How are you using email marketing to build your business? Is it working for you? If you are wondering how to build a better email marketing system or be more effective with email marketing then this episode is for you. Our guest today, is Kyle Stout, the founder of Elevate & Scale. Kyle is an authority on how leveraging email marketing can vastly increase revenue by improving customer retention, increasing average order value, and driving repeat purchases.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Kyle Stout is the founder of Elevate & Scale, a leading digital marketing agency that helps 7-figure product-based entrepreneurs elevate their brand and scale their growth. Kyle is an authority on how leveraging email marketing can vastly increase revenue by improving customer retention, increasing average order value, and driving repeat purchases.
Kyle started his career in digital marketing back in 2013 as a freelance copywriter where he honed his skills in brand storytelling and email marketing. Once he had developed a set of frameworks that worked consistently across different niches, he started Elevate & Scale in 2019 specializing in email marketing for ecommerce businesses.
Kyle is a husband and proud girl-dad living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When he’s not working, he enjoys working out, staying active outdoors, hosting family cookouts, and traveling.
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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success Podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, and as we open today, I’m wondering how you happen to be using email marketing to build your business, and how’s that working for you? And if you’re wondering how to build a better marketing system or be more effective with email marketing, then this episode is for you. Our guest today is Kyle Stout, he’s the founder of Elevate & Scale. He’s an authority on how leveraging email marketing can vastly increase revenue by improving customer retention, increasing average order value, and driving repeat purchases. He really provides a straightforward guide on email marketing. So let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Kyle Stout.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (00:52):
All right, thanks for having me. My name is Kyle Stout, and I’m the founder of Elevate & Scale.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:56):
Kyle, one of the things that really stood out to me with what you’re doing is just a focus on email marketing and going through this whole process. And I think email marketing, at least in my experience, and working with successful business owners and other business leaders know it’s important but maybe aren’t really familiar, and oftentimes don’t even have a set strategy or a focus on where to go. So I’d like to maybe start at a high level here on how this works. So let’s start with why is an email list important? Let’s just start there.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (01:34):
Okay, yeah. So an email list will become one of your most valuable assets that you have in your business because it gives you a direct line of communication to your customers and to your leads, but it’s on a platform that you own. So while we’ve seen all of these trends come and go with social media and the attention will move from one platform to another, and even just digital marketing trends in general, have come and gone over the years, but email marketing has been that thing that just continues to perform year after year. And again, like you said, you find this pattern amongst really successful businesses where, and people don’t often always talk about, it’s not always top of mind because I think a lot of times we just take it for granted, or people just assume that everyone else has already built up their list and that they are focused on that. But it’s this thing that just continues to be one of their best assets they have. And I think that it just doesn’t get as much attention as it used to.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:38):
There seems to be a lot of noise out there in marketing. There’s always noise, but there’s more noise, I think, now than ever before. Digital marketing and social, and now even live events are coming back in this post-COVID world, and all of these things that are going on. And yet here we have this email marketing list that sometimes I think is viewed as almost like a dinosaur, like it’s this old thing that isn’t relevant. So what are some just general mistakes that you see people make with their list? Do you have a few that you could share, and maybe some of our listeners will relate to that?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (03:18):
Definitely, yeah. I mean, the first one’s not building your list obviously, we talked about that, but also, like you said, we look as at the email list or email marketing as this dinosaur. And what happens is, people don’t realize that the strategies for email have evolved. So a lot of businesses, they’re just not even emailing their list enough. So they might have already been building up a list, but they might only do a holiday sale a few times a year, and they don’t have any regular touchpoint with those people. And what happens is, if you do that, your list will go cold and then you start to lose the value of having that list in the first place. On the other hand, some businesses are emailing their list way too much and they need to back off the frequency. And a lot of times, it’s more so the fact that they’re emailing everyone on their list every time, than it is that of how often they’re actually emailing. Because you can get away with emailing frequently, assuming you’re emailing the people on your list who want to get more emails from you.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (04:19):
So that’s where you get into segmentation. So really, the big mistakes are just not having your list, not getting your frequency right, and also not emailing them whenever it’s anything besides a sale. You want to email people with more content than just a discount off.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:36):
Sure. Well, what are some suggestions or ideas then that you might suggest to someone that says, “Okay, well Kyle, this is all well and good, we’ve got this list.” What’s maybe a quick step one or step two for someone to take to start down this pathway of being more proactive and specific with it in how they’re handling their list?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (05:03):
Okay, so this might feel like a step back for a business that’s already built up their list, but I find that most businesses neglect this, and this is really where the most low-hanging fruit is going to be, and that’s first starting with optimizing your sales process and getting some of these automated email systems set up for your sales process. So whatever that process for your business looks like, where people are either landing on your site and going through a checkout process, or maybe they go through a series of sales calls, whatever your sales process is, you want to break it down step by step. And you can look in your analytics and look in your CRM, however you’re tracking everything, and you can see that there’s drop off at every step in your sales process. And you might not realize that the technology has come a long ways. For pretty much any type of business, you can have automated email systems set up to move people along at each one of those stages.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (05:57):
So that means just by getting that in place, your existing traffic flow and lead flow, you can be getting more revenue from your existing traffic without having to spend more on ads or spend more on whatever you’re doing to get people to your site or to your business. And so that’s the first place I would start because you’re just going to immediately get higher a ROI on what you’re doing for your marketing. And then from there, it’s getting into the ongoing emails. So maybe it’s just starting with a weekly email. And it can be, if you just have no idea where to start, you can start with a newsletter. So maybe if you’re putting out any type of other content anywhere on your blog or social media or whatever, maybe you can take some content and repurpose it. But you can always just go to classic things like product education.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (06:44):
It’s going to depend on what you’re selling, so we can get as detailed as you want based around what you’re selling. But telling stories, whether it’s customer stories, whether it’s stories from people within your business, things that people can relate to. So really, you don’t have to think of email as being that different from everything else you do in marketing. Everything is about putting out content, it’s about sharing a message. So if you don’t have a message, it really starts with first crafting that message, and then you’re just using email as a way to communicate that message the same way you would on TikTok or YouTube, it’s just that the media itself looks a little different.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:21):
Yeah, I think that’s a great point about just evaluating where in the sales process there might be a hang up, and probably just good form and a good exercise, just in general, to review that anyway, even if you updated this a year ago or two years ago. I mean, who knows the last time sometimes this has been reviewed.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (07:46):
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:48):
Well, and Kyle, one of the things that, our business, we specialize in helping companies franchise their business. So franchising’s always on our mind, and for someone who’s tuning in, they may be either a franchisor maybe the leader of a multi-site location or a national organization of some kind. And they might be thinking, “Okay, well how can we segment this or use this list or this automation and different things we’re doing for each of our individual, whether it be franchisees or local locations, coupled with this broader national focus?” Can you talk through how something like that might work?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (08:30):
Yeah, so the first place I would start is what we were talking about a second ago of just first map out the sales process for one location, so maybe start with the main location, and build out a system that works there. And then that can be a starting formula that all the franchisees then use going forward for their locations. And I will say, I’ve seen Chick-fil-A does this really well, so I mean, Chick-fil-A does a lot of things really well, as I’m sure people in your space look at the Chick-fil-A lot. I noticed that with the email marketing they do to me, that they use a lot of similar tactics that we use for e-commerce businesses, or just different types of businesses that you might not think you could apply the same things with them. But what they do is, so I’m on their app, so part of how I’m shopping with them is using their app instead of just going up there and giving them my card. So that’s one thing that obviously that’s going to be a tech barrier, but that’s something that really helps with the data you can collect.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (09:34):
But I notice that they do marketing by location. So I’ll get an email from a specific location, from the person who owns that particular franchise location, at least that’s how they’ve branded the email. And they’re doing things like if they know I haven’t been there in a little while, they’ll try to get me to come back, maybe get a free breakfast item, or they’ll use either that or they’ll have some kind of reward that I’ve somehow earned, and they use that to try to get me to come back to the location. But they do it in a way of just similar to e-commerce, where we do something called a customer win-back, where if someone hasn’t purchased in a while, you surprise them with something to try to get them to come back and make a purchase again.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (10:15):
And I noticed they use the exact same messaging that we use with our e-commerce clients. And the thing is, it works, They’ve gotten me back several times, especially after I moved, they’ve gotten me to go back to the location I used to go to when I lived in a different area of town. So it does work. And again, so for the franchisor, if you can figure out how to get this, a system built out for one location, it can apply to every location. But I do think you should have some level of personalization where you make it clear it’s you’re getting the marketing from this specific location because that just helps drive those personal relationships.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:54):
I see. All right, well, that makes a lot of sense. Well, I guess the other application I’m interested in, just on the franchise sales end of things, that’s always a regular just point of discussion with clients. They’re trying to think about how can we get people involved, and it’s a very long sales cycle. It’s not, “Here’s a coupon to come in and get a free chicken sandwich,” or get a free drink or something. This is a long sales cycle, maybe three months, six months, could be a year, especially if we’re talking about people who fall out of the sales cycle. They could be in there for a year or two years, three years, before they ever make a purchase or maybe end up just maybe never buying, but refer you to a friend who ends up buying a franchise. So talk through maybe how a long sales cycle, whether it’s a franchise or otherwise, maybe just a large ticket purchase, what that might look like.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (11:54):
Okay. I think you need to have two types of content that would be the foundation of 80 to 90% of the content going in these emails over this whole time period. So first, you would have the evergreen content. So this is the stuff that every prospect needs to know. It’s you basically educating them on everything they need to know to start one of your franchises. And that information is not going to change, it’s going to be true a year from today, it will be true two years from today. You don’t have to update it very often. So let’s just say that you offer some sort of packet that they can download to get more information and that gets them into your email marketing system, and now you can have a series, and because it is a long sales cycle, you would want this series to go for a while. You wouldn’t want it to be something where it just runs for a month and that’s it because like you said, you know that this is going to take a while for them to make that decision.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (12:52):
But you also don’t want to completely have them just getting hammered with content constantly because that doesn’t allow you to do ongoing email marketing, which is the next piece I want to talk about. So first, you just start with all of the 101 information they got to have, all the big sales objections, all their questions and concerns, make sure they get all of that information as a part of that welcome series or whatever you call that series. And then what I would do is I would just look at the average length of the sales cycle and break down the entire series to go that length. So if it’s nine months, have it go nine months, and it could be when they get a once a week email, it could be every 10 days, could be every two weeks. That part is not as important, as long as you’re front loading the most useful information upfront or early in this series, and then all the other stuff that’s a little bit more optional or a little more nice to have information, that goes later on.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (13:50):
Then your ongoing email marketing to these people, this is where now you need to have timely information. So you’ve already been answering all the questions and giving all the information, that won’t change. But now you need to make an argument that is relevant to today because they might have gotten this, let’s just say they started this series six months ago, well, our economy is in a very different place today than it was six months ago. So the conversation has shifted. So you need to be able to put out ongoing content that’s timely to today. So that means you need to be talking about why is the opportunity still a great opportunity today, and that should be your ongoing email marketing. So you’re really just taking the evergreen information, but now you’re applying it through the filter of having a conversation with someone today. And if you can keep that conversation relevant as you go along, and especially if they’re not getting those kind of messages from other potential franchises, you’re really going to stand out in their mind because I mean, you’re having a thoughtful conversation with them.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (14:49):
So by the time you do get onto a phone call with them and it starts to get a little bit more serious, you’ve already addressed, again, a lot of their concerns. But you also show them that you’re paying attention to what’s going on in the market. It’s going to give them the sense that you’re going to have their back, you’re paying attention and you’re engaged. And that’s a big part of email, and having success in the sales process is just, again, getting back to having human interaction and human communication that people don’t get from a lot of businesses.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:20):
Yeah, oh, hat’s a great point. And just a small plug for anyone who ends up listening in, we do a monthly educational webinar series called Current Franchise Sales & Marketing Trends. So just by way of thinking, the whole point of that is just to see what’s changing, what’s new, and just a plug for anybody who listens in, lots of free info that you could take and update your long-term email newsletters with some of the content we share, or at least maybe give you some ideas on what you could pull from your own industry or from your own market in and incorporating. I think that’s brilliant, brilliant. Great point. Well, Kyle, this is a great time for us just to make a transition, and we ask every guest the same four questions before they go. And the first question we ask is, have you had a miss or two in your journey, and something you learned from it?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (16:12):
Yeah, I definitely had a lot more misses than hits coming up, as I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people. So I would say that the biggest miss for me was really, I had terrible shiny object syndrome. So as I was getting started in my career, I constantly had several side projects I was working on at all times, and I was younger and I had a lot more energy, so people would obviously tell me that I was trying to do too much, but I didn’t really realize until time went on, and I was spreading my time and energy so thin, that none of those projects were really advancing that much. Looking back, if I had just focused all my time and effort into one project, I would’ve gotten so much further ahead than by trying to do 10 things at once.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:59):
How about a make or two? You’ve had a great career with a lot of wins and makes along the way, what are some highlights?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (17:08):
So some of the highlights, one of the things that really helped me a lot early, I was starting out as a freelance copywriter, I was a ghost writer for a few of the big inbound marketing agencies. And one of them paid me to take what were really all of the top internet marketing courses at the time from all the big name marketing gurus, to put together some in-house executive level summaries for their team and some of their clients. And what that did was that really just gave me a fast track. I mean, we’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars worth of courses that I got to not only to take for free, but I got paid to take them to create all of these summaries. But that took my knowledge from just being a copywriter who was learning the copy game to really learning a lot of digital marketing strategies end to end, that then have paid off tremendously over the years of client work, but also with my own business.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (18:06):
And so that one, it wasn’t so much a big win at the time, it was set me up for a lot of wins going forward. Another make that I had or a standout moment in my career was back whenever I was a freelancer, I took on the CMO role for one of my clients. And this company, I mean, they were struggling, they were at a point where they pretty much stand still zero traction. And whenever I came in, and part of this is because of all of the information I had gained from the last thing I talked about, we were able to go from no sales to almost $5 million in sales within the first year, all from digital marketing and mostly from email. So that was a big moment where I said, “Okay, hold on, there’s something to this. I think I’ve got something here when it comes to these email marketing programs that I’m putting together.” And that led me to then go start my own business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:03):
Oh, fantastic. Well, let’s talk about a multiplier. I think you’ve shared some even just throughout our conversations here, or is there a multiplier or two that stands out?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (19:14):
Definitely, in my personal life, I would say the biggest multiplier was, so prior to whenever I mentioned I had terrible shiny object syndrome, so I just needed to get disciplined. And once I really focused, I had spent a period of time really developing discipline in my personal life, around my daily schedule and around setting habits and routines, that made a huge difference in my work life because it just made me so much more productive. But it also just gave me more time to be able to spend time with family and friends and not be working, not have to work as much, or I should say, I was actually working more, but I had more time off because I was just being so much more thoughtful with how I was using my time. And that, again, the level of productivity I got from that and has stuck with me since then has had impacts on everything.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (20:10):
And then in business, I’d say the biggest multiplier has been hiring good people by far. So obviously, you can’t do everything on your own. And having people that compliment my skills allows us to do better quality work than I would’ve been able to do on my own. Obviously, we produce way more than I could possibly do on my own. And a lot of times it’s kind of hard to trust people, especially whenever you’re dealing with clients and it’s kind of hard to let them have more control, but then they end up surprising you and they come up with things that are way better than what you would’ve even come up with on your own. So that’s been a huge multiplier for me.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:46):
Amazing. Well, and Kyle, the final question that we ask every guest is what does success mean to you?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (20:54):
So for me, success is a balance between achieving my goals, but then also having all of the other things. I want to have a great home life with my family, and inner peace and feeling good about who I am and being healthy. So as much as I like to make money like all entrepreneurs, to me, I don’t feel successful if I don’t have all of the major areas of my life in alignment.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:19):
Well, that’s great. Well, Kyle, as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you maybe haven’t had a chance to yet?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (21:28):
No, I mean, when it comes to email, I would say that right now, I think the biggest thing that business owners need to know is that the inboxes are getting a little bit more strict than they ever were in the past as far as filtering out content. So there is more pressure to be a little bit more thoughtful with your email content. And I also think there’s an opportunity right now for businesses to really stand out from their direct competitors because a lot of businesses have been neglecting email. And I think that a lot of businesses are going to start looking more towards email right now, as with a lot of economic uncertainty. And now is a good time to get a jump on the competition by really, again, revisiting some of the things we talked about, revisiting your sales process, getting your automated emails optimized, and then really putting some thought into the content you put out on a regular basis.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:23):
Well, that’s great. And Kyle, what’s the best way for someone to find out more about what you’re doing or get in touch with you, if they’re interested in learning more?
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale (22:31):
Yeah, so you can find me at Elevate & Scale, anywhere online. I would say the best place to get more content from me would be YouTube. So if you go there, you find a bunch of tutorials where I’m sharing strategies on how I’m doing everything for email marketing, and of course you can just go to the website if you want to book a call.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:49):
Kyle, thank you so much for a fantastic interview, and let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Kyle talked about there being three problems with email marketing that you need to be aware of and know about. The first is not having an email list. So start there, start building that list. Number two, not emailing your list enough where, and I can say that I fell into this for many, many, many years, years, and years and years. It was once, twice, three times a year, and that was it, that we would contact our database. And number three, not segmenting your list, and making sure that you’re sending content specific to different segments and types of customers, current customers, past customers, previous, not customers, et cetera.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (23:38):
Takeaway number two, he gave us three things that you should do first in building out your list. Number one is to start automizing your sales process. He said, “Start there. Break it down first and assess what it all looks like.” You’ve got to have that sales process automized. Number two is that your ongoing email list should start with a weekly email. And number three, start using email to communicate the message you want to get across. And take away number three is that there are two pieces of content that you should be building with your email marketing system. Number one is evergreen content, to start answering common questions and common objections, frequently asked questions, and front load the most important information. And then number two is your ongoing email messaging that helps make things be more timely so that it’s relevant for what’s happening today. And now it’s time for today’s win-win.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:41):
So today’s win-win is when Kyle talked right at the tail end of the interview, he gave us a couple quick nuggets that really stood out to me, and he said that inboxes today and email services are much more stricter than they have been, and seems to be that they’re going to continue to be this way. So he said, “Make sure you’re thoughtful about your title and the actual content going into it.” And email is an opportunity to help you stand out from your competitors. So if you’re maybe thinking of a way to stand out or get an edge with your competitors, using email very well might be it. And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise your business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, we look to having you back next week.