Couldn’t make it to Klaviyo:BOS 2019? Missed a session you wanted to catch? We’ve got you covered with some highlights from day one.
On Wednesday morning, more than 800 ecommerce professionals came through the doors of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCE) as the first day of Klaviyo:BOS kicked off.
Now in its sophomore year and more than doubled in size, Klaviyo:BOS brought together some of the brightest industry leaders, fastest-growing brands, and expert product specialists who shared real-world examples and actionable strategies to help ecommerce entrepreneurs and marketers own the entire customer experience and grow their brands.
The theme of this year’s event: Own It. Attendees came together to learn how owned marketing can help them gain more control over the customer experience and ultimately grow their businesses.
The first of this two-day event kicked off with an inspiring video featuring four forward-looking brands—Apt 2B, Brass, brooklinen, and Custom Ink—sharing stories about how they’ve built their brands and how they’ve used Klaviyo to own their marketing.
“Klaviyo helps us own our customer experience. Having a community-driven brand is super important and it’s part of the DNA at Brass. We wouldn’t have that without the ability to connect with the women in our community, and we couldn’t do that without Klaviyo,” said Katie Demo, co-founder of Brass.
Here are a few of the highlights from the keynotes, breakout sessions, and more on the first day of Klaviyo:BOS 2019.
Opening Keynote from Klaviyo’s CEO, Andrew Bialecki
Following the video, Klaviyo’s CEO, Andrew Bialecki (AB), took the stage for the opening keynote in which he shared reflections on where Klaviyo is today and his vision for where it’s headed to continue to help brands grow.
“When it started, Klaviyo was about connecting businesses to their customers,” AB said.
All businesses, he said, measure revenue as a proxy for success. While brands measure revenue, though, Klaviyo specifically measures revenue from email, mobile, and website—the channels that are within a brand’s control.
Over time, he said, it became clear that there needed to be a better way to explain this concept.
“Earlier this year, I got tired of repeating this—email, mobile, website, email, mobile, website. It’s kind of a mouthful. We thought, ‘What do these channels have in common?’ They’re all owned channels. They’re owned because you’re in control. We want you to be in control of your growth, so while you measure your brand’s revenue, we measure revenue from owned channels. You measure revenue. We measure owned revenue,” he said.
— 2X eCommerce (@2xeCommerce) September 25, 2019
AB also talked about the growth that both Klaviyo and its customers have seen in the past year.
“In 2018, you created over $2 billion in revenue through owned marketing. In 2019, with the three biggest months of the year to come, that numbers already over $3 billion and it’s on pace to double. That owned revenue number is our north star and what we focus on to help you grow,” he said.
He then shared the story of how he started his first business. At first, he said, he felt great about its growth, but it soon became more than he could handle well himself.
“With that business, I just didn’t have the time or way to connect with people the way I wanted to in order to get their feedback and help them. As an engineer, I thought, ‘What if I could program some questions and deliver them to people online? I could be more available. That’s when I really invested in solving that problem. How do we program our personalities into software? How do we scale ourselves and grow our brands? I thought, ‘If I could build tools that helped you do those things, anyone could copy their brand, their personality, and be available to their customers. We could show everyone our best selves. And I was confident that everyone could do that if they had the right tools,” AB said.
But the concept of programming your brand and personality might scare people, he said, because many people have misconceptions about what programming really means.
“It’s not so much about the coding in a dark basement. It’s about figuring out a problem and how to solve it. If you can create a checklist or a flow chart, you’re a programmer,” he said.
I'm saying this more and more and more and more. Programming is a vocation endangered by advancement of tools. #KBOS19
— Phillip Jackson 📍BOS 9/24-9/27 (@philwinkle) September 25, 2019
AB said Klaviyo was born to help you track things like activity and conversions that allow you to make decisions about what’s working and better connect with customers to grow your revenue. But one nagging question remained: did this matter to your business?
“I wanted to know, ‘Is what we’re doing really important to your growth? I needed to figure out how much owned revenue mattered to your business. What would it mean to your business if we changed the balance and grew the owned revenue slice of the pie? Is that good or bad? I wanted to do things that put you in control, so I asked and got an overwhelming response. You said, ‘Yes, this is what matters,” he said.
— Thomas Shields (@tlshields) September 25, 2019
AB said Klaivyo’s mission is to help you increase your owned revenue because it puts you in control of your business. He left the audience with two pieces of advice to consider as you think about growth.
“First, think long term. I know what it feels like to start from scratch, to hit that next stage of growth… it’s super difficult. I think marketing, in general, does this process a disservice. There are too many gimmicks that aren’t sustainable. I’d encourage you to think about what will work in the long run. That means building relationships with your customers to know what they want and working on your product and building amazing experiences. Second, be yourselves. Be human. Don’t be generic. Bet on channels that allow you to be yourself and show yourself off. A brand isn’t just a name, it’s the personalities of all the people who work there,” he said.
— Brian Whalley (@bwhalley) September 25, 2019
Following Andrew’s talk, attendees chose their own mid-morning adventure as breakout sessions commenced.
In the Owned Marketing track, Erik Huberman, CEO and founder of Hawke Media, one of the fastest-growing marketing agencies in the U.S., presented a session on how ecommerce brands can combat the rising costs of advertising.
Erik said his agency looks at the full ecosystem of owned and paid marketing channels. He also said that the cost to advertise on Google has increased two and a half times in the last year.
“Paying for the traffic on third-party marketplaces, which have a lot of fraudulent traffic, doesn’t really help you grow your brand. So why continue to pay so much for it?” Erik asked the audience.
One of the ways brands can overcome this challenge, Erik said, is by increasing your conversion rates. He said that’s where owned marketing comes in.
“Seventy-five percent of people won’t buy from a company they don’t trust. By connecting with your audience and getting your value proposition in front of them, you can increase conversion rates which will help you combat the increase in advertising costs,” Erik said.
He wrapped up by sharing a few ideas on how to leverage marketing channels like email, SMS, and content marketing to build human connections with your customers that will keep them coming back to your brand.
“Building a brand in the digital world is about engaging your customers. Being your own publisher is the best way to bring in your audience and engage people, which helps you build trust and increase your conversion rates. The more personal you can be with your interactions, the better,” Erik said.
Eric from @hawkemedia says they have a Christmas tree up in their office now as a reminder that holiday marketing has already started #kbos19@DoubleYourWDW, can you order us a aluminum office tree? 😆 pic.twitter.com/XO3UStqxTR
— Kurt Elster 📍KBOS19 (@kurtinc) September 25, 2019
Across the hall in the Brand Spotlight track, NOBULL’s vice president of marketing, Todd Meleney, shared how this no-excuses athletic brand built its company culture and an enthusiastic community of loyal customers.
In a refreshingly candid moment, Todd shared a story of a Black Friday sale gone wrong in which the whole team had to quickly recover overnight.
It takes high-performing teams to overcome such adversity, he said, and the culture you create is critical in making sure your teams are able to perform in both booming and trying times.
“Every member of our team is a living, breathing, personality. If you don’t listen, you lose touch,” Todd said.
The same could be said for your customers.
Todd also spoke about how important it is to have robust customer data points to drive results, especially when things are challenging.
“In a time when you’re not doing well, it’s so valuable to have data points to find the flaw in what you’re doing so you can figure out how to correct what’s not working,” Todd said.
Love this quote from Todd Meleney of @justthehorns: “Culture is like fitness. If you don’t work on it, you get out of shape.”
Strong culture = High performing teams
— Juliana (@attackofthetext) September 25, 2019
Over in the Klaviyo LIVE track, Christina Dedrick, one of Klaviyo’s data scientists, presented a session on one of the questions entrepreneurs and marketers ask most frequently: “When is the best time to send my emails?”
Not only did she answer this question, but she took it a step further and shared a look at the science behind how to use both send time optimization and gender prediction analytics to boost your open and clickthrough rates.
Many people think you can simply use historical data to figure out the best time to send your emails, but that’s not the best method according to Christina.
“Nobody can come up with an algorithm that makes you Wall Street-rich quick, even though we have all of this historical data on markets. It’s the same idea when it comes to using historical marketing data to find the best time to send your emails. We have to continuously test different times so we can learn if our recipients’ behavior is changing. That’s something we need to be able to track and that’s why we test email send times across a four-hour period in their local time zone,” Christina said.
She also spoke about how using predictive analytics to target gender-specific products and content in more relevant ways to your audience has helped to increase clickthrough rates by more than 30 percent.
“Lifts like these prove why it’s important to invest in creating a second variation for your campaigns. Even a subtle change on something like the colors in an email showed a 33 percent lift when they were gender-targeted,” Christina said.
— Ezra Freedman (@ezrafreedman) September 25, 2019
General Session: Brand Spotlight Panel
Just before lunch, attendees heard from a panel of brands that spoke about how they’re using Klaviyo to own their marketing. Moderated by Joe McCarthy, Klaviyo’s director of performance marketing, audience members heard from founders and marketers at brands like AppSumo, nuun, Princess Awesome, and Supply.
Joe asked panelists to share a bit about the areas in which they chose to focus as they were getting started with Klaviyo.
Ilona Abramova, head of content for AppSumo said, “Creating segments was one of the first things we focused on. I realized we had a ton of people on our email list, but a lot of them weren’t active and it would hurt our deliverability if we kept emailing them. People often have an obsession with having a big email list, but what you should really have is a healthy email list. You have to let go of your ego to grow.”
Emily Baird, digital marketing manager for nuun added, “The software we switched from was pretty barebones so we were a little overwhelmed at first because there’s so much you can do in Klaviyo. When we got started, we focused on A/B testing. We tested things like subject lines, send times, and the CTAs in our emails. We also sent a survey to our subscribers asking them what kind of content they wanted to receive from us so we could deliver it to them. We had a 100 percent response rate, which was really cool.”
When thinking about how his brand has grown since starting with Klaviyo, Patrick Coddou, founder of Supply said, “The stuff we started with early on is the stuff that’s still making us money today. It’s the foundational things— abandon cart flows, new customer flows, campaigns—those foundational things drive 80 percent of our email revenue and we continuously optimize them.”
— Jaap Vergote (@JaapVergote) September 25, 2019
Joe also asked the panelists what their planning processes look like given the amount of customer data they have available to them.
Rebbecca Melsky, co-founder of Princess Awesome said, “We’re a small company and we’ve learned that we’re not going to have the same revenue every day. It’s normal for us to see spikes, so it’s important to know when to expect them. With Klaviyo, we’ve done some very targeted promotions like sending a promotion for our dinosaur collection to someone who’s already purchased from it. That type of experimenting has helped us learn what we can expect from the different promotions, and that combination of being able to pull all of that customer data and track our revenue per email has allowed me to plan more effectively for the business.”
Throughout the day, attendees had the opportunity to meet with Klaviyo’s product experts to get answers to burning questions or get help with anything they needed. Whether they scheduled one-on-one meetings in advance or stopped by the support bar for on-the-spot support, attendees chatted with experts who were on-site throughout the entire event to provide undivided attention, professional advice, and help with tools and strategies attendees can use to make their marketing efforts more effective and efficient.
Keynote from Kopari Beauty’s Chief Digital Officer, Megan Whitman
Later in the afternoon, attendees heard from Kopari Beauty’s Chief Digital Officer, Megan Whitman, who spoke about the different strategies fast-growing brands need at different stages of their growth. She also touched on the different and changing ways this beauty brand has leveraged Klaviyo to increase revenue and boost customer satisfaction during the various growth stages of their brand’s growth.
“We started with Klaviyo just before we were about to launch our products and it was just me doing the marketing at the time. I found Klaviyo in the Shopify app store a few months before we launched and it was kind of a no-brainer. It had a fantastic visual editor, prebuilt flows, the Shopify integration… but most importantly, it was free to sign up. We didn’t have any contacts at the time, so I was able to get my hands dirty with the tool before we even had to pay a dollar,” Megan said.
As Kopari grew, major retailers took notice and Kopari launched in Sephora. Launching in retail, though, isn’t easy according to Megan.
“Merchants like Sephora have a lot of questions before they decide to carry your brand. What’s the most popular product that brings customers into the brand? What products have the highest repeat purchase rate? How much time passes between each purchase? We used Klaviyo and the data we captured about our customers to answer these types of questions,” Megan said.
During its next phase of growth, Megan said Kopari dove deeper into segmenting its customers and testing different things with Klaviyo.
“Klaviyo has become a crucial component of our tech stack. As we grew and tested, it was common for our customer service team to get emails from customers and they didn’t have the right information they needed to help them. We connected our customer service team with Klaviyo and they can now see what messages have been sent to customers, how they got to the site, what campaign they came from, and more so they can provide better service to them,” Megan said.
Build 2 email segments (sale-only shoppers vs. evergreen shoppers), and only retarget the evergreen audience so you’re not wasting ad spend when you don’t have a sale going. #KBOS19 pic.twitter.com/qSRHWPR2U2
— Juliana (@attackofthetext) September 25, 2019
Keynote from Hint’s Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin
Finally, before the evening’s festivities got underway, Hint’s CEO and co-founder Kara Goldin shared the story of Hint—why she founded the business, the challenges the brand faced with shelf space in traditional stores, and how its ecommerce business helped solve those problems.
Kara shared how her personal health struggles and her mission to fix them amidst a job transition led her to create a beverage company. After carrying around 58 extra pounds after the birth of her children and developing adult acne, Kara drew upon her experience as a competitive gymnast to begin working out again and eating healthier while she was taking some time off from the workforce. One particular habit she had to break? Her diet coke addition.
With her health in mind, Kara realized her beverage of choice contained too many ingredients that she didn’t recognize and couldn’t pronounce, so she chose to drink more water. But after about six months, she realized drinking plain water wasn’t sustainable. She needed more flavor, so she began adding fruit to her water but was soon disappointed that should couldn’t get such a product in stores without all of those additional and unpronounceable ingredients she noticed in soda.
“Why can’t I simply buy water with a little fruit flavor?” Kara asked. She soon realized what she wanted to do next with her career and she started Hint.
Hint experienced significant growth thanks to deals with Google, Starbucks, and other tech companies in Silicon Valley. The brand also became one of Amazon’s best-selling beverages in their grocery division.
In fact, one executive told Kara that people who purchased Hint also purchased other products like type II diabetes monitors and other products that would help them become healthier—the entire reason Kara started Hint in the first place. When Kara asked to communicate with those customers to learn more about them, though, Amazon said no.
“I remember asking, ‘Can I communicate with the customer to get more info?’ They said, ‘No, that’s our data.’ I realized I was selling my product through all these distributors but I didn’t have any relationship with my customers. So I decided to launch our own website. I learned that the customer ultimately controls your journey, so having a relationship with them is critical,” Kara said.
Kara said her online business accounts for 40 percent of Hint’s revenue today and its offline business has grown 60 percent year-over-year for the last two years.
“I talk to CPG companies all the time and hear how Amazon is a big part of their strategy, and I think it’s such a miss for what you can ultimately do. If you’re using a product like Klaviyo for your online business, you can do so much more because you have so much more information and access to your customers,” Kara said.
— Margot Paterson (@margotspaterson) September 25, 2019
A few final thoughts
Common themes from #kbos19
•The SMS revolution is coming.
•The One Thing that’s driving these huge D2C brands is owned marketing. They’re producing entertaining or valuable content on an ongoing basis and using email as their distribution platform
•You must nurture leads. pic.twitter.com/Mk5LBI1xL0
— Kurt Elster 📍KBOS19 (@kurtinc) September 25, 2019
I love that the two keynote speakers at @klaviyo Boston are women. Both have provided amazing value. I hope this trend continues in tech and we see a more 50 50 split of employees. #KBOS19 #marketing #ecommerce
— Isaiah Bollinger (@IsaiahBollinger) September 25, 2019
I’ve had a few people tell me today, “I don’t want to take up your time. You must have important places to be.”
This is the only place I should be be. I learned a ton and never been more bullish on where we’re headed. 💚 #KBOS19
— Andrew Bialecki (@abialecki) September 25, 2019
Own the Night Party
Klaviyo:BOS wasn’t all work and no play. Attendees enjoyed a networking happy hour before the evening’s festivities took full effect.
Own the Night, Klaviyo:BOS’s official party, helped attendees kick back after a full day of learning. With tasty cocktails, fresh seafood and appetizers, and fun activities on the lawn, attendees mingled and danced the night away to the beats from one of Boston’s hottest DJs, DJ Tone Terra.
— Klaviyo (@klaviyo) September 26, 2019
— Kurt Elster 📍KBOS19 (@kurtinc) September 26, 2019
With another full day ahead at Klaviyo:BOS, attendees will learn about some of Klaviyo’s new product innovations, discover how a cohesive marketing tech stack can help you better identify your customers’ needs and manage their entire experience, and hear insights on how to build a truly independent brand off Amazon.
Gear up for another great day at Klaviyo:BOS! Check out the agenda for more can’t-miss sessions today.
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