We sat down with Jordan McCormick—a seasoned ecommerce marketing automation expert who led enormous growth at Delta Team Tactical— to talk about making the switch from Mailchimp to Drip, and how he took an email list of 5,000 from eBay and turned it into a $4 million dollar per year business.
From In-Person Sales to an Ecommerce Machine
Like all great online businesses, it started with a blog. Jordan was selling scopes and optics at outdoor expos in 2008 with his partner Garth. One thing led to another; outdoor expos turned into an eBay store, their online presence led to some… interesting customer questions, and gunshyblog.com was born.
Fast forward to 2011. Social media tycoons Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are bursting on to the scene, disrupting the Internet as we know it. McCormick is about to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon when he comes across a podcast where one of the hosts was an email marketer.
Guest: “Why do you do email instead of social?”
Host: “20% open rate versus 2% exposure rate.”
That was all McCormick needed to hear to shift his focus toward email marketing.
Getting Started with Mailchimp
Like many other email marketers out there Jordan decided to start with Mailchimp. “I had 6 subscribers, 2 were me. I think 1 was my mom. So 3 email subscribers!” Hey, if your mom isn’t one of your original fans you might be doing it wrong. His intro to email marketing included those 6 subscribers (yes, we are including himself and his mom!) and an experimental newsletter. Excited about the direction things were headed, he convinced Garth (remember, the guy from the outdoor expos?) to give him 5,000 names from his eBay customer list. 1 year and a whole lot of trial and erroring later, customers just weren’t converting. McCormick attributes this to him being a part-time freelancer, and to him being removed from the day-to-day business on eBay.
“I was the problem more than the platform and what we were trying to do. I didn't know what products to pick. I didn't know how much inventory we had on certain things. I wasn't able to pair the stuff together. I was just this freelance guy that had 5,000 names on an email list.”
The direct to consumer model wasn’t working with him as a freelancer engaging with customers via Mailchimp while their ecommerce platform was eBay. The communication links between his email marketing platform and his ecommerce platform just weren’t there. Customers could sense that disconnect, and they weren’t converting as a result.
eBay presented a large bump in the road for them in 2015: no more selling tactical gear. You've got 30 days and you're done. This threw McCormick and Garth for a major loop. Scrambling, they powered back up the Mailchimp account, determined to stay engaged with their growing customer list.
“There were 65,000 names on the list of people from eBay. Originally, the website was doing between $500 to $700 a day in sales. The first day we sent an email, $5,000 bucks. We kept that rolling. Once a week we were sending an email and it was bringing in between $5,000 to $9,000.”
Hoping to cross the $10,000 threshold, Jordan and Garth decided to test bundling their products (sell multiple products together to add value) and that proved to be their golden ticket. On just their fourth week of email marketing, they made $25,000 and have been able to consistently grow from there. Today, their email list has over 175,000 active subscribers. They average about $80,000 per day, and 50% of their revenue comes from email marketing. You know what they say—mo’ money, mo’ problems, and Jordan and team had no shortage of those on Mailchimp with their burgeoning business.
Making the Switch
We’re not here to bash Mailchimp—and neither is McCormick. “I'll go on the record and say, I think MailChimp is a good platform if you’re just wanting to dabble in email marketing. It’s less expensive and I recommend it to people who have never done email marketing before.” His boss challenged him to try different platforms and compare open rates to Mailchimp. After a quick stint with MailerLite, he took a smaller list and imported it to Drip. Right out of the gate the open rate was 3 percentage points better in Drip than it was in Mailchimp. When he told his boss, he said “we can’t afford not to switch.”
Jordan sees Mailchimp as a great option for folks who are looking to learn the art of email marketing and get started with growing their lists. “Once you’ve grown your list, and you’re committed to the craft of email marketing, Drip is a better product,” Jordan says that what sold him on Drip was the ease of implementing advanced automation, “my mind was blown during the demo. I started seeing all of this opportunity.”
“Mailchimp is good but basic, it will help you understand the basics of email marketing. Drip is super easy to use, easier to use than Mailchimp but there’s more ‘stuff.’ If you’re new to email marketing, having more options is a little overwhelming.”
The other game-changer for Delta Team Tactical was Drip’s Shopper Activity API, which enabled them to connect their custom store to Drip and sync their customer list, purchase history, and products. Without key store data like purchase history and products in Mailchimp, Jordan’s options for personalization were minimal. “I wanted something that would communicate better with our ecommerce platform. Mailchimp did some but it was fickle. Certain things would transfer over and certain things wouldn’t.” The team loves how powerful Drip's Shopper Activity API is, and that you don’t have to manage the API on your own.
Jordan and his team were ready to take their marketing strategy to the next level, and Drip’s powerful automation, ecommerce integrations, and deep segmentation were ready to get them there.
On Mailchimp, Jordan was averaging between a 15 - 17% open rate, and he’d been stuck there for a while. After he switched to Drip, he saw his open rate jump to 20-22% in a matter of weeks. With a list of 175,000, that’s no small feat! Jordan was able to increase his open rate by 33% through retargeting people who didn’t open an email the first time. “With MailChimp, you have to program it [the email resend] right then. With Drip, we can just duplicate the broadcast and schedule it to go out whatever time we want. We’ll do the filtering right before we send, and it'll target the people that didn't open it.”
When it comes to revenue, Delta Team Tactical is one of the fortunate businesses that has been thriving this year, and they’re seeing a huge return on investment in Drip. “Previously, we were averaging about 50 cents per person, and now we’re averaging about 75 cents per person.” In August they did $2 million in sales from email alone. Their monthly cost for Drip is $4,000, making it well worth their while.
To track monthly metrics, Jordan uses Drip’s monthly Snapshot email. “ I can look at what we did the previous month and double-check those numbers.” McCormick has found success by asking himself a simple question: What would I click on? He explains that people are too focused on what they have to sell, and not simply asking what’s interesting to them. He also advises marketers to know their numbers well.
With Drip, Jordan has found success in resending broadcast emails to people who don’t open the first time, and with a re-engagement automation. Their re-engagement workflow keeps track of people who haven’t engaged with them for 90 days, attempting to re-engage them with a special offer before removing them from their list. This helps keep their list clean, their open rates healthy, and has brought in a healthy revenue stream in just a few months.
McCormick reports that Delta Team Tactical did $1 million in sales last year, and they’re already up to $4 million this year. He and his team were able to find success through testing and optimizing, and finding the strategy that works best for them.
Be A Scientist
From the early eBay days to creating a website, to growing their customer base 2x and their revenue 4x—we asked Jordan if he had any sage words for others in the ecommerce industry. His advice? Be a scientist. “For the first 6 months, experiment at least once a week. Play around with different stuff. What didn’t work? What can you improve? Should you try something new?” And perhaps most importantly, ask yourself: “Why would people buy from you instead of Amazon?” It’s a buyer’s world, and we’re just living in it.
Figure out ways to create value for your customers.
“One of the things that we do is we have an inventory system. We use Skew Vault, so we can put together custom packages based off of potential inventory. We create a matrix of potential opportunities, and then we assess the trends of what people are buying. Hey, okay, what do we have in? This is the next thing. Here's what's trending. Here's what we have available. Let's put these things together. How should we communicate this? How do we want to put value together for our customer? Let's put it out there! We send it out, promote it via email, and we measure results.” With all of the inventory his team has, they do 50 new product listings per day, 4 days a week. That’s a massive amount of content, and they’re pushing out most of it via email. “Email's the sun and we revolve around it. We rarely do anything that isn’t directly or indirectly related to our email campaigns.”
McCormick insists that he’s not the smartest guy in the room, but he’ll outwork anybody. If he had to put on a number on it, he’d say his team does email marketing 6 hours per day 5 days a week. Yup. You read that right. Email is not dead, folks! With email marketing, “the ROI is there. It’s the most cost-effective way to market. Every problem creates an opportunity. Look for the opportunity in every problem. Marketing is a very noisy space; there are too many options. You have to simplify it down.” When it comes to selling things online in a pandemic, McCormick advises looking for the opportunity. “What are people buying in a pandemic? Who is your customer base? Figure out how to communicate and add value to your customers.”
Though much of Delta Team Tactical’s business and revenue comes from email marketing, Jordan highlights the importance of having an integrated marketing strategy. “We’re [already] creating content via email, let’s post that on our website and add value to our customers via our blog. YouTube and social media is a great way to drive traffic to your ecommerce platform.”
Level Up With Drip
Whether it’s through metric tracking, re-engaging customers, bringing invaluable store data, or seamlessly retargeting people who don’t open an email, Drip eCRM is here to help take your business to the next level. Mailchimp is great if you’re just getting started with email marketing, or if you’re a solo blogger with a handful of subscribers sending out the same email every week.
Once you’re ready to go to the next level—like Jordan—and your list and revenue is growing rapidly, and you want to implement more advanced marketing automation strategies, you need a tool that offers more. With Drip’s powerful and easy to use automation, the sky's the limit. When you connect your custom store to Drip, you instantly get a well of customer data to add some serious value for your customers.