounts in them. Like, I just want to see a picture of the product. Let me go to the product page to see how much it costs.

Andrew Maff:  That's a good point. [crosstalk 00:01:35]-

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah. I never realized it until I literally articulated it right now. I swear I didn't plan that. I hate [inaudible 00:01:40] dollar amounts.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. So, don't say, like, "Now, $99!" [crosstalk 00:01:43]. Screw you.

Gina Milazzo:  I hate that. I'm like, "Is this a Bed Bath & Beyond periodical?"

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. I hate that. Thank you, blue thing for showing up in my mailbox every week. "Oh, it's a deal, is it? Because I'll get it next week."

Andrew Maff:  Anyway. So, yeah. I like that. No dollar amounts-

Gina Milazzo:  No dollar amounts. That's a good rule of thumb.

Andrew Maff:  I would say, the only time I think it's okay for a dollar amount would be like a

Gina Milazzo:  If that's your [crosstalk 00:02:08] amount.

Andrew Maff:  ... spend X and get X.

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah. $10 off $25, save $5-

Andrew Maff:  [crosstalk 00:02:13] otherwise, don't tell me... So, [crosstalk 00:02:17] the price of the product.

Gina Milazzo:  The price of the product. I hate [crosstalk 00:02:17] product. Don't tell me. I bought from you before if you have my email. I know how much your stuff costs. Do not deter me from clicking on your email by reminding me that I spent $99 on yoga pants. Don't remind me. Don't remind me. They're such good yoga pants. Don't do it. Don't remind me.

Andrew Maff:  Blog posts. Not a fan. So, bear with me-

Gina Milazzo:  We do that.

Andrew Maff:  We do it. So, hear me out. So, hashtag #SellersPost. Go sign up, by the way.

Gina Milazzo:  Go sign up. It's great.

Andrew Maff:  So, what we mean by just specifically blog posts, for e-commerce sellers, you are selling a product. If you're going to do a media approach where you are literally sending out an email once a day, once a week, and you're putting out a ton of news because your product is relevant-

Gina Milazzo:  Information.

Andrew Maff:  ... that makes sense. But if you send out one email a week or one email a month, and it's literally just like a, "Check out our new blog post"-

Gina Milazzo:  Only a blog.

Andrew Maff:  Your blog post is used for top of funnel stuff, so people find your blog post and end up on your site. Do not shove them back up the funnel. It is a entrance-only funnel. Got it?

Gina Milazzo:  [inaudible 00:03:24]

Andrew Maff:  So, stop plugging your blog posts unless you're doing some kind of, "Here's a discount. Here's something like that, and then here's our new blog post that you may be interested in."

Gina Milazzo:  That's related to our new product.

Andrew Maff:  Yes, or related to the discount.

Gina Milazzo:  Yes.

Andrew Maff:  Or if... I know, I think it was, what, two weeks ago we talked about campaigns and stuff, so if you're doing Fourth of July or something, you're like, "Hey, here's 20% off something that we're doing, and then here's a new blog post about 10 things that you need to have at your Fourth of July barbecue"-

Gina Milazzo:  Perfect.

Andrew Maff:  ... or something like that that is providing a little bit of extra value, that is still relevant. Otherwise, don't just send out a straight blog post. Most people don't care unless you have built it hard enough to actually make it sound like you're more of a media outlet, and you're actually providing news and you're providing something else.

Gina Milazzo:  Otherwise, like, asking your friends to read your screenplay and no one really wants to read it. It's kind of... It's asking a favor.

Andrew Maff:  Just like that.

Gina Milazzo:  It's literally asking a favor.

Andrew Maff:  What's the other one? What's the other one?

Andrew Maff:  Speaking of holidays, I hate-

Gina Milazzo:  Oh, happy holidays.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. I hate that. Don't just send me an email-

Gina Milazzo:  No. Don't remind me of Mother's Day on Mother's Day.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. Happy...

Gina Milazzo:  I know it's Mother's Day. My mom reminded me every day leading up to Mother's Day.

Andrew Maff:  Yes. Don't forget.

Gina Milazzo:  I know.

Andrew Maff:  If you send out an email for... So, we'll to stick to Fourth of July things. We just did this a couple weeks ago. So, if you send out an email that says, "Happy Fourth of July," and then that's it-

Gina Milazzo:  Nothing else.

Andrew Maff:  ... there's no discount. There's no reason for you to email me. You have literally just spammed me with crap that I'm already aware of. That's what social's for. That could be what a popup on your website is for, something like that.

Gina Milazzo:  Maybe.

Andrew Maff:  Maybe.

Gina Milazzo:  Maybe [crosstalk 00:05:02]-

Andrew Maff:  But don't just send out an email that just says, "Happy Fourth of July," or, "Happy Mother's Day," "Happy Father's Day." It's-

Gina Milazzo:  The only time that's nice is like when your dentist is like, "Happy birthday! Come for a cleaning." They really want you to get a cleaning. But it's like, [inaudible 00:05:16] they remembered my birthday. That was cool.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah.

Gina Milazzo:  But [crosstalk 00:05:21], again, asking for a favor. You ask them to open an email, and they got nothing out of opening that email.

Andrew Maff:  Exactly. Plus, you kind of run a weird risk there. Like, what if... and I might be stretching here a little bit... but what if you don't like your mom, and you sent out "happy Mother's Day," and you're like, "Screw that company!"

Gina Milazzo:  "I don't like my mom!"

Andrew Maff:  "My mom sucks!"

Gina Milazzo:  My mom's going to see this and be like, "Gina, we need to talk."

Andrew Maff:  "I thought you loved me."

Gina Milazzo:  She watches my videos.

Andrew Maff:  So... Aw. Hi, Mom.

Gina Milazzo:  It's you.

Andrew Maff:  So, any other don'ts? Or, like, [crosstalk 00:05:51]-

Gina Milazzo:  Don't not send any newsletters to your list. That's a big one.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah.

Gina Milazzo:  Engage your list. Engage them.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. Use your list.

Gina Milazzo:  Use it.

Andrew Maff:  Use it or lose it.

Gina Milazzo:  Use it. Use it or lose it.

Andrew Maff:  Yes. So, let's do dos.

Gina Milazzo:  Yay.

Andrew Maff:  So, some things are standard. Subject lines, straight to the point. Make them a little fun or make them relevant in some way. Don't go, "Here's a discount for you!" I hate that.

Gina Milazzo:  Don't use capital letters.

Andrew Maff:  Don't [crosstalk 00:06:15], don't use capital letters-

Gina Milazzo:  That's pretty standard. Just don't do it. We do it sometimes, if it's something big and exciting and actual news that is timely, but don't just be like, "Oh my God. We sell our T-shirts in red now." That's not worthy of caps. I'm sorry. You may think it is, but it's not.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. The snippet, so, if you don't know what that is, which I've learned some people don't know what that is, that's the little area when before you open the email, there's the subject line and then there's that little, like, preview text, so you can edit that. You can edit and even hide it. There's ways in the code that you can make the text so, so small that it's not legible, but it still shows up. That's another area for you to optimize where you can actually entice people to open the email.

Gina Milazzo: Like, "What's this about?"

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. Exactly. So, a cute little subject line-

Gina Milazzo:  Cute.

Andrew Maff:  ... snippet to entice you to actually open it up, then you open it up.

Gina Milazzo:   Oh, there's a bear emoji and they're talking about how bear-y excited they are for Fourth of July! Cute.

Andrew Maff:  Oh, my.

Andrew Maff:  So, your open rate, most of the time, is going to be affected by your subject line, your snippet, because if you have a bad open rate, there's a good chance that either, A., you started to piss of your list in the past and they know that they're not good emails, or, B., your subject line, your snippet, weren't good.

Andrew Maff:  So, next thing we're going to focus on is your click rate. So, what was it... You had one that was really good. Was it with the promo code that-

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah. Have it above the fold. So, if I open the email, I should see the coupon code, the amount, and a button, like a call to action button, within the first screen. We call it above the fold or below the fold, but that's really more like website terminology-

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, before you-

Gina Milazzo:  Before you scroll.

Andrew Maff:  Before you scroll.

Gina Milazzo:  You shouldn't have to scroll to see what it is you're offering. It should be just there. You can put other stuff below it, that's perfectly fine, but have it above, in view, when you open it. That's huge. On mobile, too. Check mobile.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. Short, quick, straight to the point. Don't make it a novel of an email. Get straight to what it is you're giving away-

Gina Milazzo:  Most of the time, the less text, the better.

Andrew Maff:  Exactly. If you can get them to convert in under a couple minutes, or at least get them to click in under a couple seconds, that's ideal.

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah.

Andrew Maff:  Coupons, giveaways, promotions, all that stuff is standard. That's obviously the best way for you to do it. Sometimes you can do other stuff, where you can do... We actually have partnered with so-and-so to offer you this discount from another company.

Gina Milazzo:  That's cool.

Andrew Maff:  That's weird. It throws them off a little bit, but they actually want to stay because now they're thinking, like, "Oh. I'm going to get discounts from other places, so why would I leave?" So there's other ways that you can provide extra value, beside just doing the basics.

Andrew Maff:  Call to action. Bright, big, make sure they see it. Make it obvious-

Gina Milazzo:  Don't put, like, nine. Don't conflict your calls...

Andrew Maff:  Don't [crosstalk 00:08:36]-

Gina Milazzo:  Don't be like, "Follow our blog too, and also tell us you love us."

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. "Buy this, then like this, then share this, and then tell someone about this, and then call your mother and tell her you love her."

Gina Milazzo:  Honestly, I'm going to say, like, two max, maybe. Maybe one really high up and then maybe one more down low, but small, like a tiny one. You don't want to give people too many place to go.

Andrew Maff:  And the main one, the call to action button should probably be the only thing of that color on the email.

Gina Milazzo:  Yes. Agree.

Andrew Maff:  It could be other stuff that has hints of it, but it needs to be, like... bright and red, and then there's little hints of red everywhere else, but otherwise nothing else.

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah. [inaudible 00:09:10] I say we call it the squint test. If I can't tell where the call to action is, squinting, without my glasses on, it's not big enough and it's not bright enough. [crosstalk 00:09:16] did that.

Andrew Maff:  The only other thing outside of that that we would suggest is new product announcements and only if they're relevant to products I've purchased in the past.

Gina Milazzo:  And cool. And really cool in some way.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. Or new models of similar products. So basically, if I'm a department store, I don't want an email about $100 yoga pants that just came out-

Gina Milazzo:  [crosstalk 00:09:37]

Andrew Maff:  ... because I bought a Roomba. That makes no sense. I don't need an email for that.

Gina Milazzo:  Did you buy a Roomba?

Andrew Maff:  I did buy a Roomba.

Gina Milazzo:  Is Jack scared of it?

Andrew Maff:  A little bit.

Gina Milazzo:  Oh!

Andrew Maff:  So... But, if I did buy a Roomba and you came out with a new one about a year later-

Gina Milazzo:  That dogs are less scared of, maybe-

Andrew Maff:  [crosstalk 00:09:54] then that makes sense. So, think about... You might want to segment your audiences differently, but those are really the only ways that I see newsletters working.

Andrew Maff:  And then the outside of that, the one thing that I would like to close with is the design aspect. Make it very heavy design, cool, simple text. You just got to say, "Here's a discount. Here's a cool thing that's going on. It's all for you. Peace." That's it.

Gina Milazzo:  (singing)

Andrew Maff:  Yes.

Andrew Maff:  So, thank you, everyone, for joining us today. We are going to give some love to... Klaviyo.

Gina Milazzo:  Yeah. They're cool.

Andrew Maff:  I think we've given Klaviyo, but I'm going to give it to them again. I love Klaviyo-

Gina Milazzo:  We love them.

Andrew Maff:  They're set up for newsletters. They're super simple.

Gina Milazzo:  Great for custom branding.

Andrew Maff:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great UI. Great options with all the call to actions and everything they have there. You can personalize a bunch of crap in there too, which always works too. So, that's it for today. Thanks for joining us.

Gina Milazzo:  [crosstalk 00:10:59]

Andrew Maff:  Yes. Come below, let us know if you have any questions, or if you want us to talk about anything next week. If not, we will see you next week, and of course, please subscribe. But have a good one.

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