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Teach yourself growth marketing: How to boot up an email marketing campaign

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Jonathan Martinez

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Jonathan Martinez is a former YouTuber, UC Berkeley alum and growth marketing nerd who’s helped scale Uber, Postmates, Chime and various startups.

More posts from Jonathan Martinez

Without customers, there can be no business. So how can you drive new customers to your startup or keep existing ones engaged? The answer is simple: Growth marketing.

As a growth marketer who has honed this craft for the past decade, I’ve been exposed to countless courses, and I can confidently attest that doing the work is the best way to learn the skills to excel in this profession.

I am not saying you need to immediately join a Series A startup or land a growth marketing role at a large corporation. Instead, I have broken down how you can teach yourself growth marketing in five easy steps:

  1. Setting up a landing page.
  2. Launching a paid acquisition channel.
  3. Booting up an email marketing campaign.
  4. A/B test growth experimentation.
  5. Deciding which metrics matter most for your startup.

In this third part of my five-part series, we’ll examine how to set up email marketing to push consumers through your funnel and drive conversions. For the entirety of this series, we will assume we are working on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) athletic supplement brand.

Your growth funnel

Even if you have the most premium product and amazing product-market fit, if you aren’t leveraging email marketing, you’re leaving huge leaks in the bucket. You can think of email marketing as a way to plug the holes that consumers are leaking out of at various stages of your funnel.

The funnel for our athletic supplement would look simple in comparison to something like getting someone to sign up to drive for Uber. I’ll show what both these funnels look like below.

Athletic supplement funnel: Ad view > website view > add to cart > email entered > checkout process (adding payment and shipping information) > purchase.

Uber driver funnel: Ad view > website view > email entered > basic identity questions (i.e., date of birth) > sensitive identity questions (i.e., driver’s license, SSN) > KYC background check consent > download mobile app > complete first drive.

As the complexity of the funnel increases, so does the potential for leaks, as do the opportunities for email marketing to plug them up.

For our athletic supplement, I would start with three automated email campaigns:

  1. Consumers who enter their email but don’t purchase.
  2. Consumers who add payment/shipping info but don’t purchase.
  3. Consumers who purchase but haven’t repurchased in 30 days.

These campaigns would address both consumers who expressed interest in purchasing as well as those that did buy but haven’t returned to our site in 30 days. We’re using the 30-day timeline assuming that this athletic supplement contains 30 days’ worth of product in a single order.

In the next step, outline your growth funnel, begin identifying leaks in the bucket and get creative with the types of campaigns you can use to recapture those consumers.

Platforms

There are hundreds of email marketing platforms, from large companies like Braze to smaller players like MoEngage. Instead of recommending a platform for your startup, I will list some key criteria that you should keep in mind so you can find one that meets your needs:

  • Price/sending limits.
  • Canvas capabilities.
  • Editor/customization.
  • Integrations.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these four criteria should help you make a qualitative evaluation of each platform.

Besides pricing, it is imperative to investigate how much you can customize the email template editor and the setup of workflows. The last thing you want is to sign up for an email marketing platform that has very limited editing capabilities, as that can leave conversion emails looking bare.

Equally important are the capabilities you get when creating workflows through a canvas editor, which helps create various email sending branches that are based on criteria, time delays and more.

Finally, you’ll need to ensure that there are sufficient integrations with the method you’ll use to input customer data into the email platform.

Segmenting is key

In the world of email marketing, it is crucial to distill user segments as much as possible because we must ensure that we’re sending the right messaging to the right consumers. For instance, if we had different supplements for men and women, it would be much more impactful to send targeted emails according to the customer’s gender.

You can get as involved with segmenting as you want to. While I was leading driver acquisition at Postmates, we had over 20 different email campaigns geared to different stages across our funnel. Our outreach was so specific, for example, that we had an email series just for users who were stuck in the background check part of the funnel so we could help alleviate their concerns and prompt them to consent to the check.

But for the sake of learning, it’s okay to start with a few email campaigns targeted at major segments in your funnel.

Types of content

After segmenting your prospective consumers, all your brainstorming should focus on content so you can craft the communications.The good news is that content types have already been rigorously tested by thousands of businesses, and you can take advantage of all that knowledge.

Below are a few of the major content pillars you can consider building:

  • Promotional.
  • Features.
  • Guides/blogs.
  • Loyalty/reward programs.
  • Testimonials.
  • Surveys,

If I were writing the emails for when consumers drop out of the checkout process for our athletic supplement brand, I’d consider sending emails in this sequence:

  • After 12 hours: Testimonials.
  • After 24 hours: Features.
  • After 48 hours: Guides/blogs.
  • After 7 days: Promotional.
  • After 14 days: Features.
  • After 30 days: Promotional.

This plan may seem simple, but it consists of six emails over 30 days for a single drop-off point in the funnel. It also tests four content pillars, which helps us understand the propensity of consumers based on the type of communication they receive. We’ll test these content pillars in the next part of this series.

Reallygoodemails.com is a great resource if you’re looking for inspiration and want to see the kinds of emails sent out by major brands.

Now that you’re armed with an understanding of segmentation and the types of content pillars, write your first few emails in a Google document or in the email marketing platform you’ve selected.

Metrics that matter

When measuring the performance of the email marketing campaigns, the amount of goal conversions being driven is likely to be the metric to receive the most attention.

However, it’s just as important to measure the click through rate (CTR) and conversion rate, as those metrics will have a major impact on your conversion count. Imagine having a poor subject line in your email that drives your open rate down to 1% — the number of conversions would be heavily limited due to this factor.

You can use the framework below to measure performance on a weekly basis for each step of the funnel.

Example of lifecycle email campaign tracker split by funnel step.
Example of email campaign tracker, split by funnel step. Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez

For our athletic supplement brand, I would have three separate sheets: one for consumers who submit their email but don’t purchase, one for consumers who add payment/shipping info but don’t purchase and one for consumers who purchase but haven’t bought again in 30 days.

Two metrics were left out of this sheet intentionally as they were more advanced — the unsubscribe rate and lift percentage.

At higher levels of growth marketing, when you’re emailing thousands of consumers, the unsubscribe rate becomes important. While I worked at Coinbase, we tracked the unsubscribe rate for every ad-hoc email, including for product announcements and for all our email series, to ensure we weren’t hurting ourselves with the type of content we were sending or the frequency in which it was sent.

On the other hand, the lift percentage metric is used by later-stage startups to gauge how many consumers are converting solely due to email marketing. This is measured by implementing holdout groups of consumers that don’t receive emails, measuring their conversion rates and comparing their data with those that do receive email campaigns.

Now that you’ve launched email campaigns, we’ll next learn how to run methodical and accurate growth marketing tests.

Teach yourself growth marketing: How to perform growth experimentation through A/B testing

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