How Ripple Training Uses Email Segmentation to Compete in the YouTube Era

Ripple Training

Attention spans are on the decline. Thanks to advances in modern technology, we can learn about almost any topic at precisely the time we want to learn and without much difficulty—and if we can’t find what we want from one source fast, we move on to something else.  

So how does a brand that delivers long-form educational content compete in the era of YouTube? And how does it monetize its products through an ecommerce store when people can seemingly train themselves on any topic—for free—with nothing more than a few savvy Google search skills? 

I recently spoke with Jill Martin, head of marketing and operations at Ripple Training, about the brand’s unique business and how its team uses smart content and email segmentation strategies to overcome these particular challenges.  

 

Katie Tierney [KT]: Ripple Training runs a pretty unique business. Tell me a bit about what you do and how the business came to be. 

Jill Martin [JM]: We’re a software training company. We produce tutorials for people who want to learn how to edit their own videos and we sell them online to people in English-speaking countries across the globe. Historically, we primarily trained on Final Cut Pro, but in the last five years, we started training on another video editing software called DaVinci Resolve

Steve Martin, my husband, is the founder. He ran a training program for Apple called Train the Trainer, which is how Apple certified different people across the U.S. who were qualified to teach Final Cut Pro. This was back before the internet could really deliver full-frame video. Everyone was using dial-up modems to connect to the internet and YouTube wasn’t even a thing at that time, so all of the education was done in the classroom.

As we saw the classroom model diminish and the internet’s functionality and accessibility grow, Steve built an online delivery model to get our training out to the masses. That was the beginning of Ripple Training in 2002. Back then, internet speeds were too slow so we couldn’t deliver full training programs online. Instead, we offered our training on DVDs that people could purchase online. As the internet evolved, so too has our training and delivery model.

About five years ago, I came on board and while my role has evolved, I now oversee everything from our website to our sales, marketing, and customer support so Steve can focus solely on creating our tutorials. 

 

Jill Martin (head of marketing and operations), Mark Spencer (lead trainer and partner), and Steve Martin (founder) of Ripple Training.

 

[KT]: Many entrepreneurs and businesses fail to adapt and adjust to the market over time. What have you have done to keep Ripple Training relevant as the market has changed?

[JM]: It hasn’t been easy! We’ve had some really challenging seasons in our business. The biggest thing we’ve had to invest in is our website functionality. Attention spans are a lot shorter than they were back in 2002. People just don’t read anymore, so you have to break things down and make everything very simple and easy to understand. 

We created a proprietary online player so our customers can actually have a really awesome educational experience. This has been huge for us since pretty much everything now is being compared to the YouTube experience. And we’ve also evolved to provide very personalized training experiences from industry experts our customers can trust.

 

[KT]: In a world where anyone can go on YouTube and train themselves on seemingly any topic imaginable, what are some of the challenges you face and how do you differentiate your services? 

[JM]: At this point in our business, we’ve realized it makes sense to have different phases of the tutorials we produce. 

Our tutorials are really in-depth courses. Each tutorial is six hours long, so Steve and his team basically write three full-length feature films for each tutorial. They script everything and describe the nitty-gritty concepts of working with the software so the content is both very wide and very deep.

That kind of content takes a significant amount of production, so there are many times in our business where we’re simply producing this content. But we realized we were missing out on the YouTube audience so about five years ago, we began to produce short five-minute tutorials called “Final Cut Under Five.” This helped us introduce content more steadily to the YouTube audience. 

We’re finding people in our market really want to have a personal connection with our brand because they have creative goals, so we’re constantly looking at our customer experience, how they’re learning with our online player, and the content we’re creating for YouTube to increase our views. We actually just started a live show a few months ago called Ripple Live, so we’re constantly looking for new ways to create the content people want and give it to them when and how they want it so they become familiar with both our brand and the quality we offer with our long-form tutorials.

 

"We're finding people in our market really want to have a personal connection with our brand ... so we’re constantly looking for new ways to create the content people want and give it to them when and how they want it so they become familiar with both our brand and the quality we offer with our long-form tutorials."

Jill Martin, head of marketing and operations, Ripple Training

 

[KT]: How does email marketing factor into your marketing strategy? 

[JM]: Email marketing is a very important part of our business, but it’s been a challenging journey for us. 

About five years ago, we started email marketing with Constant Contact and Steve was creating all of our emails. But we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were just spraying and praying every single time we had a product, but we knew this approach wasn’t the right way to send emails. 

I heard about another marketing automation platform, Infusionsoft, so I went to their conference and got excited about it. We made the switch, but I soon realized I didn’t know how to use it. We stayed with them for a little over a year, but I wasn’t utilizing it and it was costing an arm and a leg. So we switched over to Mailchimp, which was much simpler but it didn’t have the powerful integration with WooCommerce that we needed. 

After about a year, we went back to Infusionsoft because they lowered their prices. I thought to myself, “Okay, maybe now I’m mature enough in my understanding of marketing that I can go back to them and make it work.” But I found nothing had really changed in their software over those few years. 

I then started looking at ActiveCampaign, which seemed so much simpler than Infusionsoft. But their WooCommerce integration was terrible and I had tons of problems like syncing up all of our historical data. It was a nightmare, so I left them and that’s when I had a random call with someone who said to me, “Are you with Klaviyo?” I had never even heard of Klaviyo. 

After a few months, I kept thinking, “I gotta find out why he mentioned Klaviyo. What’s so special about it?” So I started researching it and all of my web support staff thought, “Oh no, you’re not changing the marketing automation platform again, are you?” It’s usually a hassle to change marketing automation platforms, but with Klaviyo it was no problem at all. I actually did most of it myself—I didn’t even really need my programmers to help me with it.

 

"It’s usually a hassle to change marketing automation platforms, but with Klaviyo it was no problem at all. I actually did most of it myself—I didn't even really need my programmers to help me with it."

Jill Martin, head of marketing and operations, Ripple Training

 

[KT]: Tell me about what it was like to integrate your store with Klaviyo.

[JM]: When we decided to go with Klaviyo, connecting with WooCommerce was really easy. I didn’t have any problems and I was able to get everything I needed. The metrics were there, the data feeds were there, everything was built-in so we just continued to grow without any interruption.

The other beauty of being with Klaviyo is that your API is very easy to deal with.

One thing that’s really important for us to see is if people have left reviews after they’ve downloaded our lessons or downloaded the project media if they’ve left a review, so we’ve connected our review software. We’ve also connected Help Scout for our customer support. 

The integrations are just super easy. Like I said, I’m not a programmer and even though I understand the backend of WordPress, I basically didn’t need my programmer’s help to get Klaviyo integrated with WooCommerce to get started.

 

"When we decided to go with Klaviyo, connecting with WooCommerce was really easy. I didn’t have any problems and I was able to get everything I needed. The metrics were there, the data feeds were there, everything was built-in so we just continued to grow without any interruption."

Jill Martin, head of marketing and operations, Ripple Training

 

[KT]: More than 50 percent of your monthly revenue is coming through the segmentation you’re doing through Klaviyo. How are you defining and building your segments? 

[JM]: It took me a couple of months to really start segmenting simply because I had to change my mindset after working with so many tools that weren’t right for us. But once I did that, it was really easy. 

I find myself using purchase history quite a bit. For example, this morning we sent out an email about a tutorial that’s on sale. But I don’t want to send that message to people who’ve already purchased that tutorial. I want people who have either clicked on the page and who haven’t yet purchased it or the people who’ve been active on our site in the last 90 days. I don’t really want to go after my market that’s not very active, so I segmented this email based on purchase history, activity, and software preference. 

I’m constantly evolving our segments and working on ways to gather more data about our customers so I can segment them even more. The basics are super easy, but sometimes I need deeper help with segmentation. That’s when I watch the videos on Klaviyo’s help site. I remember one in particular and the woman featured in the video was super awesome. She said to make a campaign schedule. Every week, sit down and spend about an hour planning out which emails you want to send and that helps you have a plan every day. That was really helpful so I’ve been doing that 

I’m also using my forms with Klaviyo in a really powerful way. I can view who’s seen a form, who’s clicked on a form, and this gives me some really great data I can use. And the forms are so easy to update. I just go into Klaviyo, change whatever wording I want to change, publish the form, and it updates automatically on our site. Now, I don’t need to pay for another service to achieve what I need, it’s all in Klaviyo. 

 

[KT]: As you look toward the future, where do you want to take Ripple Training in five, ten years? What are some of the goals that you have in mind?

[JM]: It’s not humanly possible to have a personal interaction with every person that comes to our website, so the biggest area of growth is to better personalize the customer experience we deliver. Improving our flows and all of our touchpoints helps us with that. This is the area I oversee. I’ve done really well with our segmentation strategy and now I need to put in place more flows, especially for our new customers when they’re active and want to learn more.

YouTube has created very shallow learners and it presents a challenge for us since we’re trying to train on this fairly complicated piece of software. People are distracted and many only have a few minutes to learn this piece of software that’s taken my husband more than 20 years to master. 

Learning software of this caliber takes time, so I want to develop our flows so they’re very encouraging and designed to help learners along their path. Our messages need to reach people at the right points, like when they’ve been active on our website or when they’ve downloaded their media. That’s one of the biggest ways email marketing will help us continue to grow our business. 

As far as our content goes, we’re really diving heavily into DaVinci Resolve. We see a big area of growth in helping small businesses to create videos. Keeping people’s attention with video takes some skills, so we see more opportunities to develop online courses that are very tailored to the finished product someone wants to create. It’s not always about software, it’s about these creative skills that you need to put together a video, so that’s where we’re headed. And we’re really excited. All of this work we’re doing with Klaviyo and building our YouTube channel is laying the foundation for us to create really relevant content for our audience, which will help us continue to grow our business. 

 

Ready to grow your brand? Explore the Entrepreneur Growth Guide for more helpful resources and inspiration.  

 

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