January 22nd, 2021

Bringing influencer marketing into emails with Jimmy John’s

How can you partner with influencers to bring messaging outside of social and into email? This week, we dive into some influencer-inspired emails, the bread and butter of Jimmy John’s, with Aana Leech from Popular Pays.


This FF episode was sponsored by emfluence. Get paired with a marketer to see how your strategy will work in the emfluence Marketing Platform.

📋 TL;DR key takeaways from this episode:

1. Collaborate with online communities, like influencers and content creators, to bring messages outside of social and into email, websites, and even TV.

2. Wondering what flavor or product you should lead into your email with? Ask your audience. Getting feedback from your audience gives you honest input from the people using your products.

3. Email is a personal, one-to-one connection. Partnering with influencers to make that connection can help you curate your email content with fewer ads than social media.

Matt Helbig: What's up, Email Geeks. Welcome back to another episode of Feedback Friday. This week, we have a fantastic guest. Aana from Popular Pays. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what Popular Pays is?

Aana Leech: My name is Aana. I am the VP of marketing and customers at Popular Pays. For those of you that don't know us, Popular Pays is a platform that connects brands with content creators and influencers to produce content for social and beyond. So that is why we are here today—talking about the beyond part and some of the social probably.

Matt Helbig: One of your clients is Jimmy John's, correct? Is that a brand that you guys have worked with?

Aana Leech: Yes, Jimmy John's was one of the clients that we partnered with. It's a little bit in the past, but very recent.

Matt Helbig: I have some emails featuring some influencer content. So let's walk through a few.

Aana Leech: That would be lovely. I would be happy to comment on them however I can.

Feedback Friday fans - If you sign up for a Popular Pays demo, you'll be eligible for a starter offer from Popular Pays through the end of February.

Matt Helbig: I like Jimmy John's as a brand. I feel they have a fascinating, fun, cool voice. I think their emails are pretty simple, straight to the point, with good product photography. They're coded a little strange, so I don't think the mobile view is all that great. But they have a pretty simple design here.

Aana Leech: I agree. Jimmy John's has had this focus on their food and on the speed that's the value that they drive. I think we're all very familiar with that moment when we're like, wait a second, I want Jimmy John's, and you know exactly what you're going to get. I think they like to keep it simple and direct, knowing what their core value is.

Matt Helbig: I think they do an excellent job of putting some of this photography right in front of people and just keeping it pretty simple focused on that primary CTA that they want you to place your first order.

As a welcome email, this is pretty effective. If I was super new to their product, maybe some additional information about how to order and things like that, but I think that information is available on their website. To sign up, you have to go on the website. So I think this is a pretty simple welcome.

They don't give you any discount for your first order, so maybe that could also be an opportunity. I think they are letting you know that their product exists, and having some of these quick links at the footer, keeping it pretty simple, is pretty smart.

Aana Leech: It would be interesting too, like how at the bottom there, if they're able to show some of their other partners where you can get delivery from. Everybody's ordering with all of these different apps. So it might also just be an easy thing to introduce as to where you can find them.

Matt Helbig: They keep it pretty simple. Speaking of social, if this is the first time you're talking to someone, it might be useful to share where you want them to follow along if you have that opportunity. I think many brands have specifically been pushing Instagram, so having a couple of different images down here, letting people know where to follow. I think these are pretty nice, but if you can highlight a single channel.

If you're going to list all these icons, maybe you never tweet, or you tweet once a month. If all your content is on Instagram, try to focus on that single channel you want people to follow and communicate on. If this is your first time talking to a customer, potentially you want to highlight where you're the most active.

Aana Leech:  That's such a great point. I think we've been trained a little bit to include all of those icons everywhere because you're like, well, of course, I'm on every single channel. I think that's a bit of a fallacy with social because you don't have to be everywhere.

I think it's great to have a presence somewhere, but you made such a good point. If you can kind of drive, like what's your primary channel, where's the place where you're communicating with your consumers? I think that is so important, especially right now.

Matt Helbig: I haven't seen a lot of TikTok icons here.

Aana Leech: I know! Jimmy John's is the perfect brand for TikTok.

Matt Helbig:  Maybe their content isn't ready yet. It'd be interesting to see if that icon starts popping up a little bit more as more people drive towards that.

Here's another one, a pretty simple, eye-catching GIF. Scrolling down, we see a potential popular pays piece of content.

Aana Leech: Yeah. This falls into more of that kind of influencer generated user-generated content realm, which is obviously and, maybe I'm biased. I love the authenticity, the relate-ability of this type of content showing up in my email as well as on my social feeds.

Matt Helbig: Yeah. I like it. It has a nice little subtle animation of the GIF highlighting the neon, which is cool to see.

Aana Leech: Oh yeah. I didn't even see that. Very subtle.

Matt Helbig: They combine a lot of different GIFs in this one. I think it works, but it could be a little overkill potentially, but with an image like this, I think it's a bit newer to see something like this, rather than just focusing on the graphics and the app.

So why do you think something like this maybe helps build a customer brand? I do like to see something like this in an email as well.

Aana Leech: Yeah, I'm so glad to hear it. I think that creativity and creative are essential to every brand, and we're moving into this new phase. We used to have a Mad Men era where somebody in this building was making advertising that was supposed to appeal to us. Great. We passed that. Then brands were creating content with people. Now people are creating content for brands and in collaboration with brands. I think that's just such a nice kind of evolution of what advertising is.

I love to see that type of content moving outside of the realm of just social and showing up in an email and showing up on our TV commercials, just expanding where we can see that.

Matt Helbig: This addition makes the email feel a little bit more authentic to me. Why would a brand potentially hire an influencer to create content for them rather than trying to shoot some of this stuff themselves?

Aana Leech: You have someone who is probably a user already. They're able to give a very different perspective on your brand that might relate to more people. I think that that's something that we sometimes forget as marketers that we've been working with these brands over and over and over, and we forget some of that like special sauce that they have.

I think that it's great to be able to hand the keys over to someone else and see through their eyes.

Matt Helbig: My picture of me using a sandwich is probably not very good here in this email.

Aana Leech: I am afraid I have to disagree.

Matt Helbig:  I like this very polished image. I think it reflects this brand and adds a little piece of this email that makes it feel human and highlights the product subtly. These are very single-use emails. They don't try to pack too much information. We try to recommend that there's only one thing that your email can do well. If you start adding multiple CTAs and different options and text, it can dilute the main message. I think they're pretty straightforward, with "free sandwich" as the primary CTA.

Aana Leech: There it is. And it's looking good.

Matt Helbig:  Plugging your app is excellent. I know they have some links down here in the footer, but I think some people only do it in the welcome email. You can be smart and see if that email address might have recently been signed into the app. If you know that someone hasn't downloaded the app yet, you should be pushing for those downloads and letting them know that they can track their rewards through your loyalty system.

This is another bold headline here. I think another excellent reflection of their brand.

Aana Leech:  I love it. I think that it's simple. I love the boldness of their headline. I think this is like very Jimmy John's. The font. That kind of your face-ness.

Matt Helbig:  I love the simple message, but it seems like they should capitalize on this national pickle day. Maybe include a hashtag or if they have any user-generated content to pull in some Instagram posts. It would be cool if they could bring in some of that multi-channel marketing into this message.

Aana Leech: Highlight the crossover.

Matt Helbig: How do you see brands do that? Are there any brands that you think do that well where they're able to feature something in an email but also do it on Instagram? How do you keep that message consistent across all those channels?

Aana Leech: Unfortunately, we don't see a ton of what our clients do outside of social, which is unfortunate because I think that there is a huge opportunity to think more holistically around how you can use your influencers, how you can use your online communities to bring that outside of social and into an email, into TV, into your website.

We put ourselves into silos a little bit and thinking through that, especially with influencers. I think there's such an opportunity to bring them over and integrate them into these other channels.

Matt Helbig: I'm always very interested in how brands can test certain content pieces, either on social first or on email first. It would be best to show your top engaged posts within email because you know that content works well. Or vice versa with email.

It's always a kind of a shame when brands don't use those channels as effectively as they could. If you're already sending emails, why not include some tests and then use some of that information in other media from social to direct mail if you know those pieces of content are resonating with your audience.

Aana Leech: Maybe it's just because there are these labor divisions in some ways, but we haven't heard too much from our customers. They're exclusively so focused on social, but there's such an opportunity to move over.

Matt Helbig: I think some people will see a single post on Instagram, really blow up, and then they'll try to convert that piece of content into a unique email and then send that out as part of a sequence. So if they know that this piece of content is huge on their Instagram, maybe they'll build a whole email around that piece of content and try to provide some more content like that.

So if your audience is resonating with DIY crafts, well, maybe that's like a sequence within your email that you want to put in recipes into an actual email and send them to a list.

Aana Leech: Yeah. Almost like if you're leaving like breadcrumbs in different places, you can see how all of these things connect. Cause you're even talking about building recipes, and you can convert that over into Pinterest or other places. There are just so many ways to connect all of the different things you are doing and using this testing and learning mindset where if this is working over here, okay, well, how do I take those same elements and quickly repurpose them into an email?

I think influencers and content creators are a great source to efficiently source that content and do a lot of that testing and learning so that you can deploy them into different places and use them in other channels without taking too much of your budget and spending that on testing.

Matt Helbig: How can you work with influencers if you have a smaller audience or maybe not the most significant budget?

Aana Leech:  Most of our clients don't have the most significant budgets in the world. We're servicing customers like Walmart that are large and have these big budgets, but we also work with emerging brands. So we work with customers like Do Only Good, Larry's Children's Hospital, Lesser Evil, who are just getting started. They're just dipping their toes into these areas.

One of our subscription customers uses influencers for content. So they post those organically, and then they take that content, and they boost it to see how efficient of a CPA they can get. Then they use that as their benchmark for all of their other marketing efforts. So it's kind of like, okay, well, this is the performance that we know we can get, and we could source this content efficiently. How else can we maximize it?

Matt Helbig: It's always interesting when a brand has a specific question they're trying to ask or a new product they're trying to promote and working with influencers or third parties and seeing how that product gets used in new and different ways. It can inform you on how to market in the future. Having a clear goal in mind, too, with that influencer posts on what kind of, other than just sales, maybe if there is some secondary piece driving towards understanding a little bit more or getting feedback.

Aana Leech: We've had a couple of customers who are getting ready to do product launches. They wanted to know which one of the flavors they should lead with. So they used influencers to get feedback, to be able to decide. Those are just really easy, efficient ways to get user feedback. Like these are people that are using your products. It's just a different way I think of thinking of using this channel.

Matt Helbig:  How we see the future of email is very personal and one-to-one. I feel like social does a pretty good job of feeling personal sometimes. In the same way that people ask questions on social, I feel like email is sometimes you're just speaking to someone and promoting something when it should be that same sort of conversation as social is where you're asking different questions. Why not put a survey or a poll within an email and have people even reply to you with recommendations or other things like that. It should be a dialogue, which I think social sometimes understands a little bit better than email.

Aana Leech:  It's funny and a little bit ironic because I gave up social media for three or four months, a couple of months back. I was just like, I'm done. I need to get out of here. I started playing around in substack and some other email focused channels, and I agree with you. There's such an opportunity as email, as an emerging channel to make that more personal one-to-one connection.

 Also, I think using influencers to make that connection and going directly to the source. So I'm not scrolling through my feed. You can equate an email inbox to a feed, but how do you curate that a lot more and make sure that that is becoming a personal place for your consumers or even just for people.

Matt Helbig: There are also fewer ads usually within an email sometimes. Not to hate on social, but it's like, what would you rather have a follow or like an email sign up? So it's balancing that, and I guess seeing where people are and how to communicate with them.

This last one, pretty simple email, nothing too crazy, but they add a lot more information.

Aana Leech: I think you bring up an excellent point that you've made it across all of the other emails as well, like making it feel a little bit more personal, a little bit less stock, I think is something that for this one, in particular, would maybe work better for me. I love having that personal element.

Matt Helbig: Yeah, I agree. I feel like email can sometimes do that a little bit better than social. They have potentially a lot of information about you that they can try to serve you with dynamic content. Maybe they captured your first name. I know that captured birthday at signup so they can send you a birthday message. Perhaps they know what's your favorite order is. Maybe this could be your favorite order for "your name." They know where you are potentially based on your zip code or if you made a previous order. So they could pull in some more information about that.

Aana Leech: This is so random, but in my Chase app, I love the fact that when I open it, when I'm in Chicago, I see a picture of the six oh six on the signup. When I open it, when I'm in Cincinnati, I see a picture of somewhere in Cincinnati. If you could make this image of the store a little more personal and kind of relevant to where that person is, I think that's a great application.

Matt Helbig: I love when email can try to beat social at it its own game. It's not like you're creating one post for everyone with email. You really can make a post for each person with dynamic content and things like that.

Aana Leech: That's such an exciting challenge to hear you say that; how can email beat social at its own game? I think that's so cool.

Matt Helbig: Thanks so much for jumping on. I enjoyed talking with you. Where can we find you online? I know you gave up social media, it sounds like.

Aana Leech: I'm back on the socials. So you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. I also have a substance that I started to dabble in building my email list.

Matt Helbig: Thanks again for taking the time, and have a great rest of your week.

Aana Leech: Thank you. You too, Matt.

Matt Helbig: See you.


Feedback Friday



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