A while back, and I’m not really sure how, I came across the brand Ugmonk on social media.
There was something about the clean lines, minimalism, unique respect for the local materials used and special relationship with their suppliers and manufacturers that made me fall in love with this brand instantly.
Months later, when I realized that Ugmonk has a newsletter, I hopped on that bandwagon and was thrilled to follow along where I basically hang out all the time - my inbox.
So when I saw that the owner, Jeff Sheldon, was running a big warehouse sale a few weeks ago, I held on tight.
“I wonder if anything about it will come through in my inbox”, I wondered, and like their products - boy, they delivered!
That’s when I allowed myself to slide into Jeff’s DMs on Instagram and suggested this mini-interview on his email marketing. He kindly agreed.
(*Btw, I have sent Jeff a DM before, which he kindly replied to as well. If it wasn’t for that previous interaction, I’m not sure he would’ve seen my new question. Moral of the story #1: when it comes to social media, it’s never too early to get on someone’s radar, if only for the slight chance of getting the message across, literally!)
The answers are in, and here they are, alongside the sales emails and my two cents:
Yuval: Aside from the monthly Ugmonk Journal, and 2 emails about the online sale (a day before and on the day of), have you sent any other emails this month? My aim is to understand your email strategy and different segments, and how it all came to fruition, especially around this particular sale.
Jeff: Those were the only emails I sent about the warehouse sale. And one more follow-up once it was live.
Yuval: With impressive numbers like 61.4k followers on Instagram, 23.4k on X (Twitter), and 14.1K on Facebook, can you share a bit about your stats inside your email service provider (# subscribers, average open/click/conversion rate, and what do you think help those stats)?
Jeff: Honestly, I don't pay close attention to those stats and numbers. I've slowly built a following over the past 15 years (mostly organically) and am blessed to have a very engaged audience full of real people who dig what I'm doing. Our email open rates are north of 50% with very high click rate as well.
Ugmonk's pre-sale, 2 sales emails, and the monthly Journal email - all were sent through this sales period, organized in order of receiving. Click the gallery to expand and read each email.
Yuval: Was the sale always supposed to move to an online one after the physical sale, or was it a reaction to what happened in the physical one?
Jeff: Yes. We had talked about doing an online sale for several years but never had the time to pull it off. So this was finally the time to do an online version of the sale for those who couldn't travel in for it.
Yuval: What role does email marketing play in Ugmonk's story and success? Why is email marketing important to you?
Jeff: Email is by far my best channel to reach our customers. Social media apps will come and go but email is the one constant and asset we can own. I've been very intentional about the quantity and quality of emails I send to keep people informed and interested over the years.
Yuval: Is there anything you'd do (or wish you would've done) differently with your email marketing?
Jeff: Not much I wish I did differently. Just glad I started building my list when I did. It's been a slow and steady build over the years and has led to so many amazing opportunities and connections (even meeting customers in person halfway across the globe).
Moral of the story #2: Start building your email list early. Probably way before you need to use it. Build that connection and be consistent with the value you provide and the number of times you promised to show up in someone’s inbox - in Ugmonk’s case, it’s a monthly email with recommendations, and maybe an occasional additional email.
What was done REALLY right here
Email exclusivity: Subscribers got to know about this sale before anyone else. That’s a strategic decision that I absolutely love and contributed to the success of this sale. More eyeballs on your emails = more sales, it’s as simple as that. And that feeling you get, of it being exclusive to you and seeing it in your own inbox, was executed here beautifully.
Using scarcity + urgency right: While many brands abuse scarcity to the point of losing the trust of their audience (and by that, I specifically refer to really shitty subject lines and extending the sale “as a surprise”), the sale here was timed and there were no extensions, or attempts to shame or guilt anyone into buying now.
The sale period itself - nothing says “ethical Fomo” better than a short sales window of less than a week. Such a sales window is a great tactic to use if you know your audience well.
The transparency of the sale: “All ‘Warehouse Sale Items’ have small cosmetic imperfections or irregularities, but are still fully functional. These items are not eligible for return or additional discount.” If we’ve ever met, you know how much I love transparency. The fact that this sentence was mentioned as a part of the sales emails warmed my heart. Before you even click through, you know exactly what’s going on. It’s this transparency that helps build trust with your audience even more, and especially during sales periods (a hard task in itself!).
The 50-80% discount: generally speaking, I’m not a fan of discounts, especially at such high rates. Many times, those rates are offered carelessly, and the profit margins for brands who offer those are slim to none. However, in this case, I know for a fact that this is the first time in a very long while that such discount rates were offered, and such deals won’t repeat themselves for a long while. It’s very clear to me that the Ugmonk team thought about this sale long and hard before going along with it.
A real-time BTS: throughout the sale itself, the emails also included photos of the boxes packed (for orders made the day before) and a shoutout to the team members. When you have a small business, this is a part of your brand building that your audience absolutely loves. It’s not “polished” in the same way you see big brands’ emails, and honestly, I think big brands are missing out by not being more personable like that.
Clean email design and simplicity of copy: you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and the Ugmonk team knows it. The email design they used is synonymous with their overall aesthetics and brand guidelines, and the copy is very straightforward.
Show, don’t tell: especially with such sales and when it comes to physical products, you want to show a selection of what you have in store (pun very much intended). Screaming “sale” at the top of your email won’t be nearly as effective as showing the new prices alongside the products that are included in the sale.
What would I have done differently?
Although 1 pre-sale email and 3 sales emails brought in plenty of sales, I’m wondering how a longer pre-sale period (warm-up) + a few more sales emails would’ve affected sales/list health/number of subscribers. My theory is that it could have brought in more sales and gotten rid of disengaged subscribers - but that’s the kind of experimentation that you can do when you really know how your subscribers behave and what they prefer.
Because this is an eCommerce brand with an approach of a personal brand (which it very much is), every time I get Ugmonk’s emails I ask myself what would they have achieved with more than a monthly/bi-monthly email. I usually advise on a weekly email, at the very least, especially for such brands. That being said, and considering the team’s size and division of efforts, more than a (bi-)monthly email may be unsustainable or even illogical at this point. It’s not easy to strike the right balance between valuable and sustainable.
I’d probably entice subscribers to buy now even more by mentioning a specific sales period (as in, actual dates). That’s a decision that such brands need to make and be hyper-aware of - what happens if not everything will be sold? Do we give it a timeframe? Or do we keep it date-free? In this case, the warehouse sale is still running (if you want to grab something for yourself, knock yourself out), but not publicly mentioned or publicized anywhere.
If your brand needs help with strategizing your next sale period or planning an automated sequence so it will make more sales while nurturing trust - book a consult call with me here.