Episode 210 Featuring Alex Bond

Email and SMS Marketing with Jimmy Kim

Email and SMS Marketing with Jimmy Kim

Jimmy Kim is the CEO and Co-Founder of Sendlane, a behavior-based email and SMS marketing automation platform built for eCommerce brands. On this episode we talk about optimizing conversion rates, his emphasis on user experience, the importance of diversity in a team, and much more.


What is Sendlane

Jimmy Kim: So as you just said Sendlane is an email and sms marketing automation platform for e-commerce merchants. So we help our businesses, so our typical customer is a DTC store or brand or retailer that sell s on like Shopify or Big Commerce or WooCommerce, one of those popular platforms, and you are selling products into the space. 

And what you do is with our product, we're a retention tool. And that means is we're helping you communicate with your customers, recover abandoned carts, and then help you turn those new customers into repeat buyers so you can create more LTV over the years. So it's a communication tool. So if you have a your favorite brand or so forth we're the man that sits between to help you deliver and facilitate those communications out. Both ways. 

Alex Bond: No, that's awesome. So let's say that I'm a data-driven business. Business owner more specifically. And I know how to market my company when it comes to kind of setting specific goals and achieving them, but I might struggle with the actual content or copy that, that should go into my email and SMS marketing is now, is that something that your team would be able to help me out with? 

Jimmy Kim: No, that's about the only thing we don't do. that usually leans over to like an agency side of things. So we're the tool of the platform. We've got great recipes, we've got templates and different things that you can use to kind of speed up and get through the process, but the content is the one place that we can't help right now, obviously, just because, well, everyone's content differs, everyone's strategy sort of differs.

So ultimately we're just gonna provide everything you need, including great customer support to make sure that we can help you through it. But not unfortunately we don't do the content well. 

Email deliverability

Alex Bond: From my perspective, I've actually used some email and SMS marketing in the past, and one of the biggest problems that I've encountered with that is my emails will get stuck in a client's spam folder. Now that's probably not the first time you've heard that, so how do you ensure that my emails go where they're supposed to go? 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah, that's such a loaded question, you know, with deliverability, right? That's basically what you're asking about and it's the age old question.

It's a little bit of a black box for a lot of people because they don't, just don't understand how it all works. But I'll keep it simple because there's a billion things I can tell you there if I've got master classes on this. Stuff and what it really takes, but I'll kind of give you the easy layman's understanding, the best I can so that the l the listeners here can probably understand it.

Spam is very much what it sounds like, right? Unwanted email, right? That's the easiest way I explain it, and what it comes down to is three things I think, in my opinion that come into the balance here. Number one, it's your audience, right? If you're buying a list, you're, you know, scraping an old list.

You've got customers from 20 years ago. You've got people that don't want your emails, unsubscribers. Those people are bad data points, right? And what happens is if you think about like a cup of water, right? And you think about a cup and you've got a good cup, everyone starts with a fair cup of water. And the more bad people you send emails to, the more you're pouring that water out, giving you less reputation, right?

And the more you're selling good people, your customers, your recent people that are in buying from your opt-in people those are going to get you the glass filled up. So deliverability first is content based. Right. Number two, it's behavior based, right? So I would, I mean, I'm sorry. Number one's data. Number two is content based. Number two is what's the content, right? 

Ultimately, no matter what communication you send out, email or sms, they both have deliverability metrics behind them. The reality is, is the content relevant? Is it something they want? Is it something they're listening to? Are they listen? Are they clicking on it? Are they responding to it? There's a lot of different parts to. How you're getting scored there, right? 

So that's the second part, content, right? So is your content relevant? And the third thing is behavior, right? So it all those two points, data, data and the content help drive a behavior out of them. Are they opening in the email and engaging with, or are they clicking on it? And that's ultimately what happens in a big scoring cycle to make a, and this happens all real time of course in how an email ends up in a spam box or an inbox. 

So it's a little confusing in that most businesses, when you're starting off, you don't even realize there's this whole existential. Like force that's fighting against you called the spam box that you've gotta deal with. But you know, again, if you're doing the good things that you've probably read and heard from a million people and being really just good, don't buy a list. Don't purchase list. You can buy a list. Just use 'em for your advertising.

Don't use 'em for your email list cause they didn't want an email from you. Or being able to make sure that you're doing the good stuff, like list hygiene and making sure that you're, you know, getting rid of the people that don't want to hear from you as well. You shouldn't have a problem at least most.

Businesses don't until they get to some type of scale and then they really hit the wall because that's when things really start to matter more and more. Long story short, I would say follow great practices. There's a billion blogs and websites out there that teach you. They're all the same. They all teach you the same thing.

It's just good tanta, good data, you know, all that stuff. Things that I just mentioned. As long as you're doing that, you will be okay. And obviously, you know, there's experts and different people out there that can help you and specialists if you're running into those problems, but it shouldn't be a huge problem up front. It's just making sure your eye doing all the right things is what I say. I mean, yeah, there's a lot I can say about this for sure. 

Alex Bond: I appreciate that you kind of break it down into these three boxes a little bit. I think that just makes it easier to digest obviously. I'm not expecting like a silver bullet. There's never any sort of silver bullet when it comes to e-commerce solutions and stuff like that. So I appreciate being able to give it in these kind of compartments. 

When it comes to these lists, essentially leads, you know, I can come from a sales background at times. If I'm a business, how do I generate these leads? Safely? When it comes to, I don't always think putting 500, $5,000 into someone's hand to get these data points that might be bunk at the end of the day is necessarily as lucrative as some. You know, solution you might have for our audience. 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah. When we talk about, when you talk about getting people onto your list, right? There's two phase, right? Obviously a customer, they make a purchase, they're gonna get on your email list or your SMS list. That's pretty easy. The other side is what we call more of the top of the funnel. Your leads, right? Your people that visit your website. Now there's different things, right? There's the popup. They offer a coupon, a discounted gift. There's a newsletter opt-in that says, Hey, join our weekly newsletter. 

And then there's obviously anything in between there, if you've got any kinda landing pages or any opt-ins or wait lists and different things. So the best way to do marketing, especially if you're e-commerce or DTC, is that you should be an opt-in company, and that means that everything you do is they're putting their physical email address that they want to hear from you and they want to have that happen now.

The right thing to do behind that is to make sure that those actions and triggers are doing things right. You don't just want to collect leads and you don't want to just sit there and blast. You've got these automated systems like Sendlane is exactly what we do here, is like you go to a popup. And you put your email in, right?

And that or an SMS in and instantly in your inbox or your SMS, you receive that coupon code or the newsletter, right? That Sendlane doing its work for you essentially and making sure that it's getting out to the customer. But that action is probably the most important thing because you're confirming that they did want to receive that email or SMS and they're gonna react to that email or sms. So that's how you grow leads in it. 

Now that all starts from the top of the funnel, which is like, I mean, there's a million ways to grow traffic to your website. So I mean, I know we're not here to talk about traffic, but getting traffic to your website through social or Google or Facebook or anywhere you're really thinking about investing on traffic sources to get people, so visitors that are eyes on your website, then the pop up or the lead or newsletter takes over to collect them.

And you'll collect somewhere between 3, 5, 10%, maybe 20% if your pop ups good of that traffic. But those are the people that want to be more connected with you. And then that's your job to nurture them and get them over the line to the sale. And that's where Send Lane jumps in. You create automated sequences to follow up, still giving 'em a personalized experience, yet being able to target them with exactly what they were asking about. 

So that's kind of the way that I say with leads, like that's where you should be generating them. You know, with cold leads and different things, you know, it's very tempting to go out there and buy leads or get a list that someone gave you that they say is always just like the people on your list. I mean, those are all great for like advertising, I say. They're great for lookalike audiences or creating different segments, but they're not good for email because they're not people that wanted to get your email. 

Now, it's not illegal. I will make sure that everyone understands that too as well. It's not illegal to get these lists, and it's not illegal to use these lists because in ex, in the, at least in the United States, we're an out infrastructure, and what that means as the email side is that. Everybody's email is available and you can email them, but you must give 'em the option to opt out and get out of those email cycles. Right? 

And that doesn't mean that it's gonna bode well for deliverability. No, is it gonna bode well for sales, but just so there's clarity that it's not illegal, it's just really gray and frowned upon when you think about what you should be doing in e-commerce.

Turning that click into revenue

Alex Bond: I also kind of wanted to mention that the other problem I've encountered in the past is that a large amount of my emails go unopened. Is there a way that some lane can help me optimize the open rate and conversion rate to actually turn that click into revenue?

Jimmy Kim: Yeah. You know, the age old question, you know, I think what you need to start with is understanding what an open is. Right? An open is an is not intent, it's just a signal that they've engaged with your email. However, in this day in world, there's two types of opens now, right? So there's the open of the actual person.

They opened the email and they looked at it. That's the typical open. Secondly, now with a lot of these new device changes, iOS 16, iOS 15, with the change with with the male privacy laws and the things that they're putting into place, those also fire opens as well too often, and what the really, the inherent problem with open is wide flood is people use that as a signal that people want to email.

But to me, the clickthrough rate is what really matters, right? People need to read the email, connect with you, and want to click and learn more. And those are the most important people on your list. So when you say, oh, I've got a lot of people that open and don't open, right? I always go, well, that's always great and we should do our basic hygiene things like if they're not engaging with.

You know, emails for the last 90 days, for example, they're probably not gonna engage with you in 91 days or 180 days in many cases. So you can probably go ahead and isolate those people. You can try winback campaigns towards those people when they hit 90 days. You can say, throw 'em in this winback and say, Hey, I'm deleting you off my list, or I'm removing you off my newsletter.

I'm no longer gonna send you emails, and if you wanna stay, click here. Otherwise, well remember, to me it's like this email and SMS are both commodities you guys spend on him in order to use them. If you're gonna be smart about it, you should be emailing and SMSing into people that want to receive your emails, not the people that are just inherently been on your list for a long time.

So when I look at those opens and on opens, yeah you can try to re-engage 'em with like a re-engagement strategy, for example, and try to, and be direct, right? Straight up like, I'm removing you from my list if you wanna stay right. We're humans, we get it. Yes or no, right? I always say like that's always like an easy way to get started with it, but ideally this is something that, you know, I think I look even back as a DTC founder and stuff like as retailer, it's a hard thing to let go.

You're like, well, they might really want my email now, and I'm like, no, they really don't. It's just been proven. They'll stay engaged with your brand if they're interested in your brand, and that's what they call customer life cycle. That's where that whole big fancy term customer life cycle, there's a start.

And there's an end to that life cycle, and everybody has an end to the life cycle. And you can think about yourself, what's a brand you used to buy a year ago that you probably don't buy anymore, and you probably stop responding to their emails. It happens. It's just human life, right? It was your job that, that brand's job to keep you engaged and warm and wanting those emails, but we all move on in something, right?

So that's always an interesting thing, like, you know, if you're a baby, baby sleepwear company, for example, well your baby grows up eventually and your customer life cycle ends one day. Very simple, right? So you repeat buying cycle windows probably tighter and smaller than maybe a coffee company that's out there and selling this coffee that people love to drink for six years, you know, like over and over again.

So, unopens or people who aren't engaging you should definitely try to get re-engagement. I always tell 'em two things. One, get some kind of re-engagement strategy put into place. I talked about that. And then two, you should use those that da, those data points just don't keep them. For emailing, use 'em for advertising, right?

Take those people, throw 'em back into advertising funnel and say, hey, they're not engaging with my email. So they haven't purchased most likely or done anything with me in a while. What we know, they've pulled out their wallet in the past, so we should try to at least get them to reengage on a, an advertising channel.

So that's another way to kind of approach it. Those are probably the two ways, but it's just. Natural part of business, right? There's a reason why they say an average open rate is somewhere, you know, depending on industry, 10, 12, 20, 20 5%, like that's the average window. 

That means at any given time, 75 to 90%, your audience is not listening to you. It's a numbers game at the end of the day. That's why you have large email list, 1,000 thousand million, right? Larger that is, that ratio just opens up the number of people there. 

Alex Bond: I think that's a refreshingly pragmatic approach and solution is I can imagine, you know, a lot of people come to you with these questions about open rates or something like that and, and the reality is it's not gonna be perfect.

It's gotta be, there is a customer life cycle and eventually I'm gonna be spending all my time, money, and effort into someone who I'll never hit the sale. And it's just a waste of. All that time, money, and effort, you know, so it's okay to walk away, you know? 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah. I always say like traditional advertising, if I held a sign up in a big crowd and I stood it in front of the crowd and held a sign up in front of everybody, how many of those people would pay attention? How many people would walk away? How many people would never care, right? 

It's the same thing, except the only difference with like an email list that's beautiful or an s m s list is they've at least said that they're interested. Sure. So you've got the first barrier done past the advertising. 

So it's a little bit better intent, however, those people might have said, I'm interested. Nah, I'm really not, and I'm just walking away too lazy to check my email. Too lazy to unsubscribe, but I don't open your email right. Get rid of him. It's cost you money. Shouldn't be spending money on people that don't want to hear from you.

Email marketing frequency

Alex Bond: In a more tactile way, is there kind of an understood frequency or way that I should be spending my or sending my emails or like, you know, to avoid people not opening them or thinking that they're spam. I probably shouldn't send people an email every single day, but I also feel like once a month might be too little. Is there kind of a certain balance there or I imagine it's definitely dependent on the client and the company as well? 

Jimmy Kim: Yes. I love this topic because I always say something very interesting to start with on the internet for some reason, and you know, I'm sure you'll feel the say a day on the internet is like, seven days in the real world.

If you go to visit a store on Tuesday, you don't forget you visited that store, like walked into that retail store and like looked at products on a Tuesday next week. You have a different mentality when you walk onto an e-commerce store, for example. You kind of forget after a day that you were on that store.

I guarantee you, if everybody listening to this podcast will go, oh yeah. I did go there yesterday, but I forgot all about it, right? Like it's typical, right? So the age old era is how much, right? And here's my thing. I say that it is to your head, it is brand and everything and it has everything to do with it.

But I've seen, I have brands that email every day, and I have brands that email once a month. I will tell you, flat out barn on the brands that mail every day make a lot more money than brands that make once a month on email right now. Is there too extreme, too much? Absolutely. But here's what I always say, and I'll start here and then I'll give you the tip.

But first is you get to set the tone of the audience and how you're gonna communicate to 'em, and if they wanna stay on that list. So if you want to email every day and you get them on your list and they opt in and you start emailing them every day, and they're okay with it. They'll stay on your list, keep interacting, keep buying.

Cool. But the people who hate it are gonna leave. Right. It's okay. That's, you can't please the crowd, right? That's just how it works, right? However, with that being said, you know, it is probably a little bit too much to email someone every day, unless you're like a, you know, like a groupon or something that's like a really like hard hitting, like daily deals type of site.

Of course you have to email every day cause you've got a new deal every day, right? So it really depends on that side of it. But to my side of it, I always tell customers this, try to email two to three times a week. That's a good cadence, right? Two to three times a week about your product, your sales, or different things that you might be doing.

Make sure that you have your automated sequences happening upfront and following that similar cadence on front. So if you've got automation for a welcome flow, you should be making sure you're hitting them two to three times a week through that flow before they come out. So that make sure that you are actually giving them the consistency behind because humans are of consistency and schedule, and we're used to things, right? 

We wake up at a certain time, we go to sleep at a certain time. So you play onto the creatures of habit. It's an emotional thing. If you tell them, I'm gonna email you Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays, eventually they'll expect on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Jimmy's gonna email me and it becomes habit. 

And so like even at my store, at my store, my e-commerce brand, we used to mail three times a mo a week, right? We'd out mail on Monday. Monday would be about the deals of the week. On Wednesday we would do the teaser, I call it. So the teaser email was a pre-launch email to the product coming out on Friday, right?

So we used to release every Friday. That was our like mantra, like release one small item every Friday, don't do collections, right? So we were kind of doing that same idea and so we would email Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and sometimes. We'd be late on Friday, and it'd be hilarious if you're late on Friday, you start getting emails and dms like, hey, I didn't see your email. Did it go to spam?

What's the deal this week? What's going on? You know, because I, we trained our audience, right? 

We trained them with consistency. Right. We knew, we dropped that email at midnight, 9:00 PM PST, midnight, EST, on Fridays. That was our like, big announcement email, and everybody waited for that email so they can buy, because we used to sell out within 24 to 48 hours often. So people were like frantically waiting for that. Right. 

We trained our audience. So the answer to your frequency is you get to set the cadence and tone based around your work. The only thing I ask you is that you stay consistent. I don't care how you decide to do it, just be consistent about don't decide to do it every day today, and then go to once a week and then once a month that doesn't work.

Or don't try to do once a month now and then go straight down to once a once a day, doesn't work. It's humans. You gotta remember, there's people on the other end. They're not just data and robots and email addresses, they're humans. And humans don't like disruptions or change too often, so you've gotta soften it in and build the habit.

And so that is how I say communication should happen based around what you're able to do, based around what you're comfortable to do. Based around how you train your audience, and you should stick to that mantra and follow through through, and that's the mo most important way I look at this. 

Email or SMS?

Alex Bond: I also think personally, I prefer receiving emails over text messages. Now I know you, we haven't really talked about SMS much yet because probably I prefer receiving emails over text messages from your experience, have you actually seen better conversion rates between one and the other? 

Jimmy Kim: So again, this is an interesting topic that people are starting to finally understand. I think more and more, and we've been really trying to understand it cuz we can see a lot of data points.

Here's the reality of things, which is really interesting. You know how, I think it's very generational age. Demographic background driven a little bit. Me, I'm an old millennial, that's what they call me. I'm forty one, forty two almost in like, I'm an old millennial, right? That's what they call me. I like email, but I don't mind a little bit of text.

I don't like being sold on text. I just like communicating with my friends. But I prefer email, right? That's my personal preference. But then I go talk to my 21 year old business development specialist at my company, and I ask her, hey, how do you like the, well, I have 4,000 emails, guys. I never checked my email, but all my texts are read.

You're like, interesting, right? You start to realize that like people will have different things and like again, going back to LA it's ha habitual, right? They are habitually, oh, this s m s is how we communicate now. This is how we do, this is their new version of email. Their real-time email. So I always say that you need to, again, it's not a forcing thing, it's a do you want it this way or do you want it that way?

And what I think in the future is gonna happen more and more is there's a subset of your audience that always will just get emails, and there's a subset that get SMS you'll try to hybrid them sometimes, but reality is is that the main channels will happen there. So to your question, yes, we see buying habits on both sides.

It's actually kind of wild. You just see a different subset of users that buy from s m s versus a different subset of users that buy from email. Again, it's humans, right? I don't trust buying off s m s. You probably don't either, but there's plenty of people that'll click and reply and wanna buy right away.

Alex Bond: Have you seen, maybe data support, this hypothesis we're coming up with? I mean, it sounds Jimmy, that like you're, you know, 40 year old kind of cusper and you can go either way on it. I'm 30 years old, so I'm like, you know, hard millennial and I don't like the text messages. 

I think it feels like, I don't know, in a weird way, an invasion of my privacy compared to I know people have my email and that's just gonna happen, but then a Gen Z will say, I don't check my email. Give it to me over a text message. And I think it's interesting to see kind of three distinct, I don't know, understandings of how marketing can reach them. Does the data kind of support that hypothesis a little bit? 

Jimmy Kim: Yep, exactly. I mean, this isn't made up data. This is real data that you can see, you know, that we see on our side that is very clear by demographic fields, especially, you know, where we see it, it's really funny. It's the brands, right? 

So we take it differently. You take a brand that's demographics in their men's forties, fifties, like closed, right? And you look at a brand that's women's catered young 2018, you know, fast fashion brand, right? You can just see the difference in revenue in the way that they're creating their revenue, where SMS is bigger.

And this side on the younger generation, SMS is what generates most revenue. Where on older brands email is generating more revenue. So you can literally see it on the brand side, you can see it on the demographic side. You know, when you look at the age grouping, it's very similar there too. So it's pretty interesting.

And it doesn't mean there's out outliers. I know they're gonna be like, sure, I'm 48 and I buy on text. I'm like, well, yeah, we all have outliers. But the general broad group, the general broad audience in the world, that's just how they think and that's okay. It's just the next medium channel and there'll be another one in next 10 years.

I'm sure you know, email, SMS, we've got already 500 other apps, mobile apps that we can use, right, to talk to each other. It just gets more in my, more diverse and ultimately, Alex, the biggest thing I always say is you need to be where your customers are at. If your customers want to be talking to you through text, you gotta talk to it in text.

They wanna talk on email, they wanna talk on Facebook, telegram, you know, wherever the tech they want to be on. That's where you gotta be, right? That's the way the digital world works. They expect you to be on it. And actually, that's the big thing I say is your customers expect you to be on a lot of channels.

Sendlane vs. its competitors

Alex Bond: Now it's more speaking about these other apps and different programs and stuff like that. Have you, I know on your website you talk about kind of the difference between Ssendlane and other companies. And personally in the past I've used MailChimp and I've had conflicting results with it. Sometimes it's really smooth and great. 

Other times I feel like it wasn't as customizable as I wanted it to be. I always ended up making my own email and then putting it through there, and their templates weren't yada yada y. What are some of the main differences between Sendlane and MailChimp when it comes to mail and SMS?

Jimmy Kim: Oh yeah, so MailChimp's great for when you're starting, like when you're starting like brand spanking new and you, you don't have really a business formation product market fit's not quite solved yet. You're still really trying to figure things out. It's actually a great tool because you don't need all the advanced analytics and you don't need all these advanced things that happen.

Where Sendlane starts to step in is when you've got some traction behind your store and your business, right? You've got some traction, you've got some motions you need deeper data, right? So first things first, you're just gonna have a different level of data where MailChimp's gonna give you their basic points of data.

We're giving you a hundred points of actual data, right? So like things like that. And then like, you know, your triggers, right? eCommerce on one side on MailChimp. You know, typical they welcome and, but where Sendlane your specific. I purchase product A and I shift it, and that creates a trigger, right?

Again, true personalization, right? More automation, more depth of tools. So the tooling is very different in that subset of things, right? Like it's very much a, I can get started and do the things I need to do, or I can, here is my real like, true like grownup product that's gonna help my actual store grow through revenue and creative retention.

Because they say 20 to 30% of your revenue should come from your retention marketing, right? So your email and SMS program should be generating 20 to 30% of your future business. So if that's the case, you need a right tool to do that Sendlane. I mean, in the easiest sense is we're just kind of next evolution.

We're what you grow up into. And you just, and some people are already grown up enough to be able to use the tool right away, but a lot of people don't even have the sophistication of understanding the basics. So you go to the malechi to learn the basics. You get your training wheels on, you get working.

But then when you're ready to move and you are ready to actually scale your business, it's not gonna be the supportive product for you. It's gonna move on. I mean, even they address it. They're an SMB platform. They care about the little guys, mom and pops, and the brick and mortar. And again, a lot of companies will be just fine on that product, but when you start getting serious and scale, you can't stay on a product like that.

Alex Bond: Sure. And what I'm hearing you say, Jimmy, is that they're better for kind of like growth and you guys are more designed for growth and retention. I appreciate that. And what sort of success rate or you know, conversion rates have you seen in terms of the broad effectiveness that clients see when they use Sendlane. 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah, I mean, I kind of tapped on it. So we aim to see our clients. I mean, we see clients at 40, 50% of the revenue. Okay? But like, generally average speaking, 20 to 30% is where we like to try to see our customers. That means that your automated series are generating you money on autopilot all day long.

That means that your abandoned carts are firing and recovering sales. Your welcome emails are creating repeat customers. Your campaigns are driving sales and all that stuff. So we wanna say if you're making a hundred grand, 20 to 30 grand of that, Every month should have been generated outta Sendlane, meaning the, the communication and the automations would be able to able to show that.

And we track and attribute that. So we use a three day click window and in three days they click on an email and make a purchase. Then we get to go and say, Hey, we helped you make that revenue, right? We supported that revenue through indirectly or indirectly we attribute to that, and that number should be 20 to 30%.

So, that's the number that we say that people should be aiming for. Again, again, outliers will be out there. I make 80%, 60%, a hundred percent. That happens as well too. So it just really depends on your brand, but 23 should be your golden star. If you're doing those numbers, then just keep scaling it. If you're not doing those numbers, work towards it and working towards it is just simply utilizing the tool a lot better.

Alex Bond: And that's great that you guys helped track that. I feel like a lot of companies, especially smaller ones, have a great time starting to grow, starting to scale a little bit. But not always necessarily knowing where their revenue's coming from in terms of they know the marketing's working. 

I don't know what's working better than others, but I think that's something that is impressive in terms of y'all being able to do that for your clients or the companies that you work with. So you could immediately tie, you know, this money came from this, you know? 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah. We like to show the roi. It's important that they say, hey, you spent $500 a month on our app, but you generate $80,000 a month. Like, We're doing well for you, I promise. You know, we're not the ones to cut when you're thinking about a budget cut. We're probably the last company you cut. So that's also been you know, important for most companies cuz without us you can't talk to your customers. 

The future of email and SMS marketing

Alex Bond: Well, I wanted to move the conversation a bit toward kind of the trends that you might see in email and SMS marketing. So it seems that email and SMS, has kind of replaced old school telemarketing, like cold calling and snail mail. 

In terms of effectiveness, I still receive both of those, but definitely not at the frequency with which I get emails. I don't, again, I mentioned I don't opt into SMS, but I get a lot of emails. That seems like the forefront. Have you seen an increase or decrease in the total effectiveness of email and SMS marketing over time and more broadly? Where's the marketing trend headed? 

Jimmy Kim: You know, that's a fantastic question. I would say that, because we keep seeing the rise of e-commerce and the continuous growth in that market, it's really hard to measure that because we also see the continuous increase just like them.

So my answer would be, I don't think it's ineffective. I think it's the pinnacle or the most important of what it comes down to. It's the easiest and it's also the most cost effective ways to create that bubble. You know, there are other options out there, of course, like, you know, postcards and different things that are out there.

And again, subset of audience always depends on your background, right? If you're catering to 60 plus year old seniors on hearing aids, they might do much better on a postcard than they might do on a website, right? It's hard to say that, but I will say that I think the trend, in my opinion is it just continues to grow, but it goes back to that focus.

It's not email and SMS, it's where they wanna live. So that could be, that email. I will say SMS will add I think will continue to evolve. I think that to your point, the evasiveness is really important. Like you're feeling it. It's why that like iOS 16, for example, right now in like India and Brazil, they're testing a promotional box on it, right?

So you'll actually have a tab. This is promotional, and if you want to look at it, you'll go look at it, but probably not because it sounds like you don't like it. But some people would like it, right? Some people like the promotional box, just like your Gmail and everything else, right? I think the evolution is that.

It's gonna entail a little bit of privacy. It's gonna entail more barriers to get to it, but again, more people will have to want it, right? It's just being better at being better at creating your community or connection with your customer is gonna be more and more important. That's all it is, really. And personalization, right? 

When you walk into a store, Alex, and you walk in and you shop there all the time, you like feeling like you're welcome there. You've gotta start creating that experience and that in real life experience on the internet, and that's where I think a lot of the e-commerce entrepreneurs in the world are really trying to solve right now in, in this world.

Alex Bond: I'm glad you mentioned that because I think that that is one of my bigger turnoffs to, you know, broad scaled marketing is I feel like a number, you know, when I walk into a store, even if it's an online store and someone's like, hey, how's it going? How can I help you? That makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm not just a data point to people.

So I think when I'm broad stroke, delivered emails where it's like, they don't, they just want my money. They don't really care about it what sort of, you know, solution of mind. They're problem of mind, they're trying to solve, you know what I'm saying? 

I come generally from like a TV background and that's something that's a huge passion of mind and essentially for the very first year, streaming TV viewership has surpassed cable TV viewership, and with streaming there's clearly fewer advertisements.

So I think that with the proliferation of streaming, there's then automatically a decrease in marketing costs for television ads on cable and broadcast. Do you think that companies are looking into digital marketing like email and sms, because they have this chunk of money that they can't spend anymore because it's not gonna be as lucrative. Does that then drive people into doing something more like this? 

Jimmy Kim: Yeah. You know, that's a great question. You know, I'm gonna start with a little bit of a controversial statement in my mind. Let's go. I don't think it's digital marketing anymore, it's just marketing now. You're just expected to be online, you're expected to be on radio, you're expected to be on.

It's just another channel of your marketing effort, right? So I always say like, this is just marketing Now, guys, we're all gonna be online. Everybody's online. Now. You have to be online to be able to communicate. And then it will include TV and billboards and, you know, radio, all of this, podcasts, I mean, all of this, right?

Podcast is the modern radio, right on demand podcasts and streaming. So I think what people are starting to realize is that it's a entire, what we call the customer experience. Like you show TV ads, right? Or streaming ads to get people aware of your site. Then they eventually visit your website. From your website, your advertising starts retargeting them.

The pop-ups try to collect their email address and eventually you nurture them into a purchase, right? Like, I think budgets don't change. I think budgets are now, people are shifting their mind and realizing that my budget can't be just for one little thing. It has to be broadly used in order to make sure that the entire cycle is filled.

You can spend all your money on Facebook and nothing else, and you won't create much results because you need to use to other places. Like you use Facebook, you gotta use Google, right? You can. You can't just advertise here. You've gotta use search engine to make sure that when they're on Google searching for that actual product that you get in front of them first. Right? 

And inherently, I would say everything needs to tie together more than ever. So I would say that not the budgets are shifting. I think the budgets are being used better, in my opinion. They're no longer blowing, you know, $50,000 on tv. They're spending maybe $10,000 on TV and they're using a 40,000 on some Facebook and YouTube ads, for example, or some streaming ads or different things that, you know, would be a different chance or TikTok or anywhere else.

Importance of a good website design in a business

Alex Bond: Totally agree with you. I wanted to kind of wrap up the trends, move into your website actually. So I do a lot of these interviews. And when I was looking at you guys and your website, I was pretty impressed with the general scope of it while it all still being pretty detailed with which it was designed and the information is provided, I felt that it was digestible while also not feeling like I was just being bombarded with information.

How important to you is website design when creating a business? Or should the product and services oh, kind of just speak for themselves? I know other people just, they do the bare minimum and say, call us, we wanna talk to you. It's a case by case basis type of thing. Or is, you know, is that delivery method of a website super important. 

Jimmy Kim: I think this goes to a personal side of preference and belief, but I believe the way that you are presenting yourself in the world through your website and through, that's really it, really, your website and your social media is the way that people perceive you and value you as well too.

So to me, our website needs to be amazing. It needs to really exemplify who we are, what we do teach, you talk to you. It needs to talk to my end user the way it needs to be able to be digested, and then ultimately the other side of that application better deliver at the same level as your website is presenting.

If I go to an ugly website, I'm assuming the app is ugly too right behind it. Never would think any differently, right? You know, you kind of do we're humans, we judge the book by the cover. I know you're not supposed to do that, but that is how humans. Mines work, especially, you know, just, that's just nature, right?

Human nature. So I think that's always something that people over underestimate. Oh, well, it doesn't have to be super actually it matters. It really does matter. So I do agree. And that website should tie with the way your emails look, the way your language works. 

So like we have a lot of things, like even our languaging and the way that we talk on here, everything we send, everything we go out into the market with, we match that energy and language because that's important to us. Because that's how we wanna be heard in the market. So how you feel, how you look. I mean, it's, it's basically all hip tapping, all the emotions.

Again no different than anything else. It's like, how do you look, how do you feel? How do you sound? How do you seem like those are the things that people are thinking about when they're looking at your website? They're putting a person, not a real person, but a person or an avatar of what they would believe that person and who they are on the other side. Does that make sense? Like that's how the mind works. 

Alex Bond: I think it totally makes sense. Actually, hearing you explain it, it reminds me of, say you're walking down the street and the first thing that you notice about someone is how they dress. Generally correct is, is how they dress. And then you immediately think that person's a businessman. That person looks shaggy. You know what? Whatever it is, those are our very first judgements. 

And my mom used to say two quotes all the time and that was dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and you never know when you're gonna meet the president. So I think both of those kind of apply in website. Design because you never know who's gonna visit your website and you wanna make the best first impression possible is what I'm hearing you say, Jimmy? 

Jimmy Kim: A hundred percent. Yeah. I mean, we all wanna explode and do great things in the world, right? We all want to be big businesses. Well, that right person visits your website, loves it, wants to buy your company, or wants to buy a shit ton of the supply, whatever it might be, right?

Like, There's a lot of reasons why you need to present yourself to the best of your ability at all times, so I do. I do agree investing in it more than ever, by the way, because that's how you stand out these days. Otherwise, you're in a plethora of millions and millions of websites and visits and things that you're being targeted with. How do you leave that lasting impression? That's what you need to do. 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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