In this episode, we talked Jacob Anson, co-Founder of AgencyJR, a leading eCom email marketing agency. His team helps eCommerce businesses scale increase sales by 15-30% in record speed, all while being extremely capital efficient. They generated $25MM in sales for their customers and keep going.
How AgencyJR Started
Jacob Anson: So agency JR, actually there's like a meaning to the name, so it's agency, Jacob Rek. So that's my name, my partner's name. The agency got started right now. I think it's gonna be three years ago. We started like three years ago in the summer. First six months we rocked, we said at the start even, we're not an email marketing agency. We were a fit Facebook ads agency now for the first few months. But after due results, tons of work, nothing. We made the pivot to email marketing. Still, first three months, basically nothing. You know, consistency compounds.
So after three months we got to think the first client, then after six months in, I think we maybe with like three, four clients. And then from that point on the snowball just continued rolling. Rolling, rolling. And like two and a half, three years later right now. We're sitting at this pointing ground about 80 clients thought of this year, we had scale up to a hundred clients during Q1.
Obviously things usually die down, but the end of this Q4, we should be back over a hundred clients. And the team says our team science also grown to sub 50 people in total core team. They'll closer to 25, 30, 50, including all of the contractors and part-time people.
Connor: So just to zoom in on that first part of growth, you know, it's interesting to look at startups. When you say the first three months, like, what did that look like day to day? Were you guys like working on it, you know, eight hours a day, or is it kind of like an idea that you kind of touched on or were you going all in at the beginning?
Jacob Anson: Basically all in at that point, I was actually living in Germany. I had the gap year. I told my parents I'm gonna go study after this gap year in my mind, I knew that can can't happen. I don't want to go study when I have something in my own. But for the first three months, basically work was all we did. At that point we did also have like two or think two other products we were working on.
So agencies only one of them, then two other smaller ones. Full focus on work. But also during that time, it was when one of the most important learning for me came that if you focus on only one thing you'll get much better results and you focus on three, four, how many things at once. So, yeah.
Connor: That is a great lesson that I probably should listen to myself. So at that time, you know, did you look up to anybody even your partner? Was there anybody that inspired you or, you know, tell us how this idea came about?
Jacob Anson: In terms of like inspiration, maybe the only one, which like, for me, got to be kind familiar with agency space. I think a lot of agency owners or the newer ones will, will know him other that for me, it was always like a personal thing. I didn't like when I was smaller every day I was dream dreaming about being my own boss, working for myself. I didn't know how I was gonna do it.
Obviously not through email marketing that wasn't even an option, but then as you meet people, new opportunities come and then like email marketing just naturally came out as the best option or the best vehicle to build the business.
Connor: So yeah, you start an email marketing agency. You don't really know much about email marketing. And how did you like upskill at that time?
Jacob Anson: Great question. At this point, like I was lucky because my partner actually had some marketing experience.
So I was at that point, I think it basically had zero. My partner had some experience. I think he had handled a client before, but still we were like, I would say nowhere near the field level of where we should be at to handle legal marketing clients. That's also the good thing, or also also like other, other important thing I've learned along the way. I'm much, it's much more important to start before you think you're ready than just to wait longer and longer when you think you're actually ready or also of course.
So the first few clients, there were messed up a lot of them to be honest, but still through that, we learn more quickly because they, you have direct response. The direct accountability, you messed up with client's accounts, your pay goes away. So just make, you'll make sure yourself, you'll learn everything quicker, but yeah, at the start, we were not really that qualified first, your clients, a lot of messed up a lot of issues, but through that you learned what to do, what not to do and yeah, the first few steps.
Biggest mistakes in email marketing
Jacob Anson: To kind of put it together with our story. So let's start with what not to do, at first and the biggest mistake which we did was not taking care of the list health.
So when you have an e-commerce shop, you have your customer list, let's say 10,000 customers.
The mistake we did, we took those 10,000 customers and sent them out. Every email be sent out. Always that might seem a good idea because the more customers get your email, the more sales you're gonna get. I actually, that's not the case.
You wanna see how much the list is actually engaged, how much the list actually wants to receive your emails and are opening your emails. So maybe those 10,000 customers only about 3000 customers want to receive your emails. You'll be far better off targeting those because they'll be opening up your emails.
Otherwise you're targeting 10,000 customers, which are not opening your emails after your, while your rate is gonna drop to two, 3% and you're sending domain interpretation is gonna go through third, very bad as well, which is gonna enable a negative fly view. And your email marketing revenue is gonna dip down very.
The first thing or to do or not to do is take your list and make sure you're properly segmenting your email campaigns, send out your engaged customers. And what else? Some quick actionable tips for like e-commerce owners. If you're listing, basically just set up like the base, most basic automation to something you can do yourself, like abandoned checkout, welcome sequence with popups, thank you post series, anything of that think you're sending campaigns just be mindful of the engaged part of the list.
Their process in working with their clients
Jacob Anson: With us, I think we are one of the more flexible agencies. Okay. And that's one of the things we preach both with our clients and with our team with the clients, the flexibility comes in terms of like build, mold our service is the fit, your specific need.
We have consulting clients. We have the consult like done with you done for your consulting. We can also do full management, like full management is the preferable option, which we usually do with most of our clients where we come in, take care of your whole email marketing department, A to Z from technicals to designs, to sending emails, to reporting everything.
Then again, in certain cases we have customized these service. So if you wanna use your in house copywriter, we can fit that in. Or if you also be more involved into the email marketing process with ideas and stuff like that as a business owner, that is also something we can do. So usually we ma mold ourselves to fit these specific needs.
Connor: Okay. So is it flexible pricing? How does the payment structure work?
Jacob Anson: Good question. So here again, it's flexible, but obviously I talking of pricing, nobody wants to mention specifics, but here I'll try to give the best answer I can. Dropshipping clients, usually it's more commission based as dropshipping is a pay, but making sales.
And then with like branded clients that is usually a flat retainer or like a smaller percentage fee on the campaigns to give, be more specific depending on your door size and these specific needs you have, this can range from two to eight K a month, somewhere within that range.
Their hiring and management process
Connor: Just wanna switch slightly, but I do want to hear your strategies on email marketing, you keep mentioning your team and it's very interesting to me.
Obviously lots of people who listen to the podcast are e-commerce owners. So there's definitely some lessons that you can teach us about, like building a team you've got, did you say 50 or 80? 50 people around 50. There's still a lot of people. You've got 15 core members and then you have some contractors that must be pretty cool.
Like, you know, you're a young guy you've been doing this for only three years and now you're like a leader of a community. Can you tell us if you've learned any lessons? Or, you know, in the hiring process or working with people or employees?
Jacob Anson: Definitely like this is like one of the, well, this, one of the main things they do on a daily basis. And there has been a huge learning curve with agency specifically like how the business model works.
First you find clients when you find so many clients, you can handle it yourself. You go into hiring. That's always this battle between sales and hiring. Other business models, maybe it's similar, but always at a certain point, like hiring or building a team is the next step sticking point, which you need to solve to move forward for us.
There is also the case in terms of like tips start starting out hiring. The first thing is like, I think the most important thing is like team structure, figure, like what specifically you need, how you're gonna structure your team, what positions you specifically need. And then also be very, very specific about what those, each of those specific positions need to do a mistake.
We made a lot of other people make is when we're, it's very vague that we ourselves don't know specifically what we need. We know we need roughly someone. But we don't know down the specifics, what they're gonna do. This is gonna cause a lot of problems when you onboard them within a team, maybe the expectations on their side are not clear and then maybe they can't even do the other things you want them to do.
So, first thing yourself, think about like, what specifically do you need and just make sure you're conveying that very clearly to the hiring prospect as well. Second thing is I mentioned like team structure. What kind of positions you need here are a very actionable tip when you're starting out to cut down costs, it's best to create, like for your business, like a convoy system where each position is very specialized.
So for example, you have a product manager, you have a copywriter, you have a designer. A mistake. We did, we, sometimes we wanted to combine those three or four things into one person, but it's much harder to have find a person who's a product manager, designer and copyrights is to find three specific people which each take care of those things. And then also it's gonna be much cheaper in the end.
Connor: It's harder to find that at one person or easier?
Jacob Anson: Yeah. Harder. So someone who can do product management, who can do, and also copywriting and also designing. That's like three skills combined. There is not a lot of people that have those three unique skills, but there is a lot more people who each have only one of those unique skills and that when's gonna be much cheaper and easier for you to make your first hires.
Then you, and then as you grow, just comes down the structure of the team, make sure its for structured your hired managers and it's just learning, doing, failing and learning again.
Connor: Fair enough. Steve jobs in his biography said that if you hire a manager who hasn't worked the job, that he's like ruling over, she's ruling over, and he's just a bozo, you know. He's just a loser.
Have you had that experience? Do you promote the person in the copywriting who's doing really well? Who's showing like team leading abilities. Or do you bring in like an external manager to be just good at managing?
Jacob Anson: Yeah. So that is important. Like for us, like many created these steam structure, for example, there are the accounters and they, the team leader on top of that, then the team leader, they have not specifically done the position, but we always make sure that they are a hundred, a hundred percent, hundred percent like each and everything the account needs to do.
So in that case, that is the case, but I fully agree with the quote. So example for me in the business partner, we only hire a certain position or ask for help in a certain like business aspect. If we ourselves understand what we are looking for, because then we're also able to see like how well that is done.
If the person is a good fit. So we never hire something where we don't understand what's needed or what needs to be done, but they a hundred percent agree. And right now it's in the company. I don't. Maybe we, I don't think we have like a direct promotion right now, but there is the structure. The team structure is built out.
So that for example, the account managers, they can climb up to the account executive position. So there is the climb up ladder for them, but I fully a hundred percent agree with these statements there.
The future of email marketing
Connor: So now I just wanna pivot, you know, you're in the business of email marketing, you're a young guy, I'm a young guy and I look at email marketing and I'm just like, surely this is just gonna get more privatized in terms of like ad blockers, you know, like I have an ad blocker.
I never see a YouTube ad in my life, but I feel like somebody is just gonna make an app for email marketing as well. Like the Google promotion, social inbox tabs are pretty, they're pretty inefficient. Are you like preparing for something like that in the future? And what do you think about that?
Jacob Anson: Good question. Like overall, when you look at like all of the marketing channels, there's like marketing Facebook ads, Google ads, TikTok ads, and like any other like marketing channels. I think of course, outside of like billboards and stuff like that, like email marketing is the oldest one.
I'm pretty sure might be wrong, but one of, at least one of the oldest ones and usually like the, the oldest things usually stick around for the longest time as well. Obviously this time goes on, there are gonna be more restrictions, not sure like how, and specifically they're gonna look, but the marketing don't say it's gonna go.
I been a thing like we should, and bill be more worried about like other marketing channels, like Facebook ads, for example, last few years have been crazy. The tracking is absolutely smashed the data attribution, like everything there, demo marketing.
There also were some tracking issue, but like not nothing major. And I don't see it as being an issue moving forward. It's one of the oldest marketing channels, one of the more stable marketing channels. So I'm not too worried about anything. We'll figure it out.
Connor: I mean, it's pretty lucrative, right? Like it's basically free to send an email. But you can get an enormous return on investment because of that. You just gotta put your time in and then just if people buy the product.
Jacob Anson: For sure. Yeah. Again might be wrong with, I'm pretty sure it counts as the marketing channel of the highest power. Why across all, all, all channels. And obviously when you acquire a customers, do for example, Facebook ads, you have to spend money, money on that.
For example, if your product costs 50, maybe spend. Many on acquisition, like Facebook cash, 20 bucks on the product constantly left at like 10% profit, you know, marketing. Obviously there are costs of flavor, but that doesn't cost anything send out email. So the same $50 products you would get maybe 40 to 35 dollar profits there. So definitely.
Why email marketing is important
Jacob Anson: Okay. That's interesting to hear maybe I'm not going to convince you, I'm gonna oppose your view in a way. So like the email marketing, like we have done a lot of testing. Usually like most of the cases, like the best performing email is actually the, the ugliest kind of email.
It's like the pure text based email. Mm-hmm like when you, for example, you go into Gmail, you compose compose an email it's pure text, nothing else. When we send out those for brands, those usually have the best metrics. So best operates, black best click rates, best revenue everything with the openness click, right?
There is a logical reasoning behind that because the email's lighter, it has better liability, a much higher chance of landing in the primary folder. Then as for like revenue numbers and stuff like that, most likely is the shock factor because you don't expect receive that, getting email from a brand you're more likely to read it. It's more likely to click and the more clicks you get, the more purchases you get. But then I don't really like design. It really depends.
Obviously design is up to a certain point subjective. What's good design, what's bad design. Obviously there are certain ways how you can think about that. Roster just comes down to email structure. The design basically just has to fit the brand design. It has to look natural. The transition, the email over to the brand has to be natural. If the brand is maybe has more of like an old school vibe or maybe like an older vibe, we'll just make sure to implement the same kind structure with an email.
So if the customer sees the email, they click on like link and then go to the website. It seems like a smooth transition. It's not like doesn't go from pink to black and stuff like that. But also just email structure, have the CTA button, basically on the first view of the emails, you're able to click it. If you're interested, it's basically just giving some small tweak to make the customer journey a bit easier. So I think hopefully that serves as a good answer to your question.