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Building a $90k+/month Email Marketing Agency For E-Commerce Brands

Learn how Chase built his $90k+/month email marketing business for e-commerce.

1. Hello! Who are you and what is your business?

Hello, my name is Chase Dimond and I am the Co-Founder of Boundless Labs, an email marketing agency that specializes in working with e-commerce brands. 

My personal background is in community building and email marketing. I’ve built multiple online communities (newsletters, products, and forums) to hundreds of thousands of users. In total, I’ve acquired over 1 million community members over the past few years.

One of the more notable communities I built was an email travel series called The Discoverer. I grew this from 0 to 500K email subscribers in 10 months.

As mentioned above, I now run a marketing agency exclusively focused on email marketing. At Boundless Labs, we currently work with 30 ecommerce brands that do anywhere from 6 to 8 figures in annual revenue. 

Since starting Boundless Labs 19 months ago, we have driven over $25 million (and growing rapidly!) in email attributable revenue for our clients. Most of our clients generate ~30% of their total revenue from our email work. Our 5 highest performing clients are generating 45+% of their total revenue from our email work. 

In 2019, our monthly revenue for my agency averaged out to be $55K per month. For the second half of 2019, our business grew by ~$12K per month and we’re now making ~$90K per month. We brought on our first full-time employee in Q3 of 2019. We also just recently hired our second full-time employee and anticipate we’ll be at $100K per month in revenue by the end of January 2020.

We also have two part-time employees that we are working on training and they’ll join us full-time over the next 1-2 months.

I’m excited to share more about our business and the learnings we’ve had throughout this interview.

2. How do you attract and retain your customers?

We’ve been able to attract clients for our agency in a few main ways.

  1. My personal network. This is the first group of people you should tap when you’re first starting out. I had a few early successes so generating leads from my network is fairly easy. Everytime I post a case study on my social channels, we get 2-3 qualified leads. You obviously can’t milk this and rely on this forever, but this is a really great place to start.
  2. We built out a referral network. We’ve partnered with other agencies who don’t offer email marketing and they send us a handful of deals every month. We pay out 15% of the revenue on these intros every month for the lifetime of the client. This is well above the industry average and our work is world class so our referral partners trust us and get to monetize introductions. We have a couple referral partners that we pay $3,000+ per month. Additionally, we pay out our referral partners within 24 to 48 hours of receiving payment from clients. This has been another huge trust builder.
  3. A lot of our clients are serial entrepreneurs. A good number of our clients have multiple ecommerce brands. This has also been a great way that we’ve regularly added new brands to our portfolio. They start us out on one of their brands and as they see that we’re great at what we do, they begin bringing us into their other brands.
  4. Cold email. My personal background is in cold email so we’ve been able to generate a good number of clients this way. Warm leads are easier and quicker to close so we typically reserve cold email for when we are onboarding new employees and want to get a few new accounts for these new hires. 
  5. SEO. We rank on page 1 for keywords such as CBD Marketing Agency which drives a couple qualified leads for us every month.

We’ve been able to retain clients for our agency in a few main ways:

  1. Building trust through great work and great communication. We’ve always erred on the side of over communicating with our clients. Being in constant communication about work being done is a great way to ensure clients are happy and never wondering what we are doing. We also are available for our clients at all times. Whether that be early in the morning, late in the evening, and even on weekends.
  2. Relationship building. Our clients see the level of care and effort we put into their brands which has allowed us to build really great friendships and business relationships with them.
  3. Saying thank you. We love what we do and we’re incredibly grateful we get to do what we love while making a great living. We’re overly appreciative of our clients through simple thank you’s.
  4. Innovating. Our capabilities are well ahead of our competitors. While others are reacting to change, we’re causing change. We have close partnerships with key email providers (ESP’s and ISP’s) that allows us to stay ahead of the curve. We’re now at a point where we’re helping dictate and test the future of new email functionalities. Clients love to know that they are outperforming their competitors as well which we achieve through further personalization and smart marketing.

3. What were your challenges and obstacles of growing your business?

The biggest obstacle for us up until recently was giving up control. My partner and I were the only two people executing on deliverables for 20 clients and desperately needed help.

We had tried to hire someone when we were at 10 clients but that person had done us wrong. They tried to steal our clients so we had a hard time letting go until we found someone we really trusted. Bringing on our first key hire was absolutely crucial to scaling our business. After this hire had such a positive impact on us, we were a lot more willing and open to hiring again. We then got lucky to find another stellar employee. So right now our team has 4 full-time people and we’re going to be hiring another 1-2 people over the coming weeks. We have 2 people that we are in the middle of training before they join us full-time. 

Throughout our hiring process, another big obstacle we had to tackle was around onboarding and managing. Having two people that both know what they are doing is very different than bringing on others with varying levels of experience. We never had any documentation or resources set up when it was just the two of us. We had to put a pause on client acquisition and instead invest a lot of time, effort and money into building out scalable processes.

Thankfully we’ve been able to build a really great employee onboarding and training process. Our current team is world-class and we’re so lucky! Finding the right culture fit has been so important for us.

One interesting thing that we focused on (and continue to focus on) is finding the best designers and teaching them email marketing. This has worked so far for our first two hires and has shown a lot of promise in the next two full-time hires we’ll be making soon.

4. What has been helpful to help you to grow your business?

There have been so many helpful learnings, tools, and platforms that have contributed to our growth.

The most important has been hiring and investing into the right team. We’ve arguably hired, trained, and groomed employees that are more talented than us. My philosophy has always been I don’t want to be the smartest or most talented person on our team. Fortunately, that philosophy has worked out great and I’m now learning from my team as much as I’ve taught them.

On another note, I can’t preach enough the importance of having a skill that can generate leads.

Here are a few examples:

  • Sending cold emails to prospective clients
  • Being able to rank your website on the first page of the search engines for keywords that express business intent. For example, ranking for something like: Facebook advertising agency.
  • Running paid acquisition targeting prospective clients.

The list goes on.

I’ve personally been diving into SEO and have been able to rank our website for keywords that drive leads on a weekly basis.

On top of that, my background is in cold email so it’s easy for me to generate leads from this.

In regards to learning from others, I personally prefer listening to podcasts instead of reading books. I do read a ton of online business and marketing articles, but my favorite is listening to podcasts. 

My two favorite podcasts at the moment are:

  • Foundr Magazine Podcast with Nathan Chan. Nathan is genuinely curious and asks things that he truly wants to know about. As such, his podcast provides actionable advice, depth, valuable lessons from people who have done it before, inspirational stories to get you fired up about starting a business, and the tactics and how-to’s to actually get started and grow your business.
  • The Side Hustle Project with Ryan Robinson. Ryan is the king of side hustles and as such has surrounded himself with dozens of others that run successful side hustles as well. His podcast interviews these entrepreneurs to explore the nitty-gritty details behind what it takes to start and grow a profitable side hustle.

My favorite tools and platforms:

  • Recommended ecommerce platform: Shopify
  • Our agency website builder: Squarespace
  • Email marketing platform: Klaviyo (by a long shot)
  • Internal team communication: Slack
  • Communicating with clients: Slack // Email // Weekly video calls on Zoom
  • Project and task management: Trello // Asana // Notion (depending on if a client has something setup or if we can implement one)
  • Client invoicing and billing: ZipBooks
  • Scheduling calls: Calendly

5. What is your advice for those are starting productized services?

Stay laser-focused. For my agency, all we do is email marketing for e-commerce brands. Anything outside that is a distraction for us. When you can focus on just one offer, you allow yourself to become the best.

One thing I learned the hard way is that if you tell someone you do everything, they in-turn, hear you do nothing. We used to sell all marketing services and felt that instead of being good at everything, we wanted to be great at one thing.

This business decision was the best one we could’ve ever made. This has allowed us to become experts and as such, we have the most epic case studies.

We’re also now viewed externally as experts and are starting to conduct research and interviews with reputable players in the ecommerce industry. This is hugely important for both social proof and lead generation. People want to work with the best and optics (for better or worse) play a huge role in whether you land clients or not.

I also recommend in the beginning to onboard a few clients (too many and you’ve overextended yourself while not enough and you won’t have ample data to learn and optimize) even if you have to discount your pricing. Those first few clients are so important to shaping your service offering and your entire process for that matter.

Everything is theoretical up until the point you have tangible data on what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve increased our pricing a number of times since we first started out for any new clients. Our early clients were loyal to us, so we’ve remained very loyal to them. We’ve also been able to articulate our services and have really clear breakdowns of what is included in each pricing tier due to selling a single service and iterating until we found the perfect fit. 

6. What are your plans for the future?

We have big plans for 2020! Based on our current MRR, we anticipate a 7 figure run rate for the year. We’d love to end the year at or above $150K MRR. We’re excited to continue building our team. I anticipate we’ll grow from our current team size of 4 people to around 10 people or so.

We’re also very focused on education. In the first two weeks of 2020, I’ve personally been on 6 people’s podcast and have finished 3 written interviews. I’ll also be speaking on stage at a marketing event in February and I have a course in-partnership with Foundr Magazine coming out soon.

Additionally, I am looking forward to other opportunities that come my way. Made a few angel investments in 2019 and started advising some really exciting startups.

7. Where can we learn more about you?

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