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Episode 108 - Getting Started with Email Campaigns for Your Shopify Store

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

In this episode I'm going to talk to you about email.  Email is an important revenue driver for any Shopify store.  In fact, most of my clients get between 1/4th and 1/3rd of their revenue from email.

For frequent listeners of this podcast, you know that I'm fan of Klaviyo for email, which I'll link to in the show notes.  So I'll be using terms you'll find in Klaviyo.  Other email tools will have similar concepts, but may use different terms.

Your emails from a tool like Klaviyo can fall into two different buckets, flows and campaigns.


A flow in Klaviyo refers to an automated sequence of targeted messages that are sent based on predefined triggers and conditions. This is often referred to as marketing automation or automated email campaigns in other platforms.

For example, you might set up a flow to send a series of emails to new customers who sign up for your newsletter. The first email might welcome them, the second could introduce them to your product range, and a third might offer them a special discount. Each of these emails would be sent at a specified interval after the customer signs up.

Flows can be triggered by a variety of customer behaviors and events, including making a purchase, abandoning a cart, or reaching a certain milestone like a customer anniversary. By using flows, you can automate a large part of your email marketing, and ensure that your customers receive timely and relevant messages.  This set-it-and-forget-it aspect makes flows super valuable and they continuously make you money and build your brand while allowing you to focus on other parts of your business.


A campaign in Klaviyo refers to a one-time send email that is usually used for newsletters, sales promotions, announcements, or any other type of broad communication that isn't based on a specific customer action or behavior. Unlike flows, which are triggered emails based on predefined conditions or customer behaviors, campaigns are more traditional, manually-scheduled email sent to a designated list of recipients.

Campaigns can be sent to all subscribers or to specific segments of your email list. Segments can be defined based on various criteria like purchase history, geography, engagement level, and more. This feature allows you to tailor your campaigns to suit different subsets of your audience, maximizing their relevance and effectiveness.  An example would be sending a 4th of July email only to your American audience.

As a result, Klaviyo's campaign feature allows you to engage with your customers or subscribers in a more general but still targeted manner, complementing the more personalized and automated engagement of flows.

While you can re-use campaigns, they do not have the set-it-and-forget aspect of flows.

The first place that you should focus on in building out your Klaviyo implementation is with flows as they are automated for all of your customers and their future actions.  And Klaviyo gives you a robust set of templates that you can use as the starting point for building the right flows for your business.

But campaigns are also very important.  I see that in a mature Klaviyo implementation, the Shopify store is making half of their email revenue from campaigns.  But most stores are not because campaigns take ongoing work to set-up.  So if you are one of those stores that are making money from your flows but aren't leveraging campaigns, then you have some low hanging fruit on how to increase your revenue from your existing audience.  And that is by starting to use campaigns.

In a past podcast episode, which I'll link to in the show notes, I talked about creating a marketing calendar for your business.  The short summary of the marketing calendar is that it is used to organize your marketing efforts around logical events and seasons for your business.  For example, if you sell yo-yos, you should build a campaign around National Yo-Yo Day, which is June 6.  And then you'll create a campaign around your Yo-Yo Day marketing event. 

So, I'm going to walk you through setting up your first campaign.  One of my favorite offer types for a campaign is Free gift with purchase.  I prefer free gift with purchase over the standard get a percentage off on your order discount.  While percentage off discounts are a big motivator for customers, I recommend starting out with other calls to action so as to not train your customers to just wait for your next sale.  And every business is different.  So you should try a number of different tactics and learn what works well for your situation.

I like free gift with purchase as it can motivate customers to act without giving everyone 20-30% off.  The call to action is that the customer can get a free gift - and everyone likes free.  And studies show that the perception of the value of free $10 product is higher than the value of $10 off.  And you get to set the threshold the customer needs to cross to qualify.  And I like setting that threshold fairly high.  You see, free gift with purchase can be more than a simple buy product A and get product B for free.  With Shopify's automatic discounts, you can have the threshold be a total cart value, not just a single product.  So let's say that for our hypothetical yo-yo store that our average cart size is $30.  You could set your cart threshold for the free gift to be much higher than $30, say $90.

You'll need to decide on a free gift.  Let me start by saying that you should start small.  So for this $90 cart threshold, I'd say a $10-$20 item can be a big motivator.  Now my favorite free gift is one that has your brand on it.  Something that the customer may never purchase for themselves, but something that they would appreciate nonetheless.  A great example is a hat or t-shirt with your brand on it.  This can help you turn your customer into a brand advocate.  So in our yo-yo scenario, our free gift could be a crazy for yo-yos t-shirt with our store's logo on it.  If your cart threshold is lower, your free gift could be a packet of stickers with your brand.  I have a client, Reptichip, and they sell substrate for lining the bottom of reptile cages.  The substrate comes in plastic bags that the customer needs to cut open.  So they found a folding blade that is perfect for cutting open these bags.  And they added their brand to the blades.  And these have proven to be great free gifts for their marketing campaigns in addition to selling them in their store.  Hopefully, these examples give you some good ideas about products that could be your freebies.  The key is to steer away from your core products that customers are willing to spend their money on.

Now, let's do some math here.  Let's say that your cost for products is 50%.  And let's say that you sell your t-shirt, our freebie for this campaign, for $20.  And that t-shirt costs you $8.  Notice that the margin on the branded product is higher than that on your regular products which is typical.  Now let's compare revenue and profit between a free gift with purchase campaign and a 20% off campaign.

For the free gift scenario, we have:

  • Total revenue - $90
  • Customer's perceived value - $110.  That's the $90 order value plus $20 for the t-shirt.
  • Cost of product - $53.  That's $45 for the $90 of products and $8 for the t-shirt.
  • Margin - $37 or 41%.

For the 20% off scenario, assuming the same $90 cart size, we have:

  • Total revenue - $72
  • Customer's perceived value - $90. 
  • Cost of product - $45.  
  • Margin - $27 or 30%.

The free gift with purchase has $10 and 11% points more margin.  The economics of this campaign are better for you than a straight percentage discount. 

You'll also need to determine the timeline of your campaign.  I recommend making it longer than a single day.  You are going to want to send at least two emails, one when it starts and the second when there is only 24 hours remaining.  This year, National Yo-Yo day is on a Tuesday.  So I would start the campaign with an email on Friday, June 2nd and send the second email on Monday, June 5th.  This way, you give yourself enough time to get your message out to everyone but also create a sense of urgency to prompt them to take action now.  

The next step in building this campaign is to create a landing page.  Almost every campaign you create should have a landing page instead of driving customers to a collection or product page.  The landing page should continue the conversation that you started with the customer in the emails that you send.  Having similar graphics and imagery between the emails and the landing page will help with the continuity.  The landing page should let the customer what the offer is and to create a sense of urgency.

For our National Yo-Yo Day landing page, the content could include:

  1. Explain what Yo-Yo Day is why crazy yo-yo-ers like us celebrate it.
  2. Explain what the promotion is with explicit instructions on how to get the promotion.
  3. Let users clearly know the deadline.

Now, I looked for a good example of a National Yo-Yo Day landing page, and what I found was a page that is both a good and bad example.  June 6th is actually the birthday of Donald Duncan Senior, the founder of Duncan Toys -- maker of many yo-yos.  And Duncan Toys has a landing page for Yo-Yo Day.  And the reason its a good example is that the page showed up as #4 in Google and is the first commerce listing in the Google search results.  So it's doing a good job in ranking in search.  And the reason for that is one best-practice that you should do with your landing pages too.  And that is to leave them up after the campaign is over.  The reason that you leave them up is that you'll want to re-use this landing page next year when yo-yo day comes around again.  And by leaving it up, Google will keep it in its index and the page will rank.  But the Duncan page is an awful landing page experience.  And that is because the page explains what yo-yo day is but doesn't mention anything about the offer or campaign.  So I thought maybe Duncan didn't have a campaign around this day, which would be a miss for them.  So I went to their homepage.  Their first banner image promotes their yo-yo day campaign of up to 60% off for Jun 1-7 -- none of which was mentioned on the landing page.  It will be easy for you to create a more compelling landing page that will drive sales for your campaign as Duncan as set the bar low for us.

The next step is to determine what other promotion your campaign will have on the site.  Many stores promote a campaign like this on the homepage and think they are done.  But most of your site visitors do not come through the homepage.  So for a free gift with purchase, here are two more on-site promotions I ussually set up.

The first is in the site header as that is seen by everyone who visits the site.  It could take the form of a text promo in the top bar.  Or it could be a link added to the main navigation.  If I add it to the main nav, I make the link a more prominent color than the rest of the main nav elements to help it stand out.  And here's the cool thing about a promotion that has a high minimum purchase threshold -- you are willing to promote it to everyone.  Contrast that with a 30% of your order promotion with no minimum threshold.  You might promote the 30% off on Instagram to drive traffic to your store.  But you would not want to promote it to existing customers or those already on your store.

Now the second place I promote campaigns like this is in the cart.  I build a custom liquid section, which does take a bit of coding skill.  It has a setting for the free product and a price threshold for displaying.  And the logic works like this:

  1. If the free product is already in the cart, the promotion does not show.
  2. If the free product is not in the cart and the cart exceeds the price threshold, the promo shows.  

I usually set the threshold to the required cart minimum, so for our yo-yo example I would set it to $90.  So when the cart exceeds $90, the customer would see the promo which would say something like congratulations your order qualifies for a free crazy for yo-yos t-shirt.  Click here to choose your size.  Another strategy could be to show the promo to every customer in the cart.  There are pros and cons in this approach, so you should test it out with your users.

The next step is to create your discount.  You'll want to use Shopify's automatic discounts so the customer does not have to enter a code in the checkout.  Another advantage of automatic discounts is that the customer can see how the discount affects the price while they are still in the cart.  One thing to note is that you can only have one automatic discount running at a time.  Here are the steps to create the automatic discount for this campaign:

  1. In your Shopify admin, go to Discounts in the main navigation on the left.
  2. Click the green Create discount button.
  3. Select the 'Buy X get Y' discount type.
  4. For method, select Automatic discount and give it a title.  Note the customer will see this title.
  5. Under Customer buys, select 'Minimum purchase amount'.
  6. Under amount, put your order threshold.  For our example, that's $90.
  7. Under Customer gets:
    1. Put in a quantity of 1
    2. Select your free product using the browse button
    3. Select Free under discounted value
  8. Set the maximum number of uses per order to 1.
  9. Set the start and end dates for the campaign.  I ussually set the end date for one day after the published end dates so anyone seeing the email late doesn't feel left out and to cover any issues with time zones. 
  10. Click the Save discount button at the bottom.

Lastly, we need to create the emails for the campaign.  We're going to have to create two different campaigns in Klaviyo, one for each email that we are sending.  I usually create the campaign introduction email first and get it working perfectly.  Then I clone that campaign and edit it for the end of campaign email.

For the first email, I include much of the same information as on the landing page.  For the last email, I focus the content on the urgency that the offer is about to expire.

For each email, you'll need to decide what list or segment you are going to send it to.  I pick the normal list or segment that I use for that account.  Then I add a segment that I don't send it to.  That segment is anyone that has purchased from the store in the last 30 days.  The logic there is to avoid the dissatisfaction of a customer that recently placed an order over the $90 threshold from feeling regret for missing out.

So, that's it for creating your first email campaign.  Some of these steps will take a bit of work.  But you'll be able to re-use much of this work over and over again in future campaigns. 

To summarize, the steps in this free gift with purchase campaign are:

  1. Determine the event for the campaign
  2. Come up with the offer.  What is free?  What is the purchase threshold?
  3. Determine your campaign length and dates for emails.
  4. Create a landing page.
  5. Create and schedule the emails.
  6. Create onsite promotions.
  7. Create the automatic discount.
  8. Turn your onsite promotions on and off at the appropriate times.
  9. Re-use the campaign next year if appropriate.

This campaign and many other types of email campaigns are proven ways for you to re-engage your audience and increase your revenue for low cost.  With many of my clients, creating email campaigns is the first revenue increasing tactic we put in place.  It's a lot of fun to brainstorm ideas for campaigns, try them out and see what works and what else doesn't.  If you are not doing campaigns today, you'll be delighted by how effective of a revenue driver they are once you get started. 

Thanks for listening.

JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.