When home security company Blink began a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 to create a prototype of an affordable and totally wireless home security camera, more than 7,000 backers responded with more than $1 million in funding. Since then, Blink has used automated welcome emails as the cornerstone of a strategy that has fueled the sale of over 400,000 units.
Given the company’s success, it’s hard to believe how close they came to selling the technology that makes their cameras unique.
“Our founders were actually in the business of designing semi-conductors,” David Laubner, head of digital marketing and e-commerce, says. “We sold those designs to other companies to produce. When we came up with a chip that produced very little heat and ran on low power, the idea initially was to sell it to someone.”
Instead, the company realized their design would be more valuable if used to create a consumer product. They came up with the idea for home security cameras—but the challenge was to stand out.
“There were hundreds of digital cameras on the market when we came along,” Laubner says. “But most of them sell primarily through big box retailers. We decided to go the opposite route and sell almost exclusively online. And with e-commerce, email automation has to be a pillar of what you do.”
Creating the list
The success of the Kickstarter campaign meant that Blink had a self-selected list of tech-savvy people invested in their products. According to Daniel Hinds, Blink’s email marketing manager, that gave them a strong place to begin.
“When you start creating email campaigns, you just have to set it up and go,” Hinds says. “You use your best judgment, but it’s not until you begin testing emails and gathering data that you can really start looking for the sweet spot where conversions are highest.”
They also used survey data to segment their lists and create demographic profiles.
“Using surveys, we figured out what people’s most common onboarding questions are,” Hinds says. “So our initial welcome email goes out within 12 hours to a new customer to provide them with those answers. It’s really improved the customer experience.”