Klaviyo Case Study: Solo Stove
Solo Stove is a name that’s synonymous with creating lasting memories while gathered around a fire. Seeing strong growth over the last five years, Solo Stove realized it needed a better way to communicate directly with customers so the brand could keep building relationships like those formed around a campfire.
Solo Stove is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based global leader of portable stainless steel wood-burning stoves and fire pits. Launched in 2011, this brand has grown its revenue each year since it started, and is operating at full-steam and collecting accolades along the way. In 2019, the two co-founders (and brothers), Jeff and Spencer Jan, were recognized as finalists for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 award in the Southwest.
While living across the world from each other (Jeff was in Shanghai and Spencer was in Dallas), the two brothers dreamt of co-founding a lifestyle business that would allow them and their families to live closer together. They wanted to create a brand that was known for a strong customer experience and loyal following.
Its customer-first credo sets Solo Stove apart from other niche outdoor camping brands. Along with high-quality and sleekly designed products, an easy to navigate website, and creative content, it’s easy to see why customers find this brand so attractive.
Solo Stove sells its products through its own ecommerce site, and through various online retail stores such as Homedepot.com, REI.com, and BedBathandBeyond.com, plus several brick-and-mortar stores, including Home Depot and REI.
Seeing its growth, Solo Stove realized it needed a better way to communicate directly with customers so the brand could keep building relationships like those formed around a campfire. As they started to collect more data about their customers, the brothers wanted to use this information (like website browsing behavior and product information) to personalize their email communications and create a better customer experience. To do this, though, they needed to get more granular data, in real-time, so they could more effectively segment their messages and start communicating with customers more personally, which they couldn’t do with their existing marketing automation platform.
On their wishlist: a marketing automation platform with features like predictive analytics to understand future customer behavior, advanced pop-up forms to collect data points from customers and grow their email list, and back-in-stock notifications to bring engaged shoppers back to their site when an out-of-stock product returns.
John Merris, CEO of Solo Stove, spoke about why the brand partnered with Klaviyo and BigCommerce to solve this challenge.
Why Solo Stove outgrew its former marketing automation platform and chose Klaviyo
John Merris joined Solo Stove as CEO in 2018 to help the brand continue to scale. He reviewed Solo Stove’s tech stack and realized the brand needed a new marketing automation platform that could better fit the needs of a rapidly-growing business. This meant they needed a platform that would integrate better with BigCommerce, its ecommerce platform.
“A lot of the traditional email platforms have been around since the late 90s or early 2000s, but we wanted something that wasn’t so legacy. We were looking for something more modern and sophisticated in terms of helping us leverage our real-time sku-level data. Spencer and Jeff had heard about Klaviyo from several sources in 2018, so we took a look at it and found it to be really easy to use and saw the integration with BigCommerce would be quick… it took less than an hour. Most importantly, though, we needed a platform we could grow with and Klaviyo was it,” said John.
Behind the scenes, the seamless fit and quick integration was a result of the strong partnership BigCommerce and Klaviyo have developed.
“By using our robust webhooks and APIs, we’ve built a native integration that allows BigCommerce stores to sync all of their data into Klaviyo with a simple and secure authorization. This allows our mutual customers to use all of their store data, including both historical and real-time,” said MaryAnn Bekkedahl, senior vice president of business development at BigCommerce.
This partnership has contributed to Solo Stove’s success.
“We now sync orders, online activity, customer information, and, of course, our product catalog to drive our growth. A significant portion of our revenue, about 20 percent, comes from email and we’re continuing to grow,” said John.
After Solo Stove integrated with Klaviyo, John says they were thrilled to have a best-in-class cross-channel marketing automation platform that was easy to use.
How Klaviyo helps Solo Stove drive its mission and values
We give busy people easy and well-designed outdoor products to help them reconnect with what matters most.” – Solo Stove’s mission statement
Solo Stove prides itself on being more of a lifestyle brand than a product brand. Providing value to their customers at different phases of their lives in an organic way is critical to their success.
“Our product encourages people to go make memories with those they love. People don’t usually sit around a fire by themselves—they’re with friends and family. We believe we were able to grow organically by getting people to fall in love with the concept of making these memories and by indirectly talking about how cool our product was. Our brand’s had an amazing evolution. We feel a strong loyalty to our customers and Klaviyo helps us build even stronger relationships with them,” said John.
One way Solo Stove builds strong relationships with its customers is by being mindful of their time and interests, and by trying to send them messages that are hyper-personalized and relevant for their needs.
“We’re kicking off a new initiative in a few weeks. Once someone places an order, we can immediately see that data at the sku-level, so we’ll be able to send a quick cross-sell email. For example, if someone orders a fire pit and gets the order confirmation email, they should then receive another email with a cross-sell. It would say something like, ‘Thanks for purchasing this fire pit. Here are some items other customers are buying together. Would you want to quickly purchase this bundle before your other items ship?’ Klaviyo gives us a level of speed and granularity we’ve never had before so we can have those types of conversations with our customers,” said John.
Solo Stove’s product lifecycle is long, so the brand needs to have ongoing communication with customers to stay top-of-mind during their future phases of life.
“Our customers aren’t coming back right away and ordering a new product. We have a lifetime guarantee. What they are doing, however, is loving our product, creating memories, and coming back in future years and buying larger versions for their growing needs. For example, they may be starting out in an apartment building and have a little portable Solo Stove, and now they’re moving to a house and want a fire pit for their backyard,” says John.
To stay connected with their customers throughout the years, the brand relies heavily on content marketing. In fact, creative content is the cornerstone of this lifestyle brand.
“We can use Klaviyo to stay in touch with our customers to let them know how important they are to us. We can give them valuable information and content at the right time to keep them engaged. Klaviyo lets us communicate at a more personal level with our customers so we speak to them as individuals versus communicating with the masses. There’s so much potential with Klaviyo and we have a long way to grow with it, too,” said John.
Some of Solo Stove’s content isn’t even related to selling products or driving revenue, yet it’s still valuable and ties back to the brand’s mission.
“We’re constantly thinking of new ways to deliver value to our customers. For example, we’re launching a campaign to help people be a backyard hero by doing DIY projects like making a picnic table, building a garden box, and making a homemade cornhole game (for tailgating season) that we’re going to add into our emails. This kind of content helps our customers feel like we’re adding value and we care about them without asking them for money,” said John.
Solo Stove also understands how important it is to have a reliable tech stack, including BigCommerce and Klaviyo, to help them continue to drive their mission forward.
“With Klaviyo and BigCommerce, our tech stack allows us to execute on the strategies we’ve laid forth that we believe will lead to great growth. It’s awesome that Klaviyo allows us to deploy that rich content in such a targeted way, which makes the experience we’re creating for our customers so much more impactful,” said John.
How meaningful conversations with customers bolstered Solo Stove’s financial success
By collecting various data points about its customers through website pop-up forms, onsite browsing activity, and purchase history, Solo Stove’s email marketing team has been able to use segmentation and personalization strategies to develop a variety of creative email campaigns and triggers that engage their customers on a deeper level.
“Since we started with Klaviyo, our email open rates have increased 25 percent, our revenue per recipient has increased three and a half times, our campaign email clickthrough rates have increased 50 percent, and our flow email clickthrough rates have increased 30 percent. All of our metrics are up thanks to Klaviyo. It’s one of the most important tools for our business,” said John.
Chris Johnson, Solo Stove’s email marketing manager, is involved in the day-to-day email design and execution. He shared a few specific examples of the communications that have performed really well for Solo Stove.
“We’re doing more segmentation with people who’ve previously made a purchase. We have a couple of divisions in our product line and we used Klaviyo’s flows to send out all of our Labor Day campaign emails with tailored messages for each customer group. A lot of these flows are triggered by a BigCommerce event. For example, if someone orders a certain product, we can set up an automatic message to go out in that specific instance with a cross-sell message. Just last weekend, we introduced a new accessories bundle package and added it to an upsell post-purchase email flow,” said Chris.
Solo Stove’s exit intent pop-up is one of its top-performing activities. The messaging and imagery captures the memories and nostalgia that Solo Stove wants its customers to crave. And it’s effective. Who wants to miss out on marshmallow season? Add in an incentive in exchange for an email address and it’s a creative way to grow an email list with people who might be interested in making a purchase.
What’s ahead for Solo Stove
Solo Stove will continue to focus its efforts on building stronger connections with customers through its various online and offline storefronts. But one part of its business the brand plans to shrink? Amazon. John says Solo Stove plans to focus more energy on their ecommerce website in order to collect rich data about its customers and, at the same time, create a customer experience that’s aligned with its brand, which Amazon doesn’t help with.
“In a very deliberate way, we’re actively driving people to our website, which has resulted in a pretty sizeable reduction in our percentage of revenue coming from Amazon. Ultimately, we’ve really steered our customers back to our own website where we can have that one-to-one conversation, interact with them, and deliver more value. We just don’t have that ability with Amazon,” said John.
With a plan to increase segmentation and personalization (you can never have too much) with data from its own website, Solo Stove will soon start delivering more robust personalized communications directly with customers to keep building relationships.
With a well-renowned product portfolio under its belt, public recognition by Ernst & Young, and a devoted customer following, Solo Stove has a bright future ahead.