In early 2021, Braxton Manley lost power for a full week because of a horrible snowstorm. As the co-founder of Braxley Bands—a comfortable Apple Watch brand inspired by a college project that turned into a million-dollar business—Braxton used the time to think about how he could give his brand more meaning.
According to Braxton, a great design is three-dimensional, encompassing function, style, and meaning. The last of the three happens to be the most difficult to do. This realization led to Braxley Bands hosting a 70s-inspired costume party to release a new collection of groovy bands.
“There are a million brands out there that are just trying to be the most modern brand in the world. And I think there's something fun about playing with the past,” said Braxton.
The new bands have sayings like “know your power,” “be good,” and “live the dream.” The goal of releasing them at the in-person event was to
- Get people together after a difficult year of Covid lockdowns and the recent snowstorm
- Build stronger connections between Braxley Bands and its customers
- Show everyone how the bands act as wearable mantras that give meaning and inspiration right on your wrist
This is how Braxton connected that final dimension to his great design: the meaning behind the bands.
But beyond this party, Braxley Bands has many loyal customers. In fact, just for Halloween, the brand hosted a contest to give away a free Apple Watch to customers who dress up as a Braxley Band. Yes, you read that right.
This got the Fuel Made team thinking… Braxley Bands is only 4 years old, yet they have nurtured customer relationships so well that they’ll attend parties, dress up like the product for Halloween, and use the hashtag #JoinTheBand on social media.
So how did Braxton and his team achieve this? By nurturing customers on owned marketing channels, specifically email and SMS.
“You have to master all the channels. It's not about just spending money on ads anymore—it's about having the perfect flow on email,” he said.
Let’s break down Braxley Bands’ email and SMS strategy together.
P.s. If you're looking for an agency to help you improve your email marketing—from strategy, to design, copywriting, and development—chat with our team here to see how we can help!
Step one: invest in your marketing lists
With the iOS changes making it difficult to acquire customers through paid channels, focusing on owned channels, like email and SMS, is the best bet for brands to continue growing.
“Everybody is freaking out about the iOS changes and Instagram getting so much more expensive,” said Braxton. “There's a lot of disruption, and a lot of brands are actually going out of business. It's important to tell people, ‘invest in your own lists.’”
The number one way Braxley Bands grows its email list is through an engaging pop-up on the website. In fact, from August-November 2021 (just a few months after the iOS changes launched), Braxley Bands’ pop-up saw high engagement:
- 34% engaged conversion rate on desktop
- 11.69% engaged conversion rate on mobile
Considering the average pop-up conversion rate is 3.09%, Braxley’s pop-ups are performing extremely well.
After the pop-up, customers receive a welcome flow, which also performs well. The emails convert around 5% while the SMS convert at 17.5%.
“I don't think email and SMS are going anywhere. In fact, I think it's probably going to be the future. Don't sleep on them. It's definitely our most profitable channel— it's what keeps us in business.”
- Braxton Manley, Co-Founder of Braxley Bands
Braxley Bands’ nurturing post-purchase flows
There are many emails in Braxley Bands’ post-purchase flow (10+ in total), but we’ll touch on a few that work well because they aren’t sales-related—they’re to help customers, provide value, and entertain.
1. Engaging transactional emails
Transactional emails are a low-hanging fruit to communicate with customers and build trust. And, believe it or not, they can be good for converting customers to make another purchase too.
Braxley Bands emails customers when their order is ready to go, when it’s shipped, when it’s out for delivery, and after it was delivered. Here’s the kicker: 1.4% of customers who open the “out for delivery” flow make another purchase, and 2.7% of customers convert from the “shipment delivered” flow.
Considering these customers just ordered, it’s great that these flows get some customers to purchase again right away.
Take note of the vibrant designs, interesting copy, and funny graphics. These are on-brand, and give a memorable experience that makes customers want to continue engaging.
2. Personal thank you’s
Braxley Bands acknowledges customers who make a purchase—both new and repeat customers—with a humorous email. These are also meant to get customers engaged on social media with #JoinTheBand.
First order thank you:
Repeat order thank you:
These both have over 40% open rates, and they immediately bring customers into Braxley’s community by sharing why they should “Join the Band” on Instagram. These also do a good job of explaining the benefits of following Braxley Bands on Instagram, making sure customers are the ones getting value.
3. Inviting customers to engage on Instagram
Out of all the post-purchase emails Braxley Bands sends, the “share on Instagram” email converts really well. This is sent after the customer receives their order.
Considering the email doesn’t link to products, make recommendations, or ask for another order, a 1.3% conversion rate is really good. The goal of this email is to show customers the community and get them to feel like they’re a part of a group.
4. Band care instructions
To keep customers satisfied with the product, Braxley Bands shows them how to properly take care of their bands. This is an email sent 13 days after the customer receives their order.
Braxley’s care instructions email has a 38% open rate, and it converts 1% of customers to make another purchase. Educational emails help drive retention because customers are more likely to make another purchase if they’re using your product correctly.
What it means to give value
According to Braxton, giving value to customers is the best way to nurture long-term relationships. “It can’t just be you advertising to customers. It's really key, especially with organic stuff, to add value or entertainment. Otherwise, they're not going to care,” he said.
Below are four tips on adding value.
Send non-sale related follow-up emails
It’s important to not just try and push sales in every communication you send customers. There are other ways to give value, like product education, fun contests, or anniversary and birthday emails—to name a few. Check out these examples:
The anniversary email:
Make sure every message is fun and surprising
“Humor is the easiest way to someone's heart. So trying to make people laugh and bringing joy… they'll want to be a part of that.”
A big part of Braxton’s email and SMS strategy is to keep the right brand voice with every communication. The goal is to make people laugh, so Braxley Bands uses “Ryan Reynolds humor” to entertain.
“The emails and texts we send out are different. People want to open them because they’re funny. It's just about having a brand style and voice that people are entertained by."
- Braxton Manley
Play on gamification to build excitement
With campaigns like the Halloween contest, Braxley Bands adds a hint of gamification to drive up customer engagement.
For example, one email campaign promoted a “mystery discount code,” where customers were told to apply the discount at the checkout to see what they get. The email also said the discount would change every hour, so it was a surprise whenever it was used.
This campaign has a 3x higher place order than other campaigns, and it converted 10% of customers on SMS.
Respect the difference between email and SMS
Don’t send email subscribers and SMS subscribers the exact same content all the time.
There’s a reason these channels are separate, and Braxton warns marketers about the importance of respecting your SMS subscribers:
“So many people send SMS campaigns that should just be emails. It's about being more personable and casual, and you’ve got to have value there,” he said. “It's a vulnerable channel because you're hitting somebody in a more private place. So respect that.”
Key takeaways for nurturing relationships via email and SMS
- Work on growing your email list. You can’t nurture relationships if you don’t have your customers’ contact information in the first place.
- Create a unique and engaging brand voice. Whether it’s funny, inspirational, or friendly. Finding that tone and being consistent with it helps build a like-minded audience.
- Communicate important information to customers, especially when it comes to their transactions. Not sending order confirmations or shipping updates can make people feel like they were scammed.
- Show customers you appreciate them by thanking them for their orders.
- Drive your subscribers to other important channels, like how Braxley Bands invites customers to “Join the Band” on Instagram in some of their post-purchase flows.
- Find ways to provide value and entertainment. This could be through educational content, giveaways, or events. Essentially, it’s finding entertaining ways to communicate with your customers that aren’t just about promoting your products and trying to drive another sale.
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