Dean Dutro is the Co-founder of Worth eCommerce, a company that helps businesses of all sizes to dramatically grow their revenue by at least 30% with lifecycle email marketing, and he is also the Founder of Email Growth Training where he provides online training that can help businesses boost their sales, increase their profits, and massively grow their e-commerce business.
Dean is an e-commerce email marketing expert and is one of Klaviyo’s top partners, and he also hosts his own podcast, The Relationship Commerce Podcast where he features top e-commerce entrepreneurs and marketers to talk about their stories, struggles, and strategies to scale. He holds a degree in Communication Studies from the California State University-Long Beach.
In this episode, John Corcoran, host of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, is joined by Dean Dutro, Co-founder of Worth eCommerce, to discuss how email marketing can help drive sales and increase profits for an e-commerce brand. Dean also talks about his background in the aviation industry and working in UX design, his email marketing best practices, and the strategies he uses to increase his client base.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Dean Dutro talks about studying communication in college, being an aviation recruiter, and his transition to UX design and email marketing
- What Dean learned from his parents and grandparents about entrepreneurship
- Dean’s approach to email marketing when serving the e-commerce market
- Where do marketers get the passion to write good copy for boring products?
- Dean talks about how Worth eCommerce has grown over the years and what they are currently focusing on
- Dean shares what it was like to start and grow 2 businesses with his best friend and his secrets on how he increased his client base
- The challenges Worth eCommerce faced in 2020 and how they built their team to provide employment during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Dean discusses the future of e-commerce and what he’s most excited about in the industry
- The people Dean respects and admires in his industry and those he acknowledges for his achievements
- Worth eCommerce
- Email Growth Training
- Dean Dutro on LinkedIn
- Dean Dutro’s email: [email protected]
- Relationship Commerce Podcast on iTunes
- Hawke Media
Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing.
Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally.
If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing.
A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network.
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Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.
John Corcoran 0:40
All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the host of this show. And you guys know my story. I’m a recovering political hack and a recovering lawyer. I spent years working in politics, including as a speechwriter, stints working in the Clinton White House for California Governor and spent years practicing law in Silicon Valley in San Francisco. And you know, 10 years ago, I discovered this medium of podcasting, and I’ve been doing it ever since. And over 10 years of hosting the show, I’ve had such a great privilege to talk with top CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies and organizations ranging from YPO to EO, Activision Blizzard, Lendingtree, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25 where we help b2b businesses with the strategy and production they need to create a podcast and content marketing that produces tremendous ROI and connects them with their ideal prospects and referral partners.
And I’m excited today to have our guest Dean Dutro. He’s the Co-founder of Worth eCommerce. And what they do is they help companies with email marketing. He’s also the host of the Relationship Commerce Podcast, which we’re fortunate to help him with. And so we’re going to be talking about email. Is it relevant today? Does it continue to work? How has it changed over the years, and all those sorts of things. So if you’re curious about using email to make sales, particularly in the e-commerce context, then this is going to be a really valuable episode for you. But first, before we get into that, this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, my company, we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this, and asking should I start a podcast? Well, I’ve been saying for 10 years, you should no matter what. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do. Tremendous tool for uploading your network and meeting great people and having great conversations like with my guest here today. So if you want to learn more about how to do it, go to rise25media.com. We’re happy to tell you more about it.
All right, Dean, such a pleasure to have you on here. And now you are known as an expert in email, marketing, email, copy, helping e-commerce businesses, which is just such a massively growing area of the economy right now to generate more revenue using email. So naturally, of course, the training for that is to go straight out of college into being an aviation recruiter. Right, which is what you did. I’m joking, of course, but how do you go from your study communications in college, to an aviation recruiter flying around the country convincing colonels that you know how to hire, how to hire staffing? for them? That seems nuts?
Dean Dutro 3:06
Yeah, I mean, it is. That’s kind of a wild story in itself. And I always say that the best job I’ve ever had was being an aviation sales and recruiting specifically for staffing. And, and when I got to college, you know, I’d studied communications, which is kind of like a throwaway major, in some sense. Like, it was just important to me to go to college, be the first my family to do so and, and loved learning how to connect with people, loved learning how to speak, love, learning, persuasion, things like that. And so recruiting was really just like the first real job I got just like randomly, someone called me and a recruiter called me and was like, hey, it looks like you’ve done sales before, which I’ve done at a hotel. And they’re like, you want to come work with us as a tour. And they’re offering like, $43,000 a year, which was insane to me at the time, just being out of school, but way back in the day, and now they interviewed me and how got chosen for aviation, because they had other divisions was like, I grew up my dad was like a, like a motorcycle guy. And so like I could, I guess I thought I could connect with like aviation guys who often like to ride Harley’s and ads and things like that sounds like yeah, sure, I can do this. And it’ll be pretty amazing. We would, you know, get hired for these contracts, like in you know, somewhere in like Louisiana, where they would need 100 contractors to help rebuild some airplanes. And so we would try to get those contracts and then myself, French aviation recruiters would find the people to move to Louisiana to do these contracts, you know, for example, or to Vegas, or Florida, or to different places in Idaho. And so, I was like, 24, literally just flying all over the country with an expense card sitting in hotels, talking to aviation guys, about what we could do, why they needed us to figure out their pain points and then telling our team to like, hey, let’s go find 100 People. So it was really, really kind of interesting. And I think the skill that I learned from that was recruiting, right like, I think it’s such a huge skill in any business. But that’s that’s kind of how that came about and, and it turned out, I really enjoyed it. But my best friend from college approached me one year. He stayed with me for like a month he was this digital nomad for a while. And that concept to me, I discovered through like Tim Ferriss and those kinds of guys. And he was actually living it. He was living in Europe and stayed with me in Portland for a month and was like, Hey, I’m doing UX design. I’m a freelancer, I want to start an agency. Do you want to join? I was like, yeah, let’s, let’s do it, kind of show me some numbers. And within a month, I quit my job that had been out for years. And when I moved to Asia, to start this agency and be a digital nomad, and do UX design, I had no idea what that even meant back in the day, like Asia, just because it’d be fun, or because it’s cheaper cost of living. Yeah, cheap. You know, this is like 2015 2016. So we thought it should be cheap. We wanted to explore, you know, I love traveling, and I’ve lived overseas before and just thought it would be a really cool experience. And, you know, ultimately, that agency ended up failing. After about a year, we kind of decided to part ways. And I think it’s that we didn’t really have a mission or values or anything, like we wanted to, like make money and be at the beach and drink beers and I travel the world. And it just didn’t lend to like growing something that could last or help other people. And so we ended up bait like both of us, I moved into my grandma’s house, and he moved into his grandma’s house. And we kind of went our own ways for about a year. And it just so happened while we’re doing UX design, that one of the companies called quality mattress based in Australia had asked us if we wanted to do their email marketing. And I was like, I’ve never done this, but yeah, they’re gonna pay us 1000 bucks, I’ll do it, or whatever back then. And I just learned as much as I could about email to kind of my communication knowledge from school and applied that and created an email system for them out of scratch, and ended up doing well. And we sent some campaigns and some emails, we saw money coming back that day. And I was like, This is pretty awesome that we can send out some emails and it makes money. And we can see that like, track that really easily. And so it just kind of all sort of became a freelancer email marketing after that. Yeah. Three or four years ago.
John Corcoran 7:36
And you didn’t have a background in UX design, right? No, no, no. Yeah, it was it. Was there. Do you connect it now to having more of an interest or a passion? Is there a difference between the two? Do you feel more passionate about email than you did about UX designers that make a difference?
Dean Dutro 7:53
You know, I think to me, the passion wasn’t the medium. Right? So the passion for me was, how can I help other businesses grow? Right, and I just so happened to stumble into email. And that idea came from like, my, my parents were entrepreneurs, my grandparents were entrepreneurs. And they always had struggle, they always struggled getting past a certain point. So it’s not like they’re like super wealthy, but they just have their own little small businesses. I always thought to be cool. Like, what if they would have done something else or tried something else could have helped them grow faster? And so I just really stumbled into email. I liked how it was something that was fast, where you could send out email to 1000 people, 10,000 100,000 people, and you could predict the revenue that would come in. Yeah, so I wouldn’t say I have a passion for it. I always tell my team now like, I’m not the email expert, you guys are, you know, I’m trying to grow this business and help other people grow as well. Yeah.
John Corcoran 8:51
And what did you learn from your parents and grandparents? Being entrepreneurs? Because that’s interesting to me, because no, no one in my family is an entrepreneur that I know of, at least in recent generations.
Dean Dutro 9:03
Yeah, that, uh, that could either be a decent success or a failure. You know, my mom’s business never really got off the ground. She tried really hard on my grandma’s business. She ended up selling when she retired. But I think what I learned from it is that by starting your own business, you have a lot of freedom. What was great growing up is every sporting event, every vacation, like they never had to ask for PTO. Like they just did it. Right. Yeah. And I liked that, like having that kind of lifestyle control. And that was really important to them. And I think that’s something I learned
John Corcoran 9:38
from cool. So you figured out that you could sell mattresses to Australians, and naturally that will work in any other e-commerce field. So I’m joking, but you know, what, what was it like then going into other verticals going into selling different types of products? What are some of the successes and failures and setbacks?
Dean Dutro 9:59
Yeah, so I took the approach of, if I’m going to do this, I need to learn about marketing, right? I need to learn, like, What does marketing mean? And then how can I apply that to the medium that I’m choosing to go into. And I chose email for several reasons that I said, but also because it was, even though it’s like one of the oldest forms of digital marketing, and it was just now getting good, right? Like before, it was like, spray and pray. Now you can do all this stuff, with data with information, with segments, with lists, you can integrate it to stuff and it becomes a lot more fluid. And it’s gonna be and so I took the approach of, hey, if I could learn the fundamentals of marketing, I could learn the fundamentals of what the customer lifecycle is for e-commerce companies, that I think that I could build a plug and play system that would work across brands, right? If you think about it, like any e-commerce store, or business, really, the customer lifecycle is about the same. And for each part of the customer lifecycle, you just want to have specific goals to get them from one phase to the next. So if they’re just visiting your site, or learning about your site, like you should give them information to indoctrinate them into your brand. If they’re like an actual lead, and they’re signing up for email lists are interested in connecting with someone, like give them reviews, if they’re a new customer, how do you get them to become a new customer into a repeat customer, and so forth? That’s kind of the mindset I went with and creating a system and a process. And that’s worked for almost every business we’ve worked with. There’s some businesses where if they just have a crappy product, like a lot of drop shipping businesses, that was a big phase for a while, it was really hard to get email up and going, because the products like people just didn’t want to buy, you know, there’s bad products. Yeah.
John Corcoran 11:48
How do you get for you, as a writer, your team writing? How do you get fluent with a product and get passionate enough about it to find something interesting, especially if it’s a lot drier? And it you know, boring topic,
Dean Dutro 12:00
or product? Yeah, I think that’s a, that’s a really interesting question for any sort of marketer, right is where does that passion come from? And to be honest, like, that’s not always there. For the product, what writers get passionate about, and I’m not doing a lot of the writing at all, or the design or anything like that, but my team, it’s about how do they improve their overall copy skills? Right? How do they improve their overall design skills? How could we take something that’s boring, and viewed as a challenge to turn into something? That’s interesting, right. And then so the focus becomes, hey, if I’m not passionate about this product, I am passionate about copy. And how could I use my skills to make this product work? Does that kind of make sense?
John Corcoran 12:46
Yep. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, you mentioned that recruiting was an important skill before, and it’s become an important skill for you now. And you just mentioned a second ago, you’re not doing the writing anymore. So what stage of the business that you’re at right now? What do you find yourself focused on the most important use of your time at the stage of business you’re at now?
Dean Dutro 13:08
Yeah, I think that for me, where we are now about 50 employees, as an agency, and, you know, over a dozen copywriters, dozen designers, and some strategists that are just stellar marketers. And so for me, it’s, it’s how do I continue to kind of pound the drum on the vision, right, so my vision is, is, hey, if we could help 1000, e-commerce stores earn over a million dollars in revenue a year, that kind of translates into, like, hundreds of 1000s of products for these people to be sent out all over the country or world, but also into actual jobs in e-commerce. So for me, like I wanted e-commerce, not really knowing what it was going to be. Now it’s exploding. And so the idea is, like, if we could generate a million bucks for each of our clients, you know, or more, like, that’s 10 jobs that are being created, right? Because a lot of times you can kind of translate like 100,000 bucks a position, depending on your margin where you are. And so like, that’s, it’s kind of like the estimate, so 1000 e-commerce companies million bucks, it’s 10,000 potential jobs, you know, coming out of like, you know, I came into like the 2008 recession. My family lost a lot. I knew a lot of other people that lost their jobs. And so it’s just kind of like that something that has been ingrained with me. And getting people to learn new skills, I think is killer, too. So that’s kind of the long term mission.
John Corcoran 14:31
Mm hmm. Talk to me about what it was like starting not one business, but two with your best friend.
Dean Dutro 14:38
Yeah. When we first started Gobi savvy, which was the UX design agency, and you know, being friends, we kind of assumed that we would work really well together. But we realized quickly that there was a big power imbalance in regards to knowledge. And that first year that we work together caught up to him, right? Like I knew how to sell and things like that. But I know anything about the industry, marketing, anything like that. And so it didn’t really work out because we weren’t optimizing our skill sets. When we parted ways, he started focusing on e-commerce, like building an e-commerce store, which he built up two different e-commerce stores. And I started focusing on email, or knowledge gaps started to decrease. And we were in California, like on vacation together. And we’re like, Hey, why don’t we just combine forces? Again, like we’ve we’ve really understood what our strengths are, where our weaknesses are? Because we’ve gone through the fire. Right, we’ve gone through that. And let’s see what we can make happen this time around. And the biggest thing we focused on was that why and that vision, that mission that I think has led to our success over the last, you know, year and a half, two years.
John Corcoran 15:51
Yeah. And not having been from the world of e-commerce, how did you get those early? You know, you had success with the mattress company. But oftentimes, that can take a while to lead to more referrals. But what was the secret to getting more clients when, you know, I imagine early on especially you got questions from other e-commerce store owners asking, Well, do you have an e-commerce store? You know, so how did you get the early clients?
Dean Dutro 16:19
Yeah. Luckily, for Gobi savvy, we had worked with several. And those kind of became the first referrals, right, the clients that we had UX design for, you know, we did a really good job for them. And they wanted to work with us to do email. And I ended up doing like, two or three weeks worth of just hardcore research on email marketing, figuring out what are the best software’s or the best systems, I had this huge Google document of what are flows? What automations? What are examples, and I just kind of pieced everything together, I call a Frankenstein email system, based off of years of research and new things coming out. And, you know, if, for instance, I wanted to learn what a cart abandonment flow was, you know, I would get 10 or 15 different articles explaining best practices, and it’ll be different, right? They’ll say like, different things is, okay, what doesn’t make sense to me, that would kind of piece that together. And then I started kind of becoming known in the freelance world. I think I was one of the first people to do specifically email marketing and kind of a niche. So it just became like a profile on Upwork. And it just became top rated. And then clients just started to flood in. Honestly, it just just kind of took off. From there. I think I got lucky in a lot of ways. But it was also a result of actually performing really good work. Yeah,
John Corcoran 17:44
yeah. What if some of the challenge has been for you, as we record this near the end of 2020. And we’re nine months 810 months into this pandemic, e-commerce has just been a flood of business to that sector. What has the last year been like for you?
Dean Dutro 18:01
Yeah, should have been trying to keep up. Like, there’s so much demand for e-commerce agencies, whether you’re doing email marketing, or CRM, or Facebook ads, or Amazon ads, or whatever the demand, like all of a sudden tripled or quadrupled, or some people are like at 10 X, like, where the numbers fat, but it’s just kind of keeping up, right, and figuring out, you know, as email blows up, there’s a lot more competition. I think the bigger challenges are, from a perspective of there’s Gmail, there’s Apple Mail, there’s outlook, there’s all these different kinds of mailing platforms. And one of the challenges in email is that every email you send is gonna look different, every platform, right. So it’s kind of figuring out what we do there? And as more people start to email like this Black Friday, you know, more people than ever sent out emails. I knew it was ridiculous. Yeah. And so it’s just kind of like those things like keeping up with trends and figuring out like, in the past that worked out what are the best practices now? Now, we’re trying to figure out what are going to be the best practices for,
John Corcoran 19:12
as you reflect on this year, and going through this growth spurt, when there have been so many other companies and businesses failing, you know, struggling and having that background, having a previous business that failed for you and family that lost a lot during 2008. What is it meant for you in order to, you know, get back to your mission, and be able to help provide jobs at a time when a lot of people are losing jobs?
Dean Dutro 19:41
Yeah, and, you know, personally, we’ve been able to hire, right, so for my own agency, we hired around 25 or 30 people, which has been amazingly like doubled this year, and doubled this year, and then many of our clients have doubled. So I might say I’m indirectly responsible for their growth because e-commerce is on a wave. So everyone grew, you know, everyone’s riding this wave. But what I think is amazing about email in particular is that it’s not just a revenue generator, it’s a profit generator. So for example, if you want to send if you want to get 100,000 visitors to your site, you have to pay for that, right through PPC, but it’s Facebook or Google or whatever. So you have to pay more for more visitors. But as you collect more emails, and now we’re also doing SMS marketing. If you collect more emails, the cost to send 10,000 emails versus 100,000 emails, it’s like $1,000 difference. Yeah, right. So all of a sudden, you’re getting all these people that you’ve built up over time, at no cost, almost no cost other than your cost of goods, right. Yeah. And so what happens is your profit starts to scale versus just revenue, because how many times have you heard people’s revenue is good, but their profit margins? Nice, right?
John Corcoran 20:54
Especially in e-commerce,
Dean Dutro 20:57
Especially in e-commerce. Yeah.
John Corcoran 20:58
Yeah. But a lot of companies in e-commerce suffer or struggle with? Yeah, it’s really thin margins. Yeah. Yeah. And then, you know, as you look to the future, at this end of 2020, go into 2021. What gets you excited? What are you excited about in the field?
Dean Dutro 21:15
I think I think e-commerce is becoming easier than ever before. I think companies like Shopify and Amazon are going to catapult that even further. And they’re starting to compete with each other and a lot of ways. So the products are ready to get better. I think it’s still a really easy barrier to entry. Like, I think almost anyone can do it. You saw that restaurants got into e-commerce. Like there’s so many retail restaurants, and retailers, so many restaurants around me that like are now on Shopify. Right? Which, which I think is amazing. And like, they’re sending, like cart abandonment emails, when I go to like, buy a thing of sushi. You know, like, this is really cool. So I’m excited for that just for that growth. And yeah, just continued growth in that field.
John Corcoran 22:02
Yeah, yeah. You are from Bend Oregon, which I visited earlier this year fell in love with. It’s such a cool town. Someone told me that it’s just like, one of the highest degrees of self employed people knew you told me that or something like that. Do you think that that made you a natural entrepreneur? Or how did that affect you growing up in a town that has a lot of people that are self employed, or that are working remotely for other companies?
Dean Dutro 22:30
Yeah, I think when I was growing up there, that wasn’t the actual reality. When I grew up, there’s like 40,000 people. And when 2008 hit like everyone was out of work as a ghost town. It was really crazy. But as the internet started to evolve from 2008, to, I really think 2015 was like the big sort of starting wave. It’s now got to work. It’s got about 100,000 people that live there. And 50% of the workforce is remote.
John Corcoran 23:02
That’s what I’ve heard then.
Dean Dutro 23:06
Sorry, what’s that?
John Corcoran 23:07
That’s what I’d heard then. So about 50% of the workforce is remote. So I want to wrap things up with the two questions I was asked, which is number one, I’m big fan of gratitude. So looking around other others in your field. other peers? Who else do you admire? Who else do you respect?
Dean Dutro 23:54
Yeah, there’s an agency I follow. They’ve been around for a while. They’re called Hawk media. And they just seem like I’ve never worked with them or spoken with them. But the stuff they post really, like cries out, like a great culture internally. Not sure what to do with their clients, things like that. I’m assuming they’re successful. But it really seems like their vision and mission is in line with ours. And I respect that quite a bit. I think they’re out of Santa Monica, or California or something. Yeah.
John Corcoran 24:25
Yeah. Cool. And then, you know, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars of the Emmys. you’re receiving an award given for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point. And who do you think you know, additional family and friends who are the mentors, or the teachers or the business partners along the way, who acknowledge?
Dean Dutro 24:43
Yeah, I have a teacher in high school as soon as Brian t-bo. And here’s an economics and psychology teacher, I remember like junior year of high school and we’re like learning about economics and stuff and real estate and all this and you’re like the first person to say to me, like, hey, you’re probably gonna be an entrepreneur, aren’t you? I was like, Like what? Like Yeah, like look at the way you’re looking at these numbers everything. So I’m thankful to him for kind of starting that seed and a lot of ways outside my family.
John Corcoran 25:13
Yeah, very cool. All right, Dean, where can people go to learn more about you and check you out and website, LinkedIn all that kind of stuff?
Dean Dutro 25:21
Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn is Dean Dutro. I’m probably the only one on there with that name and you can go to worthecommerce.com.
John Corcoran 25:29
Excellent. All right, Dean. Thanks so much.
Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at smartbusinessrevolution.com and while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.