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“Did you know that coffee is actually a cherry? The bean is the pit of a coffee cherry fruit.”

That’s just one of the tidbits Hrag Kalebjian, co-owner of Henry’s House of Coffee in San Francisco, likes to share in the newsletters and different automations he sends to customers. “It’s how I build lasting relationships with our e-commerce customers and show them that we’re coffee experts.”

Coffee has always been part of Hrag’s life—you might say it runs through his veins. His family’s tradition of roasting started with his father Henry, who grew up making coffee to serve in his own father’s bakery in Lebanon.

After immigrating to the United States in the 1970s, Henry’s passion for roasting coffee eventually drove him to start his own family business. In 2013, after 10 years working in corporate finance, Hrag joined forces with his father and took Henry’s House of Coffee online. He created an e-commerce store with WooCommerce and knew he needed to find a way to follow up with customers when his online sales started to grow.

“I created automations in MailChimp, so I wouldn’t have to manually reach out to all my customers about their purchases,” Hrag says. “And I think they help take the place of things my father would have done prior to technology. People used to call the store to place an order and talk to my dad. They’d hear his accent, they’d joke with him. Automations help us tap into that feeling. I send emails like Henry’s and Hrag’s top coffee picks to make it feel like we’re talking right to our customers.”

"I created automations in MailChimp, so I wouldn’t have to manually reach out to all my customers about their purchases."

Tell your story

For Hrag, telling his family’s story is important for encouraging sales. Our pre-built automations, like the welcome series and product follow-up, give him the space to introduce customers to who they are and what they do over time.

“I have a 14-email automation for following up with customers,” Hrag says. “Of those 14 emails, 3 are sales-driven, and the rest are informational. My thinking is that once customers know us, it’s easier to make a sale.”

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The product follow-up series, for example, includes a generous helping of tips and knowledge any coffee lover will want to flaunt at dinner parties, as well as a sprinkling of promotional offers and a personalized greeting from Hrag.

Hrag spreads out the deals and information he offers his customers by setting up most of the emails to send 30 days after they’ve received the previous one in the series, which has also helped the automation generate $1,539 over time.

Nurture your customers

One of Hrag’s biggest challenges as a business owner is customer retention.

“Before I started using MailChimp and automation, my retention rate was in the low teens,” he says. “Now I average a 28% retention rate.”

“Before I started using MailChimp and automation, my retention rate was in the low teens,” he says. “Now I average a 28% retention rate.”

His 2-email customer re-engagement automation—which has generated $1,466 in 7 months—allows him to follow up with people who haven’t bought anything from the store in a while. Each email showcases Henry’s top sellers and includes a promotional offer to bring customers back.

“This is my best-performing automation, and it was so easy to set up,” Hrag says. “I was playing around in my account on a flight, and it took me like 4 minutes to start sending it.”

“I was playing around in my account on a flight, and it took me like 4 minutes to start sending it.”

Automation not only helps Hrag with customer retention, but it also helps him figure out what his customers think about the brand. That’s where product reviews come in. He uses product follow-up emails to encourage people to go back to his site to rate the type of coffee they purchased and buy more if they really loved it.   

Show your passion

All the marketing Hrag does through MailChimp is meant to honor the tradition of coffee roasting his father and grandfather have passed down to him. “I do that by welcoming customers into the family with knowledge that they can use and the history of how Henry’s House of Coffee came to be.”  

The story of the Kalebjian family is written in every email Hrag sends, because it’s the heart and soul of the business: “Coffee is part of my heritage. As cheesy as it sounds, every bag, every cup of coffee is an extension of who I am.”