The web-only retailer sends free kettlebell workouts to a large subscriber list, which go on to make purchases at KettlebellKings.com.

Kettlebell Kings’ emails that don’t feature a clear sales message drive more revenue than its promotional emails, says Jay Perkins, the retailer’s co-founder and managing partner.

The web-only kettlebells merchant started producing kettlebell workout videos roughly two years ago to create more content to engage its social media followers and drive traffic to its site, Perkins says. He quickly realized that instead of just giving away the content for free, it should use the videos as a tool to gather email addresses and remarket to these interested consumers. Kettlebells are exercise weights. 

Since 2017, the retailer has targeted consumers interested in kettlebells with Facebook and Instagram ads that encourage them to sign up for a free weekly kettlebell workout sent to their inbox. If she clicks on the ad, she is sent to a Kettlebell Kings landing page, which has a 30% conversion rate among consumers who have signed up for emails. The retailer has 60,000 subscribers to its weekly exercise emails, Perkins says.

Once a week Kettlebell Kings sends these subscribers an email that details one workout. That message may also include a link to one of its blog posts about proper technique or nutrition. The weekly email helps the retailer build trust and demonstrate its expertise as a brand, while also driving traffic and ultimately sales to its site. The retailer may also send an email to this list about its Black Friday sale of its annual summer sale but generally does not send this list promotions, Perkins says.

“Email has been a big part of how we build our brand and establish trust,” Perkins says.

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Those brand awareness efforts have produced strong results; consumers who receive the retailer’s weekly workout emails have a 3-4% conversion rate for products on its ecommerce site, and the retailer’s return on its ad spend for getting those email subscribers is about $10 for every $1 the retailer spends, he says. This return is higher than the return for its Google Ads marketing, which is about $6 to $7 for every $1 it spends, Perkins says. These emails have about a 25-30% open rate, which have held steady the past two years, he says.

“There hasn’t been a huge drop [in open rates] because it is so value focused,” he says. “People know when they open one of these emails it’s not a sales pitch.”

The retailer’s workout email is in addition to its normal email capture list, which Kettlebell Kings has had since the retailer launched in 2013. The retailer has a pop-up on its homepage that offers a discount when a consumer signs up to receive its promotional emails. This promotional email list has about 30,000-40,000 subscribers who receive a few emails with discounts and alert consumers of sales. Shoppers on the list have about a 7-8% open rate and 1.5-2% conversion rate on its ecommerce site, Perkins says.

No doubt, consumers’ inboxes are cluttered, Perkins says. If the retailer sends out a promotional email to its marketing list, the next day it will send an email about the sale to consumers who didn’t open the email the first time. The second email batch will still drive traffic and transactions, Perkins says. He hypothesizes that these shoppers, who were interested in the sale but didn’t even open the first email, likely bulk deleted the first email to clean up their inbox or didn’t see it among all the other messages in there, he says.

“Almost every business does email marketing,” Perkins says. “Even if we’re not selling a competing product, we’re still competing for real estate and eye balls.”

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Because of the success with the videos sent via email, the retailer is now experimenting with connecting with shoppers via Facebook Inc.’s chat app Messenger. Kettlebell Kings was hoping to see if it could lower the cost of customer leads and reach shoppers on a non-cluttered platform.

In the two month since Kettlebell Kings started advertising for consumers to connect with the retailer via Facebook Messenger, those ads have a 60% conversion rate for getting consumers to sign up to receive workout videos via Messenger. These ads only cost 35 cents per email address it obtains, he says. The retailer is still experimenting with what the Facebook message should say, how to drive shoppers to its site from Messenger and how to incorporate promotions into the message.

Kettlebell Kings also wants to further monetize its free video subscribers, such as expanding into having a group of subscribers that pay for additional workout videos, such as ones from notable training experts.

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