Dylan Kelley is a sought-after ecommerce expert who helps top Shopify stores stop leaking revenue with done-for-you email marketing. Dylan is the founder of the ecommerce email marketing agency Wavebreak and host of the Wavebreak Podcast: Grow Your Shopify Store.

Dylan: Thanks for having me. It's great to be back. It's always fun. 

Arlen: Yeah, definitely and one of the things that we're talking about before the recording is super ironic that we're recording a year exactly from the day previously that we recorded actually an actual year.

We recorded this. Prior episode October 2nd 2018 and now it is October 2nd 2019. So we didn't plan 

Dylan: that exactly a year later. 

Arlen: Yeah, exactly a year later. So it just doesn't know how it lined up like that. We didn't plan to do it like that, but I looked at my calendar and said wait a minute. 

Dylan: Is this happening?

Yeah, that means it's going to be a great training. So yeah, guys you guys looked out if you're listening 

Arlen: definitely definitely and so I know our audience is super excited because we are as I mentioned at the beginning of October we're starting to get into the prepare to get into the holiday season.

I know all these e-commerce vendors are ramping up the big-box retailers are getting their things in place. I'm not sure if anybody's heard but or probably saw the the announcements and. Little presentation at Amazon. Did they got a bunch of new products coming out and you just right in time for the holidays.

They got some pretty cool stuff. They got some things actually one of the things I pre-ordered I'm super excited about is these Amazon Echo buds these wireless earbuds. So 

Dylan: oh wow. 

Arlen: Yeah. I hadn't taken the plunge with the wireless earbuds yet. I've been waiting and doing a lot of research. And when I saw these I jumped on them so they should be delivered.

I think they said October 30th is when they officially are out and they'll be delivered. So I'll be letting everybody know how they are once I get them. 

Dylan: So that's awesome. Yeah, they look like they're straight from the future. I mean and you just talk to him like Alexa exactly Spotify or whatever it is.

Yeah, man. 

Arlen: So yeah, I'm super pumped about that. That's awesome down, you know aside from all of these. Huge retailers e-commerce retailers that are trying to gobble up everything there of course still is of market share for everyone else. And you know today Dylan is going to be talking to everyone about how you can strategically create and frame your Black Friday emails because Black Friday email marketing is a great strategy and he's got.

Awesome outline for that. But before we get into that Dylan, why don't you remind us a little bit about what you've been doing your background and you know, how you got into what you're doing today. 

Dylan: Yeah, totally. So yeah, I mean huge opportunity for e-commerce this time of year, obviously, you know Amazon with their releases and all the other bigger stores.

That's why it's important to prepare which is good. If you're listening to this podcast, right you want to do everything you can to to get ready and really crushing and get your piece of the pie because so much money going through the internet, you know that time of year. Anyway, yeah, my name is Dylan Kelly.

If you don't know who I am. I'm the founder of a company called wavebrake. We're an e-commerce email marketing agency like Arlen said and we've really mastered the Art and Science. Of email marketing for e-commerce. It's literally the only thing we do but it didn't start out that way back in the day.

Actually. I mean, I've bounced around spent my entire career in e-commerce doing a bunch of random things but starting a few years ago. I think it's like I don't know for three or four years ago at this point. My main focus was doing conversion rate optimization for e-commerce brand. So I was working with some pretty sweet Brands.

And actually what happened was the one of the Brand's I was working with their ads. They were sending 90% their traffic from Facebook ads and they're doing really well seven-figure business mid seven figures or trying to get to eight just like a lot of other companies relying on Facebook doing you know, 90 95 % of the revenue.

But what ended up happening was competitors went into the space and just drove up the cost of ads like crazy and it just the margin just didn't work for this self-funded bootstrapped e-commerce business and what ended up happening was there traffic just like completely plummeted and that's when I was like, okay like crl like conversion rate optimization is great because you can make more money from your existing traffic, but I was like what there's gotta be a better way to you know, add stability to your business and you know, Increase conversions without having to rely on a platform like Facebook and that's when I started experimenting with a bunch of different stuff everything from you know, SEO to email marketing and what I ended up fighting.

I've always been a marketer my whole life my whole career, but I found emails just this crazy profitable powerful thing even in 2019. To drive revenue for businesses and it's a stable foundation and this is something that's super important as you get into the holidays because I mean I was talking to a client of ours the other day 8 figure store.

She was telling me how they're already seeing ads. Facebook ads increase their not as profitable as they used to be and the closer you get to queue for or I mean, we're in Q4, but the closer you get to Black Friday. Once the second week in November hits the price of a just skyrockets and the great part about email is the channel that you own.

So no matter what happens to Facebook you have this to rely on right so you don't have to stress out about you know, hitting your payroll still paying your rent paying your mortgage whatever and at the same time, it's just extremely profitable and. Not to mention like typically the majority 50 to 80% or more of your customers who are going to buy on Black Friday Cyber Monday.

Typically, they already have relationship with your brand part of that is because it's so expensive to drive Revenue. But the same time I mean, it's just like you can make your company so much more profitable by focusing on the people already in your business and not have to worry about the rising tide cost.

So that's kind of the big picture of how I got into things and where I'm at today and what I do 

Arlen: awesome dealing with thanks for that refresher appreciate that and as you'd mentioned you being a marketer at hard and just being in the marketing field for so long you really have seen that. Email marketing is still here to stay regardless of what so many people say that okay email is dying as 2019 the people still yeah.

Well, that's just a bunch of just BS because it is still a viable marketing platform. You only have to look at what some of the big guys are doing. They're still doing it. They're still investing heavily in targeted email marketing campaigns and doing everything they can to continually Drive traffic to their sites via email promote what they have.

Educate people the list goes on and on so it's always going to be I think for the foreseeable future at least a viable platform. Now, of course, you mentioned Black Friday, of course is steadily approaching where the beginning of October right now by the time this podcast goes live will be closer to that date as well and all of these e-commerce brand.

That are out there listening are kind of prime to get their deals together. What is it? They're going to offer now. Why is it that email marketing is so important now at this particular time of year. 

Dylan: Yeah, that's a great question. I mean like overall like emails still crushing it you look at all the other channels that have come and gone over the years.

I mean even SEO right we saw recently with that big health update a lot of e-commerce brands in the health space relying on SEO and traffic just poof half the traffic gone, maybe a hundred percent under traffic or close to a hundred percent of it gone. Anything about email? Is it still there?

That's still where all the transactional content is happening and it's just email is never going to go away. Does that mean you shouldn't invest in like other? And marketing channels, for example SMS, you know, I definitely think that is something potentially you definitely need to test. We have some clients that SMS is crushing it for some clients that it just doesn't work for it all just because of who the audience is right like older audiences just don't convert as well.

But the reality is email no matter who like we've tested this across industry and Industry and product to product. It doesn't matter if you're selling one product doesn't matter if your customers are. 65 doesn't matter if your customers 18 to 25 people still buy from email and it's just extremely profitable like you really cannot beat it.

You can spend 5,000 a month on email and drive a million dollars in sales or you can spend 10K a day and get the same results. On ads and so like that's the big thing and the other thing is too is like this is money that's already in your business. You can go and try to compete and I'm not saying do not spend money on ads in Q4 definitely do that.

But what's great about this is like you already have all these people so many Brands aren't doing anything with them. They're not contacting them. They're not building relationship. They're not sending again, like imagine if your lifetime value because like you said like the big Brands they're still sending emails.

That's the secret to scale you look at any e-commerce business doing over a hundred million a year, they beautiful emails and great email programs because they know it's important. Why because if you want to scale your business you need to increase your lifetime value to increase your lifetime value from your customers.

You need to get more repeat purposes and to get more repeat purchases one of the most predictable and effective ways to do it. I would say the most predictable and effective way is with email just because you can automate a lot of it and you can touch people exactly where they are without having to worry about the cost of advertising or you know, the different laws of different platforms.

Like even Facebook Messenger. You're still building on top of Facebook. So you still have that risk to so that's kind of a high level overview of why email so important on Black Friday and you know comparing it to other marketing channels. 

Arlen: Yeah, I appreciate that. And one of the things you mentioned, of course is these other brands these larger brands that are doing it that are pushing a hundred million a year or more.

The bottom line is they have all the data they have tons of money to invest in research and data and so they're only going to do things if the data that's out there. Says that it's viable. So right you can rest assured that their decisions are marketing decisions are backed by solid data and you can't go wrong by piggybacking off of some research and data that they've already done.

So definitely take that to heed for sure all of the listeners out there. Now, if everyone that's listening is convinced and is trying to get their act together in time for Black Friday. How really does a you know a great. Black Friday email marketing strategy look like 

Dylan: so I mean if you don't have a strategy like this, you're just going to throw money away because this is money already in the business.

All you have to do is do the work and do it the right way and you're going to see the money come in, but I think the most important thing is like. The biggest mistake Brands make when it comes to their emails. There's two buckets, like number one. They're just sending bad emails and what I mean is it's just selfish and salesy all the time.

There's no relationship. It's completely one-sided right you think of it like a bank account you want to be making deposits into your email list into your customer base and then asking for the withdrawal you don't want to just like you think a people who you're friends with. They're people who give they don't just take right the people who take you like a screw that guy my God, I don't like him.

You never hang out with him. Again. It's the same with this. There's people on the other end of your email list. So you don't want to send salesy terrible emails all the time. And other thing is like you don't want to other bucket Brands fall into them a big mistake people make is they don't send at all or they don't send consistently and they just don't send enough.

And then both these things lead to fatigue right like people forget about you or they get annoyed with you and what you want to do, especially leading up to Black Friday in like just the first few weeks is get people back warmed up into your brand. You don't just want to be that brand who comes out on Black Friday and like Hey by for me because there's literally hundreds and hundreds.

It's like literally actually thousands of brands that you're competing with who are all sending emails as well and the best subject line in the. Isn't going to get you results if people are annoyed with you or completely forget who you are. So leading up to Black Friday. The most important thing you can do is just send valuable emails and really backtrack what you have like think back to like why and how customers actually by and that's kind of the big pictures.

You want to warm up your list leading up to Black Friday by sending valuable content. What does that look like? Blog post educational content lookbooks things like that addressing customer objections, then you get to Black Friday Cyber Monday, you pull the lever of the sale. All their objections are gone.

They're familiar with your brand. They engage your numbers are better than they've ever been even if you have like the worst subject line ever because you've built that loyal following so that's kind of like the first step that you want to take 

Arlen: that really makes so much sense and I was thinking about.

Past black Fridays in the emails that I get from just different lists that I'm on different brands that I'm associated with and there are some brands that I I get consistently every year. It's always that Black Friday email. I haven't gotten anything all year and it's a rear it's the Black Friday, you know, that's it.

And so I usually glaze over it usually delete it because I'm you know, I'm not really familiar with what the brand is doing. What do they have going on and it's you know, it's just kind of a surprise thing. They haven't really formed a relationship and. I haven't really connected with them at all.

It's just every year Black Friday email and so I definitely see what you're saying that you've got to do stuff leading up to the Black Friday to educate the in customer not just blast them with some type of promotion because nine times out of 10 is just going straight in the trash now speaking of leading up to Black Friday when actually should store owners start preparing for Black Friday campaign.

Dylan: Yeah, so I mean ideally you want to start sending as soon as possible. But like I don't know when this when exactly is this airing November early November 

Arlen: this will probably are either late October early November. Yeah. 

Dylan: Okay. So if you're listening to this podcast, I mean like ideally you're starting to kind of ramp up in October.

Just getting people familiar. Like that's if you're not emailing at all. But either way you want to kind of ramp up in October come in November. You want to start emailing, you know, multiple times per week and just really getting people familiar with the brand. You definitely don't want to be the brand to just come and say hey, it's Black Friday by for me.

What you want to do is at the very least start emailing the week before but really like start emailing early November as soon as possible. Worst case scenario, you know, you can still send those emails out Black Friday Cyber Monday, but ideally you're starting to ramp up a little on October 1 things up a little bit.

Early November you're really starting to address those objections start going for the sale a little bit more and asking for the sale just because it's that buying time of the year. And then as you get closer like a week out, that's when you start to kind of tease things maybe release the sale to VIPs that sort of thing.

So that's kind of what the timeline looks like leading up to things and we can get more into the specifics of like everything else later in the show. 

Arlen: That sounds great. Now all for all of the brands that are listening and all of the marketing folks that are listening and they're now let's say on board and said, okay great.

This all makes sense. I really should start getting lined up for Black Friday email marketing. Now, how do I come up with a great discount? You know, what are some examples of that? Because it could be kind of daunting to figure out what's going to be that sweet spot that's going to get people to pull the trigger so to speak.

Dylan: Right. It's definitely daunting. And then also there's the idea that like it's not going to be good enough. I have to give away like 50% off and not even make a profit or whatever. The most important thing to think about is that a discount that you come up with last minute isn't going to cut it because your competition has been planning for months like weeks or months if not months so you can't just slap a discount code on an email and hope for the best you really want to plan an advanced and come up with the best offer that you possibly can because it is your biggest opportunity of the year and you don't want to waste it so.

What I recommend is like brainstorming three to five ideas for offers and you want to make sure they're great like you wanted to be a win-win you want to be profitable for you and you want them to be a no-brainer for the customer and you want it to be your best promotion of the entire year. So let's say for example, typically you give 10% off like that's a typical sale for you for Black Friday.

I would bump it up to at least 15 probably 20 like 25. Percent off would crush if your brand that doesn't typically do discounting. That's a question. I get a lot like oh what if I we don't do discounts like we like to keep our brand premium. I would say number one like tested discount. It'll probably crush or just do another offer right free gift with purchase.

That's awesome BOGO or something like that where it's not like discounting the brand but yeah, I think it's like you don't have to overcomplicate it but I think the important thing is like make it a win-win and make it. Your best promotion of the entire year something that's literally like that.

You can because you want to say in your marketing like this is our only time of year that we do this. You don't want to lie about it. You have to be honest in marketing or people will pick up on it and your brand will do as well. So that's kind of how to that's how you come up with the best Black Friday offer for your brand.

Yeah, 

Arlen: that makes a lot of sense because I can remember from past campaigns that I've seen a lot of times. I've looked at these and I'm like I had that doesn't seem that special. It seems like that's something similar to what they offer before similar promotion. So I see what you're saying. It does have to be something unique and it's going to be more than anything else you've ever done as far as on a promotion level or a discount levels.

So it's got to be something that they're going to want to jump for and your marketing. Materials and everything has to really just kind of build up to this one special Black Friday off or the one and only time you're going to be doing 50% off of whatever it is. So that totally makes a lot of sense now after a brand has gone ahead and created the campaign done them.

The build-up have gone ahead and done the Black Friday marketing campaign. What do you suggest that they do after Black Friday with regards to their email 

Dylan: marketing? Yeah. So overall like Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend. The whole idea is like there's gonna be lots of competition in the Inbox and at minimum during that weekend.

You're going to want to be emailing at least daily. I would recommend probably twice daily to stay on top of the inbox. And that's just basically like Hey, we're announcing the sale and tending reminder emails like variations of the same email to constantly remind people during the weekend all weekend long.

Okay, here's the offer. Here's the end date adding that urgency and then once it gets to let's say Sunday, right? You run your Black Friday offer you do your Sunday thing like hey black Friday's ending. Senate in the morning last day afternoon or night like hey, the sales ending really good one is like hey the sale ends in 4 hours just because like crap that's not enough time to sit around and wait and then Cyber Monday, there's a couple things you can do you can extend the same offer and just you know, Market it as Cyber Monday or you can like up the ante a little more like some Brands we work with do this like they'll start off Friday, you know.

30% off and then Monday it's like up the ante even more to 35% off. And yeah, so emailing twice per day that's kind of like what it looks like over Black Friday and then to kind of like touch on your question like to what do you do afterwards a good plan is to you know, segue into like a 12 Days of Christmas or something and just like give people gift ideas and things like that like Leverage as much as you can and just really like email daily or every other day just because like that's the opportunity there is.

I just featuring different products in your catalog. Just trying to get as many sales you can this is what it's okay to be salesy and promotional this time of year 

Arlen: that makes a lot of sense and I like what you said as far as you know leading up to Christmas 12 Days of Christmas gift ideas. All that is all relevant and you can kind of tie that into your.

After Black Friday campaign and one of the good things also when you think about the holiday season depending on the email what your email list looks like the emails that you have most people I don't know if they're like me. I'm always your on the holidays. I use it as a time to kind of clean up my email so, you know people are sitting around after.

Drinking too much eggnog with the family and want to get a little bit of work done. They may be going through their emails. And so yeah, it is a good time to continually get those messages out there and you could have some viable touchpoints even during the holiday season. So you want to definitely take advantage of that that really yeah.

Dylan: That eggnog email subscribers segment. That's really profitable one, 

Arlen: right? Gotcha as we get ready to wrap things up is one thing I wanted to ask you for the listeners that are listening either the brands or the marketers that want to go ahead and move forward with it. But maybe they've got like a email.

Tool that they're saying, you know Mike the solution I'm using it just it's not that great. I don't think it's that reliable. Do you have any go to email Marketing Solutions that you use you? That were great for e-commerce brand. 

Dylan: Yeah, so I mean I've tried basically them all so I've been really firm answer on this.

I'm a huge fan of klaviyo. It's the perfect balance an amazing integration with all the software that exists in e-commerce Bigcommerce Shopify, you know any platform that you're on. It just you can set up triggers and segments based on anything. The second thing is it's easy to use it gives you the Enterprise capability is that these like top 100 retailers are using with software.

They're paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for but it's like easy for a human to you. Like it actually makes sense. There's pieces that are drag and drop it's a perfect combination for like if you're serious and you want to actually make money from email. I would upgrade to klaviyo like some people find oh, it's a little more expensive than MailChimp or something like that, but it's going to pay for itself just because the features and capabilities that it has a highly recommend.

Klaviyo. 

Arlen: That's awesome. And I agree. I'm familiar with klaviyo very user-friendly very straightforward and I've dealt with a ton of different email Solutions over the years at Omni star. We've used we've used them all as well. And a lot of them are complicated. I'm not gonna lie there some that when you get in there you feel like you don't know where to go.

You don't know what to do and it just is turn off to even try to deal. Managing and setting up your email campaign. So yeah. Klaviyo. Definitely they do a great job where they're specific to e-commerce Brands and I think that's really key. So they can really focus on the things that Ecommerce companies will need the features that they want and what's going to bring them some success.

So yeah great plug they appreciate that. Now as I get ready to wrap things up, we definitely appreciate you coming on Dylan for number 2 of The Black Friday episode because this is always some timely information that I know is going to go a long way with all of our listeners. I definitely took notes on my end and I'm going to relay them to.

Our marketing team. So I'm definitely excited to do that. One of the things I always like to close out on it is that fun fact question. I was taking the list into the last year's. Oh, yeah, when I asked you if I think you'd said that you used to hate burritos, and now you love them. They like what are your favorite foods?

So you kind of made us 

Dylan: rich overnight. I'm actually love burritos. People joke around well, it's not a joke anymore. But like people are actually concerned for my health team members to burn advises that I work with the we work I work from is literally right next to a Chipotle. So it's just like like literally the door to the we work is like two feet away from Chipotle.

It's terrible, but I love it. All right. I'm excited for this one. Let's see what happened. 

Arlen: So yeah, basically, what do you think is something that you got going on a fun fact that can top your burritos something that people be surprised to know about you. 

Dylan: You think by now my third time on the show that I would prepare for this question.

Let me think. Okay, here's a fun fact. So this appearance is fun fact is that my favorite type of movies are actually the animated ones that they make for little kids. Well, I guess I would even argue that they don't make them for little kids their family movies, but he had Toy Story 4 Man favorite movie this year so far 

Arlen: gotcha.

Gotcha. All right. That's awesome. That's a John with a tile. I know a lot of people adults and kids themselves I've got into and I think it all goes into the marketing of these movies. What they put into it because they try to make them appeal to a wide audience not just children because you know bottom line these days.

It's all about that Revenue. They got to make up that money that they got to make a profit. 

Dylan: They got to get those adults in there and then they hit you with the story and you're like was not expecting that. 

Arlen: Yeah, exactly. They are throwing threw out some things to appeal to adults as well. We that's awesome.

I appreciate you sharing that Dylan and you know, finally if anybody wants to learn more about what you're doing and what you got going on it would like. Reach out to you to pick your brain anymore about email marketing or Black Friday email marketing. How did they get in touch with you? 

Dylan: Yeah, so we talked a lot today about Black Friday email marketing.

There's a lot of things like if you took notes great. If you didn't know were he's actually put together. I turn this article until I can easy checklist for everybody to use. So talks about how to warm up your email list how to come up with the offer and like it literally an email sequence that you can just use to write your emails with so makes it super easy to take the first step and you can go pick that up at Black Friday checklist.com if you want a professional team to handle your emails for you.

You know that you could be generating more revenue from email, but your team just didn't have the time or you don't have the know-how. You just feel like you could be doing better. Your list could be more engaged. This is a great time of year to do. If you want to learn more about that. You can head to wage break that cone.

You can learn more about what we're about you check out our case studies. And from there. You can request a call with me personally and yeah, definitely check out that checklist Black Friday checklist.com. That'll help. You have a great background in the email side and just make it super easy. You just take that put in your to do list and Crush Black Friday.

Arlen: Awesome. Thank you Dylan. I appreciate that. And I love that domain name Black Friday checklist.com very easy to remember. I'm 

Dylan: surprised it was available. 

Arlen: Yeah. I have to I'm going to check that out myself for sure and we'll be sure to have that in the show notes as well as on the site. So people be able to readily.

Take a look at that. Well, thank you. Again Dylan for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast. It was a pleasure having you. 

Dylan: Thanks for having me. It's great to be back as always and really fun talking with you. 


Podcast Guest Info

Dylan Kelley
Founder of
Wavebreak