Marketing Podcast for Shopify Merchants: The Ecommerce Coffee Break

Unlocking the Power of Email Automation | #183 Stefan Chiriacescu

May 10, 2023 Claus Lauter: Ecommerce Podcast Host | Shopify Partner | Marketing Optimizer Season 4 Episode 46
Marketing Podcast for Shopify Merchants: The Ecommerce Coffee Break
Unlocking the Power of Email Automation | #183 Stefan Chiriacescu
Show Notes Transcript

Unlock the power of email automation in this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break Podcast, featuring a conversation with Stefan Chiriacescu, founder of

On the Show Today You’ll Learn:

  • Why email marketing is so important
  • The most common challenges/mistakes, when it comes to email marketing
  • How often should you clean your list, and how
  • An insight into website and cart abandonment

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Claus Lauter: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the e-Commerce Coffee Break podcast. Today we wanna touch back on the topic of email automation. Email marketing in a perfect world scenario, will bring you back $45 on every dollar spent. So it is one of the most important marketing channels that is out there.

We wanna find out how you can unlock the power of email automation and gain a competitive edge over your competitors. With me on the show today, I have Stefan Chiriacescu, he's founder and CEO of, and he's a driven entrepreneur who leads a thriving online marketing agency in Europe and a successful e-commerce venture in the United States, especially for creating value and commitment to employ wellbeing have shaped a unique approach to leadership.

He's dedicated to fostering a culture of collaboration and growth, constantly learning and evolving in the exciting world of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship, very important. So let's welcome Stefan to the show. Hi Stefan. How are you today? 

Stefan Chiriacescu: Hey Claus. I'm doing great. Working, working.

It's great to be on your show and thank you the wonderful introduction. You're welcome, 

Claus Lauter: Stephan. Email marketing, as I said, one of the most important marketing channels, but still a lot of companies do not get it right and you're working as a service provider with a lot of e-commerce companies, so it's a day-to-day business to optimize there.

Give a bit of a background. What are the most common challenges or mistakes you see when it comes to email marketing? 

Stefan Chiriacescu: , by far the biggest problem, , that we see happening with brands, both big and small, but especially with big brands that have marketing departments and e-commerce departments and so on, you would expect them not to make this error Is the absence Then on the UN optimization of email marketing automation, automated emails that get sent out based on specific triggers that a visitor or a customer is making, we see these missing, like 90% of the loads that should exist with any email marketing business are actually missing. , 

Claus Lauter: that's a high number.

So when we're talking about flows, , maybe some listeners need to get an understanding the difference between flows and campaigns. Maybe you can dive on that a little 

Stefan Chiriacescu: bit deeper. Yeah. Everybody's doing campaigns, so it's great that , you touched on this, Most of the times they're not cleaning up their list.

When we meet a new business, I'll tell you a funny story. Actually. Last year a client reached out to us. They had , almost 50,000 subscribers. , we did our initial audit. We signed the contract with the client and we started working. And then in the cleanup process, we told them they have to get rid of.

, about 190,000 subscribers. They were only gonna be left off with 50, 60,000 subscribers. We had a lot of pushback from them. They were like, no way. I mean, this is such a huge number. , we explained to them something that everybody should understand. It doesn't matter to how many people you're sending an email, it matters how many of your emails land in an inbox.

In order for your emails to land in an inbox, you have to have a good sender reputation. Your center reputation is increasing by two, , is increasing, yes, by two actions. When people open your emails and when people click on your emails, the higher the percentages, the better your reputation will be.

Needless to say that in E even less than three months, they were generating more sales, more revenue with 50,000 subscribers than they were previously with 240,000 subscribers. But it's this mental, blockade that businesses, including myself on my e-com. When I put my e-commerce business owner hat, I'm like, maybe I can push another email out because I'm gonna get some more sales.

But it's not always the right thing. Gotta keep it clean. , so campaigns, everybody is doing them. If there's room for cleanup always is almost. But email automation, Businesses typically have two or three flows built welcome flow for new subscribers none of the companies we have worked with in the last couple of years had two pop-ups, one for desktop, one for mobile.

They all had just one pop-up for both. They weren't ab split testing so that they can see they can I , the collection rate on e-commerce. , so they have a welcome flow. They typically have a checkout flow, which is mislabeled for most email marketing service providers. It's called a cart abandonment flow, but it's actually a checkout abandonment flow, so they're not even targeting cart abandoners.

And some companies have brows abandoned so that when you look at a product and you abandon the site to get an email, , and that's pretty much it for new customer flows. It's typically thank you for your order, and sometimes even that is missing. we call this fundamental, if it's a startup, if it's an established business, it's a big brand.

We have a welcome flow that has two targets, capture email addresses, and convert new subscribers into new customers. We normally do four types of abandonment campaigns. Site abandonment, brow abandonment, cart abandonment and checkout abandonment. , checkout abandonment for every single brand that we work with, , does 50% of the abandonment revenue or more, but the other ones typically do something like 40 to 50% as well.

So if you're just doing one, , if you do all four, you could be doubling , your abandonment revenue. So that's a bump in conversion rate. And the last one that we consider to be fundamental, especially today after Covid, , is the new customer flow that has to have several targets and companies are just not leveraging this.

If you sell post-purchase services, the emails should be in there. Promoting these services. Of course, the first email for new customers will be, thank you so much. Here's more information about us. Here's our social media. Here's the community behind us. Join it so that you can actually have a growing community.

But then you have to answer frequently asked questions, for customer support to decrease , the volume of calls, to decrease the volume of emails. This saves the business money. A lot of businesses don't realize that, if you get that question from 10 customers, most likely that question arrives in the mind of three to four customers, so you could be answering it for everybody.

, so post-purchase services, answer frequently asked questions for support, and most importantly, because ads are so expensive today. 15, 20, 30 days after the order has been fulfilled, incentivizing a second purchase. It depends the period of time. Depends on the product, on the vertical, but within the first month of fulfilling the first order, try to incentivize a second purchase.

This is super crucial and it has been very successful for our clients in the last, , couple of years for two reasons. Number one, whatever incentive you're gonna use, Of course you don't use a hundred percent, but maybe in some cases even that whatever incentive you're gonna use to get a customer to place their second order with your company is gonna be less expensive than what you're gonna be paying Google or Facebook any other marketing channel out there for remarketing efforts to bring that customer back onto your website, . Number two is a lot of the traffic that most e-commerce businesses are getting, A lot of the revenue comes from digital advertising channels, and there's no like fixed number, but the average number of pages per visit for a customer that arrived from an ad. Customers typically arrive on product pages and they maybe look at two or three other products before they're like, okay, I want this.

I'm gonna buy it. So they didn't have time to get acquainted with your catalog to learn more about your top categories, top products. So by incentivizing a second purchase, you're bringing that customer back. And if the incentive is good enough, they will give you basically their time. They will invest time into learning more about your brand, seeing your best selling products and categories.

So it's win, win, win, all the way to incentivize, , a second purchase. So much good 

Claus Lauter: content there. Stefan, I just wanna old unfold a couple of these things. So let's go back to cleaning up your list, , which you said is very important, specifically if you're moving from one email system into another, , and you have like old data.

, just from a practical perspective, , how and how often should you clean your 

Stefan Chiriacescu: list? , it should be automated and it should be nonstop. How businesses can do this typically is by creating dynamic segments. If you're doing e-commerce and you don't have the capability to build dynamic segments, you are definitely in the wrong email marketing service provider.

You need to have the ability to create dynamic segments. And just to give you an example, the dynamic segment can be, if. Subscriber received five or more emails in the last three months and opened zero emails in the last three months. Then tag that customer as inactive. When you tag a customer with the tag inactive, you should have a flow.

Typically called the Sunset Flow that captures , these subscribers and sends them a series of emails. Those emails have to be highly engaging emails. You have to go as close to clickbait as possible without having that b clickbait you have to offer. spam and everything attached to it, and click baiting.

I'm mentioning this as an idea that you have to offer something that's very well thought out. For a customer who hasn't been interacting with your brand, invest your time and your creativity into building an email and especially a subject line that's going to get that customer to open that email.

And if they do open the email, Again, the segment will do exactly that. It'll enroll the customer, remove with another flow. The inactive tag. If the customer receives those two emails over a period of, typically we do it two to three days, and they don't open any of the emails. They continue to stay on as subscribers, but they are marked as inactive.

So the next time when I'm gonna be sending out a campaign, my list of newsletter recipients. I want to exclude that segment with inactive people. This will allow me to constantly keep going up, in terms of open rates and collector rates. I e reputation I 

Claus Lauter: love that I have very well explained. Now, next step you said is the whole abandonment card, browse, checkout, and So obviously this takes a little bit of technical implementation. A lot of tools just go for the checkout abandonment. , Is that something you help your clients with or how does this implementation work?

Stefan Chiriacescu: We actually do that for very few clients. For less and less clients, we do , the custom implementation because more and more of our clients are like Shopify or BigCommerce, or. , we used to do heavy magenta and , WordPress 10 years ago, and on Magento, everything was custom. Even if you had a plugin, you still had to invest a lot of development time.

But with, CMSs like Shopify, for example, and a good emo marketing service provider, I'm not talking about, super expensive ones. Retention science, for example, talking about Clavio Omni Send. These are gonna have. Enough, , triggers built into them that are gonna allow you to be able to create these flows as long as you get out of the box a little bit in terms of how you build those flows.

To give you just a quick example, , site abandonment. Is a browsing session, but you have to exclude people that looked at a product and abandoned the shopping cart. So it can be active onsite, excluding people that viewed product. That's a site abandonment. Browse is viewed product and abandoned cart is at added to cart, and then the other one is started checkout.

So you have to use every single trigger that you have available if you don't have. These triggers available. always a good idea to, question , the service provider you're using. If you're in e-commerce and , you don't have these triggers available. Why am I doing this? And it's not the first time.

One in 10 new clients that reach out to us for consulting or for help, they come to us and they're using a c r M based email marketing service provider, which is useful for sales, for lead generation, , for lead generation. But it's not useful for e-commerce. There's no point in using it.

Claus Lauter: Okay, , makes perfect sense. I like your approach when it comes to the welcome flow and then being proactive, with the frequently asked questions. So basically, just going ahead and answer questions that are not questions by the customer yet, which will probably come up. So really, really nice approach.

I think something that a lot of our listeners and viewers, , should think about, go that route. Now the overall goal obviously is returning customers using email marketing to bring people back to buy more from you. What are some kind of numbers do you see from your clients, , percentage wise?

, how often does that happen? How many people do they get back to buy more? 

Stefan Chiriacescu: that is a difficult question because it really depends from vertical to vertical, from product to product. We have clients of ours that sell big ticket items, and then the percentages are gonna be slightly different over there.

I can talk to you about, some percentages that actually ran, based on our. Work from last year. , last year our clients generated an email marketing 9.8 million in revenue. Out of that , almost 7.4 was email marketing automation a smaller percentage was Black Friday, cyber Monday, plus two newsletters per month and so on and so forth.

, effort wise, they are the same. Because with email automation, once you set it up, it's set up and then all you have to do is ab split test everything. Once you have, , statistically relevant results, you pick the winner, you start the new ab split test, and it's always open rate, clickthrough rate, profitability, open rate, clickthrough rate, profitability, , but with campaigns you have to build them, test them, change them, talk to the marketing team, and so on and so forth.

For all our customer or , our client base for last year, we ran the numbers. How much did they spend on email marketing services? How much did they spend, with labor or with services like ours? And we got to a one to 68 r ooi. So for every. $1 invested. They got $68 in revenue, which was like an amazing r roi.

Other numbers we did were in terms of open rates and click-through rates on email automation, those were exceeding 50% open rate. The open rates were exceeding, , 50% in some cases for a business that we work with, , from the states nda. Email marketing is generating around 60% of their sales, and they sell like higher ticket items, Marine products.

They had absolutely zero. And when they were sending one newsletter per year, this was four or five years ago, then we introduced them to the world of emo marketing automation and it just grew from 5% to 10% and now to 50 something percent of their entire revenue. so important.

, I cannot stress this enough, how marketing automation is important because it helps you generate sales, it helps you improve your results, based on conversion rate optimization. Cuz you're spending that money with Google and Facebook. Why not use it? It helps you with your reputation because with open rates over 50%, we click the rates over four, 5%.

Again, you're getting good feedback to Gmail, to Hotmail, to Verizon and so on. The KPIs are there. I'm just like pushing everybody towards do it, do it, and I'm handing these out for free for everyone to just use them. Those are exactly the same fundamental flows we're using for starting up with clients.

Claus Lauter: Yeah, I think the numbers speak for themselves. , if you're making 60% of your revenue from email marketing, then it's absolutely no-brainer. I like the point that you touched on, that you're focusing heavily on optimizing the flows and not only on the campaigns. And I see a lot of merchants that do the other way around.

They focus on campaigns and they think flows are set and forget. But it's not. If somebody's going to approach you at e-commerce , what's usually the onboarding process? What kind of homework do, potential clients to do before they start working with you? 

Stefan Chiriacescu: That's actually an interesting point that you're touching on because we're a managed services agency, we tend to think outside the box when it comes to email marketing.

So a client is reaching out to us saying, I wanna do email marketing automation. The first thing we do for that client is a website usability audit. Of course with asking them the questions about what they're doing on email marketing, if they have a service provider asking them for access, so we can audit that as well.

But we start with the website usability audit because no matter how good your automation flows are gonna be or how good your emails are gonna look, when the subscribers click on the image and they land on a page that's broken, or the at cart button is not working, or you're landing on your top, , category page and it's just a hundred thousand products and everything is messed up, it's gonna affect our work as well.

So usability audit, email marketing, audit, prepare a game plan if necessary on the usability side of things. Fix up the website. , improve the usability. I wanna make up parenthesis here because a lot of people, when they hear improve usability of the website, they think, ah, but no, we don't think websites should have all the bells and whistles.

I think we actually think that's a mistake. We think websites need to be. Focused on the product they're selling and be relevant for that demographic. I e are you selling apparel? Have a size chart on the product page. , it'll help you with conversion, with returns, again for apparel, swatches, , filters on collection pages and so on.

There's like checklists for various verticals. , just make sure you have. The correct information that your website is clean, not cluttered with 150 popups for reward points and affiliate systems , push notifications after popups for subscription and reviews showing up all over the screen.

I got this review and that review and this purchase notification that actually is very damaging from our point of view. Getting back, Usability audit, email marketing audit, and then we put together, , a plan. But I can tell you that 95% , of the clients that reach out to us, email marketing automation, we do exactly the same thing in the beginning.

We call it email marketing automation fundamentals. It's the six flows that I mentioned earlier. We do that because we build them based on best practices. We leave them alone for four or five weeks, so they gather some data. Then based on that data, we can start to say, okay, let's find out. And this time you find out what are the affinities, what are the segments, and you can split flows.

You can do ab split testing on them. But it's good to have a benchmark and not to try to get it perfect from the beginning because there is no such thing as perfect. It's always work in progress. 

Claus Lauter: Yeah, there's tons of good content here. I think our listeners have to listen to this show three times to get everything in place as we come slowly to the end of the eCommerce coffee break today.

, where can people find out more about yourself? 

Stefan Chiriacescu: , wow, Google. , E-Commerce Today agency are gonna be able to find, , information about us, cuz we apparently ranked pretty well. But if you go to e-commerce minus, e-commerce in the blog section, we're giving this information away for.

Three from technical, and on the technical side of things, not just maintenance, how people would need to do domain identification and , why that is important for them to take, , responsibility for their sense so that they can actually have a reputation. We go through the fundamental flows we go through additional flows that people can build.

We have examples there. , we are giving this information out for free and if they need any sort, if anybody needs any sort of help, there's a box there, they can reach out to us and we would be more than happy to assist. I will 

Claus Lauter: put the links in the show notes then you just one click away Stefan.

So much , information there. Thanks for your time to giving to our listeners and talk soon. 

Stefan Chiriacescu: Talk soon. Thank you so much. Close. Goodbye everyone.