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How abandoning Mailchimp has led to 10% sales growth and a larger community of brand believers

How abandoning Mailchimp has led to 10% sales growth and a larger community of brand believers

Anitra Terrell puts a lot of stock into asking questions of Reflektion Design’s customers and prospects. 

As the founder and owner of the modern African decor shop — and the person who handles the majority of operations — she uses their answers to help make better business decisions. 

The best platform for capturing those insights? Email marketing, hands down.

“The next closest thing would probably be social media engagement. But social media is tricky because not everyone sees it,” Terrell ponders. Plus, “On social media, you have many people that just follow you. They like what you're doing. They like your images and your videos. But they may not ever buy anything.”  

Social accounts are helpful in gathering information. But as she explains it, email marketing is much more powerful in getting thoughts from the people who matter most to her business. 

Because subscribing to emails is a conscious decision to engage a bit deeper. 

Through the email space that’s all her own, feedback spurs new ideas for products and services, VIP email subscriber perks, and email newsletter content.   

Surveys are just one way that email marketing is a portal to building “a community of people who are enthusiastic about my brand.” And it’s an important community — email marketing through Seguno drives about 40% of Reflektion Design sales. 


Starting and growing a business

One of the seeds for Reflektion Design’s 2013 birth was a hunt for bedding. A shopping trip left Terrell completely uninspired. Nothing resonated. 

Why not, she thought, give the market something different and share her love and knowledge of African textiles and art? She had lived in Ghana for eight weeks as a Fulbright scholar, splitting her days between marketing studies and work as a textile buyer. It was one of the happiest times of her life.   

Terrell started spreading a piece of that joy with pillows, then followed with wall art, tableware  and more. Today, about 40% of her inventory is composed of items designed by her and crafted by artisans in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. Another 40% are sourced, and the remaining 20% she creates. 

Bowl with spoons

Reflektion Design launched on a basic ecommerce platform before migrating to Shopify for expanded capabilities. Likewise, Terrell became more ambitious with email marketing. The desire to elevate communications sent her searching for a more economical platform, since Mailchimp’s a la carte structure was becoming a tough pill to swallow. 

Seguno emerged as the winner for two time-saving reasons:

  1. Integration with Shopify. Creating emails is easy, as it’s a snap to pull in Shopify elements like product photos.  
  2. Canva. Terrell already used the design software. The ability to stay within the app lets her make images and edits quickly.   
Text: "I could automatically just open Canva with Seguno. I was like, research over. Sign me up. Give me the trial. Get me on a paid plan."

The features she loves

Terrell has since discovered other features that support creating on-brand communications. It’s why she says Seguno is perfect for the merchant “who’s not afraid to roll up their sleeves and create something unique to their brand.”

She strives to infuse her weekly newsletters with Reflektion Design’s personality — to convey a type of feeling and emotion you won’t get from a lot of other brand newsletters. 

Email from Reflektion Design showing a woman holding a child, the title "Afrocentric Mother's Day Gift Ideas," and product photos of a bag, hair scrunchie and more

Here’s the Seguno tools that empower her mission: 

  • The flipbook. She says she’s seen a higher click rate when uploading several images that rotate, compared to a static image.  
Rotating images of earrings and tapestries
  • Email clipping warning. This alert appears whenever a work-in-progress email starts getting too long, based on best practices. Terrell “dials it back” in those instances. The prompt has trained her to constantly ask, “What's the main thing that I want people to do in this email?”

Hands-on help from Seguno’s customer support team has also made a big difference. She’s received custom-made templates to use as a jumping-off point. She’s gained tips around using the app’s tools, and expert one-on-one assistance has provided her a deeper understanding of design. 

For example, the vibrant colors and patterns of her products mean emails “can easily get very wild,” she says with a laugh. “Katherine [Riemen] was great at helping me strip some of it back to let the product shine, while the background just plays a supporting role.”

Terrell continues to adhere to the advice, and has noticed a higher click-through rate to the website because of it. 

Improved performance, post-Mailchimp

Since switching to Seguno, email marketing has become a larger source of revenue. Terrell estimates that email-driven sales have risen by about 10%.   

That improvement is accompanied by: 

  • A rise in open rate:
    • Mailchimp average: around 15%
    • Seguno average: between 30% and 45%
  • A rise in click-through rate to the website:
    • Mailchimp average: 0.5% to 1.5%
    • Seguno average: 2% to 6%

Overall, she has experienced a return on investment of 18x with Seguno, when looking strictly at sales in comparison to the app’s cost over one year of use.

Icons with text: Email-driven sales +10%, open rate +200%, click-through rate +300%, 18x ROI using Seguno

Most importantly, email marketing is integral to building her special group of supporters. As Terrell explains it, the bigger the community, “the less beating on the pan you have to do to get people's attention.”   

“They're waiting on you,” she says about email subscribers. “I think that's the importance of email. You can change the intensity — your communication — because the goal is not necessarily to be heard. It is more to have a conversation with people.”

She examines her email metrics just about every other day to get a pulse on what subscribers are and aren’t drawn to. She uses this intelligence — especially click rate — to shape her messages. 

Strengthening connections with segmentation

Terrell uses email marketing to not just reach her subscribers, but speak to specific groups within it. 

Via customer tags, targeted emails occasionally go to three segmented groups:

  • VIPs (customers who spend the most): Terrell shows appreciation once a month by offering things like storewide discounts, sneak peeks and 30-minute, one-on-one advice sessions.  
  • State-specific groups: They’re notified of nearby popup events. This outreach has led to meeting subscribers in person for the first time. 
  • Groups that consistently purchase certain products

Customers who buy fabric compose the largest segment of the last group. Fabric is one of the top three best sellers. 

“You have to listen to your customers — their needs and what they want,” she says, explaining that fabric only became a product line after many inquired about the basis of her pillows.

Knowing this same group leaves the most reviews, Terrell reached out with a survey to tap their eagerness. Their responses are driving her to expand the fabric selection. 

Woman holding a stack of fabrics and text asking the reader to take a survey

“Having the ability to segment the audience and talk to them directly is invaluable,” she says. “They're already there looking to you to help them, or to provide some sort of value to their life. So why not ask them, ‘What can I offer to enhance your creativity or make your home look great’?” 

The surveys, the email segmentation and every other part of Terrell’s email marketing program are all part of her intentional strategy to build community.  

Her bottom-line advice to Shopify owners: use platforms like Seguno and Canva “to improve your business and add more value to your customers’ lives.”

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