Email Peeps 35: Stephanie Griffith
What attracted you to email marketing, and how did you get to where you are today?
My story is similar to that of many Email Geeks which can be summed up as follows: “I didn’t choose the email life, the email life chose me!” All jokes aside, I didn’t exactly “choose” email, but once I was in it I made the decision to go all-in.
My first email role was as an Email Marketing Coordinator at a tiny company by the name of Bath & Body Works, with a paltry list size of 26M subscribers. So to say I was spoiled on my introduction to email would be an understatement. I loved the instant results from sending an email, and learned early on about the importance of deliverability (especially with a list of that size!) and properly segmenting your audience.
As a brief aside, my experience in this role, and the many painful years of trying to save emails that followed, was the inspiration for emailpreview.io. We proofed emails by PRINTING them out, on physical paper, and it was such a pain. Come seasonal planning, I had to print out dozens of emails on 11×17 paper and hang them up in a giant conference room for the leadership team to review. My boss didn’t understand why that was a difficult task (lol) and thought you could easily right-click and save or print a perfectly rendered email. That was in 2015. Until emailpreview launched in 2020, there wasn’t a better solution. It is still the best solution today, and my proudest career achievement! Perhaps one day I’ll make money from it, who knows.
After that experience I went to Scotts Miracle-Gro and served as their Email Marketing Manager when Scotts was gearing up to launch their new ecommerce site. My manager wasn’t exactly a huge fan of email, and didn’t understand the potential it had to drive revenue. They had only been sending newsletters out with garden and lawn tips up to that point, nothing with direct sales attribution. One of the highlights of my career was managing the strategy and launch of the first ecommerce email that drove around $500k in revenue. The subject line was something like “Lawn care, delivered to your doorstep.” It performed SO well that high-level execs from retail partners called to ask what on earth we were doing, and if we would be pulling products from the shelves. DTC for CPG was still a new concept then, which is wild to think about now. My nay-saying boss then wanted that email to be sent every week until the unsubscribes exceeded purchases (I know, I know), which I’ll take as a major win.
While that experience was rewarding, I knew I wanted to surround myself with folks that truly understood and appreciated email. So I pivoted to an Email Strategist role at the leading Klaviyo partner agency, Tinuiti, which is where my love for Shopify, DTC, and Klaviyo blossomed. I quickly became a power-user and still believe Klaviyo is the best ESP for Shopify brands today (and held this opinion long before it was cool). This is also where I was introduced to my current passion, SMS marketing for ecommerce brands.
I’ve since freelanced for both DTC brands and SaaS companies, and most recently partnered with the product team at Bloomreach to overhaul their SMS solution which landed them the top spot on G2’s SMS Marketing Report for all of Europe, and a few million in net-new SMS ARR after the product launch. I loved leveraging my marketing background to build and improve products for marketers, since I could deeply relate to their goals and pain points.
While email will always have a place in my heart, my core focus right now is on SMS as we are still learning about this new channel and how it can serve as a complement to more legacy channels like email.
What’s your favorite email hack?
I don’t believe in email hacks. Yeah, I said it!
I do believe in sending emails that meet the following criteria:
- Clear and unambiguous consent – subscribers willingly provided their email address and know what they are signing up to receive. If their addresses were bought or scraped via deceptive means, go straight to jail (or the spam folder).
- Provide value – is it beneficial for the recipient or just the sender? So many emails… don’t need to be emails. I am a firm believer in less being better than more.
- Meet Gmail and Yahoo’s email sender requirements. If you do nothing else, make sure your email authentication is in place, your sender reputation remains high, and your spam complaints low.
Spoiler alert: there is no “hack” to get out of Gmail’s promo tab and into the inbox. The promotions tab IS the inbox.
And putting “free” in your subject line won’t land you in spam.
For anyone more concerned with hacks than just sending good emails, I’d encourage you to focus your energy on the latter. I promise it will work in your favor.
What could most DTC brands improve when it comes to email and SMS marketing?
Sometimes I forget how long these channels have been around because the bar is still really low when it comes to providing a good experience.
The two biggest areas for improvement are:
Relevance and Frequency
Relevance should be the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately, many senders (often the big ones!) are still batching and blasting with wreckless abandon. Yikes. I still get emails (and texts) from brands I have spent lots of money with, who send me emails that are entirely unrelated to what I’ve purchased in the past. I literally told you, with my engagement and my money, what I am interested in. Brands have the data, yet often fail to use it.
When it comes to frequency, most brands focus on sending more communications instead of better ones.
Read that line again.
Brands could reduce frequency and leverage the first and zero party data they have to send more relevant and higher-converting communications.
What’s in your email marketing toolbox?
- Macbook M1 Air
- Noise canceling headphones
- Mug of something warm and caffeinated
- ESP: Klaviyo
- SMS: Recart (their AI-powered SMS campaign builder is a game-changer, for real)
- Milled.com for email inspo
- Email Geeks Slack – truly my favorite part of this industry and where I spend too much time 💌
What’s your favorite email campaign of all time? Why?
I’m giving a two-part answer.
Favorite email campaign from another brand: Spotify Wrapped. We now anticipate this highly-curated experience each year, but it was truly revolutionary when it first launched in 2016. To this day, it is one of the most personalized and creative campaigns any brand has achieved.
Favorite email that I worked on: My Lawn App Activity Tracker from Scotts
This was my first email that landed in the RGE hall of fame and took personalization to new levels before a lot of folks were doing it. It was a painstaking process gathering all of the data points and translating them into the technical requirements our agency partner needed to bring the email build to life. It surprised and delighted app users, and resulted in a major boost of app activity (and revenue) as users were encourage to keep up with their lawn care plans and proactively purchase the products they needed to apply. It also leveraged weather APIs to personalize water recommendations based on rain activity in the users’ area.
Which brands are killing it when it comes to email and SMS marketing?
For email, I’m really loving Going, AllTrails and Credit Karma emails. Super clean and personalized based on my preferences.
Honorable mention for Rover, who has the best personalized pet subject lines, like this one:
And yes, my cat is an agent of chaos.
For SMS, I really love The Nudge – a city-based program that sends local date and activity ideas to your phone. It is one of the best uses of SMS replies and personalized messages. They recently started using Apple’s Business Chat, which makes their messages feel even more legit.
Snif regularly lets folks sign up for early access to new product drops by replying to their SMS teaser messages. I stand by this being one of the best use cases for SMS, and they crush it each time.
How do you manage work/life balance?
Right now, it’s easy. I’m consulting part-time and taking my time figuring out my next full-time role 😉 When I am working full-time, I maintain a strict boundary of no work email, Slack, or LinkedIn on my phone. It is so important to maintain some separation between our real lives and our work lives, and that is one of the easiest boundaries I’ve been able to enforce. We do not need to be connected all the time. We’re sending emails, not saving lives. Test it out, and let me know if it helps!