Interview
With Rob Lane

rare.io-smart-ecommerce-email-marketing-author-franco-varriano
rare.io-smart-ecommerce-email-marketing-author-franco-varriano

Written by Franco Varriano.

1. Overview

We have a special 💡 marketing chat this week with Rare.io’s own Rob Lane. As the CEO of Rare.io, Rob is well suited to talk about email marketing best practices and provide an in depth description of Rare.io’s predictive email marketing solution for ecommerce. This week’s topic is Email Marketing with Rare.io.

2. The Interview

Ned: Thank you very much for joining the 💡Marketing Chat series. Before we dive into the topic, behind the CEO, who is Rob Lane?

Rob: My life in retail started very early on. At aged 8, I delivered leaflets door to door to advertise the opening of my uncles catering business. That was the start of entrepreneurship for me. I watched and took in everything as he opened, grew and developed the business. I was hooked. By age 10, I was working five evenings a week after school scrubbing floors and cleaning ovens. By age 13, I’d added morning paper rounds and by 14, I’d added actually working in the store on Saturdays. I loved the interactions with customers and watched with fascination how my uncle and team, just through friendly customer service, could upsell a customer a vastly expanded basket of goods. I then went off to college but financed it through doing catering jobs on the weekend plus selling beer to students, at discounted rates (having access to wholesale priced beer really helped!). After college, I was a good “corporate citizen” for a few years but even there had the opportunity to open new business. In 2002, I took the step back in startup life and four startups later here I am at Rare.

Ned: Email Marketing is an important key to success in ecommerce. How did Rare.io get into the email business?

Rob: Today, Rare.io is all about email but this is only a small part of our vision. When we launched the product, email wasn’t even part of it. We were all about using data and customer buying patterns to enable merchants to make smarter decisions and build a closer relationship with their customers. So when we launched, we were more of an analytics platform. The challenge we found with this approach was that analytics platforms are essentially “interesting” but not “actionable”, which is where the idea of email came from. Email is a basic delivery mechanism for our predictive capabilities. Rather than the traditional email model of creating a single campaign and sending it to the entire email contact list or a segmented subset of that list, at Rare.io, we aim to make every email individual and personal. In summary, we want to make the every email a customer receives, more personal and less spammy.

But as I mentioned earlier, email is just the initial delivery mechanism. There is no reason why these predictions and data driven behaviours can’t be surfaced in notifications, chat windows or live on a website.

Ned: How do you answer to potential customers inquiring about the difference between Rare.io and other email marketing solutions on the Shopify App store?

Rob: Very simply that by using the customer data from the store allows us to produce better results in email than more traditional techniques. We hate spam and believe email should be personal.

Ned: Based on what you have seen so far, are there specific email marketing best practices every online store should implement today?

Rob: Our most successful customers do have a few things in common. From a high level standpoint, there are 2 main common best practices used by our most successful customers.

First of all, they leverage segmentation tools to learn more about their customers so they can send highly targeted campaigns. As you know by now, modern emails are highly relevant, serving up personalized content to each user when, where, and how they want it. Before leveraging great tools like a predictive engine, a bit of segmentation is a must. Simply put, you’ll achieve better results.

One thing we’ve noticed is how often customers switch from mobile to desktop to make a purchase. Non responsive emails are a killer. Knowing that many customers read the email on mobile devices, but then reopen the email on desktops to make a purchase, online stores should maintain the level of display quality in both. 

We see online stores that focus so much on the mobile experience that they negate the desktop. Both matter. Truly responsive design is not simply a case of taking large desktop images and copy and shrinking them for mobile. The pictures might look okay but often the text is unreadable on a mobile device without zooming in.

Ned: What are the top 5 things people should know before using Rare.io?

Rob: 1) Our email click-through rates are significantly higher than industry norms. 2) Sometimes it’s better to send less email in a more targeted way than simply blasting a list. 3) Our focus from the start was on enhancing the customer relationship which means we are less than optimal in some areas of prospecting. By mid year, this deficiency will be fixed. 4) We believe customer success and support is as important, if not more so, than the actual product. Many stores have me on speed dial. 5) This is just the start. Soon you’ll be able to surface predictions/recommendations via a multitude of delivery methods.

Ned: In the Evolution of Email, we stated that predictive email represents the new era of email marketing. According to you, what is the future of email marketing?

Rob: I believe the future of marketing, not just email marketing, is the ability to get personal again, and I don’t just mean changing the to:name on the email. Years ago, my store grew through a personal relationship I had with each and every customer and the promise of digital is to recreate that experience. I find it completely unacceptable that in this digital age, so little is done to build a personal curated experience for the customer.

Ned: What should Rare.io’s customers expect from us in the coming months?

Rob: Over the next month, we are making significant upgrades in our platform to be able to handle the scale we are seeing with our users. In the last 12 months, we’ve delivered around 130 Million emails but every month that is rising exponentially. Customers will experience faster email delivery and greater speed out of the dashboards. The big upgrade comes in July where we’ll be launching a complete UI refresh, taking into account the learnings from the last year. As part of this we’ll be adding detailed prospect segmentation plus a few other cool features I’m sworn to secrecy on.

Ned: Last month, Rare.io launched a partner program. What should Rare.io’s partners expect from us in the coming months?

Rob: In the coming months, Rare Partners should expect more educational materials designed to make them more successful and grow their business. If you are interested to learn more about how the partner program can benefit you, please visit our partner page or email partners@rare.io.

Ned: The ecommerce landscape is always changing. How do you stay sane?

Rob: I’m not sure I do! Fortunately I love what I do so I do it all the time. I don’t believe in work life balance. There is just life. Be happy. When I not working I’m either with family/friends, riding a road bike up steep hills or skiing down the same hills.

3. Conclusion

If you’re an ecommerce merchant and don’t have automated email marketing campaigns setup for your store, you’re losing money. Right now.

Rare.io makes it easy to start using automated email campaigns for common challenges like: Welcome Series, Abandoned Carts, Order Follow-up emails and more! You can learn more about our powerful email marketing automation features here or go ahead and get started right away by using Rare.io for FREE.

And if you’re one of the thousands of merchants who are already using Rare’s Smart Email Marketing software and want to see how our Customer Success Team can work with your brand to grow your revenue – feel free to book a call at your convenience here.

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