How Tortuga Backpacks Increased Email Subscriptions 7x with Content Marketing

In 2009, Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Cohen backpacked through Eastern Europe from Germany down to the islands of Croatia.

What was the hardest part of the trip? Finding the right luggage for the trip, that’s what.

They knew they wanted backpacks, but didn’t know which one. They searched at the typical stores – REI and North Face – but couldn’t find exactly what they wanted.

Around this time, Fred read Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and was inspired by the message of the book – to live life on your own terms and start your own business.

With a problem identified and a framework for entrepreneurship in mind, Fred and Jeremy set out to create the perfect travel backpack.

Five years later, they’ve gone from not having a ton of demand for the product to having more demand they can handle. They’ve grown so popular that they’ve been able to expand their product line. Tortuga is currently developing and accepting pre-orders for new products, which include smaller bags (a request from female customers) and another smaller bag for day trips.

Fred credits much of the company’s growth to content marketing and email marketing. Let’s dive in to learn more about their strategy.

The Travel Blog

Educational content and SEO have been winning strategies for Tortuga Backpacks.

Blog posts about how to select the right travel backpack, “travel hacking”, and tips on how to get cheap accommodations have helped them earn a #1 rank for their target keywords. It’s also helped them build credibility in the space and earn PR placement on other travel blogs.

Content marketing can be a trial-by-fire thing. You don’t know what blog post topics will work until you try them.

However, as avid travelers themselves, Fred and Jeremy knew their audience well. They knew that people like to do a ton of research before they go on big expeditions, and they already knew the kinds of questions that come up when planning a trip. They used this experience to inform their content strategy, and they pay-off has been huge.

Driving Email Subscriptions With Content

It was important for them to fully capitalize on all of these content efforts and connect content to their acquisition goals. With this in mind, they used the Klaviyo Shopify app to set up email marketing and thought of ways to drive subscribers with their content.

They created a packing list guide and used that as an incentive for new subscribers.

They offer a clear call to action for the guide on their blog homepage:


Once a subscriber signs up, they get the packing list sent to their inbox.


The strategy has been a huge success: Since adding the packing list guide to their blog’s homepage, they’ve increased monthly email subscriptions by 7x.

Email Marketing With Klaviyo

Fred strongly advises young startups to make email marketing a priority.

He also says they somewhat stumbled into a strategy that worked by testing a lot of different things. Here’s some things they’ve learned from that testing:

What Didn’t Work

Social media contests – Early on, they tried doing some contests to build up their social media following, and focused less on email marketing. Fred explains:

“Our contests were geared toward social media, not our email list. That was probably a mistake. We saw tons of entries from people who just like to enter contests, not necessarily from people interested in travel. We also gave away bags in other companies’ contests then had those companies email coupons to the losing entrants. This only resulted in one or two sales, likely because it was basicallya cold email.”

What Worked

Flyouts – Fred says they’ve seen a sizeable increase in subscriptions by adding the Klaviyo flyout to the bottom of the site to promote the “packing list” content.

Email Nurturing – Tortuga Backpacks uses Klaviyo to set up email nurture flows for newsletter subscribers. They also use Klaviyo for abandoned cart nurturing in a similar way. This is another area where they use the blog content and keep new subscribers engaged.

Here’s what an example email looks like from that nurture campaign:


Pre-sales and “sold out” email acquisition – In terms of driving sales, Fred says the number one email tactic that has worked is driving pre-sales of new items and collecting email addresses on product pages for items that are sold out.

Here’s how it works: On product pages for sold-out items, Tortuga embeds a Klaviyo form where people can sign up to get notified for when the new stock comes in.


For driving pre-sales on new products, Tortuga “launched early.” They didn’t even wait to have a photograph of a sample to drive sales of their new product, a carry-on backpack.

The key? They’d built up such an audience and so much credibility with their previous product that they’ve already sold out of the product based on the sketch alone.

Another benefit is that by creating these product pages early, the pages start to increase their ranks in Google even without linking to them in our store or having real product pictures yet.

Take a look at the landing page here:


Fred admits that being sold out isn’t ideal.

However, collecting the email addresses has helped inform them regarding the size of future orders. Plus, with the nurture strategy in place, they already have a way to continue engaging these new customers once they’ve subscribed.

This is how the numbers shake out for the wait list subscriptions:

  • They’ve doubled their email list in the last 4 months since adding the wait list subscription boxes.
  • 55% of wait list subscribers open the product announcement emails, and 6% have converted to buying backpacks.

Advice and Future Marketing Plans

Fred has big plans for using Klaviyo in Tortuga’s email marketing programs in the future.

As the company grows and they expand their product line, they plan cross-sell and upsell products. They plan to use content to introduce people to new products and show them which products fit together. They can already do that on the website with suggested product apps, but they plan to expand this kind of helpful content to email as well.

Another thing they anticipate is growing their list to promote their other company initiative, a Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship which helps students get interested in travel. To reach new audiences, they are considering expanding that to “teach abroad” and “volunteer abroad” programs.

With these future plans in mind, Fred’s advice to new online stores is simple:
“Prioritize email. Build the list anyway that makes sense that isn’t spammy. It’s never too early to build a list. It doesn’t hurt to collect emails. And don’t be afraid to share information about your product. Don’t worry so much about people stealing your idea. Worry whether or not they will care.”


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  • Thanks for writing a case study about us, Janet. We’re huge Klaviyo fans.

    • Thanks for being a great customer! Keep it up.

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