How Email Marketing Became a “Lifeline” for Grind’s Business

Industry: Food and BeveragePlatform: Shopify Plus


YoY increase in Q2 owned email revenue


of revenue is from repeat customers


of automated email revenue is driven by abandoned cart flow

David Abrahamovitch founded Grind, an established cafe, in 2011. Eventually, he evolved Grind into the cafe-bar based in Shoreditch, London that it is today. Fast forward nearly a decade later and Grind now has a total of 11 London-based espresso bars, cocktail bars, and restaurants with their own roastery in Elephant & Castle, London. In 2018, the team also launched a Shopify store, using it to sell the UK’s first completely compostable coffee pods online alongside their cult-favorite blend of ground and whole-bean coffee.

Grind’s products are available as a subscription or one-off purchase via their ecommerce website, within their cafe-bars, and from select stores such as Selfridges, Ocado, and Holland & Barrett.

Grind is also the exclusive global coffee partner for Soho House member clubs and hotels and has been featured in top publications including The Telegraph, Bloomberg, Vogue, and GQ. They’ve also recently launched their first TV ad through a competition with Sky.

A screenshot of an email campaign from Grind.

Frankie Cooke is Grind’s brand coordinator and oversees the company’s email marketing, partnerships, and brand activations.

She recently told us about how the team had to ramp up their online sales and email marketing quickly when the pandemic and stay-at-home orders threatened the business’ revenue—and why the team chose Klaviyo as the marketing platform to help them do it.

Why Grind switched from Mailchimp to Klaviyo

Before Grind chose Klaviyo as their email provider, Frankie said they were using Mailchimp and admitted that email marketing wasn’t a core part of the brand’s strategy at the time.

I used to be skeptical because I felt like when you send out emails, you’re just spamming people with content that isn’t relevant to them. Now I think that if you’re sending content that’s interesting, relevant, and personalized then it’s no different from marketing in person. You can’t ignore email marketing—even if you’d like to. We all need to use email marketing and moving forward, it’s the way to go.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Frankie’s initial skepticism was magnified by the lack of features in Mailchimp that were needed to help Grind’s email marketing strategies thrive. In particular, sophisticated segmentation, email automations, and useful data insights—such as the ability to see how much revenue they’re generating from emails—were lacking.

Mailchimp felt quite clunky and we didn’t want to just send random emails to a huge database every once in a while. We wanted to be able to send personalized emails to customers, build lots of different flows, and segment our audience, so everyone’s getting what they need, when they need it, and based on what they’re buying. Klaviyo helps us to create and build these flows and tracks the revenue generated from them.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

The threat of the pandemic and how Grind quickly ramped up their email marketing

Little did Frankie and the team know that Klaviyo would later become a “lifeline” for Grind’s business.

In February 2020, roughly seven months after Grind first started using Klaviyo, the team knew they were facing the very real possibility of all their physical coffee locations having to close because of the pandemic and predicted lockdown restrictions coming in March.

At the time, they had just one email automation running in Klaviyo (their abandoned cart flow), but the team understood the need to ramp up their email marketing efforts and build more flows.

Frankie was nervous that she would be facing a huge learning curve ahead of the pandemic with only a few short weeks to overhaul Grind’s entire email strategy

She was keen to stress that the help she received from her Customer Success Manager (CSM) and the support team at Klaviyo was paramount to Grind’s success at the beginning of their ramp-up phase and throughout the transition to Klaviyo from Mailchimp.

The level of support has been amazing! First of all, there was the onboarding process, which immediately meant that I had a level of support that I didn’t have at Mailchimp. So often with a lot of these kinds of platforms, you don’t ever meet anyone or talk to anyone. Having our CSM, Burcu, there and being able to have an actual call with her has made a huge difference. It’s nice to have that same person who knows what your goals are and who knows the brand inside out. Her advice helped me move forward a lot quicker. I had no experience apart from sending a few Mailchimp emails and now I feel like I can confidently use Klaviyo and understand it, but also analyze the data and learn from it.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Despite only focusing more heavily on their email marketing in February, by the end of Q2 2020, Grind was looking at a 675 percent increase in revenue since Q1 and a 3,142 percent revenue increase compared with Q2 2019.

I think we were all surprised at the rate of growth. The day after lockdown, our sales skyrocketed very suddenly and have stayed at that level since then. That’s been nice to see because the opportunity was given for people to try the product and it seems like they love it and want to continue using it. Given how much the hospitality industry is struggling at the moment, Klaviyo has been a lifeline for Grind.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Frankie also explained that it’s unlikely Grind would have achieved this level of growth had it not been for Klaviyo.

Without Klaviyo, we wouldn’t have been able to reach our customers and personalize the content we’re sending them. It’s meant we’re in touch with the customer from day one and throughout their journey, whether they’re a subscriber, a repeat customer, or they place a one-time order. Klaviyo allowed us to build on the already great sales that we had initially and take hold of the opportunity that people at home gave us. We were able to jump on that and grow it even further in a way I don’t think we would have if we didn’t have Klaviyo.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind
A screenshot of an email campaign from Grind.

How Grind uses automation to drive sales

Email automation was a major reason why Grind chose Klaviyo to replace Mailchimp, so naturally, this was a fundamental part of Grind’s renewed focus on email marketing and ecommerce sales.

Grind uses two separate abandoned cart flows—a general one for customers who abandon one-off purchases and another, which is integrated with ReCharge, for customers who abandon setting up a new subscription—and they were the first automated emails Grind set up within Klaviyo.

Grind’s general abandoned cart series is their highest revenue-generating flow, driving a 12.3 percent average conversion rate and 41 percent of all revenue attributed to their automated emails.

Quite often, people have a look at our website and then they might forget about it and get distracted. It’s not the case that they didn’t want to purchase, so we send them a reminder and give a discount, which always helps.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Alongside abandoned cart emails, Grind has also calculated how long it takes the average person to finish a tin of 30 coffee pods and sends automated replenishment emails based on that timeline to remind customers to refill their tins. This particular flow is worth 19 percent of Grind’s total flows revenue and converts at 4.4 percent on average.

It’s successful because it fits with the timeframes of when customers are going to need more pods. Before, we would send random emails to customers in Mailchimp. But now with Klaviyo, customers are getting these emails whey they actually need to refill. I think that’s why this flow converts so well.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Grind also sends automated thank you emails as part of their email strategy. Though thank you automations aren’t typically huge revenue-drivers, these emails drive 16 percent of Grind’s total flows revenue in Klaviyo.

We originally just had one thank you email and then we introduced a thank you email for first-time customers and a different one for people who’ve purchased before. We thank them, and when it’s a returning customer, we also remind them that they’re supporting a small business. I think a lot of people don’t necessarily know that we’re an independent business when they purchase from Grind. It’s good for them to know that and it’s also a genuine thank you.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

How Grind manages customer retention

For a coffee subscription business, retaining customers is key to Grind’s success and the team’s growth so far.

It’s much harder to get new customers than it is to keep the ones that you already have. Especially at the moment with people’s day-to-day routines changing all the time, we need to keep our customers engaged and make sure they keep purchasing their pods.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Seventy-one percent of Grind’s revenue is from repeat customers and a key driver of that is their automated canceled subscription emails. Based on the information customers give when they first cancel their subscriptions, Grind sends specific sets of emails to try to tempt them into keeping their subscription running.

We initially wanted to have a canceled subscription email that was personalized to whether they’ve bought pods, ground, or whole-bean coffee. We sent these emails for a short while and then quickly realized that it would work a lot better to target the specific reason why customers have canceled.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

These automated canceled subscription emails drive some of Grind’s highest revenues per recipient (RPR) across all their flows in Klaviyo, which suggests the content they’re using to support these emails is also clearly working.

If customers have a subscription for coffee pods and they’re canceling because it’s not to their taste, for example, then we give them some recommendations on how they can make sure that their machine’s working and that they’re using the pods correctly. So if we use this in the content of the canceled subscription email, it would give them the information they need to make sure that it’s not just a case of them not using their pods correctly or not storing them correctly. We see a lot of people resubscribing or repurchasing after reading that email.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Alongside canceled subscription flows, Grind has also recently launched an automated email series that Frankie calls a “subscriber flow.” This flow automatically triggers a series of emails to all of Grind’s new coffee subscription customers.

We’ve noted that if customers are going to stop their subscription then they tend to do it within the first few weeks, so we’ve introduced a subscriber flow where they’ll get an email every seven to ten days. These emails include some editorial or customer service content to make sure customers know how to use their subscription, that they can cancel at any time, change their subscription when they want to, or even pause it. Knowing all this means customers are less inclined to cancel.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

Grind also uses their emails to highlight their customer service team who is available seven days a week and to send customers content that keeps them engaged with the brand long-term.

We use email to keep customers engaged with the brand and to send them content that’s actually of use, which reminds them why they love Grind and that they want to have a subscription.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

How Grind develops their email content and brand voice

The first step Grind took in deciding what content to send and when was to determine what kinds of emails their subscribers want to receive. Grind’s dashboards in Klaviyo were showing them that editorial emails convert better for them than sales-focused emails.

It’s easy to see the revenue generated from email in Klaviyo and it showed us that our editorial content works a lot faster than a sales pitch. It also meant I could go to the management of the brand team and show them what’s working well and what’s not working so well. So we created more editorial content and really pushed it. In marketing, you can’t always quantify how well something has performed, whereas, with Klaviyo, it’s easy to see the numbers and learn from them.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind
A person holding a mug of coffee in their hands.

Frankie believes the main reason why Grind’s editorial emails work well for them is that their customers are not just buying great coffee, but they’re also buying into the brand, so they desire content that brings them closer to the company and the people behind it.

Our customers are intrigued about what we’re doing as a brand, so they like seeing insights into Grind. A lot of the people that work at Grind are interesting and quirky and people like to see that online as much as in the stores. We have a series called ‘Meet the team’ where we’ll send an email after so many weeks and chat to a member of the team about what they love about Grind. A lot of our customers have also originally come from going into one of our cafes in London and they’ve decided to buy our coffee because they love the feel of the place. Conveying that across email is what our customers want because they’ve bought into the brand originally.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

This brand voice is also reflected across Grind’s automated emails—particularly within their win-back flow—which uses a humorous GIF and a movie quote to entice customers back. With an average open rate of 40 percent and average click rates of seven percent, it’s clearly working.

Frankie believes this is mostly because the use of humor and pop culture fits in with Grind’s overall brand voice and the other content they share—both online and offline.

You always get these emails like ‘last chance to get this percentage off!’ and they’re all quite similar and a bit boring. It’s just nice to have a bit of a joke, and at Grind, we love memes and pop culture. We also have a cinema sign at Shoreditch Grind, which has been there from the start and we’ll put a different quote on there every week. It’s usually relevant to the moment and quite tongue-in-cheek, which is fun! Email is another way we can convey that and get the brand voice across.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind

What’s next for Grind

Looking ahead to the future, some of Grind’s plans for launching new physical locations and reopening others in full are on hold for now because of the uncertainty related to the coronavirus crisis.

Given the success of the brand’s online sales throughout this year, and what’s sure to come next year as they focus more on their direct-to-consumer (DTC) online sales, Frankie explained that their focus will be on maintaining excellent customer service throughout this period of hyper-growth and beyond.

We’ll continue to focus and build on the retail range and make sure that all of our customers are as happy as they can be by maintaining the level of customer service and building on everything to do with retail and how we fulfill orders as we continue to grow.

Frankie Cooke, Brand coordinator, Grind