Imagine having an email strategy so good you could attribute 80-90% of your revenue to it.
That’s exactly what Ryan Lee has seen at his nutrition brand, Rewind.
He’s been in the ecommerce space for more than 20 years, so he’s learned a ton about what works with email.
So we wanted to pick his brain to find out what matters most when it comes to writing emails that convert subscribers into customers.
He did not disappoint.
It’s a high-energy episode, so grab your coffee and a notebook and be prepared to get schooled.
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On this episode, you’ll learn:
- Why you should never start an email with “Hi everybody.”
- How to write like you talk.
- Why Ryan will never outsource copywriting.
- Why consistency matters when it comes to sending emails.
- How Ryan boosted revenue overnight by changing one small aspect of his email strategy.
- The most effective way to sell to someone who just made a purchase.
What to listen for:
- [3:01] Why you need to focus on the benefits, not the features.
- [6:08] The power of including real photos and screenshots.
- [7:33] How they turned negative feedback into something funny.
- [13:19] How they use social proof and why you can never have too much of it.
- [17:22] How to drain your prospects’ objections.
- [20:29] Why Ryan writes every word of copy for Rewind.
- [24:20] Mistakes ecommerce brands are making with email.
- [26:27] Whay Ryan’s writing process looks like.
- [36:22] Lessons from selling on Shopify.
Links to love👇👇
- Ryan Lee’s site
- Loox Photo Reviews
- Dave Gerhardt on Twitter
- The Ecommerce Marketing Show Home
*There’s a 100% chance this has some spelling errors. I know you won’t hold it against me.
Dave Gerhardt: Hey, what's up everybody? Thanks for listening to another episode of The Ecommerce Marketing Show. I'm super excited because today I get to talk about one of my favorite topics, which is email. And not just email but copywriting is really my favorite topic in business, with Ryan Lee.
Ryan is the founder of a nutrition bar company called Rewind. They've been around for a year and a half. He's going to tell us a lot about it. So what's up, Ryan? Thanks for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
Ryan Lee: What's going on, Dave? I am excited because I love love love love talking about email. And the fact we're both wearing black t-shirts, even better.
Dave Gerhardt: Yeah. That was the dress code. Okay. So before we talk about email, tell me about Rewind. Because here's the thing. My guess is that you didn't start this company because you loved copywriting. Right?
Obviously there's a bigger why behind your company. So let's talk about Rewind first.
Ryan Lee: Right. I don't know if you know about my history. I've been online for 20 years. So I started the world's first sports training membership site. But I've studied all of the old copywriters.
Like Gary Halbert and Eugene Schwartz. I'm actually good friends with Bencivenga.
Dave Gerhardt: Wow.
Ryan Lee: I come from that world, like I love that world. So I love direct response marketing. But with Rewind, I'd had ups and downs and built a couple of really successful companies.
But a few years ago, well it started about 10 years ago, my wife and I just had our fourth kid. A few months later-
Dave Gerhardt: Oh my god. You have four? I have two. It's ugh. Four.
Ryan Lee: It's chaos. It's chaos. As of today, they're 10, 12, 14, and 16. So it's craziness.
We had just had our fourth kid and then right after my mom got sick with cancer and passed away like three months later. And then one of my businesses fell apart. I lost millions of dollars in months. And everything came crashing down.
Started gaining weight, started getting pain in my joints and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Fast forward. Ups and downs and feeling good and not feeling good. I didn't want to go on medication.
I said what can I do to eat things that don't cause inflammation. And that was the genesis of the bar. I couldn't find a good bar. Most bars have dairy and whey, or they have sugar alcohol which doesn't feel good, or soy or gluten. So I just created it.
It wasn't me sitting around saying hmm, how can I make millions. How do I become a copywriter? It was just this is what I want to do. I want to help people, I want to serve people.
And maybe there's a hole in the market. Maybe I can build a nice business out of this. I already had other companies running. And I'm just leading with my heart and just going for it.
Dave Gerhardt: It's actually really interesting…if you've been selling things online for the last 20 years, then my guess is you…and you've really thought about direct response.
Your skillset is actually perfect for what's happening in the world with the shift from brick and mortar to direct to consumer. Those principles have always applied. So forget about Privy, forget about Rewind. Let's talk about copywriting.
What did you learn from studying those guys? Eugene Schwartz, Claude Hopkins, Gary Halbert. What are some of the principles? This is the stuff that has taught me so much about marketing and the thing that I talk about is a lot is tools and technology are going to change every year, every five years, every ten years. But the one thing that's never changed is people.
And I think those copywriters really understand that. So what did you take from them?
Ryan Lee: The first big shift I had, because I worked in a children's hospital for six years and I was a personal trainer on the side. And when I started doing my own fliers, that's when I started to read about this.
The first big shift was selling benefits not features. Right? It's not about the bar and it being gluten free or about a software that has eight gigabytes or whatever. It's about what that bar can do for you.
And it's really about the human emotion, human behavior. And going layers and layers deeper. Most people, especially ecommerce, they start with a product. Here's my phone, here's my bar, here's my widget. And it's very superficial.
And sometimes they'll go one level deeper. It's a gluten free bar. And the biggest question, I don't remember who was the one who phrased it this way, maybe it was asking the two words, “So what?” Well like so what? What does that mean for me?
Well, it's gluten free so you're not going to get inflammation. And most people, even if they go that level, Dave, which most don't, they stop. But let's go deeper. Well so what? Well, it's no inflammation so my joints don't hurt. Great. We're getting there.
So what? Well, now I have more energy and I feel good. So what? Well, now I can play with my kids and be pain free and enjoy more time with them. That's where you have to do.
It's the emotion, it's the human emotion, and getting beyond just the physical product features. And it's crazy because there are so many great entrepreneurs, especially starting ecommerce companies, that have the heart in the right place. Like most people do it because they want to create a product that's good, that helps people, that serves people, that does good things.
But they're not marketing the right way. I use the analogy, I came up with these words because they also rhyme, which is my copywriting stuff. It's like 50% heart. So 50% heart is that emotion, that connection, that human behavior. All that good juicy stuff.
But it's also 50% the smarts. Which is knowing how to write a good headline, using an email subject with curiosity that's going to get opened. Knowing when to email, what time to email, how often to email. Using a call to action, not just a generic link. Having some scarcity built in.
Most people will go one or the other. They're either going to go all heart and the copy is very soft, it's fluffy. But there's no bite to it. No one actually takes action.
And then there's some that are just the smart, the tacticians, but there's no human emotion. And everything is sale sale sale, 20% off, buy now, buy now.
The real magic happens when that intersection of both, when you combine the heart and the smart it's unstoppable. And you're doing things good.
Dave Gerhardt: When we publish this episode, we'll have a blog post with it where we got to show a bunch of your emails. Because I think this is one of those things that you need to see it to really understand it.
I think one of the ways it seems to be that you do that is you put a lot of screenshots and images in your email that most big name brand DTC marketers wouldn't think are brand and sexy. But this is to me the stuff that works.
So talk about your approach to putting screenshots. I'm looking at an email right now. Somebody wrote you like a little nasty gram, like a handwritten note that your bars were utterly disgusting.
And then there's another one with real pictures of you. So talk about your approach to what you put in emails.
Ryan Lee: I look at email, and I've been teaching email writing for a while.
Number one, speak to one person. Like you're writing to a friend. So avoiding language like hi everybody. Hey everyone. Because the minute you see that, you're like okay, Dave's not talking to me. He's talking to everybody. It doesn't feel that relationship.
Imagine you're sitting down having a conversation at a bar, at a coffee shop. And I treat them like my friends. My dad is on my email list, my sister's on my email list, my wife is.
So I just want to speak…just me. I really really try to write as I'm speaking. Like I want people to read my email and feel like it's Ryan just talking to me. The same Ryan you get right now on this podcast is the same Ryan you're going to hear in my email.
Dave Gerhardt: Let me read this. Let me read this email.
Here's one note we received recently, and it's a picture of a handwritten letter that says, I think if I can read this. I received a response back from my email, I am returning order number 1647-1620. My understanding is that I have been refunded. I'm sorry, but these bars are utterly disgusting.
And below that you write yep, utterly disgusting is how she describes the bars. Okay, she spelled utterly wrong, but you get the point. Hey, it happens. We're not for everyone.
Some people are used to highly processed fake bars that make you feel crappy, bars that are made with artificial sweeteners like sucralose or sugar alcohol or bloaty whey protein or super sweet bars with added sugar, high fructose corn syrup. So we let that negativity simply roll off our shoulders.
I don't know you that well, but I can hear you saying that. I think there's something to that. For some reason though, it's harder for people to write like they talk than to write in professional business language. Why do you think that is?
Ryan Lee: Because we've been conditioned…for some reason, we compartmentalize. We think okay, here's me hanging out with college friend from Dave, writing you an email. Hey, Dave, what's going on? What are you doing this weekend? We have that personality.
And then we have well, this is an email going to my customers. I have to put on my professional hat. I have to remember what Mrs. Jones, my seventh grade English teacher, taught me about pronouns and adjectives. I don't even know what the heck those are. I was terrible in school. I still can't tell you what the heck an adjective is, or adverb. Something with adjective.
So we change. And it's so funny. The minute we open up our email system and we start writing to our customers, or prospects, we change. We go into professional mode and some people worse, they go into direct response copywriting mode.
And it's either really hype-y or disconnected. And the difference is using language like here's how most corporations will talk. We sincerely apologize for the delay. We shall refund you immediately, henceforth. Like a frigging Abraham Lincoln.
Where I would say, and I tell my staff, that's not the way we talk. We say OMG, oh my god, I'm sorry. You're right, we're wrong, refund's on the way. We'll take care of it ASAP. We're on it.
Speak like a human being and write your emails like that. And it feels weird at first because people are nervous and they feel like they're going to be judged. And look, will it turn some people off? Yes. You cannot please everybody. The minute you try to please everybody, you're done.
We got an email once when we first started doing this from this woman. And we knew it was going to be negative because the first line she said, she said “as a highly educated woman, I'm offended by.” And she we're in a crisis and the fact you don't take nutrition seriously and make jokes, I cannot endorse you.
Okay. Go find a crazy nutrition person who's going to talk about studies and all the stuff. We're not for you, and that's totally fine.
But even if you are in a business that's kind of science-y or very technical, you can still use your personality. And not only can you use your personality, you should. Because people want…you understand direct marketing. I can tell you sprouting off the names.
People still want to buy from others they know, like, and trust. Not a nameless, faceless corporation with a stupid sale every day where you don't know who's behind it and it's this cold thing. So just try it. Honestly. Try it for two weeks.
Every email you send, act like you're speaking to a friend. Right? And-
Dave Gerhardt: I also think the industry, okay, so this is the Ecommerce Marketing Show, let's assume that you are an entrepreneur in ecommerce listening to this. I actually think you have such an advantage because most likely you started this business or you're working on this business for a reason.
And so you can actually just tell your story. And I think this is the missed opportunity that we've talked about a lot on this podcast, is like I want to know who you are. You're the founder of this company, you started this business. Where are you shipping things from? Is this in your living room? If you can't do that, the other thing you can do is tell it through your customers. And so like there's usually a real story behind it.
I met with someone about a month ago and he's a finance guy. But he's going to quit his job to start a men's underwear direct to consumer business. And he's like well, what should my marketing strategy be?
And I'm like your marketing strategy should be tell people why the hell you're a finance guy quitting his job in finance to go start a men's underwear business. And literally just write that story, and that is your whole marketing voice to everyone.
Ryan Lee: Absolutely. And it's so funny because they do the opposite and they run away from it. And I don't know this person you're talking about, but most people in his position would run away from it. They would hide behind it. It would be about us with the company, you wouldn't even see his name. And we are whatever it's called, Money Pants, you know.
It's generic, it's blah, and he's not going to use his story and he wants to hide. Whereas opposed to saying, showing a picture of him burnt out in a cubicle saying, “My god, I was two weeks away from jumping out of a building because it was awful. I couldn't do it, I hated it. I wanted to do something I was passionate about.
I realized every day in my underwear was too tight, I don't like it, it didn't fit right, blah blah blah. So you know what? I'm putting my money where my mouth is. We're going for it. We're going to have fun, we're going to build a tribe, we're going to start with underwear and let's see where this journey takes us.”
What I love doing is bringing all of my…I don't call them customers. I call them Rewinders. They're in on the journey with me. And they know what's going on and they're the ones who help choose our next bar flavors and drink flavors. They're a part of it.
Dave Gerhardt: Talk about your website. Because of what I love in marketing, there's some really intentional elements of what's on your website.
And I think you do…I'm just going to shut up. I want to actually try to hear you explain your way through it. Like outside of the actual mechanics of your website and the fact that you sell bars, take me through the elements that are on your website.
Ryan Lee: Well, in terms of the brand or the product pages?
Dave Gerhardt: More so the content. Because I think your website is actually a masterclass in copywriting. Like all the principles from copywriting are on your website, right? You have social proof. Talk through some of that stuff.
Ryan Lee: Well yeah. Obviously a big one is social proof, right? Because we said know, like, and trust. They got to trust you. And getting people who like a product and highlighting them.
And what we do even in our emails and our site is we want to elevate our Rewinders and show them we're real people. We're real human beings. I also try to have…with our brand, now every brand is different. Right?
There are some companies, like I know Dave Asbury and he has a company called Bulletproof. And I know Dave and he's definitely like a more serious person and it's very science-y and bio hack-y. So that's their voice.
Our voice is much more fun. Even the name Rewind, we use a little retro theme. So we'll talk about the '80s stuff, or '70s or '90s. And we play into that. Like we'll say oh, get a boom box of bars.
Like we just kind of lean into that stuff. And that…
Dave Gerhardt: Get a boom box of bars. That's your unit of measurement, get a boom box of bars.
Ryan Lee: Get a boom box. Boom box of bars.
Dave Gerhardt: I'm looking at your site. Okay, so if you're listening to this and you're not driving, pull up RewindBars.com. But boom, Stephanie Y., verified purchase. “They satisfy me like a meal without feeling heavy.”
Dave Gerhardt: Mary S., “I was not expecting to love these bars as much as I do.” Ann C., “love my Rewind bars.” Tanya S. Like this is, to me, getting this marketing content is so easy but all you have to do is make this front and center of your website.
Dave Gerhardt: You're letting the real people…and by the way, the best part about this is these are obviously real people. These are not stock photos, these are not models you hired. These are real people buying your stuff and they're the front and center of your marketing.
Ryan Lee: Right. And we have…I have a file with hundreds and hundreds of screenshots, especially on Facebook, that I haven't even put on because we are going to be…we're adding some new products and some new stuff. So we're going to be doing a lot more with the site.
Ryan Lee: But yeah. There's a lot…
Dave Gerhardt: Take me through the mechanics of that, just because I'm curious. Like is that a Google doc? How do you save them? Do you just screenshot good reviews as you see them? How are you actually saving them?
Ryan Lee: I'm screenshotting them and saving them on my hard drive. And then we use Basecamp. So I'll just have a whole folder right in Basecamp and just put them right in there. Just when I'm ready.
Dave Gerhardt: What are you going to do with them?
Ryan Lee: Oh yeah. Don't you worry about that, Dave. You worry about Privy over there. No.
No. I'm going to be putting them everywhere. I mean we put them…well, first of all we put them in every email. Every email we send, at the bottom we have a Rewinder of the day. So we always feature people. But we're going to put them…you can never have too much social proof.
And if you look at our product pages, what you have to do, the real way to sell and to sell with…I say selling with soul and marketing with soul, is you have to get inside the head of your prospect or the person going but like well I don't know who Rewind is, I never heard of them, who are.
You have to answer every objection. Because first thing they're doing is…they come sometimes with their arms crossed. Right? Like I'm not buying. No way am I going to buy this. And why won't they buy?
Well, what are the ingredients? Do they trust you? What's the price? What are the benefits? So you go through, you answer every single objection. We answer objections a lot of times with a testimonial.
So most people are skeptical. They're skeptical on anything. If you have a thing that…a toothbrush that whitens your teeth, or a special case where you can drop your phone from an airplane and it won't break, they don't believe you. Right? People are very skeptical.
So you have to turn that around. And if you can have especially even one really good testimonial from someone who…they use the words hey, I was skeptical too. Or I didn't think the bar could taste this good. And now the person's like all right, they're just like me. As opposed to every testimonial sounding the same.
Dave Gerhardt: I think it was Dan Kennedy, but in one of his books he talks about how one of the tactics used to be to talk to a prospect and basically have them list…like he'd sit there with a pen and a notepad and he'd call it draining the objections.
And so he'd be like okay, what are all your objections? Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And he'd write them all down and then they'd go and take that and literally go and address them all upfront, on the website. And it seems to be that's something that you've done with your stuff.
Which is like hey, the whole mission is like look. I don't want to let any doubt creep into somebody's head and so the best thing you can do is handle any of those objections up front. And say everything you think somebody's going to say, but don't let them say it.
It's like I always use this example. You ever go out, my wife and I, I always tell this story. We went out to dinner one time last year for her birthday. And we were at this tapas restaurant and we ordered a bunch of tapas.
And the waiter was like, “Uh, don't get that one, it's not that good. And when he sent that one back and told us what to order, that place instantly gained so much more credibility because this guy's a waiter here, he knows that the chef in the back is picking his nose and making the whatever. Right?
And so I think that's such a…but as business people, we're so afraid of telling people our flaws. But despite the fact that our bullshit meters are higher than ever, anyone who tell us that they have the best product is like uh, is that really true?
And probably especially in your industry where you're talking about health and fitness, I'm sure the bullshit meter's even higher in your world.
Ryan Lee: Oh my god, you have to…It's like a little bit of a dance, right? You're 100% right. You have to answer every objection, but you have to answer them truthfully.
And I think if you try to act like your product is perfect, that's when people are like, “You're full of crap.” So tell them your flaws.
We do a lot of traffic, we'll do a lot of Facebook ads. It's amazing how many positive but yet how many people slam or they're skeptical. And they'll say oh my god, it has four grams of sugar. Or it has four grams of sugar, this isn't for keto blah blah blah.
I'm like you're right. I said we're keto-ish. I said however, if you want a bar that has like one carb gram but has sugar alcohol, that's cool. There's other brands for you. And I always use that expression, obviously you use whatever words you use, but I'm like hey, this is our bar, these are our drinks. This is is what we do, this is what we have, this is what we don't have.
Like we're not a high protein bar. If you want 30 grams of protein and want to look like Schwarzenegger, there's other bars for you. That's cool.
And that's what I say. I said we're not for you and that's cool and we wish you the best. Good luck. You can buy our stuff, great. And if you don't, that's cool too.
And people don't do that. They turn the screws. Like you've got to buy ours, you've got to buy ours. And they start pushing away. It's like all right, buy it or don't. All right.
Dave Gerhardt: Do you write all of the copy for your brand?
Ryan Lee: Everything.
Dave Gerhardt: Today?
Ryan Lee: Everything. I think I've hired…not on Rewind…years ago, I hired a copywriter or two to some different products. It never matched my voice, it never matched my vibe and my heart and my soul. Because I built two supplement companies years ago and I was more behind the scenes.
But when I left those and I started this new one a couple years ago, I said I'm going to build this in everything I've learned over the 20 years, good, bad, and ugly, and different. I'm not going to make the same mistakes and I'm going to lead with my heart. And the one thing I'm not going to do is outsource the copy, because I think that's the most important thing.
Now, you might …I know what's going to happen. Some people are going to say well I'm not a copywriter, or now I become the bottleneck. And that's okay, because to me this is my highest leverage activity is doing this. Because that's the voice of the company.
Will it be potentially maybe a little bit harder to sell down the road because my voice is kind of entwined in it? Perhaps. But I don't know. No one's promised tomorrow. I'm living one day at a time and I'm just…I think if you're going to outsource something, don't outsource your soul.
Dave Gerhardt: I love that. I especially like…well, forget about selling the company. That is what's going to make the company valuable.
Ryan Lee: Right, right.
Dave Gerhardt: At the first part. The other thing is you hit on something really important, which is this is the highest leverage activity for you as an entrepreneur. And so you're going to spend your time there.
And my guess is that if you're going to spend your time on copywriting, then my guess, I don't know anything, but you're probably outsourcing the rest of everything that you're doing?
Ryan Lee: Well, I have a couple full-time people. I have my operations person who handles all of the…if people knew how much work goes into making a bar. Like between all the ingredients and the manufacturer and the box company and the wrapper and fulfillment and coordinate and all the money you have to lay out, it's three months…people would lose their minds.
And they're like, “Oh, why can't you just make the flavor next week?” I'm like are you insane? But anyway. You're poking the bear. Okay.
So the highest leverage activity is what I do, is the copy and the email. And then we have our full-time operations, we have our full-time support. Everyone else is project by project. I don't need a full-time tech person. It's Shopify, you know?
So hey, we need a couple things here, can you build the upsell, blah blah blah. Good. We have a couple of graphics people we use. Can you create this thing and this virtual thing? Great.
Dave Gerhardt: So are you writing? If you're going to add pages to your website or there's a new upsell or a new offer, since you want to own the copy how does that work? Are you writing a brief and you're writing the copy and then giving that to a designer? How does that process work?
Ryan Lee: Well, with Shopify what's cool is you can build the pages right in Shopify. So we'll use different apps. There's one app called Hyper Visual, which I love. It's like the easiest landing page builder in the world. And it integrates right into our…
So I go in there, it's drag and drop. And I literally sit and type out the copy and I do it myself.
Dave Gerhardt: That's awesome.
Ryan Lee: With highest leverage activity, it's always been for me email. Email is like 80, sometimes 90%, of our revenue. It's incredible how much revenue we make from email.
And how few people, few ecommerce companies, how they get email wrong or don't email enough. I'll say well how do often you email? They'll say once a month. You're out of your mind.
I can take any company, if they're making $100,000 a month and they're emailing once a month, I guarantee you I can make them half a million dollars.
Dave Gerhardt: Sorry. Let's go deep into that. I want to know a couple things. Number one is what are the mistakes that people make? Other than not sending enough email.
And then number two, I'm interested in your email strategy. You talked a lot…a lot of your emails feel very storytelling and newsletter-ish. When do you ask for a sale? Because obviously if you just send out a newsletter every week, you're not going to sell stuff. So I'm interested in how you think about the one-two punch of email.
Ryan Lee: Well, the thing most people get wrong, obviously the biggest mistake, we just said. They don't email enough. Number two is if they do email, they're only emailing sales or promotions.
Number three is even if they have content, it's either really really generic, it's boring, it's stuff you can just find on a blog. And there's no heart and soul to it.
So those are huge mistakes. And their subject lines aren't very good. There's no…it's not coming from a person or a voice. And sometimes it's disjointed. They'll have one person write one email, they'll have one person write another email. And it's like there's no consistency.
We're probably same age-ish, right? You and I? Ish. I'm sure I'm older than you.
Dave Gerhardt: I'm 32.
Ryan Lee: Oh geez. Okay. I'm only like 16 years older than you. But anyway.
Dave Gerhardt: I look older. I'm just real tired right now.
Ryan Lee: You're a grizzly veteran. But you remember a time when you were younger when there was a certain day of the week. Like with me it was Thursday nights, 8:00, you had your routine for the TV show. Like for us, Thursday nights it was Cosby Show and Family Ties and Cheers. That was…and you set your routine around it.
And there was something comforting about this routine and consistency. And that's another huge mistake, is that people who email, like ecommerce companies, there's no consistency. They'll send it on a Tuesday at 9:00 at night and then a week and a half later they'll send it on a Thursday at 8:00 in the morning. So you don't know when it's coming.
With me, what I do with email, I'll take you through. You want me to take you through the system?
Dave Gerhardt: Yeah.
Ryan Lee: For people who aren't watching video, Dave's nodding his head like a madman. The system is I get…so first thing you got to do is set your environment. Your physical working environment.
You've got to go to a place that feels good to you. So for me, it took me a while to figure out where I feel good and energized is at a coffee shop. So I get my laptop, I go to a coffee shop, I sit at the same table, I get the same drink. To the point where they see my car in the parking lot and they start making the drink.
I remember one time I was in the car, took me a minute, I got there. And the drink was already waiting. And someone's sitting down to like how did you do that? I'm like I'm Ryan Lee, bitch.
Dave Gerhardt: Consistency, baby.
Ryan Lee: Yes. So I put my headphones on. I'll put one song on, and it's funny. It's been shown with studies that especially for us entrepreneurs with this entrepreneurial ADD, we can go into real hyper focus mode. So there's something soothing about one song on repeat.
So I'll listen to one song and just loop it and I get in this hypnotic zone. And the very very first thing I do, before opening email, before social media or Facebook or liking Dave's posts or flaming you or whatever I'm going to do, it's writing the email. Every single day.
Like that's what I do. And people say well Ryan, you must batch these ahead of time right? You must schedule these out weeks in advance. I swear to you I sit down and I open my email. I use of course Privy is my popup. That was life-changing once we added in how many more leads we got. I love it. But that's my little plug.
Dave Gerhardt: Love it.
Ryan Lee: And I'll write my email and it's in real time. It's like hey, it's Tuesday morning, I'm sitting here, and it's just what's on my mind for the day.
Now, you asked…and we incorporate story and…
Dave Gerhardt: Sorry. Are you literally sending an email every single day to your list?
Ryan Lee: So what I'm doing…with every list you have to…you don't know until you try things. What's too much volume, what's not enough volume. So what I'm doing now is I'll send, let's say it's Monday, I'll send an email to the list. And Tuesday, 24 hours later, I'll resend the exact same email with a different subject line to everyone who didn't open.
And then I'll email. Then I'll do a new email Wednesday. So essentially they're getting a new email anywhere from three to four times a week.
Dave Gerhardt: I actually it's so funny, I literally just did a video on this today that I posted on Twitter and LinkedIn. Basically from one email you can get so many different audiences.
Because the mistake that people make is look, a good open rate today is 20-30%. So 70% of the people who are never going to open your email. So the opportunities to resend to those people, you can keep the copy exactly the same. All you have to do is switch up the subject line. That's one audience.
The other audience is there's going to be a whole universe of people who opened your email but never actually clicked. And so that opportunity is send to them in another two days but change up the copy and you can even mention like hey, you didn't take advantage of this offer. I love that you do that.
Ryan Lee: Yeah. And it's so simple. And when I started doing that, we overnight boosted our revenue by probably 50%, the email revenue. It was insane.
So if people are opening, they'll get it every other day. And you asked well, if you're only talking about stories or whatever, when are you selling? And the thing is it's always like 80-90% content and we always have a soft sell.
It could be in the PS. So we'll talk, like even today's email was just I was feeling good. I'm like you know what? We're more than just bars and drinks. This is about changing your life. Forget what happened in the past. I want to help you.
I actually sent them to a Facebook post. I'm like if you're in you're in, give me a heck yes. And then PS, click here again for the link to the Facebook group. PPS, if you haven't got the drink yet, click here.
That's it. And then underneath that every single email is always the Rewinder of the day. Hey, Jenny loved our bars, here's a picture of her with the bar. Here's a picture with the drink. Click here. Be like Jenny. And that's it.
Dave Gerhardt: Are you just going to your reviews and picking one that's good and taking a screenshot and putting it in there?
Ryan Lee: That's exactly what I do. That's it. Either review or someone posts in our Facebook group or on our Facebook ads. One of the comments. That's it.
Dave Gerhardt: Do you ever send a dedicated flash? Do you mix in those things or…
Ryan Lee: Very rarely.
Dave Gerhardt: Consistent drumbeat.
Very very rarely. Even if I do, there's a story behind it. So for example, we do get some returns or we get boxes that are dented or stuff like that.
Ryan Lee: So we…and I showed a picture, of like here's a box that's a little beat up. The bars are still good. Here's how it actually looks, here's why we're offering a discount. Get them now. So I didn't just say flash sale 30% off. I never do that. I never do that.
Dave Gerhardt: Love that.
Ryan Lee: So there's always a story behind it. But we rarely do, because one of the companies I owned, we made that mistake of turning people into just coupon. So they all did was wait for a coupon. To the point where we had to send a discount every single day.
It's like people who go into Bed, Bath, and Beyond. If you don't come in with that stupid 20% off coupon, you feel like you're getting screwed. Right?
Dave Gerhardt: Right. Or you know that you can just mention it, hey can I get the 20% too?
Ryan Lee: Hey, give me 20%, what's up? You know, hey, I need a shower caddy.
Dave Gerhardt: Yeah. I love that. The other thing is like here's a secret, right? You got really good at writing email copy. You know why? Because you did it, you do it, every single day, every single week. That is the only way to get better at writing copy. There is no hack for that.
Ryan Lee: It is. It's…that's it. It's like flexing that muscle to the point where it becomes almost automatic.
And I know you just said it's writing the copy. See, what I do is I don't even think about it like writing copy. I think about it like I'm sitting down and I'm writing a letter to a friend. And it takes all the pressure off.
The minute you start thinking like that, you're like I'm not a copywriter. I'm writing to my buddy Dave.
Dave Gerhardt: Love that.
Ryan Lee: Easy. And just like all the pressure goes away. And I'm telling you, for everyone watching this, the billions of people watching this or listening to this right now…
Dave Gerhardt: 10 billion.
Ryan Lee: 10 billion. You are through the roof, Dave. Just try it, for like a week or two. Everyone I've taught this program to, and this system, because I used to have a program. It was called One Email A Day where I taught the whole system. Where every single person who did it said, “Oh my god, I'm actually…my open rates are going up and I'm getting people replying saying I love your email.”
And here's what you want to do. You want to get to the point where your email subject doesn't matter. Like you can say anything and they open it because it's coming from Dave.
And also you want to get to the point where if you don't email for three-four days, and I've done this when I used to market my business list, I wouldn't email for like three-four days. I'd be on vacation or whatever. Just like I need to go offline.
We would get dozens or hundreds of emails. Is Ryan okay? Where is he? We miss him.
Dave Gerhardt: You go from the perception of most people are like ugh, another email, to people are like Ryan please market to me. That's what type of reaction you're getting from people.
Ryan Lee: Because they feel good. Like when you're going to write an email, it also can't just be fluffy story. Right? You have to…everything you do there has to be at least one actionable piece of advice or content that they can take away and do something with.
So if it's in the health space, is there something that they could do? Is it eating this or not eating this, or doing this workout. Any market there's something actionable, some piece of where they feel like okay, there's a little bit of bite to this and I don't want to miss it.
That's where you want to get to. But if you're only sending coupons, it's crazy. And there's such a disconnect. I remember I'd ordered bars from all these different companies to see what they do. And one company, they send the box and it was this beautiful packaging, this handwritten note. We love you, we care about you.
I bought these like two years ago. They would send one email every like eight months. And it was 20% off. It's like you don't care about me. You don't.
It's great and the packaging's great and it's great lip service. But let's be real. You don't care. People have to know you care and you have to mean it.
You have to protect them like with your life. And my subscribers know I'd run through the frigging wall for them. Like I got their back and I truly do. Which is also why I never ever promote other products or programs.
You're my tribe, this is it. Let's do this. And I'm not going to sell other crap to make a commission. Not that there's…look. I feel like Jerry Seinfeld, not that there's anything wrong with that.
And if you want to have affiliate stuff and sell commissions to people you don't know, cool. Go for it. I just decided that I wasn't going to do that and it was only going to be internal offers if we're going to promote anything. And just keeping the list clean and the integrity of it.
Dave Gerhardt: Right. I got one more topic that I want to hit. We can talk about copywriting for five hours with you.
Ryan Lee: Oh, we're doing it. I've set aside five hours.
Dave Gerhardt: Okay, we'll keep you on. We'll open this up to the public, I'll Tweet out the Zoom link, everybody can join.
Let's talk about selling on Shopify. Right? Because you've had online businesses for two decades. Looking back, Shopify is insane, just growth and how many businesses are being started there. What are some of the things you knew as an entrepreneur?
Maybe if there's people that are at small or growing brands out there, what are the Shopify mistakes, dos or don'ts? What are some of the lessons you've learned about selling on Shopify?
Ryan Lee: Let me see, selling on Shopify. Mistakes. Well, it is amazing how easy it is. The one ecommerce business we built before, this was we started 14 years ago, everything was custom. We spent almost $100,000 on it. And we'd spend $15,000 a month for our two tech people.
Because if we wanted to do an upsell, it would take them two weeks and millions of line of code. Now we can do it in like five minutes.
One thing is that out of the box, there's still little things missing. Right? You're still going to need some apps to tweak it. It's like a car, you know? You want to add some nice things to it, whatever. I know, Dave, you probably got the crazy spinning rims.
Dave Gerhardt: I do. It's a Cadillac on 24 inch rims, actually.
Ryan Lee: Exactly. See, I'm old school, so I want to put the cassette player in the car. I'm going to add the cassette player.
But so with the reviews, we use an app called Loox, so it's automated. So once an order goes out, 10 days later hey, could you please leave a review and we'll give you a little discount if you leave a review. So there's one thing.
What we also did was, now it costs us a lot of money, but we changed. Shopify doesn't allow you to do a one click post purchase upsell automatically. Now, you can do some upsells, like a pre-card upsell and add this to it. But I'm talking about they buy our bars, the credit card goes through, and then it says hey congratulations. If you want another box at a discount or this, and you click a button, you have to use an app. And you have to go outside of Shopify payments to do that.
Bold does it. We're using a thing called Cart Hook. It makes us so much extra money it's insane, plus it's a one page checkout.
Dave Gerhardt: Yeah. That's like the most classic upsell of all time, is the McDonald's. What's the best time to ask for more? It's like do you want fries with that.
But so that's interesting. So it's more difficult just to do that out of the box on Shopify.
Ryan Lee: You can't. If you're using Shopify Payments, as of today's recording you can't. Hopefully they add it one day, but they don't right now. So you need a third. When you do a third party you're not using Shopify Payments, you have to go outside.
So it still connects with Stripe and PayPal and stuff like that. But there are extra fees with that. But the amount of revenue you get pays for it. I mean in one day it pays for us for 10 years.
Dave Gerhardt: Just before I forget, on the reviews piece. Where do all your reviews go once you get them?
Ryan Lee: What do you mean where do they?
Dave Gerhardt: Are you featuring them on your website?
Ryan Lee: They automatically go to our website. They automatically go to whatever product you bought. So if you bought our cinnamon coffee cake bars, that cinnamon coffee cake review automatically goes to cinnamon coffee cake page. On the bottom, automatically. We don't even have to touch it.
Dave Gerhardt: Got it.
Ryan Lee: Which is great. So stuff like that obviously. Another biggie, which I didn't have till probably six months later, was adding a popup. My man Privy.
But I mean the amount of leads we get is insane, through that. And converting, I mean we have over 50% of people come back and do repeat purchases. So getting them in our world and getting them to feel our vibe is really important.
So the big things. Reviews, collecting emails, sending consistent emails. If you can afford it, going with that added extra outside thing. Whether it's Bold or Cart Hook. Because it's challenging, if you want to scale your business, if you want to start doing paid traffic like Facebook ads, Instagram, or YouTube, the average order value has to make sense.
And it's a way to increase average order value. Sometimes double, by having that one click upsell.
Now, I'll say this. What you mentioned was true with McDonald's. But there's different things. There is a cross-sell, like you get a burger, hey do you want fries with that.
But what works best, can I give away a million dollar tip right now, Dave?
Dave Gerhardt: Please.
Ryan Lee: Or should we hold that for the private masterclass?
Dave Gerhardt: I know, we should've just held it for the upsell. We don't have the upsell built yet, so maybe you have to give it away.
Ryan Lee: Here's what I've learned in selling a lot of stuff online for a long time. The upsell that works best is selling more of what they just purchased. Right?
So if you're selling, I'll use the example for let's say a tooth whitening gel. The best upsell is not a cross-sell, it's not well get a toothbrush. It's buy another bottle at X amount discount. Because they're already sold on it, they're already in.
Like I get the value, it's worth it, my credit card's out. I can get another one at a great discount? Cool.
And so many people, they get too funky or creative with their upsells and then they have to resell you something completely different. Which isn't that easy to do. But they're already in with what they bought.
Dave Gerhardt: How does that work for you? Are you trying to sell cases or boxes?
Ryan Lee: We sell it by the box. So we usually give another box at a discount. But that's it. We don't do…you can get…this is where, again, the heart and the smart. You've got to find that balance.
Because you don't want to annoy everyone, because everyone's been through this. Where you'll get something and they'll have like 12 upsells and you're like dude, enough. Enough.
And then it's funny, because my dad, if he buys something online he says, “Oh, this one person tried to sell me three things. I just canceled and refunded everything I was so annoyed.” And a lot of people do that.
Dave Gerhardt: No purchases.
Ryan Lee: Zero. Will it increase your average order value a little bit? Yes. But what's the sacrifice? You're sacrificing the relationship and the longterm.
So we just have one upsell normally. Just hey, you bought the boxes, here's another box at a discount. And if you get it great. If you don't, that's cool too. Done. We're not doing down-sells and hey well try this.
I remember I bought something from a very well known infomercial fitness thing. Just I love going through the process to see what they're selling. And I'm telling you, it had to be 12-15 upsells. Where it was just insane.
Dave Gerhardt: But did you get the Bowflex?
Ryan Lee: What's that, the Bowflex?
Dave Gerhardt: Was it the Bowflex P90X?
Ryan Lee: P90, baby. And I know Tony, actually Tony Horton's the face of it. But he wasn't creating the upsells. But it was so insane.
And you could tell that's a company…that's no heart, that's all the smarts and the stats and the spreadsheets. You find the intersection.
Like one upsell okay. And people talk, oh that's cool. And they look at it like oh thank you for giving me the opportunity to get another one. That's what I'm talking about doing it longterm and just trying to do it the right way.
So I'm trying to spread the word to get businesses to just unlearn a lot of the stuff. I mean take the stuff we learned from the Halberts, the Bencivenga. But do it the new way and just play and try different things too.
Dave Gerhardt: Love it. All right, Ryan. I think we got to go because otherwise we'll never end it anyway. But I appreciate you coming on. I love your email stuff. I'm going to get on your email list so I can see all our stuff now.
And I would just go, honestly if you're listening to this episode, the best thing that you could do is go to the website, RewindBars.com. And go subscribe and check out your email.
Because I think one of the other marketing secrets is to get better at marketing, you just got to learn from everybody else. Right? Like Ryan talked about on this episode, learning from Gary Halbert and Eugene Schwartz and the best copywriters.
If you find somebody that you think is doing a good job in your industry, sign up for their list. Get their emails, take that as inspiration, and see what that could be for you.
Ryan Lee: Yeah. And your key word there, inspiration. Don't copy. I've had people take my emails to the point where they…one person I talked about, Christmas, when we go to my wife's and they love doing karaoke at midnight. And he took my exact email, including my story.
He was like oh, when I was with my in-laws and we do karaoke. I'm like are you? What? Don't do that.
Dave Gerhardt: No, don't do that.
Ryan Lee: You do you. But use it for inspiration. Absolutely. Go to Rewind Bars, join us in our Facebook group. It's called the Rewind Breakfast Club. See the community we're building.
And I'd love to hear from business owners. I love talking about this stuff, as you can see. I get a little excited about it.
Dave Gerhardt: Love it. All right. Ryan, great to meet you. Thanks for coming on the show. If you like this episode and you learned one new thing from Ryan, which I mean I learned 10 things on this episode, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. I just like seeing that type of stuff, because it lets me know who's listening.
Ryan, I'll talk to you later.
Ryan Lee: Thanks, Dave.
Dave Gerhardt: Thanks for doing this.
Ryan Lee: All right. You got it.
Dave Gerhardt: Bye.
Ryan Lee: Bye.
This article originally appeared in the Privy blog and has been published here with permission.