How do you grow a brand?
There are so many options out there for a company to engage with its audience. Many times, you build a blog that people can subscribe to or stay active on social media to get attention for your brand — then you hope your followers spread your message by word-of-mouth. But there’s a better way: you can utilize an email marketing campaign to reach people.
We, R.T. Custer and Tyler Wolfe, have built an entirely American watch company because of our belief in the quality of American-made products — nothing really compares to something that’s handmade in the states. We’re proud to be the only US-made watch brand: Vortic Watches.
We’ve been sharing our story from our transition into our current facility to the things we’ve learned about business and American craftsmanship on Custer and Wolfe: Building a Watch Company through our YouTube channel and article series. We love having you on this journey and are excited to share one of the keys to our success: email marketing!
In this article, we’re going to talk about how we use email marketing to grow our brand and show you how you can too. Let's dive in!
Is Email Still Relevant?
When you’re in the early stages of building your business, you have to find ways to get your brand out there to people to draw them to you. At Vortic, we’ve found that one of the most effective ways to reach our audience is through email marketing.
We are super passionate about email marketing and feel like it might be the biggest way that we’ve grown Vortic over the last couple of years. One reason that we’re huge fans of email marketing is because we know it works based on how much growth we’ve seen by using it.
A few years ago, R.T. was talking to every single customer, emailing each of them, and packaging the watches. There were just two or three of us working at Vortic at the time, and everyone was very hands-on with customer interaction. That’s when Tyler had a great question about reaching more people:
“[Tyler] said, ‘R.T., if you’re running marketing, what if every time you open your mouth, you spoke to 10,000 customers? And I was like: First of all, what’d you do with my business partner Tyler? And who’s this marketing guru that’s speaking to me right now? And second of all: Holy shit, you’re on to something!” – R.T. Custer
The biggest thing we've learned about email marketing is that the key, and I think this is the key to all marketing, is consistency. We send a weekly email newsletter, and we've hit send on an email every Tuesday for three straight years. Another key to success for us is automation. When you sign up for our email list, you get an automated email every five to seven days for hundreds of days.
Building an Email Journey That Grows Your Sales
Around the same time that Tyler hit R.T. with the idea of reaching 10,000 people with the click of a button, R.T. had joined a mastermind called Fast Foundations which was run by Nick Harder and his brother Chris at the time.
Now a good friend, Nick said something during the mastermind that really fired up R.T.’s competitive nature:
“Now a good friend of mine, he told all of us in his mastermind, he said, If you are not using email marketing and you do not have an email journey set up for your business, you've already lost. And I was like, Nick, how'd you know I love to win?” - R.T. Custer
Determined to win with his email marketing strategy, R.T. knew right then that he had to build an email journey to help Vortic grow and reach the greatest audience possible. So R.T. started creating Vortic’s email journey that would go out to everyone who joins Vortic’s email list. Over the past few years, our list and revenue stream have grown exponentially.
Over the last few years, the Vortic email list has grown from roughly 3000 people around three years ago, which was mostly just customers and followers that signed up through Shopify, to now over 40,000 people that get a weekly email. And we know from looking at the data that we can attribute over a million dollars in sales from the last few years through Vorticwatches.com directly to this email journey and the email since that we do every week.
That first email journey is now over twenty emails long, with each one going out to new followers on the Tuesday of each week automatically. Those emails tell you about Vortic watches, tell you about what we do, and educate you on the brand so that you can make an informed decision when you buy a watch.
Now, we’re not saying to go ahead and build a twenty-email journey right away. But if you pay attention to the data, you can leverage the consistency of automated email journeys to make a huge impact.
Getting People to Join the Journey and Learn About Vortic Watches
As with any marketing strategy, multiple touchpoints are key to converting potential leads.
We have built many ways for people to opt-in to following Vortic through email, including a signup button right on our website to subscribe to our email newsletter, subscribe options in the footer at the bottom of our page, and pop-ups throughout our site.
By joining our email list, it puts people on our email journey that tells our brand story from the second they open the first email:
“This email is literally just our story. It's me personally writing this email to you, but this is an automated email. It happens automatically. It says, I'm R.T., this is Tyler. We built Vortic watch company for you. And here's what we do. And as you scroll down, it just tells a story. Here's a picture of us from filming our Kickstarter campaign in our garage in 2014. A little behind the scenes stuff.” - R.T. Custer
This opening email sets the stage for the journey, and it tells you that you're going to get an email every week that's going to let you know about our company. The further into the journey you go, the more information you get about our brand philosophy and why we started Vortic in the first place.
The Impact We Make with Email Marketing at Vortic
Once we set up our email journey and made sure that people could see our story, we needed to know what kind of impact we were having with this strategy. That meant we needed the right software to manage our email marketing efforts.
For years, we used Campaign Monitor to handle our email marketing, but we recently switched to Klaviyo as our email service provider because of their integration with our website platform:
“Klaviyo just got a hundred million dollar investment from Shopify. Shopify is where we have our website hosted. So obviously, Shopify is a huge fan of Klaviyo. And so we are going to switch to Klaviyo and kind of ride that wave with those two big tech companies.” - R.T. Custer
This platform has given us awesome data about our journey detailing how many of each email is going out, what the open rates are for that email, and how many people are staying subscribed to us after receiving the email. And those stats are pretty inspiring.
We looked at the data from our first email and saw that it has been sent to 20,000 people, and 32% of them have opened it! If you know email marketing, then you know how big this is because that is three times the industry average. We were stunned by how many people wanted to know about us and our story.
Even with the numbers we saw from the first email of our journey, we want to make sure that people want to keep hearing from us. To make this happen, we set our email system up to unsubscribe followers automatically if they haven’t opened any of the first five emails in the journey, and we continue to do that on every fifth email after that. This process also keeps our emails out of people’s spam folders.
“We don't want to spam you if you're not opening these emails and you're not enjoying the ride, right? So only the people that have opened those emails continue on and check us out.” – R.T. Custer
One way that we keep our emails engaging is by making sure each one is unique. Our sixth email is all about testimonials: Here's what our customers are saying. The seventh one is all about the history of the great American watch companies. So around 70 days into this journey, you'll learn about the history of the great American watch companies.
Following the tenth email, we again unsubscribe anyone who hasn’t opened any of the previous five. We set this up to happen after every five emails so that only those that want to hear from us are staying on the journey. We’ve seen that while the eleventh email has only been sent to 3,600 people, it’s been opened by 65% of them!
Keeping a Personal Touch Grows Our Brand Engagement
The readership that we get from our email journey and the people that actually respond to these emails is amazing. People will not only subscribe to this, but they will answer these emails with questions.
“I encourage [a response from our email subscribers] inside each one of these emails. I say: Hey, if you have any questions, just respond to this email and, and let's talk, you know. Those questions go right to us and it welcomes people into the company and it educates them on what we do.” – R.T. Custer
We think entrepreneurs should do all of their own email marketing and write it in their own words for as long as they can. One way we do that at Vortic is through a Weekly Roundup that starts with an executive summary of what we want you to learn right at the beginning of the email.
It’s massively important to have that summary at the top of these weekly messages because it sets the stage for why they should keep reading. You can absolutely hire an agency for all this, but it’s important to keep a personal connection.
“I put it all together and I personally hit send every Tuesday and have for three years because this is my way, like Tyler said in the beginning, to speak to every single customer. [And there are] thousands of people that open each one of these emails every Tuesday. ” – R.T. Custer
We build a one-of-a-kind watch every day, so we use our weekly roundup to show the last few watches that we’ve made and what's happening this week. We also link to our current YouTube video or talk about a trade show we're about to visit to keep people engaged.
Another great thing that our Weekly Roundup emails do aside from making a personal connection with our customers is boost our website’s SEO. Every single word that's in the email becomes great SEO content on our website, and you'll see that as the blog on our site.
We Would Love to Hear from You at Vortic
We obviously love email marketing and talking about how it’s helped us grow. If you’ve got any questions that we can answer about email marketing, or if you want to know more about us and our products, reach out to us! We’d love to chat about the things that make Vortic great.
And if you’d like to learn more about our incredible watches, stop by our website. We began creating our American-made watches with our American Artisan Series and have expanded to offer two more lines — the Military Edition and Railroad Edition. We can also take your antique watch and repurpose it through our custom conversion process.
Stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at Vortic by subscribing to the Custer & Wolfe YouTube channel. We cover a variety of topics, from showcasing our one-of-a-kind watches to the lessons we’ve learned in building Vortic.