Inbox Invaders: Unveiling eCommerce Success Strategies with Duradry's Jack Benzaquen

Inbox Invaders: Unveiling eCommerce Success Strategies with Duradry's Jack Benzaquen
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In the debut episode of 'Inbox Invaders,' host Adam Kitchen and COO Wiehan Britz engage in a lively discussion with Jack Benzaquen, founder of Duradry. They talk about email marketing, SMS, and retention marketing, with a focus on the real-world challenges and strategies of growing an eCommerce business. Jack shares his entrepreneurial journey, the story behind Duradry, and insights on scaling a business in a competitive market. The trio discusses the importance of brand authenticity, effective use of discounts, and the evolving landscape of customer engagement. They explore practical tactics like email marketing frequency, customer retention strategies, and leveraging technology to enhance customer experience. This episode offers valuable lessons and real talk on navigating the complexities of eCommerce and digital marketing.

Adam Kitchen: Okay, we are live on LinkedIn. This is the first episode of Inbox Invaders, joined by our legendary COO, Wiehan Britz. Wiehan, welcome, man.

Wiehan Birtz: Hello, thank you so much for having me. I can't wait to have some fun conversations around email marketing, SMS, retention marketing.

Adam Kitchen: So let's get started. Great to see you and we do have our special guest, the legendary Jack Benzaquen, himself joining us. How are you doing?

Jack Benzaquen: Doing well, doing well. Why so much formality, brother? Am I not usually formal? Um, I don't know, but you know, if you let me be, I can start dropping a few good words to make this more amenable.

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, we don't want to lose our whole client roster, so we'll try and put on a professional face.

Jack Benzaquen: Oh my God, what's up, guys? All's well yourself? Good to hear. Yeah, same old, same old. I can't complain.

Adam Kitchen: Cool, so just so everyone knows, the format's going to be: Jack, we'll have you on for the first half an hour chatting through things. If anyone has any questions for Jack, just pop it in the comments here. We'll get around to it. We're just going to have a natural chat about how you started your company, challenges you faced along the way, any funny stories you might want to share, biggest mistakes, and then you'll jump off, and me and Wiehan will continue the conversation. Maybe focused around email marketing for eCommerce.

Jack Benzaquen: Awesome, awesome. Where do you want to start?

Adam Kitchen: Let's do a quick intro. Jack, tell us about Duradry, how you started, and also your journey as an entrepreneur.

Jack Benzaquen: Okay, that's a good place to start. So, I launched it in 2017, that's about six years ago, mostly bootstrap. I have only raised very little money from Angels. We're currently on a mid-seven-figures run rate. We sell on our website, we sell on Amazon, we sell on a bunch of other marketplaces. Before I keep going, Duradry is a brand that, or the vision for the brand, is to build the next generation of deodorants and antiperspirants. Stuff that's super effective but at the same time, as clean as possible from the ingredient list perspective.

So we want to pair the effectiveness of the incumbents and actually make it even better when it comes to sweat control and odor control, and at the same time, try to make our formulas as clean as possible, not only for us but for the environment.

Okay, so that's the short version. I moved to the US 10 years ago, I'm originally from Venezuela, in South America, and have been in CPG for 20 years easily. So this is not my first company in CPG, that's what I did back in Venezuela, but the model was different. I used to do that selling through the regular B2B physical retail channels. I think that's a good summary to start.

Adam Kitchen: And just so everyone knows who's watching, the business was very distressed right until you started working with us, and that was the turning point, right in around 2020.

Jack Benzaquen: I can't recall if it was very distressed, but to be honest, like people think, and this is some real talk, guys, okay, so I don't know who's watching this who's not, but you know, just between us, right. So, I don't consider, like people think, people think that because we'll see on Twitter and LinkedIn people pumping their brands, hey, look what we did, this other thing, and we just launched this, and we just launched that. It's okay, we're all trying to figure it out, and you know, going back to your distressed joke, I consider every day to be a distress.

Like we're still in distress mode, like if you see our bank account, you know, we're still trying to figure out things, move this here, move that there, and then we can invest in this, invest in that. Like that's the reality because the whole point is to maximize your growth trajectory without going bankrupt, right?

That's the bet, because at the size that we're at, and this is just for anyone and everyone that's in CPG or, you know, honestly any product, but especially in CPG because it's all about scale. You're selling like cheap stuff, and it's all about scale. When you're a million, two million, three million, I think that until a minimum of $10 to $20 million, you are in no man's land because only PEs are going to be interested in buying your company, and that's only if you have a strong EBITDA margin, and usually, the ones that I've met, the good ones, are interested in three million plus in EBITDA. And then strategics

They will only take a look at your face above $25 to $30 million. So, that's why, you know, going back to where it started, that's the distress part. Like, dude, I'm not going to go anywhere if I keep the company at mid-seven figures because, you know, it's unsellable. So I'm going to be in distress for a long time until I get to that trajectory.

DON’T MISS: Duradry Case Study with Magnet Monster

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, it is a brutal business, isn't it? I think from the outside looking in, at least my experience as well before we started Magnet Monster, I had a store, and it is a brutal, ruthless game. I think there's that misconception that because it is quite easy in many ways to start an eCommerce brand, that it's super sexy because of the emphasis on marketing, but those times are well gone, and it's actually a very hard business to run profitably at scale.

And most of the brands that we speak to always said we wish we had an agency, and most agencies that you speak to said they wish they had a brand, so it's that classic paradox.

Jack Benzaquen: Yeah, and also, you know what, a new one is that us Brands wish we had a SaaS business because we see these SaaS companies creating products that, you know, first, they don't have inventory, then they can do everything remote, there's no logistics, there is no regulatory things. But I can't imagine, like if someone thinks that our business is easy, I am sure that if I think SaaS or agencies are easy, I'm sure that it's not. I'm sure that once you start digging, all the bad parts of the business come out, right?

Adam Kitchen: And Wiehan can probably speak to this more than me these days, but you know, I've been doing this five and a half years on the agency side. So I think one of the interesting things is that you have the luxury of working with the winners, and also you work with businesses that they're not doing well, but every single company I've worked with, I've never got the sense, even the really successful and profitable ones, the people at the helm had it under control.

It's all been a dumpster fire of trying to figure things out every single day. So even from the outside looking in, it seems as though they're crushing it, they're doing amazing, the people who are controlling them are still extremely stressed to the point where it seems like they don't have a clue and they're unorganized, but somehow they just make it work. So it's fascinating.

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Jack Benzaquen: No, 100%, 100%, and again, I want to double down on this comment because it definitely affected me until I got more knowledge about a bunch of the brands out there on Twitter and LinkedIn. Everyone is pumping something, and you feel that everyone is crushing, but you maybe out of those 100 people, maybe five are crushing out of 100 people that are just, you know, all the time Tweeting or posting on LinkedIn about their successful business or new product launch or whatever.

So, you know, just don't feel that you're being left behind. It's like similar to Instagram if you're a woman and you see all the freaking models because just looks like everyone is a model nowadays, and you feel like shitty. Out of 100 people, maybe one, and maybe out of those two, probably like one and a half is photoshopping and using filters and, you know, spending the whole day trying not to eat food. You know what I mean, like it's not real.

Adam Kitchen: Anything as naturally beautiful as me.

Jack Benzaquen: I agree, exactly. Look at that chiseled look.

Wiehan Britz: It's funny you say that because we always, you know, laugh at how many people in Brands out there want to imitate what Duradry is doing. I want the emails and look and feel and, you know, their success. So I think, you know, you're saying it from the inside on the outside, I think so many people almost want to aspire to become the Duradry or, you know, the Jones Road beauty or Mr. Beast, Ollipop, you know, all those big brands.

So, I think yes, you are winning, you are winning in that category because everybody wants to be Duradry. We see it across email marketers and brands.

Watch the video here:

Jack Benzaquen: Oh, Wiehan, splendid job. This is the secret to great email marketing.

  1. Okay, number one is having a great agency. So, you know, definitely, I promise Magnet Monster, you know, if someone is watching, just trust them for a few months, and then judge.
  2. But that's one key, another key is to have a very, very well-defined style. Like, you need two things basically, colors and typography.
  3. Third is to align on content, and to be honest, most of the time, a good email marketing agency like Magnet Monster is going to help you a ton with that. Right before the beginning of the month, I get an email from you guys saying, "Hey, this is the plan. Do you object to anything?" Then we switch and swap stuff, but you develop all the content.
  4. Fourth, and I think this is one of the big keys, is just to have good photography. Find two or three sources of photography, run a few photo shoots, and you know it's going to last you for at least six months. It's as simple as that.

Adam Kitchen: God, I mean, you could write a book about this. It's funny because, Jack, you would not believe how many brands, way higher revenue than Duradry, we're talking about people approaching the nine-figure range, have approached us wanting their emails to look like that and wanting the copy to be like that.

They've started, and they don't have the assets, they don't have the photography, they don't allow you to speak in a certain tone of voice. And obviously, strategy is a completely separate discussion, but again, Wiehan is definitely in the trenches on a day-to-day basis, having those types of conversations. So, I think for me, a key message would be, if you're going to hire an agency, you need to give them some creative bandwidth as well. There's a lot of brands who hire agencies not just on the email front but then put a lot of restrictions and guardrails in place. You might as well just do it yourself in-house if that's your mentality.

Jack Benzaquen: 100% the whole point of having an email marketing agency is to delegate as much as you can from that part of the business. Right, choosing the right agency makes a difference. How can you delegate if you don't trust what they're doing? And if you don't trust what they're doing, what's the point of having them? It defeats the purpose, as you said.

Switching gears a little bit, something that I've seen, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that I've seen brands starting maybe late last year to be much more aggressive on discounts. It's definitely a trend within brands, and I think it's in response to the macro trend of the consumer pocket compressing due to inflation. I wonder what your take is on that because I'm afraid to jump on that bandwagon and then become a discount brand, which I'm trying to resist. At the same time, you need to grow. So, what are your thoughts?

Wiehan Britz: There's always a hot topic around discounts. Is it good? Is it bad? Where within the customer journey do you start a discount? Is it the top of the funnel acquisition side, or is it to drive repeat purchases? Discounts aren't always bad. There are usually two camps: the camp that goes flat out with discounts and the camp that is completely against it. Tied to your unit economics, your numbers, and your profit margins, it's fine. But, of course, you run the risk of creating a discount brand. You are conditioning people to wait for that discount. That's always a risk.

Many cases we've seen, when a brand starts with us, we do the pop-ups on the website with full-on discounts, 10%, 15%, whatever the case may be, stock standard. Then later down the journey with us, the partnership, they basically decide to switch it off. In about 70% of cases, we do see massive drop-offs in form submission rate and order rate. There are ways to counter that, usually value-based, like giving away value with your incentives. Your typical free shipping or free gift over a certain spend threshold, those are great.

Jack, something you've said a while ago is that you tend to distribute your discount thresholds according to different stages within the buyer's journey with your brand and your product. We had a case where people on a subscription, on every fifth order, would drop a discount. You bake in that milestone, so it's a milestone for the end consumer as well as you as a brand, and then you start heat discounts. There's a tactful approach to discounts.

Jack Benzaquen: We should go back and do that again, maybe not on the fifth, maybe on the fourth. The issue back then was logistics. We were working with Recharge, and Recharge hadn't launched that product of surprise and delight. We have since switched to SK, and it's part of it. It would be super easy to implement. But when it comes to retention, just as an FYI to everyone watching, you want to focus on the first and second rep more than the fifth.

If you lose 40% of the first repurchase, whatever gains you get on the second, third, or fourth are based off what's left on the first purchase. The first target is the first repurchase event. You don't want to give gifts that early. It's a matter of figuring out. We have done a lot of education, right, with email for those people.

Tactically speaking, going to the discounts, what if we run discounts on the newsletter, on the campaigns, and exclude people that ordered in the last 45 days? No one will feel that the discounts are coming too often.

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Adam Kitchen: I think that's the logical way to go about it. If you look at CPG, any type of cohort analysis, if someone doesn't come back within 30 to 45 days, especially for a product like yours, Jack, they're highly likely to have gone. You're going to lose like 60 to 70% of people who buy the first time anyway. So, make it a no-brainer to buy from you in a sensible way that doesn't erode your margin and is conducive to making sure you stay within your target. Secondly, don't offer a discount to people until they pass that threshold. Wait for the 30-day threshold. See when people are highly likely to drop off, offer them a discount. It's just a very basic, rudimentary win-back strategy.

I suppose to drive that sale, and that way, theoretically like you've just said, people who've bought within the last 45 to 60 days, you're hoping that they buy again at full margin. And people who fall out of that bucket, well, they're a churn risk anyway, so who cares if you offer them a discount?

Jack Benzaquen: Exactly, exactly, no 100%. And for the same token, by the way, Adam, a related subject is, and that's why last year we were doing 10 emails a month, and then in Q4, we discussed switching that to 20 emails a month. The rationale was very simple: if someone is annoyed by so much email and they unsubscribe, they weren't going to buy anyway, right? So, why not pressure them a little bit? Just from a business perspective, it makes sense. If you annoy them for two weeks and they didn't buy, well, annoy them. Because if you're delivering value via email…

Adam Kitchen: Again, I love to chime in on this, but my perspective has changed quite a lot. I've always been of the viewpoint, as you know through working with me for years, that if you don't have anything valuable to say, don't press the send button. At the same time, you have to be realistic; it's eCommerce, you need to make money to keep the lights on, and it can't all just be about fluffy value to drive sales.

Sometimes you just have to sell to people again, and there's nothing wrong, and we shouldn't feel guilty of aggressively going after a sale. That negative perception of a brand, yeah, it does exist to some extent, but I don't think, when I get too many emails from a brand, I'm not going to bed thinking, 'Oh, they sent me too many emails.' I just click unsubscribe if I don't want it. It doesn't affect the rest of my week that they sent me too many. And I think 99.9% of consumers, it's exactly the same. You know, having nightmares because you got too many emails, maybe SMS from a consumer brand.

Jack Benzaquen: Yeah, no, 100%, 100%. By the way, SMS, we killed, and we got to discuss that in a second. But about the value, the emails with value, let me know what you guys think about the following, okay? So, at some point, you feel like you're running out of things to say, right, via email. What are your thoughts about also sharing information about your improvements on everything?

For example, 'Hey, we just switched the management system to a new system that allows you to log in without a password, so it's passwordless. So, you don't need to remember your password. Here's how you do it.' Boom, that's an email. What are your thoughts about sharing that information that's not related to the product itself, but is related to other stuff that might be interesting or not?

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Wiehan Britz: So, look, I'm a massive believer when people tell me that, 'Oh, I've run out of ideas around my content topics.' I'm like, 'Lies,' because the world is just full of different angles you can take. So, just to answer that specific question, I love exposing these types of things. At the end of the day, if it is something that falls within a consumption requirement for the end consumer, then why not? I think it's easy enough to determine the consumption needs of your buyers.

And if that falls within the consumption requirements or needs, absolutely, absolutely, especially if it shows transparency, if it shows you improving user experience for them, better experiences. Yeah, I'm all for that. Now, luckily, with your specific brand, it's very easy to come up with buyer persona profilings or empathy mapping; it's all about sweating and so forth, right? There's a problem that people want to try and solve. So, if you do an empathy map, where people see, hear, what they do in action and so forth, you could uncover some of these needs.

How do people research online? If they do price comparison shopping, you could turn that into a fun angle within your email. Like, 'Hey, Johnny, I can see you're probably busy doing, you know, price comparison shopping. Let me help you there.' So, yeah, I mean, I'm a big fan of all these angles to take. So, I would support that.

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Adam Kitchen: Yeah, I've seen you also do the forward type of technique as well, Jack, right? Like, 'FYI, we accidentally leaked this discount code.' Again, I used to have really strong views on this, but now I just don't think it matters that much because it might make me cringe a little bit, but I just think most consumers, in fact, I know because I'm a consumer myself, just don't even remember this or care about it.

So, unless you're just not saying something that will destroy the brand and like it's really not thoughtful, you've got to make money, right? And you've got to experiment and try new things as well.

Wiehan Britz: Just that point of sending volume and is it good or bad, of course, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. I think why I'm in support of it is because the buying journey or decision-making of end consumers is so complicated. Yeah, AI is trying to kind of bridge that gap and do the training for you.

But if I take myself, okay, I want to start kitesurfing, I do, but I'm not yet ready. I don't know when I'm going to be ready. So, if you're not going to communicate with me as the person on your database, you're not going to trigger those moments that could turn me into a buyer because you don't know that as a brand.

So, you do want to fire off a high volume of emails because at some point, you do trigger someone, you know, action or likelihood of taking that step. So, for that matter, I'm a big fan of sending high volumes just because it's too unpredictable to know when someone will convert.

Jack Benzaquen: Yeah, no, 100%. There are some big brands, I think, um, I bought something at J Crew, those guys were emailing me maybe five times a day. I'm not kidding. Fashion Nova does this as well; who works there, it seems because everyone, it's like they pummel you, like five emails a day, bam, bam, bam, bam. Let's extract, let's squeeze you dry before you forget about us, right?

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, you know, I did make a post about this last year sometime. I believe that the future of email, and I think this is a position you could bring for a dedicated person, maybe an extension of customer support.

I really believe it will be highly ROI positive to just have someone sat there alongside the email manager, literally like tracking all the most loyal customers, what they clicked on the website, what they read, what products, and following up with dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds of personalized emails every day like, 'Hey, seen you click on this, can I help you with anything, you know? Did you know about this ingredient? Like, you clicked on this.'

You could send literally over a thousand emails a day if you had enough traffic from two to three customer support reps, highly personalized emails, and it can probably be automated from AI in the future, just looking at that first-party data. So, what did they click on, who browsed the website, almost like an army of chatbots?

Jack Benzaquen: Exactly. That's super interesting. I mean, look at your, like, you got about 100 people, 200 people click every single email. I don't know how many don't buy; this is just like I'm just using an average D2C brand. Let's say 20 people buy those emails, or 180 people are just left; they click, they're interested, but nothing ever happens.

Why doesn't someone go back in and retarget all those people with a plain text email? Or if they click on things three, four times, like, that's very, very high warm intent. It makes sense. We should definitely create a flow that does that.

Basically, the flow is very simple. Hey, I don't know if you can do this on Klaviyo, but if someone clicked the last few emails, get them into this flow, like clicked but didn't buy, get them into this flow. And the flow is just a simple text-only email, 'Hey, I am Adam. I work at Duradry. This is a direct email from me to you. My job is to help people find the product that works for them, whatever you want to deal with. Please reply, and I'll guide you. I'll hold you by your hand through the process.' And just have someone sitting there, just getting those replies.

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Adam Kitchen: I'm glad you like the idea because we're going to double your retainer fees after this [Laughter].

Jack Benzaquen: Call oh my god. But no, seriously, seriously, can someone write that down so we can implement something like that?

Adam Kitchen: I'm not even kidding, this is just... I'm going to bring up the post. I genuinely believe, with the way AI is going, and I know Wiehan has experimented a lot with certain tools much more than me, that it is feasible in the near future to have this completely automated.

As opposed to paying someone manually to construct the concepts, there will be a case of someone clicking this email, views this product like bangs these personalized emails. Like, 'Hey, you looked at product X, you might also be interested in this,' or 'Adam from customer support responds, message me if you have any questions.' You could have a huge amount of conversations at scale, and I'm sure, as I said, it's very, very...

Jack Benzaquen: Yeah, but isn't that what, for example, does? Meaning, whenever there's cart abandonment, right? Like, they need the phone number because they're texting these people. I'm not sure, and of course, does something similar as well. Not too sure, but let's try it out and see what the results are.

Wiehan Britz: We've done it for a brand last year. Of course, I think the volumes were lower, and it was a little bit more on the B2B side, where we've used the Klaviyo notification function. So every single time, like you've said, their behavior, they've viewed a page twice, T, and they've done X, Y, and Z, it just fired off a Klaviyo notification to the sales rep of their company.

Within that notification email from Klaviyo, we basically populate the dynamic fields with the person's name, email address, phone number, and just a summary of their behavior. That was sent like a support ticket, but that was on a smaller scale. I think D2C is probably a little trickier if there are high volumes, and they don't have the bandwidth to support that. But it was a backend system built in Klaviyo to just trigger those Klaviyo notifications.

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Adam, you once wrote an article where you could do the same thing on a birthday, you know, upcoming birthday. So it triggers, let's do that, brother, let's do that

Jack Benzaquen: You send the notification, you send me the notification, I'll take care of every one of those people, and I'm going to email them personally, really. And if it works, then we figure out how to scale it, meaning like putting an outside, just hiring someone, right? Even if, you know, from the Philippines, quite easy.

Wiehan Britzz: Yeah, I mean, could even be based off of like cart value, you know, if you want to target the high intent, high buyers first that kind of abandons their cart. We would start there rather than start high up in the funnel where they're not necessarily qualified. So Bogdan Birtom, if you're listening, brother, hope you're taking notes. There we go, there's the man himself.

Jack Benzaquen: Yeah, dude, what a good hire, what a good hire.

Adam Kitchen: He's a great guy, he's absolutely smashing it this year, especially. Like, I remember at the end of last year, we all love Bogdan, but he approached me towards the end of last year and said he really wants to push himself hard this year. And I mean, the Slack channel is just a massive energy from clients worshiping him, so his ego, the only one, his ego must be about to explode at the moment. Effort into his work, he's coming to see me in March as well, so that's gonna be fun. I have to treat him to a Champagne dinner.

Jack Benzaquen: That's amazing. But, I don't, before I leave, Wiehan, so what you're saying is to start with the cart abandoners for me to send an email?

Wiehan Britz: I think so, just because they are showing high intent, you know, to of course purchase. So I'd probably start there, and it's smaller volumes to manage.

Jack Benzaquen: Okay, let's do that, let's do that. Like, I swear, I'm going to email each one of these people and make them convert.

Wiehan Britz: And maybe into like a Loom video or two, like, 'Hey, I've got the product right in my hand. Yeah, this is the product.' Because I think, is it you who's doing it when someone places an order, you send an email where you have a video saying thank you? I can't remember if it was you or someone else, but it gives that instant personal feel that wow.

Jack Benzaquen: Oh yeah, we're going to do that, we're going to do that with this company that does some sort of deep fake thing, it's not fake. Basically, you're saying, 'Hey, Wiehan, thank you so much for buying from us, etc., etc.' And then you say, 'Okay, the name, you're going to replace it with that's it.'

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, but we never ended up doing that. I'm so much technology to try, right? It's like it's overwhelming. I actually said to Wiehan, like Wiehan is an absolute tech geek, but for me, I'm in a different position in the company. And when I try and jump back into the accounts on a day-to-day basis, I'm like, 'Me, the pace of the technology...' I think one of the biggest battles these days is just sifting through what is a distraction versus what could actually drive incremental revenue because there's so much stuff, and lots of it's exciting, but a lot of it is just fluffy nonsense as well.

Jack Benzaquen: 100%, 100%, 100%. And when you're a small company like us, you're not looking for a 1% improvement, you need at least, you know, leaps 10%, right? Because, you know, 1% of a small number is nothing, right?

Like 1% for Amazon, I understand, it makes total sense. For us, 1% is not going to do much. We need to go and try to get bigger jumps. And I agree, with so much tech out there, honestly, I've tested so much stuff, and very few things actually, like, the hypothesis behind them makes sense. But then, when you implement something, it just doesn't happen right or doesn't work.

Adam Kitchen: Anything that has worked really well that you've implemented for your eCommerce brand?

Jack Benzaquen: Anything that has worked really well that I have implemented? In which area?

Adam Kitchen: So, in terms of driving more revenue, is there anything that you've implemented? Not obviously, see something like, oh yeah, something, something super recent.

Jack Benzaquen: Something super recent, by the way, I took the job of CRO for the company, another hat. So I became obsessed with running A/B tests myself. So this page that I'm going to show you now, by the way, the full-screen popup, this one converts so much better than just the popup, at least for us, right on A/B tests.

So this page, guys, allows you to add stuff straight from here, okay? And you see the products here, and you have the free stuff here, the gamified, let's say, milestone-based widget. So this page, instead of the regular collection page, got an improvement on conversion rate of 30% and also an improvement on revenue of like 40%. So not only more conversion but also more revenue.

Inbox Invaders: Unveiling eCommerce Success Strategies with Duradry's Jack Benzaquen
Duradry's full-page pop-up on their website that yielded 30% conversions following A/B tests

So this was a massive win. We just figured it out, like, I don't know, two weeks ago, because honestly, we launched it, it wasn't working, and we were tweaking and tweaking and tweaking it until we made it work. And now this converts 30% better and 40% more revenue than regular collection pages. So this is a good win for us.

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Adam Kitchen: Epic, how has that changed your overall ad strategy, just business practices in general? Are you doing anything differently as a result of those experiments?

Jack Benzaquen: Of that one, not yet, this is fairly new, and we are working on ramping up our campaigns this year. Usually, like, something I discovered maybe two or three years ago, guys, is to not fight the seasonality of your product, or the bad system, let's say.

So if Q3 is the worst for you and your CPAs go through the roof, then why are you gonna, you know, kill yourself spending money there, right? So I know that our season is now, the first half of the year, so now I'mx starting to ramp up campaigns. I usually go a little bit dark on Q4 because, you know, very few people, my hypothesis, very few people like to give deodorant, but the new year, new me type of vibe is aligned with the brand, right?

Yeah, and that's when it makes sense to start ramping that up. So, you know, it's a long-winded way of saying we're yet to push that page, but on A/B testing, it performs so much better that I have no doubt that it was the right thing to implement.

Awesome, awesome, guys, gotta go. Thank you so much for letting me talk and have fun.

Adam Kitchen: Pleasure as always, my friend.

Jack Benzaquen: Cheers to you guys, and talk to you soon. Always appreciate that.

Wiehan Britz: Cheers, Jack. Cheers, guys. Bye.

Adam Kitchen: Bye, the legend has deposed. Always fun talking to Jack.

Wiehan Britz: What a man, what a man, we love him.

Adam Kitchen: Right, mate, we've got a lot of email to sift through, and we're going to start with these big changes that everyone's obviously panicking about now coming to Gmail and Yahoo in February 2024. Lots of people are not prepared, still a fair few people got things under control. Do you want to just relay very quickly what these changes are, how they will impact DTC brands' ability to hit the inbox, and what you actually need to do to be prepared?

Wiehan Britz: Absolutely, I mean, buzzing topic at the moment. We all see it online, there's definitely some camps that are in panic, some people are preparing themselves well. So essentially, just to summarize, Yahoo and Google are tightening up the email sender requirements. They really want to create a safer inbox for recipients, less spamming, because the big ISPs like Google, Apple, and so forth, want to preserve the security and the experience for their users.

People always say it's owned media because I own the email database, and so forth. It's true to some extent, but you're always sending it through a middleman. In Feb 2024, they will start monitoring these things a lot closer. Some things you want to get in place, this is very high level, okay, it goes into a lot of specific details and nuances, but on a high level, the first thing is getting your email authentication in place.

This is centered around configuring your SPF, DKIM, DMARC, ARC – all these different authentication policies. This is critical to send positive signals to the ISPs that you are an authentic sender. Get in touch with a professional if you need help implementing this.

The second one is your infrastructure configuration. Are you sending from a dedicated sending domain or a shared IP pool? It's not a problem if you're sending via a shared IP pool, like if you use Klaviyo. If the shared IP's reputation is in good health, you're going to be okay. But, you don't want any of those senders being blacklisted, as that will reflect back to your sending. We advise people to get a dedicated sending domain configured, which is specifically in Klaviyo. This also ties into your forward email, headers, and so forth.

Third, subscriptions. First, make it easy for people to subscribe and opt into your emails in legal ways. Some states require double opting. In the States, it's more relaxed, but it has to be legal. You can't enforce it. People need to consent.

On the flip side, make it easy for people to unsubscribe, either by having an unsubscribe link in your footer or Google's one-click unsubscribe button at the top of the email. Unsubscribing is not necessarily bad because it also helps to clean out your list. Monitor that and keep it under control.

Next is spam rates. They are going to monitor spam rates, people flagging your emails as spam. That's different from an unsubscribe action. Spam rate is a negative signal, one of the worst ones. Google's own requirements state you want to keep the spam rate below 0.10%, and avoid going over 0.3%, which is a massive red flag

Most ESPs like Klaviyo have this baked in, and you can set up postmaster tools to monitor it. Target the correct segments when you send out emails so it doesn't become spammy. If you don't make it easy for people to unsubscribe, they will mark you as spam.

This brings us back full circle to the conversation with Jack, where we were discussing being more relaxed about aggressively sending to users. However, there's a real risk of those techniques backfiring and harming your deliverability. The margin for error is much lower now.

Yes, you do want to keep that into account. You don't want to risk your database or your sending reputation from getting flagged. San asks a question about email and Klaviyo. I'm not the most technical Klaviyo person at the moment, but I think there are cases where you can configure it to take care of that.

Google is not the only ISP; there's also Apple and others. Apple is a bigger one, especially in the States, because of the amount of people buying Apple devices.

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Adam Kitchen: When we talk about the durability, as well I know obviously like you said, there are other isps that have a decent share but what we're rarely focused on if we're honest is 80:20. If you're alright, it's Gmail optimization across most accounts.

Wiehan Britz: I think the big ones are Apple and Google and of course, Gmail. and then you start to look at Yahoo and all others like Hotmail and so forth. But, Apple, Gmail are your big ones. I think Apple is the bigger one just because of the amount of people buying Apple devices in the states especially, so it's huge.

Adam Kitchen: I remember in my last two visits in 2022, I've got a Google Pixel, so I'm an Android user. People thought I was a freak because they didn't have an iPhone. Here in the UK, it's more of an equal split between Androids and iPhones, but in the States, it's like God, it must be 99% iPhone. If you don't have one, you can't communicate because everyone's on iMessage and very few people, at least to my knowledge, use WhatsApp the same way we do.

Wiehan Britz: It's massive, and one thing that people don't always take into account. I know, okay. BIMI, for the people listening who knows what BIMI is, it's also a strong signal that you can send over to the ISPs. A lot of people enable a sender icon or avatar profile within their Google account if they use Google to send emails, that's their like domain setup. And then they reckon, cool, my avatar or logo appears within people's inboxes when I send emails.

Now, Apple is not going to support Google's configurations, okay? So, you still need to go through an authentication verification process to set up BIMI so it is accepted across more than one ISP. The quickest route is, we constantly do it, go into Google Analytics G4, look at the device people are using to browse your website, and you'll see, many times, Apple is the lion's share of that. And that's usually your first indication to go, right.

So if I want to take BIMI seriously and 85% of my traffic users are Apple device users, just pay the Message Identification license, the yearly one. It's about $150 per month or $1,500 per year, so it's about $110, 120, that was the last time I checked. It's a small investment, but I think it's a decent one.

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Adam Kitchen: Hey, you remember, Wiehan, I won't call any names out, but we have been asked to split-test BIMI before on an annual basis. So, how important do you think BIMI will be in deliverability?

Wiehan Britz: It's hard to put a number. We've had clients ask us, 'What is the ROI of BIMI?' And it's a bit of a silly question to ask, not to be funny, because you can't tie a specific weighting to it. Why not? Because the ISPs will never reveal that, because then people can, of course, game the algorithm or the scoring system. Also, think about it from a user's point of view.

Someone sees your branding as the icon, like Duradry, for instance, it's very red and bright and bold. They will then instantly recognize it's from Duradry, and it looks a bit more legit. So first, think about the end user, and then you can, of course, make the numbers and go right, if it looks more legit, more people will likely open your email and engage with it in a crowded inbox.

And then engagement is one of the biggest positive signals to send over to the ISPs. So, think about it from a Snowball Effect benefit. If people see it, it looks legit, they recognize the brand, they open, engage – bing, bing, bing, sending great signals to the ISPs, and that's where the money sits in terms of inbox placement rates and so forth. But good question.

Adam Kitchen: You know, the more you learn about deliverability, not to dumb it down, it is incredibly technical when you get into all the small nuances. And I wouldn't like to undermine Nick, KK, if he's watching, the deliverability god, on how essential it is and how much goes into it. But a lot of it just boils down to common sense, don't you think, Wiehan? Like, authenticate your email, have good list hygiene in terms of people opting in, provide a positive customer experience, send segmented emails, let people unsubscribe freely, and don't spam them. It really is, for me, the KISS, 'Keep It Simple Stupid,' in many ways.

Wiehan Britz: That is very true, especially true for small to medium-sized businesses. When you're talking about the big senders, you want to get Nick in to look at the very specific configurations because he talks a different language to us.

And I'm sure other email deliverability experts out there will say the same thing. There, you want to be so specific. We've had cases where, for instance, your sender email address is potentially 'support@,' okay? That's not a best practice for online marketing emails because you're sending a different signal to the ISPs.

So those very nuanced things need a very deep dive by an expert. But you are on the money there. The foundational things are applicable to most brands, especially small to medium.

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, you've absolutely nailed it. Not to obviously undermine or diminish the importance of that, especially for big brands at scale, because, like you said, then you're dealing with things like multi-domains, different geographical regions, different types of communication emails. It can get incredibly technical, so I wouldn't want to discredit anyone who works in that profession.

But anyway, we all know email deliverability is boring, and what we really want to talk about is AI, sexy. So, let's come on to some of the ways, and we should be completely candid about this, that we're using AI within our agency. It's absolute nonsense these days that any agency claims that they don't use AI. And we actually had a question from a prospect the other day asking, 'How much of a role does AI play in your content creation?'

Well, actually, what's the problem with using something to produce a better end outcome? Because that's all that matters, right? I understand if it's from the pretense there, 'Oh, is it going to be incredibly generic and boring?'

Yes, you would want to not use AI in this method. But we've seen AI, at least the initial experiments that we've had, and especially you as a great enabler of creativity, far from being generic. I think again, we're new to it, most of the people are still getting the grips with it, but AI is really helping us in many ways drive efficiency, creativity, and ultimately better outcomes for our clients. So, anything in particular you think is exciting and worth talking about?

Wiehan Britz: Absolutely. So, of course, before I go into some use cases, especially for e-commerce teams, we all know this saying, 'It's all about your prompt quality.' Prompt engineering, we all know that's the best starting point. Secondly, not to delve into the science of it and the complexity, but training it, feeding it. If you don't feed it enough, you'll get generic, okay? That is a true fact. We, for instance, we've built a proofreading bot within GPT.

Once we feed it with the copy, it will do the proofreading for us, and it will tell us where we went wrong. 'You're not allowed to use the word "free." Remember to write American English.' And, 'You can't say this product will solve your sweating problems because we can't solve it, but we can improve it.' But we've trained that model to spit out the correct thing. So, please, people, GPT out of the box will not be great. It's your responsibility to configure it correctly. Just a pre-warning there.

So, how do we use it? A couple of use cases, and feel free to DM me on LinkedIn if you want guidance on this, I love this topic. The Magnet Monster team is also embracing it.

1. The first one is BU research. You can use it as a research tool, it's phenomenal. Think about empathy mapping, buyer persona profiling.

We prompted it to generate an empathy map, take Duradry, for instance. 'Generate an empathy map for me.' Now, an empathy map tells you exactly what the target audience hears, sees, some of their problems, some of the action points. It even ties it to emotional facets of consumers. 'I sweat a lot, I recently did one for Duradry, sweating at work. So, I can't conduct proper meetings, I struggle to speak to a crowd because at work I sweat.'

Adam Kitchen: Workplace sweat, true, you do sweat badly on calls. I've noticed it many times.

Wiehan Britz: It's literally remote. I'm already married, so I don't need to find a wife. So, if I sweat, it's a problem to face, and that's fine, I don't mind. That's it, right? We let ourselves go once we got hitched. Exactly, and our clients only want to see ROI on stuff, they don't care about the sweating. But I'll use Duradry going forward, thanks brother.

So, yeah, man, research tool. We've also done cases where we feed it with a bulk of reviews, and we ask it to pull common themes out of the reviews.

2. Sentiment analysis – what do the positive people say, what are the detractors saying? And then, what do you do with that data? Email copy, campaign concepts, ad ideas, landing page messaging, the list goes on. That's the first one.

3. Competitor research – we've used it to do competitor research. 'Find reviews for this particular brand, products, pricing,' and so forth. It does it splendidly.

4. Ideation – we use it as an ideation tool. I've recently published a post on my LinkedIn where you can ask it to generate campaign concepts, generate welcome flow ideas, the list goes on. It's absolutely brilliant.

5. Lastly, of course, a Production Tool. Like Adam said, if it generates better copy than a human person, of course, there will always be a human person that will tweak and refine it. But you can generate copy in a bulk manner, in an individual manner, in different formats. If you feed it correctly with your direct prompt, you can ask it to generate the copy in a specific format, with specific parameters, and in specific lengths, like few within 160 characters.

Here's the refined transcript, organized into short paragraphs with added punctuation and removed repetitions, tailored for eCommerce customers:

Don't use AI thoughtlessly. Absolutely, and like I've said, we have generated a proofreading bot that we use to triple check our work against a ton of voice guidelines. Those are some of the things I know a lot of e-commerce SaaS brands are tying OpenAI into their tools, like live chat and customer support tools.

Shopify is doubling down on using AI, where instead of doing the manual work of creating a Shopify coupon code for 5% off, you can prompt Shopify to do it for you. Clavio and other ESPs are going full on AI for segmentation creation and so forth. GPT is just one side of it, but AI in general is such a big thing. Use ChatGPT, pay the pro fee, the premium fee

Adam Kitchen: It's been a massive net positive for us, it's a huge ROI. As for creativity and ideas, there's no excuse for lack of effort and lackluster creativity anymore. You can get hundreds of ideas within minutes now with these tools. The exciting thing from an agency perspective is that this will enable you to take on more clients. The quality and efficiency that you can drive through using these tools is just astronomical. Clients are now asking about how we use AI because if you don't, you just look like you're living in the stone ages. You use it right, or you get left behind.

Wiehan Britz: Again, it all comes down to how you train AI. If you feel the copy looks mechanical, you haven't set your tones correctly. Train it properly, and you won't get that 'mechanical' or 'too formal' look.

Adam Kitchen: So, before we round things out, let's share our screen. We've been doing this for a long time. You joined the company in 2021, summertime, and there have been a lot of changes at Magnet Monster since then. We've always had a very rigid structure on our team setup and the way the company operates. There have been tons of conversations online about pod-based systems versus cross-functional teams and how to organize team members to work together on client accounts. Tell us how we structure our teams, as you've been driving a lot of the change we've implemented this year.

Wiehan Britz: Stop lying, you want me to take over your job so you can have more chill time. So, for the audience, here's our team structure. For those in agencies, this is especially relevant. If you are a remote team distributed across regions and time zones, managing becomes even harder.

We've tried several structures, like an account manager with a strategist, or one client-facing person doing all the work with a production team. We've decided to structure our team like this: There are two sides, the agency operations which work on client fulfillment, and the marketing partnership sales side of the business. They focus on leads, podcasts, etc., separate from agency operations.

In agency operations, we've got the co-founders, and then there's me, looking across different areas. We've divided services into campaigns on one side and list growth and flows on the other, instead of having one person managing everything. We've got service owners for campaigns and list growth and flows, then production owners, engineers, designers, copywriters, etc.

The reason we've separated our services is for more focused lanes and responsibilities. It encourages collaboration because if the campaign people are doing great emails, we want to apply some of that on the flow side. It's a more streamlined process, as you can focus on specific lanes. Temp handovers and replacements are easier too. If you need to replace someone who handles campaigns, the onboarding duration is shortened because you're replacing a specific role.

Overall, this structure has proven effective in managing our workload and ensuring high-quality delivery for our clients, especially in the fast-paced and dynamic world of e-commerce and digital marketing.

Certainly, here's the transcript organized into a continuous reading format without tampering with the text:

Right, this is how campaigns work. Have a look at all these different campaigns. Look at previous client accounts. This is 10 days, and I'll get them up to speed in a much shorter space of time. So that becomes a dream for an operational person. And then, I think lastly, it's also a lot easier to monitor and control quality within some of these areas.

Let's say, for the sake of it, we see we're not getting list growth, let's say the technical parts of it, we're not getting that nailed. It's now a very isolated case, and I'm only disrupting maybe one or two people involved in that very specific lane. I'm not disrupting four or five people handling that part. I can clearly communicate with that person, have sit-downs, give them ownership to also generate SOPs and videos and whatnot and do training because it's controllable in that small environment. If it's too big, you lose control.

So yeah, and the same goes with engineering, design stuff, copy stuff. We isolate some of these cases. Of course, we don't isolate the different departments from one another because that's silly, but we isolate parts of it so it can integrate and sync with the rest of the departments. That's kind of what we've moved over to, early days for us, but so far, I think the team is loving it. People can wake up in the morning and they know their part in the puzzle, and they can double down on that.

We're also giving each of these people ownership to share. Campaign people, I want you guys to bring hot campaigns to the table because they see campaigns constantly. List growth and flow people, bring that to the table because you see it every single day, that's what you live and breathe. The same goes for engineering, design, copy, and everything just feeds into one another. So it becomes an absolutely nice engine that we are currently trying.

Or it is a new structure. We're not trialing; we're not going back. That's basically my share. I hope someone out there found it valuable, but if you want to collab on some of your pain points or our pain points, DM me. I'm happy to talk about operational stuff, frameworks, processes. I live and breathe it, so send me a DM.

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Adam Kitchen: Absolutely fantastic work, man. Yes, so far, early days, but the change does seem to have been received really well from our team. A lot of positive feedback and morale. Just to touch on a specific point, especially around flows and campaigns and why we've isolated them almost like a SaaS business, where someone is an owner of them, we did this because, and I know this from conversations with other email and SMS agency owners, the daily slog on campaigns always ends up taking priority over the automation and list growth, which are equally important facets.

And there just doesn't seem to be a way, at least that I've seen from other teams working on this issue, to prioritize flows and list growth and take these areas of the business seriously without becoming incredibly distracted and then leading to production chaos on campaigns, so to speak.

And this is not just a problem that we have; it seems to be ubiquitous across the agency. Because for all the planning that you can do for any type of brand within e-commerce, it's so dynamic and changing that a lot of the time, the plans just get thrown out the window, or at least there are changes to 10 to 20% of the strategy. And that's in the best-case scenario.

There are brands that are a lot worse, and when that happens, instantly the flow work is going to get deprioritized because the priority in the business becomes sending the campaign out to generate revenue on Wednesday, and then Thursday making the tweaks. So all the resources will constantly get shifted over to cover this, and it was very distracting in getting an equally important business line.

So that's some of the logic behind why we made this switch. And again, I spoke to a lot of other agency owners; they all have the same issue. So if they do go ahead and implement this, they need to pay VNA commission.

Wiehan Britz: And to caveat that, of course, there are models out there that are a little bit more templatized that you can get out in a rapid fashion. There's a ton of agencies driving amazing success from that, and that's perfectly fine. There's a space for everybody. But if you're trying to manage a more tailored type of service where you absolutely want to introduce more complexities and specific cases, it's on the money, how you've stipulated it. Flows can tend to become a little bit delayed because of the campaign importance of priority. So yeah, some good points there.

Adam Kitchen: Yeah, and again, nothing against agencies that do template work. We don't do that personally, but we've seen brands have success doing that, and agencies obviously have success running the business that way. It's not us, but to each their own. So with that being said, doesn't look like we've got any other questions to come through, man. Predictions for 2024, what do you think it's going to be the year of in email?

Wiehan Britz: I think, of course, we all know there's a big shift in the AI space. Everybody wants to tap into AI and not feel left behind. I think it's still very early days for people to really have that seamlessly integrated into their business, but that will always be a big shift.

The email deliverability thing is I'm keen to see how that's going to pan out and if we are going to see any decline in numbers. And then I think, yeah, I mean, an ongoing conversation is around retention marketing, you know, first to second purchase, how can we get more repeat purchase orders in the system because, you know, CAC paid advertising is so damn expensive, and it will constantly be expensive.

And then the fourth one, I think there's still a big conversation happening around engaging, creating interactive emails. I remember Mr. B, the Fezzable team, they did a big campaign around interactive emails, and I think it blew the trend and the hotness around it blew up the space.

So I think that kind of woke up that beast of okay, how can we introduce more interactive emails? I've seen it today, actually, where a brand sent me an email, and they said, "Hey, something damn exciting," they blurred out the hero image, and I clicked on the button, and it actually rendered out the image within the email rather than taking me out to a landing page to reveal the magic. I think it was a new product launch, but that is a good signal to the ISPs because of its engagement.

So I think people are going to marry interactive stuff with engagement quite a lot because we all want to show those positive signals to the ISPs because they're tightening their requirements. So I think that space is going to heat up in the D2C world, even among small and medium brands.

So exciting stuff. And then, of course, new ESPs entering the arena or they have already been in this space for a long time, but they're tightening up the features and capability. So it's going to be an interesting market in the tech space as well. It definitely is, and

Adam Kitchen: I think a lot of that tech is going to become accessible at better price points for merchants as well. So it will be fascinating. But look, man, I think we covered a massive amount for this first episode. So for anyone who's watching and has follow-up questions, obviously drop them in for Wiehan Britz, Jack Benzaquen, myself (Adam Kitchen) in the comments section.

We will be posting the episodes on YouTube as well as all the main podcast syndicates on Spotify, Apple, etc., so you're very welcome to go and watch the recording post-production. Thanks for your time, mate, and until next week, we'll see everyone then

Wiehan Britz:  See everybody then, and I'm also happy to share tips on how to reduce sweating in meetings and when you're speaking, like Adam pointed out. So if you want tips on that, I'll also drop it in the section. Thanks, people. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks, Adam.

Adam Kitchen: All the best, man. Cheers. Good.


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