Mark Poppen is the Founder and President of Funky Moose Records, the Canadian digital record store. He was also Windsor's very first client and now our first Customer Success Manager.
Since 2015, Funky Moose has expanded to launch an indie record label, a podcast, a radio station, a music festival, and a digital marketing service for artists and other creative ventures.
We sat down with Mark to hear how he optimized web marketing in a traditionally analog space like vinyl records. Our conversation touches on topics including:
- Why personalized videos are outpacing personalized emails
- A primer on leveraging user psychology in email marketing
- Three key marketing channels for early-stage merchants
“Personalized marketing is, quite simply, a way to make users feel important. These days, videos are more memorable while emails are everywhere all at once.”
How to build your marketing funnel from scratch
For any early-stage brand building their marketing mix from scratch, Mark emphasizes the value of user testing and attribution data before pouring your money into social platforms.
When it came to Funky Moose, for instance, all the numbers pointed toward email marketing as their best bet. In all, Mark recommends the following sequence as a solid starting point:
- Email marketing
- Paid & organic on Google
- Paid social media
1. Sequenced email tactics
If your brand is starting from zero, like Funky Moose did, a great deal can be communicated via newsletters and email blasts while you put together your Shopify storefront, web presence, etc.
If his company had launched in 2022, says Mark, he likely would’ve leveraged Windsor as a powerful component of his introduction to new customers. That flow could look like:
- Landing Page — Build hype with a barebones landing page describing what’s to come
- Collect Emails — Have users sign up for emails to receive a discount once you’re live
- Windsor Blast — Once your storefront opens, send out a video campaign welcoming users as Day 1 supporters and providing their discount codes below
If you’re truly running a startup on a threadbare budget, Mark advises taking the personalized email route (sans video and advanced marketing tooling) to the best of your ability.
Even then, he affirms Windsor is well worth the price, especially after the ROI rolls in.
2. Blending paid and organic
Mark endorses curating your organic Google presence early on. However, if you have the budget for paid media efforts, you can simultaneously:
- Spend a piece of that budget to, at minimum, boost your paid Ad Rank
- Take that time to build your SEO strategy through trial and error
Mark reminds founders that they don't have to go overboard on early paid campaigns. Simply wait for organic results to show up and run a minimum budget for ads in the meantime.
3. The nuances of paid social
Across the board, Mark would leave social channels for last because their effectiveness varies so intensely from brand to brand.
For the Funky Moose team, this means:
- The company performs well on social, but most traffic and sales come from Google
- At the same time, categories like clothing or furniture would likely do far better on social
“Many people overlook the fact that email marketing is still very powerful. As a young startup, you can do a lot with just a landing page and a mailing list signup.”
Why personalized videos drive compounding growth
As mentioned, email marketing was crucial to Funky Moose's early growth. Mark would write a personable email, plug in each customer's name, and end the message with a question.
Users answered somewhat often, starting an authentic brand-buyer dialogue. After all, Mark explains, most record lovers are ultimately collectors who enjoy showing off their finds. Even more, once he'd read about a person's collection and music taste, he could shoot off some personal recommendations — giving Funky Moose a unique, hands-on feel.
This set them apart from giants like Amazon or larger eComm stores that were 99% automated. These personal interactions also fostered a hybrid brand of sorts, encompassing both:
- A professionally documented and fulfilled order by a legit music operation
- A team of approachable humans open to just chatting with fellow music lovers
Immediate outcomes: doubling response rates
After discovering and onboarding with Windsor, Mark made the shift from plain text to video — which simplified that personalized touchpoint for customer interactions even further.
While Windsor didn’t have a dashboard for metrics at that point, he recounts customer replies shooting up by 2X, even when he simply recycled the same script from his written emails.
The main difference, Mark says, was that users would now respond to start the conversation with, “This is cool. Thanks for taking the time to create this video message for me.”
From his perspective, not only did upgrading from personalized emails to personalized videos boost replies as a whole, it also helped Funky Moose gain more loyal customers in particular.
“I used my typical, basic email script for my early Windsor videos. But I still received double the response I normally do, if not more.”
Blending AI and automation to scale your growth stack
On a grander scale, Mark considers personalized video, mass-produced and automated by AI, to be the next great marketing wave — much like the personalized email was a decade ago.
Today, the auto-generated marketing email has understandably lost its appeal. But the tailored video message still holds a novelty factor or pleasant surprise for consumers in 2022. As history repeats itself, these AI-powered videos will naturally grow more commonplace. So Mark advises brands to get in on the ground floor with platforms like Windsor while they can.
The automation component of the AI-crafted video is also crucial for any business hoping to scale that early-stage experience of building one-on-one connections with buyers. For instance, rather than personally following up with dozens of users, Mark writes CTAs to encourage interactions, i.e., "Reply to this email to let us know what we can do better."
To ensure you only automate and scale what works, Mark also recommends frequent A/B testing at every step of growth across your digital marketing buckets.
Tools like Windsor and compatible providers like Klaviyo and Omnisend allow for streamlined A/B testing on both manual and automated flows. In Mark’s words: “Keep optimizing your tooling wherever you can. Don’t just set it and forget it.”
“Automation has been a life-saver for my business. It’s converted a ton of sales, especially for scenarios like abandoned carts and win-back emails.”
3 ways to upgrade your email marketing
Mark leaves us with two of his most common use cases for intentional email marketing — whether in plain text or video form — as well as his primer on relevant user psychology.
1. Abandoned cart and win-back emails
In Mark’s experience, most of these emails result in brands coming across as pushy. To avoid this, Funky Moose approaches them as an opportunity to check in and collect feedback.
Standard questions might include:
- What could have been better about your experience today?
- Why did you prefer the competition’s offerings to ours?
- Is the pricing too high on our products or shipping?
- Are your favorite items not in stock?
If you can persuade a user to answer these, that feedback could be influential. The best way to draw this info out of someone? Start by forming a personal connection — which is far easier to accomplish with a video of a human face, not just a wall of text.
While verticals like customer support may become more demanding time-wise, it’s worth it when you’ve struck up a conversation with the buyer that no other eComm store has.
2. Post-purchase and thank you videos
To punch up the standard “thank you” email, Mark suggests following up with personalized product recommendations, which lend themselves to upselling and repurchase rates.
All you have to do is:
- Record — Make it a quick video saying something along the lines of, “I’ve sent you a few recommendations for products worth purchasing; check them out below”
- Run Windsor — Put your template video through Windsor
- Integrate Recs — Include your intelligent, auto-generated product suggestions through a standard email integration for Shopify, such as Klaviyo or Omnisend
3. Leveraging customer psychology to drive revenue
Finally, as more and more consumers are simply turned off by their flooded inboxes, Mark encourages a return to basic principles of user psychology to understand next steps.
- Someone is far more likely to click on an email if the subject line includes their name
- Users grow tired of static text and images; videos appealingly break up that monotony
- Meanwhile, GIFs, video thumbnails, and play buttons are attractive (and unspoken) CTAs
By creating this optimal mental flow (from personalized subject line to pressing “Play” to personalized video), Funky Moose avoids sending out one of countless generic campaigns.
“People can’t be expected to read emails when they get so much brand spam. They’re more likely to click on a video thumbnail or a personalized subject line.”