Data-Driven Email Marketing
with Katie Thies
As an email marketer, Katie Thies uses data-driven messaging to boost recurring revenue for her clients. In this episode, Katie shares insights on email marketing for ecommerce, conversion optimization, her personal copywriting style, and her marketing influences.
“Number of customers, repeat purchase rate, and average order value. Those are the three big levers that you can pull… so we’re keeping those as top level metrics we’re trying to optimize for.” – Katie Thies[simplecast-embed error="Could not get iframe html"]
In the Podcast:
- How Katie got her start as a copywriter
- Her agency’s approach to email marketing
- How to ptimize emails through data analysis
- Common ecommerce email mistakes to avoid
- Ways to increase revenue in an ecommerce business
- Tips to run successful email campaigns
- Why building your email list is crucial
- Some of the brands doing email marketing the right way
- Katie’s copywriting influences
- Her thoughts on the future of email marketing
Links and Resources:
Brad: Okay guys, today I’m talking with Katie Thies. Katie is a copywriter and email marketing specialist who uses data driven brand messaging and best in class email strategy to drive recurring revenue for her clients. Katie is a rarity and she is a talented copywriter but also has a solid grasp of the analytical numbers driven side of marketing. So she’s someone I think you can learn a lot from, and I’m really excited. excited to have her on today. Katie, how’s it going?
Katie Thies: Going? Great, Brad. I’m in a great mood after that intro. I wish I’d written it myself and I hope I can live up to it.
Brad: Yeah. Totally. So Katie, you are currently in San Diego, correct?
Katie Thies: Yes. For quarantine reasons. I’m back with my family in San Diego right now.
Brad: That is amazing. So you are on a trip in San Diego just like a quick trip. And then you’re going to fly home to San Francisco and they’re like, I’m sorry, you got to stay in San Diego.
Katie Thies: Right so so I have been doing the digital nomad thing on and off for the last few years. So I was actually spending the winter up in the mountains of Colorado speed skiing at Beaver Creek in Vail, which was just incredible. And I don’t let me Don’t let me go on about it because I’ll talk about ever. But then I was just Brad and I was just catching up before this interview and I went to a copywriter conference here in San Diego and then when I went to get on my flight, it was canceled. So I’ve been in San Diego ever since quarantining with my family. Yeah, and then just sort of waiting that out so I can go back to the mountains and go back to where I’m from.
Brad: There you go. All right. Well, Katie, I’m definitely interested to dive into some of these questions. So let’s kick it off. You are focused on email, email marketing these days. But your background is really copywriting. So tell me about your path to become a copywriter because it’s always sort of interesting to hear how people discovered it and decided, hey, that’s what I want to do.
Katie Thies: Yeah, absolutely. I also don’t think I know your story. So I’m curious to hear yours as well. But I think especially with being a copywriter, it seems like there’s many different paths to get there because many of us don’t even grow up knowing what a copywriter is. And then every copywriter I know is like at some point, they read some article or hear something and discover what a copywriter is, and then go Oh, I want to do that. Or at least that’s what it was. For me. I thought. I’d had a background in marketing at different startups. I worked at a subscription box startup for over Long time and I really liked growth marketing, data driven marketing. And I was Product Marketing Manager at IBM as well and then did marketing at Walmart ecommerce. So I had all of that marketing under my belt and didn’t even know what the word copy writing was. And then when I found copywriting, I was like, Oh, I like sales.
And I like marketing and copywriting is sales at scale. Basically, you take a sales conversation, you write it down, and then you use marketing channels to blast it out to a bunch of different people. I was like, oh, everything I love in one place. So ever since I discovered it, I think maybe four years ago, I’ve been doing it now.
Brad: Very cool. So Katie, when and how did you decide to focus on email marketing specifically and e commerce email marketing?
Katie Thies: So um, I’ve always been niched into e commerce based on my background working in marketing. I love working at Walmart ecommerce. I thought that was a ton of Trying to optimize your own like my position I owned, like hundreds of different skews, which is like a fraction of a percent of what Walmart offers. And I was trying to optimize all of those. And then when I went to work for myself as a copywriter, I knew I wanted to focus on e-commerce, every client, I think every client I’ve ever had has been in e-commerce. But then I was doing a mix of websites and emails, and I still do websites. Don’t tell anyone. I mean, this is a podcast that doesn’t tell anyone. I sometimes do websites to select people word for word, because I was focused on messaging and usually when you do underlying messaging projects for a client, then it makes sense naturally to help them with their website.
But what I discovered is that when my ideal client is in the like, 300,000, to like up to like 510 million dollar revenue range, and when you’re in that range, pretty much every client I’ve ever worked with in that range. As not doing enough with email and as and I love helping them fix their website, but I kept realizing, if only they would hire me to do their email, I think they could make even more, because I think a lot of the conversion rate optimization stuff, a lot of the real money making starts to happen once you hit that $10 million. That’s when like, changing your button copy slightly in certain places can really make a huge difference. But up until that point, you’re not going to see the big as big of returns, as you would if you invested more in email, because almost every ecommerce person I’ve met, unfortunately is not doing enough with email. And it’s just this really a huge untapped resource.
So since I’ve been now in the past, I think since the beginning of this year, I’ve been really focused on email. And my clients, it’s really gratifying because before it would help them unify their messaging, they would see benefits from it like they would go and then use my copy and test it but I didn’t really get ownership over those results. But now that I’ve been helping people specifically with their email marketing, I get to take them from 20% to 35% revenue from email Me and my team all the time. And it’s super gratifying to get to do that for people.
Brad: Yeah, totally. Very cool. So Katie, I know you started off more as kind of a solopreneur copywriter. These days, it seems like you’ve transitioned more to a kind of a specialty agency model, focused on e commerce, email marketing, with other people working with you working for you to implement strategies and copying the things that you come up with. So tell me a little bit about what your agency looks like and what makes you guys unique.
Katie Thies: Yeah, so, um, my agency, I mean, I would almost call it a micro agency. It’s still a lot of me in it. But when you’re sort of doing full fledged management, management of an entire channel, there’s a lot of implementation in different pieces. So I work with a designer to help me create the graphics that we need for emails. I work with virtual assistants who helped me sort of implement a lot of myself. ideas. But a lot of the strategy and the copy that we do right now is still done by me. But I just have people who will maybe like to edit it for me and help me make sure the coal insurance and everything is all still there. But everything that it takes to get go from me writing the copied it becoming an email that goes out, my team sort of handles all of those processes. But part of why I wanted to get into the email space, is because I saw the way that email agencies operated.
And I knew that the way that I operated was different than that, and that I could bring a different kind of value to the market. Because I saw that a lot of email agencies and it makes sense why they focus on a lot of design and development. They really take that approach because when you get the final result of an email, especially in e-commerce email, it’s not true really. In other industries, you more just get like a text based email. A lot of what you see is the product of design and development. So a lot of agencies really focus on that because that’s the part that their clients are saying. I don’t have any designer and a developer to make these things for me, can you focus on that, but what I’ve seen working with my clients is that email design is actually pretty simple.
If you break it down compared to designing a website, I wouldn’t feel comfortable, like having my, like hiring a designer, I’m not an expert in that area, but email design, because it’s supposed to mirror what an actual email from a friend should look like. But with added design elements, it’s a lot more stripped back. So we take a really sort of streamlined approach or like around my expertise of what will convert best as far as design and development goes, and then my designer is the one who makes it beautiful. I know like what are the elements to convert, but then what we really focus on that I think other agencies don’t focus on as much is the underlying sort of getting the offer right at the right timing and focusing on the copy that will really help it convert. So we If you were to hire a conversion optimization agency, they would sort of give you a period beginning where they’re just researching your audience.
So we take that approach that a commercial optimization agency would use and apply it to email. So again, like when I’m working with clients in that 3000 to $10 million range, I’m doing a lot of what a CRM agency would do for them at a higher level, but I’m using it on a channel like email marketing, where they’re gonna see a lot higher returns from all the investment of research and understanding of their audience. And then they get extra added benefits from working with me where I build out like something I call the conversion messaging playbook and our work together, which is what I was doing on website projects before. But then clients can see the things that I’m writing in their emails, they get that big document of me showing them their the right messaging strategy to use, and then they get to apply it to all of their assets.
And the cool thing as well is that since I’m sending out emails, split, testing them trying different things, as I’m developing the playbook, I’m going back and saying this email performed well, and this email didn’t perform as well, we’re learning as we’re building out that document and it becomes this living breathing document. So it’s almost like conversion rate optimization just applied to email. And it has a lot of the same far reaching effects. But I think when you aren’t, don’t have the traffic and transactions yet to convert, that makes sense to invest in conversion rate optimization, then you can work with me and my email agency and will make you all the added benefits to their revenue through doing that research. And then you get the added benefits of knowing a lot more about your audience than you knew before. And should I define maybe a bit more about conversion research for people who aren’t familiar with it? I know I kind of glossed over that.
Brad: Yeah, I’m interested to hear the sources that you go to like what data are you looking at to make your analysis of where to optimize emails?
Katie Thies: Yeah, so I’m after I’ve done enough projects now where it’s definitely down to a specific process, especially in the e commerce space. There are like, unique, unique things about e commerce that aren’t necessarily true in other spaces. So, in e-commerce, you and I were just talking about how many e-commerce startups there are. The competition is really, really huge. That might not be as important if you are selling like a service, you know, there maybe aren’t as many products competing but with e-commerce, I think a lot of it boils down to who else is in this face? Like, are you charging more or less? And how are you going to justify your higher prices? A lot of my clients, I’ve usually don’t work with maybe like a drop shipping client where I think a lot of them are really competing on price.
My clients usually have invested a bit more into the development of their products and they’re not white, white labeling their products. And then they’re saying, okay, we have higher prices, we need to justify them. And I say great, I know just the copy to write to do that. That’s kind of how it works.
Brad: That’s really cool. That’s such a good USP, you know? For your own business, because every print every business, every ecommerce company that’s selling a premium product, through their marketing, they have to communicate why it’s worth it, you know, they need to justify it somehow. And a lot of companies like they just don’t have the sort of ability or background to do that. If you can go in and say, This is specifically going to help you do and then, you know, capitalize on that through email is such a specific market position. I really like that. Super cool.
Katie Thies: Oh, great. Thanks. Yeah. And we’ve been really enjoying it as well, because I think our clients are looking for this specific thing. They want to see higher returns. And we’ve been able to sell my clients over email agencies in the past and we’ve been able to improve on what they’ve done and see even higher returns for them. So it’s going well, which is really great. Always very gratifying. Yeah, yeah.
Brad: So Katie, from a high level, what would you say makes a four successful e commerce email market program like, in totality
Katie Thies: in totality. Okay. We’re talking about a lot of things. Um, I think definitely, I could talk about maybe the biggest mistakes that I see every single time. I think if people sort of fix these mistakes, they could see a lot of returns. I think
Brad: That’s a good way to start.
Katie Thies: Sure. So I definitely think there’s some big buzzwords that we all know and then we hear about a buzzword and we’re like, oh, segmentation. That sounds cool. And then we don’t maybe do enough with it. I think segmentation is a big one, that people don’t hear that segmentation is good. They hear that they should be segmenting more and sort of dividing it up but then it’s sort of the devil is in the details of how to do that. So I think a lot of my clients don’t do segmentation enough. They frequently will email their entire list which I am then sometimes digging them out of the deliverability black hole which can be a bit of a nightmare. That’s a huge mistake, which I understand the impulse to, to want to email your entire list. So you’re I sort of feel that way when I go into an email account as well. We’re like, oh, man, we’ve got 50,000 people can we email them all. So I think one of the things that you can do is start just emailing your engaged segment, but have a really strong sort of sunset Email Setup.
If you’re familiar with that term, where when someone becomes unengaged on your email list, depending on how you define it, like if they haven’t opened an email in a certain amount of time or something like that, there’s different ways to define what considers someone unengaged, and no longer on your email list. But if you then set that up, and you have a really strong sunset plan in place where you’re constantly emailing those people to try to re engage them, I think it’s put me at ease when I’m working with clients that I’m like here, we’re not going to email this, you know, 20% of your list that’s no longer engaged but we are going to email them maybe once a month to try to get them to re engage and bring them back onto your email list. And then we feel more comfortable. Engage segment and then unengaged segment, we can bring them back over anytime. So I think that is a big one that would help keep.
That’s how I’ve been able to alleviate my clients fears about only emailing their engaged segment. And it’s worked well for us to re engage some people. And then another big one that I see a lot is that as far as campaigns go, which I know a lot of people like talking about automated email because it’s very cool and works very well. But I see the biggest opportunities actually, with campaigns were a couple things. People aren’t emailing often enough. They’re really just under emailing. And I think maybe not having a specific process on how to say your emails up maybe like not knowing what to write, there’s just so many question marks, and then people really, really get in their own way by just not emailing enough. And I think there’s sort of a standard out there that you should be emailing once a week. I’ve heard people throw it around and I’ve shuffled that around as well and I think it is a good standard.
If you consider emailing once a week to be your absolute Bottom line, bare minimum, if that’s the bare minimum, you set up for yourself, and then you miss an email or two every month. That’s really, really bad. Once a week is the absolute minimum, you should probably be emailing two or three times a week. But then I think one of the ways I’ve also helped my clients alleviate that pain is that page will when you see this big newsletter that you’re writing, because I think a lot of us will write. When we start writing emails, we think, Okay, well, we need to include 10 different links and make this a really cool email that a lot of people like there’s so much in it. And I think if you took that email that you put 10 different links in once a week, and you just broke it up into three different emails, each one with a different offer and a different link.
It would increase your frequency, it would increase your conversion rates on each email because like, the fewer links you have, and the more clear you are about the one offer of the email, and I can really increase click rates. And you’ll just see a lot more revenue from the exact same amount of work. So I’ve helped some of my clients through that process. Mm hmm.
Brad: Yeah. So we touched on this a bit Bit lifecycle automations automated emails, when it comes to those, do you have a framework or certain automations? You always like to set up for clients?
Katie Thies: Yeah, I would say there are, if I am working with a new retainer client, and they don’t have a really strong welcome sequence and a really strong abandoned cart sequence, we’ve fixed those right away. I may not even be done with my conversion research that I do for a new client yet, but we have already optimized those emails because they are the most critical to revenue generation and have any of the flows that you can set up. So fixing those right away is always our top priority. So I think and or even if they’re just maybe using a single Shopify notification for their abandoned cart, there’s a lot of unrealized revenue there where if you sort of use increasing offers as you go through abandoned carts, or using Increasing offers. As you go through a welcome sequence, you see a lot more returns through that.
So that’s always where we focus first or automated sequences, that the two that are like what in any claim to kind of go into it’s abandoned cart and welcome are the top two.
Brad: Yeah. So talking about abandoned carts, and sort of the offers that you send, do you like to send, say, 10%? off? Send them a reminder, if they don’t take them a couple days later, 15% 20%, that kind of thing? Is that what you like to implement?
Katie Thies: I would say that’s sort of like the jumping off point, right. And I think that there are some best practices for these automated sequences that are helpful. But then this is where it gets unique to the client. And this is why we start with analyzing their current email data. And we always talk about business objectives first because we also like to look at your like, your revenue of your store and look at some of those top level sort of important metrics for an e commerce business overall. Because in the e commerce business, you want to increase that It gets down to I think is Jay Abraham’s three lovers of what you can do to like increase revenue in a business, it’s get more transaction, there’s three different ways to increase revenue business, which is get more transactions from the same customers.
Number two is to get more customers and number three is to increase the amount of money in each transaction. And when you break that down for e-commerce, that is, you know, a number of customers that repeat purchase rate, and then that average order value, those are sort of the three big levers that you can pull and those three combined sort of like equal customer lifetime value. So we’re sort of keeping that as our top level metric that we know we’re trying to optimize for. So when I go into new e commerce clients, you know, marketing, I will look at that data and go you guys By the way, your ARV is really concerning really low, and we’ll sort of focus on that and like how we prioritize things. So if, like, let’s use that as an example if average order value was really low, In their abandoned cart sequence, I might be trying to motivate people to increase their average order value, we can segment people on what the ARV was inside their cart.
And we can say, hey, if you add 10 more dollars to what you’re already buying, we’ll give you free shipping, or then you are now eligible for this 20% off. So we’ll sort of change some of those best practices to fit the business objectives of what the person needs to be optimizing for to increase those numbers.
Brad: Yeah, really interesting. I really like that. Because I think there’s a lot of good information out there, especially on my Claudia’s blog, and some other places like that, on how to sort of set it up. template wise, right? You know, there’s like, best practices on how to do it. And a lot of people just kind of use that as a plug and play and it works well enough. But if you take an approach like you’re describing, you go in, and you kind of start with the principles like look at the numbers, look at the money and then design based on that. You can really customize it and get a lot better results that way. So very cool.
Katie Thies: Yeah, yeah, we really like to make sure that when we work with a client, we’re sort of seeing them as a partner. And yes, it’s our job to increase the revenue from email percentage. But we don’t want to just take that approach and just only focus on email. We really also when we build out the dashboard for a retainer client, we make sure that we’re looking at the top line metrics for the business overall, what is customer lifetime value? What is the average order value are the things that we’re doing going to help those top line metrics overall that are sort of outside of this specific channel of email, but will help us make our client more money in general. So that’s really our overall goal. We try not to focus on email, we like to see how email conserves the bigger higher numbers that are ruling the success of the business.
Brad: Yeah, absolutely. So okay, what are some of your thoughts on running successful campaigns? What kind of approach Do you like to take when it comes to sending email campaigns? As far as copy frequency, he kind of touched on that a little bit. But content ratio sale to educational content ratio, things like that.
Katie Thies: Yeah, so it depends a little bit on the client, I think in their business. Some businesses are really built around sales. You see that, like, it reminds me a lot of JC Penney, where I think I can’t remember the name of the guy, but JC Penney wanted to reinvent their image. And they had a guy who was tied up at Apple, who is a famous person whose name I should know, but I can’t remember right now. And he sort of came in and wanted to reinvent the way that JC Penney stores around I think he designed the Apple store so then they brought him to JCPenney to do something similar. And he really did a bold approach where he kind of eliminated sales and like and really de emphasize having these big billboard signs around sales, which was kind of like JC Penney’s, bread and butter and and sales a JC Penney after he did that just plummeted it really didn’t work at all, because it just didn’t match the expectations of the JC Penney customer.
The JC Penney customer was a budget shopper who came, they’re looking for sales. And if that was just eliminated, then they weren’t interested in being there. And I think that that’s really true across retail. Some retail businesses are built for sales. And that’s the expectation of their customers. And some are more premium, and they don’t have that expectation. So I think understanding that going into it will heavily influence how much you’re emailing about offers and promotions and things like that, or if you’re more focused on content. So that’s part of why we would really like to focus on the conversion research first because then we’re getting to know the audience and we’re making sure that our campaign strategy actually aligns with what people expect from them.
But then I would say, depending on which of those like I it kind of is in two categories for us where I would say there’s the discount heavy and then there’s just the not very discount happy and when when we bought to discount heavy client, we’re regularly running sales, that’s part of the promotional offer. But then we still try to keep it that for every two promotional emails we send, we will send one content, heavy email, we try to keep that in mind. And we might not always hit that. But that’s sort of like our, our reference point. And then the other kind of client that’s not really emphasizing sales we might do to content first emails where they’re still offered there, and then to one offer email and that offer won’t necessarily be a sale because they’re not running sales all the time. It’ll just be reminding people about different products in the store and sort of educating them in different ways about those products and how it might be relevant to their lives.
Brad: Yeah, I’m curious for the different kinds of copy whether it’s a sale content email, are you writing all that yourself? Are there any sort of element that you bring in team member members to to write
Katie Thies: right now I am writing it all myself. I I think Eventually, we’ll probably reach a critical mass or that will no longer be an option. And I’ll have to put on more of the copy chief hat. But right now we just have a few retainer clients. And I really like writing all the copies. So I’m going to hold on to it for as long as possible, but I think pretty soon I’m gonna have to start hiring writers and I will put on more of the copy chief role. But we Yeah, I think I have a lot of templates and systems and one of the things that I use for writing my copy is that we have like a proprietary swipe file that I’ve had a few virtual assistants invest a lot into, and then it has all of like me will swipe a lot of emails from a lot of different companies.
And then I have detailed written up tear downs and notes on every single email. And that’s for my own reference as I write copy now, but as I hire other people, I plan to sort of include them in on that swipe file that we have, including all of my like expertise around what’s working and what’s not working and all these emails, and we’ll use that as a training tool in our agency as well. Plan.
Brad: Is that the Trello system that you have set up?
Katie Thies: Did you see my email about that? Yes. Yeah, that system? Yeah. Mm hmm. I’ve been subscribed to like hundreds of e commerce email marketing accounts for a long time. Now, we finally in the past few months, organized it in a way that it’s really easily referenceable and now has my notes in it, so it will be easier to train people. Mm hmm.
Brad: Yeah. What other elements are important for success in e-commerce email? Things like list building and offer pages that you’re sending people to after the click AV testing or do you focus on any of those things in your process?
Katie Thies: Yeah, absolutely. I would say probably the most important thing, especially in again, like where my clients sit in that revenue range. The most important thing I would say is list growth, because we might usually win When we get a new client, they will already have some sort of opt in that’s working well for them. So when we immediately optimize their welcome and abandoned cart sequence, like I mentioned earlier, if they didn’t have an opt in which actually I had a client once, who he’d like taken down as often we just without even, like, immediately after the kickoff call, we will put it up. It’s just so important. And I think one of the things that we do on a monthly basis is we test a new offer for their opt in to see if we can find something that’s higher converting, it may not be as strict as a monthly basis, but it’s basically when we prioritize what we want to test and automated email in their automated emails and in their campaigns.
At the number one at the top of the list is always a new opt in offer and there’s a lot of different opt in offers that work really well and they tend to work very differently depending on the business, like a giveaway offer might outperform. For one business and a spin to win sort of like prize winning one might work for someone else and a percentage off might work for you. Someone else, those are all equally valid offers, and they’ve seen them work differently with different clients. But increasing the number of people on your list is probably the most important thing, because then just every bit that you invest into each email that you send is just going out to more people, and you stand to make more money from it. So I think if you’re optimizing, like a subject line, and you’re trying to go from a 20%, open rate to a 30%, open rate, if you’ve got 1000 more people on your list that makes a way bigger difference, those little optimizations.
So we always focus on that first, and we regularly test we would never find a good opt in and then just leave it. We’re always testing new offers, and trying new things there to see what’s going to work best. So that’s always our number one focus.
Brad: Yeah, awesome. Katie, who are some of the brands out there that you think are doing email the right way, like who are some of the companies that are in your personal swipe file that made it into Trello, they got the full Come right up. Yeah, I’ve got a grant.
Katie Thies: I’ve got a list of 10. I wonder if I can pull it up quickly right now. But some of the ones that come to mind are ones that I don’t even filter them out and I just let them come into my inbox and I read them regularly to choose which sells products. Are you familiar with them? They have products. Exactly. Yeah, they sell products for dogs and cats, and I guess other pets and I’ve I’ve purchased from them, but only because I’ve been subscribed to their emails for so long. And then eventually I got a dog so I needed to start buying from them. But they do email really, really well. And then I think one of the things that I really like about two E’s is that they’re always sort of doing primary primary offer pushes, like they have like an initial point of why they’re sending you the email.
They’re reminding you about something and then they’re always sort of having something secondary, they’re promoting and they really push their auto ship and save program a lot. I think that they do it really well. Really elegantly. And then just the wit, the design and the development of their emails is really like onpoint as well as the coffee. And then another big one that I really like, is bulletproof. Are you familiar with them?
Brad: That Dave Asprey, the coffee coffee guy,
Katie Thies: I’m back Oh, I Yes, he did the bulletproof coffee. But then he has a brand where he sells like all kinds of keto supplements and things like that. They do their email marketing really well, where again, they do a really strong job, I think also because of their brand, maybe with cheese. And these are good examples of how content versus offers can vary based on the brand choice and doesn’t really quite need quite as much product education. I think as something like bulletproof does. There’s a little bit of room there if you’re trying to decide between dog brands, but choosing a business model is kind of like needing dog food. Let’s sell you some dog food, right? Whereas with bulletproof, you’re learning about the keto lifestyle. There’s a lot to know There’s a lot of project project education to be done there.
So there is a lot more content first than cheese and they do a good job of mixing in pieces of content with just sort of mentioning their products right below it and it feels very seamless. But looking at the two different parts of an email where you’re first reading an article and then you’re seeing products and it happens really naturally so that the emails are really well done.
Brad: So let’s talk a little bit more about just copywriting you know, pure copywriting compared to most email copywriters, you’ve got a defined step by step process. And what I’m thinking about here is a post that you wrote for copy hackers that talks a lot about the awareness stage, you know, from the famous book breakthrough advertising. Tell me a little bit about that, because it sounds really interesting.
Katie Thies: Yeah, so I i think i When we went on that retreat in Tahoe, right as part of our we were in the copy hack, the copy was the name of the mastermind, the copywriter mastermind,
Brad: Yes. Number four.
Katie Thies: It’s funny looking back, it feels like some very generic names the copywriter mastermind, but yeah, that was Joanna Wiebe of copy hackers mastermind that Brad and I are both in. And this was, so we’re just going over this this was about a year and a half ago, or maybe almost two years ago, and I sort of did a talk we all presented at the mastermind and I did a presentation about how my understanding of life cycle, life cycle marketing from you know, marketing where you’ve got the beginning of the customer journey, and then as people sort of, and then once people will become a customer, then they’re really, they buy from you frequently and they’re really engaged with you and then eventually that should have lapsed, that that’s the customer lifecycle.
It kind of goes up and then it goes back down where they’re buying from you a lot and it’s sort of laughs that that’s a big part of how Automated sequences are set up, but they’re built on those different parts of life cycle marketing. So you have to sort of keep that in mind. But then I sort of married that with Schwartz’s stages of awareness where, at different stages in the customer buying journey, we have a different understanding of what our need is that early on, we’re only aware of our problem. And then later on, we’re aware of products and different solutions and things like that. And then we become most aware and we want to buy. So I started to map those two across each other.
And when I build out, email, automated email marketing sequences for clients, and I use lifecycle marketing, I always keep stages of awareness involved in that and I see this mistake a lot in my clients emails before I rewrite them for them, that they will sort of treat a customer who just came on the welcome sequence as needing to hear the same information as someone who just bought for the first time or someone who’s bought repeatedly why someone is first interested in hearing about a product is very different from why they might be coming back. Like actually I’m holding. I’m holding a client’s water bottle right now he has these out, he sells these alkaline water bottles. And I’m working on that project now. So it’s fresh in my mind where I’ve noticed that earlier on in before people have purchased the water bottle, they’re interested in it for some alkaline reasons for some of the health benefits.
But in the reason they keep coming back is because the water tastes better and it feels superior. So you sort of start to realize that people are focused on different benefits and their journey and then you can speak to the right thing at the right moment when you’ve mapped it out accurately.
Brad: Mm hmm. Awesome. Yeah, very cool. Katie, who were some of your biggest copywriting influences who have you learned from the most?
Katie Thies: Um, definitely Joanna Wiebe, of course she was in her mastermind and that was a six month mastermind and that was early. earlier on in my copywriting career. I was brand new but I’d been doing I was definitely a lot newer. So really taking that approach of conversion rate optimisation research has been huge. And I think other sort of conversion copywriters like Leanna patcher Momoko price. I’ve also learned a lot from them. But then I think I’ve also had a lot of mentors along the way. Amy Posner, Mike shrieve. Learn from a lot of people. So I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of different copywriting mentors, and it’s one of the fun things about it that they all take a different approach and you get to sort of adopt different things from different people and build your own approach to it.
Brad: Joanna has been a big influence on me for sure. Like when I first discovered her process that does incorporate market research, conversion optimization, voice of customer research, I was like, that’s how you do it. It’s not as it’s not as much like hype and bluster. It’s like focus On the data and that’s what works the most effective way.
Katie Thies: Yeah, whenever I read, try to learn from the old copywriting legends and take that more creative approach I always find myself going back to using voice of customer data in the in the conversion rate optimization way because you just get so much closer to what’s in the customer head in the customer’s head it just works so much better to use their own words to convert them rather than to invent them off your own head every time I tried to go the more creative copywriter approach and like no this doesn’t work as long going back to conversion copywriting. Yeah,
Brad: yeah, it just works. Um, okay. So as you mentioned, Katie, we were in the mastermind with copy hackers copy hackers mastermind in 2018. The final iteration of that final class that Joanna did. What kind of impact did that have on you in terms of business and kind of You know, how you how things have gone for you since then?
Katie Thies: Oh, boy. Okay, it’s I remember, I think I’ve talked to Joe to join a wave about this. And it feels a little awkward to say because it’s almost hard for me to overstate how much impact it had on me because it was so like, life changing feels like a useless platitude. But that’s like the best words, I think I have to describe it. But I think she made me such a better copywriter. I had a lot of copy experience before that, but didn’t have that kind of one on one mentorship from a world class copywriter at any point in my career before that, and so working with her in that setting in a small group of people and getting her feedback on everything I wrote. I learned more in that six months and I had in years before that. And the confidence that I got in my copywriting ability and in the process and I felt like you know, I’d gotten results for clients.
In the past, but I felt like I had a really systematic process that was gonna help me not hit the nail on the head sometimes and miss it Other times, but actually get it right every single time. And I think when you’re doing work for clients, you need to be able to be consistent in that way where you’re going to get it, right. If you’re doing your own marketing, you can flub it sometimes, but with clients, you’ve got a responsibility to them to get it right. So learning that process really helped me do that. And then from there, I’ve been really lucky to work with some very big clients. And it is a lot because of what I learned from Joanna and that process and they saw the benefits of you know, doing all that conversion research and collecting all that voice of customer data. They saw what it would do for their business and then they I was able to, I don’t know, quadruple my rates or something like that for six months, and work with a lot bigger and cooler clients for sure.
Brad: Very nice. Very nice. Kitty. What do you see is the future of email Marketing, how do you see things evolving the next five to 10 years?
Katie Thies: Yeah, I, you sent me this question beforehand. And I’m glad I got to think about this one before because I wanted to sort of ponder it a little bit. And I think actually, the future of email marketing is that email marketing is actually pretty old technology as far as if you think about all the different marketing channels that are available to you. Email is a dinosaur. Email is basically the same. Email predates the internet email, you could send an email before the internet existed and the technology has not really changed all that much in how an email is sent. I mean, now we have automated emails that are based off of triggers. But back, I think I wrote an article or it’s in my copy hackers article I wrote about Gary through, I can’t I don’t know how to say his last name. He sent the first spam email from an ARPANET terminal, because that was what it was before. There were no personal computers yet and this was in 1976.
And we’re still using that same technology for email now. So I think that’s something that will replace email right now. We all check our emails 2030 times a day, but how you actually build out an email. It’s very, it’s very dated. So I think that something will come along to be better than email and it will replace email. It will sort of be like, what WhatsApp did for texting. I think that there will be a future version where it’s more decentralized, and it doesn’t require as much coding and it will be encrypted end to end. And people will like that sense of privacy and their email marketing and they will figure out some way to better block out spammers right now. It’s very, they use algorithms and they give their best guesses as to how to get rid of spammers. I think that some technology will come along in the future that will get because spam is such a problem with email, there’s still way more of it than that.
There’s a lot of laws to it. But there’s still like tenfold the amount of spam emails that there were 10 years ago. So I think that someone will invent a better technology that will replace email, and then email will be a thing of the past, but a lot of the same strategy will still exist because we’ll still need something that’s an inbox where we get all of our professional and different subscriptions. But it’ll just look different than it does now.
Brad: Interesting. Yeah, very interesting. Take. I’ve asked that question to all my guests at this point, all the folks that I’ve had on and they all have slightly different answers, but usually it’s like emails not going anywhere, you know, really, you know, set in stone, it’s not going away. It’s not getting a replay. So it’s, it’s interesting to hear your take on that.
Katie Thies: Well, I guess I’m the rebel of the email marketing crowd. I guess I’m the rogue who has a contrarian opinion. I didn’t know that was gonna happen.
Brad: There you go. It’s not a bad way to be.
Katie Thies: That fits with my personality. So it feels right.
Brad: What kinds of cool projects are you working on these days?
Katie Thies: Um, I, I’m trying to think I don’t think I should talk about clients. So I think I’ll sort of sidestep that of what I’m working on, because you never know until you’re done with a project what a client feels comfortable with you talking about. But right now I am deep in the weeds I have, I’m fully booked on client work, which is really great. And I’m really excited about the clients that I have. But one of the offers that I’ve been working on is something called the email accelerator because I realized last year that I’m working with just retainer clients or just clients who could afford me to afford to work with me on like a huge conversion research and building out the whole automated email sequence but not every client. And it didn’t necessarily make sense to hire me on a retainer. It didn’t necessarily make sense for them to hire me to do the full fledged project. But I wanted to Be able to help more people.
So what I started doing was something called email accelerator where I’ll have a client. Just send me a payment, send me a quick 10 question or eight question brief, I think it is now, that takes a few minutes to fill out and give me access to their clay, vo. And then I fully audit everything that they’re doing and build out an entirely new automated strategy for them. And like some of the things that we’ve talked about, in that brief, I find out what their business objectives are. And they might be doing some best practices. But we help them sort of based off of the data of what is currently performing and not performing, build out new strategies, write some of the copy for them. And actually do timing in different offers that makes sense for what they want to grow their business and what they want their business to look like in a few years.
Because automated emails are this really cool thing where when you’ve set it up the right way, if you don’t have someone who’s working in your email to constantly optimize that If you can kind of set it and forget it, and it will do a lot of the grunt work for you. But you do want it to be custom to the kind of business that you’re trying to grow. And every e-commerce entrepreneur has different goals. I will ask in that brief, some, like bigger life goals, like, do you want to be on the beach somewhere in five years? Or do you want this to be like a $30 million company in the future, because those really, those trickle down to every sort of marketing effort that you do, and sort of how you want to set them up. And one is maximizing revenue, and one is making your life easy and making it less, less headache to have to deal with while still making the kind of money that you want to make.
So I build out the entire email strategy for a client like I would do for an onboarding retainer client, but then I sort of hand them off everything, and we get on a call to sort of discuss their new strategy and then they’re able to build it themselves from there. So I’ve been really enjoying doing that because it’s helped me work with a lot more clients who maybe didn’t want to Hey, my project views or didn’t need a retainer and it’s been really going really well.
Brad: It’s great for the folks who are interested. What is the best place for them to go to learn more about you and what it is you do?
Katie Thies: Yes. So my website is KatieThies.com and it’s the same in my last name as my first name. That’s my little spiel, Katie because then it’s hard to know how to spell Katie and it’s hard to know as well piece but it’s I in both of them. And then it’s Katie and that’s my website and I, I do a little bit. I’m adding some articles there. But most of what I do, the way people can learn from me is by getting on my email list. I send out a lot of information there and have sort of daily tips on how to optimize your email marketing.
Brad: Awesome. Yeah, I can vouch for those emails. I signed up pretty recently to your list and already get a ton of value from the emails you’re sending out. So for everybody, listening, watching who wants to learn about email marketing, e commerce, Email specifically, definitely sign up for the chase email list. Katie, great having you on really enjoyed chatting with you. I learned a lot. And I think listeners can get a lot of value as well.
Katie Thies: I really enjoyed it. Brad, thank you so much for this. It’s great to catch up and I loved having this chat.
Brad: Alright, take care and see you soon.