I’ve used the 3 part API system outlined here to drive results like helping double sales year to year, make one tweak in 15 minutes that provided $1,241 within 30 days (and $3,208 since then), and more:
In this article I’m going to walk you through the 3 part system so that you can improve your store’s email marketing and increase revenue while building engagement.
Overview – The API For Email Results
The 3 steps you can implement to get great results with your ecommerce email marketing is pretty simple:
It’s like an “API” for your business’s email marketing (see what I did there?) – use this plan to plug your existing setup in on one end, and come out the other end with improved revenue and engagement.
Results From The API Process
I’ve seen great results from this process, but I’m not the only one.
Besides all of the examples above, some other people have a few things to say as well.
Step 1 – Audit
Too many times, we dive into “fixing” something without taking the time to understand where we’re at now so that we can:
- Find out what needs to be fixed
- Focus on the most important parts first
- Lay out a plan that will take us where we want to go
That’s why we always start with an audit and you should too.
Taking the time to dive into your email marketing will help you uncover any areas that need to be improved and make creating a plan to take action much simpler.
Doing an audit like this is exactly how we, within 15 minutes, uncovered one problem with the Fittrax Klaviyo account that we were able to quickly fix that day and within 30 days, resulted in $1,241. Not bad!
When going through these steps for an audit, write down notes, take screenshots, and get through it all so that you have a general overview.
Then, once you’re done with that, you can dive into more specifics – don’t get bogged down right away. The planning and implementing is coming!
Let’s get into the details – here’s everything you need to look at when doing an email marketing audit for your ecommerce store:
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- Are the tracking events set up correctly? i.e: “added to cart”, “started checkout”, “viewed product”, “active on site”
- This can be checked by going into the Klaviyo analytics and making sure the events have data in them.
- Some of these tracking events are hooked automatically when linking Klaviyo + Shopify, but “added to cart” needs to be set up manually by adding the Klaviyo script to the Shopify backend. https://help.klaviyo.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001396711-Guide-to-Creating-an-Added-to-Cart-Event-for-Shopify
- How often is the client consistently sending campaign email campaigns?
- Ideally 1 or more times per week
- This will also depend on the industry and the target demographic
- Are they using segments?
- If yes
- What segments are setup?
- How are they being used?
- If no
- Recommend starting with basic segments like “engaged in the last 90 days” that they will use. Can improve and get more detailed over time.
- Segments are a powerful way to send personalized emails to your customers and send offers that are relevant to them.
- Some segments to set up can be based on how engaged your list is, how much money have they spent in your store.
- Creating a segment for unengaged people is highly important to segment them out of the regular emails you’re sending. This will help with the open and click through rates and also will keep you out of trouble for sending emails to people who have not interacted with your or your client’s brand in a while.
- If yes
- Do they have a brand style guide that’s being used?
- Is there a style guide that covers colors, style, and tone/voice?
- If not, you can also check consistency by going into individual emails and looking for consistency in the colors that are being used, if they’re including their logo in the email templates, looking at the Calls To Action, and tone/voice.
Campaigns / Broadcasts
- Are the emails written for the target demographic?
- Looking into the content of the emails and looking at the voice they’re written with, checking if the content, language, and tone use make sense for their customers.
- Are they split testing campaigns?
- A/B testing is a huge part of understanding the customers and to have the opportunity to try different things and see how people respond. Some of the most popular testing happens in the subject lines and preview text. But it’s also important to test the content of the email itself, this could be designing 2 different templates with different images and even different coupon codes with different discount amounts.
- How have the campaigns historically been performing?
- Open Rate
- Click Through Rate
- Downloading data from the past 30, 90 and 180 days and looking at the open rates, click through rates and average order value gives insight to how engaged the customers are, if the subject lines are working, if the content inside the emails is making them click to go to your website and ultimately how many of those are purchasing when getting emails.
- From line
- Are they using a professional name?
- For businesses, stick to “Business Name” or “NAME – Business Name”
- Do they have a company domain? Not @gmail or @yahoo addresses
- Are they using a professional name?
- Subject lines
- Are they using between 60-70 characters?
- Are they using personalization on some of the subject lines?
- Are the subject lines interesting and in line with content of the email?
- Are there any spam words being used? This will affect the deliverability and might hurt your account if your emails are going straight to the customer’s spam folders.
- Preview text
- Are they using preview texts?
- Is it providing additional insight into the email? This is important as it pushes the open rates.
- Headline / First Line
- Are they using it? This will be also dependent if it makes sense for the brand and style
- Do they have large, bold, easy to read font?
- Do the make readers want to continue reading?
- Body of the emails:
- Are they using short sentences? It’s recommended to break paragraphs into several short sentences.
- Is the email clear and easy to read?
- Are they using bullet points or lists?
- Are the emails focusing on the benefits for the customers and not statements about the brand or products?
- Are they using images or other media?
- Are they including text links in the emails?
- Calls to action: do they use multiple forms for the same call to action? Text URL, linked text, buttons? Not everyone is prone to click on a button, some people will respond better to linked text.
- Are the call to actions focused? Ideally, you want to send 1 very clear call to action on each email instead of trying to cover multiple things at once. For instance, “go to the store to check out X”, “click here to read this article”
- Authority, Relevance and Trust
- Are they sharing press releases, blog features, podcasts?
- Is the content topical and related to brand and customer?
- Are they building trust by sending testimonials / reviews from previous customers? People are more likely to buy based on recommendations than on the brand telling them how great their products/services are.
- Is the logo and company name shown?
- If you click on the logo, does that take you to the homepage? This is part of best practices + people expect to click on the logo and go to the homepage of the brand.
- Are they including social media icons?
- Is the contact information shown? This is super important to avoid going straight to the spam folder.
- Is the unsubscribe link obvious and easy to find?
- Is the text around the unsubscribe link customized?
Flows / Automations
- In addition to the questions from the campaigns section,
- Do they have the “core flows” set up?
- Site abandon, Browse abandon, Abandoned cart, Abandoned checkout, Welcome series, Post purchase, Sign Up Form follow up.
- Do they have additional flows set up?
- 2X buyer
- Cross Sell
- Engagement / Cleaning
- Sunset / Last Chance
- Are they doing any split testing on the flows?
- A/B testing is a powerful tool to get to know customers better and what works best. This can be as simple as setting up different subject lines to test open rates as well as getting a little more complex by setting up conditional splits based on if they have previously bought from the brand or not. For instance, in an abandoned flow, you could try sending a coupon code to people who have never purchased to see if that gives them an extra “push” to purchase a product.
- What is the open rate and click through rate on the emails in the flow?
- A general good rule to follow is 33% on open rates and at least 3% on click through rates.
- These should have higher engagement rates than campaign emails.
- Are they using sign up forms?
- Is it being split tested?
- Have images been used or tested?
- Is the benefit to the subscriber clear?
- How are they performing? This will depend on the industry but an average submit rate across all industries is around 3%.
- What is the goal of the sign up form? Getting people to buy using a coupon? Delivering a lead magnet?
- Are there any obvious issues?
- Submit rate lower than 2%
- Design not aligned with the brand
- Doesn’t work
- No followup.
- What click rate do SMS messages have?
- What revenue is SMS generating (as % of revenue)
- How often are they sending SMS consistently?
- Are they using SMS in flows?
- Some of the most popular flows to use SMS in: Abandoned type flows, welcome flow and post purchase flow.
- Are they using SMS in campaigns? Especially when sending special offers and discounts, are they also sending those offers via SMS?
Step 2 – Plan
Now that you have your audit completed, we want to take the results and plan out what to do next.
Why does this take planning?
Because it’s way too easy to dive into whatever the shiniest part of the audit was, get distracted, and end up 2 months down the road wondering what we should do next for our email…sound familiar?
Let’s avoid that wasted time and effort by taking a few minutes to take the audit, identify the low hanging fruit, and plan the next steps so that we can implement and get the results we want.
Get some distance. If you just did the audit today, don’t do the planning on the same day.
Let your brain marinate on the audit for a day or two so that your subconscious has time to think about it and you don’t immediately hop onto whatever caught your eye at first.
I won’t go into the science of it, but very smart people have shown that it’s a good idea – so let’s be smart and let our brains marinate.
Review your audit. Skim over it again and jot down any notes while you’re at it – don’t skip anything, just do a quick review to get it back into focus.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What “stands out”?
- What can I definitely do?
- What would help my customers?
You should have a short list, maybe 3-4 items after doing this.
Don’t worry if it’s much more or less, trust the process and jot down whatever comes to mind.
Now that you have a list of items that might be worth working on, we’re going to ask ourselves 3 important questions that I first came across via Bryan Harris of Growth Tools and found very helpful as a quick “triage” method for decision making.
The ICE Framework forces you to ask three questions about any potential list-building strategy before you take the time to implement it (score of 1 to 10 with short explanation if wanted):
Impact: How impactful could this strategy be for my list growth?
Confidence: How confident am I that this strategy would work well for my list?
Ease: Given my skills and resources, how easy would it be to implement this strategy?
You score each question 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest impact, highest confidence, and highest ease), total the scores, and boom: you’ve got your ICE score for a particular strategy.
Want to save time? Get your own copy of the API ICE Calculator here.
With the ICE framework we can now see what we should be working on. Easy peasy.
Make it easy on yourself and write the “number” next to each item from top scoring to bottom scoring.
For example, if “create browse abandon email flow” got the highest score, you would be a big number one next to it to indicate that’s the first thing you should work on.
For the last part of the planning step, take your short list of ICED’d audit action items and add a couple of notes.
What is your expected timeline for each one? How long do you estimate it will take?
Are there any tools, software, or people that need to be involved?
Do you have any unanswered questions like “what exactly should be in the browse abandon email flow?” or anything else? Write it down and make future you happy.
Now that we’ve got the planning together, it’s time to implement to get those good results.
Step 3 – Implement
Now that you’ve done the audit, and the planning, it’s time to implement.
What’s important here is to remember some basic productivity and time management techniques.
Don’t try and do everything at once, that’s a good way to end up with tons of half finished projects and nothing done that will generate results – or to just burn yourself out.
Start at the top of your ICE’d list and knock one project off completely and then move on to the next one.
For example, let’s say that after your audit and planning, creating an Abandon Cart email flow was at the top of your list.
Review what you need, get any help required, and knock it out.
Maybe you’ll hand it off to your team, or break it up into sections and complete it over the course of a week.
In any event, it’s unlikely to be done today, so make sure that you add any loose ends to your project management or to do list app so that you get it all completed – a half written abandon cart sequence is going to get you zero results, so make sure you finish it and get those emails sending.
Now you can work your way down that list as fast as your time or team allows you to.
How To Make The Most Of Your API?
Now that you’ve got your implementation going on, it’s time to think about how to keep track of results.
A great way to do this is with a monthly metrics review.
The best way to do this is to start simple and set up a short list of metrics to review.
The short version is that you should keep tabs on your revenue, open rates, click through rates, bounce & spam rates.
Additionally, make sure that your signup form is performing (but you did that as part of the audit…right?).
In my preferred email service provider, Klaviyo, it’s pretty simple to set up a quick review using their “Analytics” tab – you can use their setup or add your own metrics. Here’s what it looks like out of the box:
Pretty handy and adjustable over a range of dates.
You can do the same with different providers, just adjust according to their reporting layout.
For a deeper dive into reporting and what you should be tracking, and how, grab the Ecommerce Email Marketing Guide for Owners and check out Chapter 9.
With the API steps and the reporting section above, you can continue to improve your email marketing results year after year.
If you’d like help with your email marketing, need someone to manage it for you to get results on autopilot, get in touch and we can see if it would be a good fit for your business.
Working with Adam the results have been absolutely amazing. He’s been helping us with our funnels & email marketing and the way he writes the emails, it’s just so fun and creative and he really knows how to talk to our clients.Carla & Mo – Skuish Cookies Founders