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How To Start a Successful Jewellery Business

Interview with Tokyo Based Jewellery Designer: Bikudesigns

At Creative and Coffee we are here to advocate for slow fashion and sustainable brands. So I am very excited to be able to share with you this interview with Victoria of Bikudesigns.

Whilst I was living in Japan, I really took to heart the Japanese concept of 勿体無い (Mottainai) which loosely means ‘wasteful’ but also speaks to a sense that we should treasure possessions and try to fix and reuse them as much as possible. The anthesis to fast fashion culture.

Victoria very much embodies this spirit in her business, which recycles vintage kimono, destined for landfills, into beautiful jewellery.

But perhaps it would be better to let Victoria tell you all about her business herself!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

My name is Victoria Close and I’m the founder of Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand based in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. I source damaged vintage kimono and rescue them from the landfill by creating them into something new.

Did you always think you would go into business for yourself, or did you imagine yourself in a different career?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur in one way or another so it’s not surprising to anyone that I ended up having a full-time business. I had a jewellery side-business when I was in my teens which helped me financially survive university! At that time I was repurposing vintage jewellery in my designs rather than fabric, but the model is not too dissimilar from what I’m doing today.

How To Run a Successful Jewellery Business Pinterest

Why did you start your business?

The first couple of iterations of my business solely existed for the love of making. I honestly love doing anything creative, so at that time it was a way to make money to support my craft. In the early days the business paid for my training in precious metals jewellery, commercial jewellery such as diamond setting and casting (Studio Jewelers, N.Y.) and classical jewellery techniques (Jewelry Arts Institute N.Y.) and funded an Artist in Residence in Sydney. 

My ‘why’ for the business changed when I had my kids and decided to jump into jewellery design full-time in 2016. I was definite I didn’t want to return to my previous job as a primary school teacher and used it as a way to help with a career change to fit around my family.

What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your business?

I wish someone had told me that the amount of time I would spend in my creative work would only be a small percentage of my week. Presently I spend around 1-2 days making and the rest is filled with marketing, supplies sourcing, admin, customer service, photography and much more!

What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

Having a ‘Business Bestie’ or an accountability partner has been fantastic for me. My bestie and I have been meeting virtually at least once a week during the pandemic to set goals for our businesses. Having someone there to check in with every week keeps me on track.

I would also recommend seeking professional help when you can for areas of your business you’re not confident in. I’ve taken courses in business, photography, Instagram, SEO, Pinterest, Wholesale and I’m currently in a handmade business Mastermind membership.

How do you successfully promote and market your business?

I have a pretty active social media presence, although I’m trying really hard to manage the amount of time I’m spending there. Marketing for me is making human connections. Having chats in Instagram DMs, spending time in my lovely Facebook VIP Club and of course, email the people on my list regularly (at least twice a month).
Taking part in events and launches that bring me visibility by leveraging another person’s following is a way I have grown my customer base. Joint giveaways, virtual events, podcast appearances, guest-blogging, guest interviews on my blog, joint instagram lives and live stream interviews are just a few ways to get in front of new audiences.

What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

I wish I’d jumped into full-time business much earlier than I did.  At the beginning I had no idea about how to build a brand and how to market it successfully. I thought that if I had a great product, that was well-designed and well-made that it would sell. 

I learned the hard way that community is the most important aspect of having a business and that creating an email list from day one is the best thing you can do to secure the future of your business. 

What are you proudest of?

I’ve learned a lot along the way through courses, personal research and actually taking the action to build a business that I’m now in a position to help others in my situation. In July 2020 I set up Overseas Makers Guild, a free Facebook community to support handmade business owners living overseas. Ex-pat businesses have a very unique perspective and set of problems that I feel I can help with.

What advice would you give someone wanting to grow a small business similar to yours?

1. Start earlier than you think you should. Don’t over-research the set-up, take action.
2. Find out what matters to you and consistently show up for yourself.
3. Set up an email list from day one.
4. Get clear about who your ideal customer is and talk to their needs.
5. Ask for help when you need it.

Want to get in touch with Victoria? Here are a few helpful links!

Mailing list:
Facebook page:
VIP Club:
Overseas Makers Guild on Facebook:
Overseas Makers Guild on Instagram:

6 Ways To Create a Website That Converts

How To Create a Website That Converts

A website can be used for many things; as a business card, to introduce people to your brand story, to show the behind the scenes of your process.

These are all great elements of brand strategy – but, the primary purpose of your fashion brand’s website is to sell your product.

And before you start sending traffic to your website through your organic social media and paid traffic campaigns, we want to make sure that we know, for certain, if we send (for example) 100 people to our website – how many of those people are going to buy.

Because, after all, if you don’t know how many people are going to purchase when they get to your site – how will you ever work out how much money you should spend on advertising?

Business should not be a guessing game.

6 ways to Create a Website That Converts

It’s quite a read – you might want to save it to refer back to!

Table of Contents
1. Optimise Your Speed
2. How To Use High-Quality Images and Details
3. Simplify and Optimise Your eCommerce Checkout Process
4. Use Cart Abandonment Software
5.. Show You Are Safe and Trustworthy
6. Create A Simple Navigation

Let’s Talk About Conversions

Let’s get this clear before we start.

What is a conversion rate?

A conversion rate is defined as the percentage of visitors that land on your website who complete the desired action

There are many different types of conversions, not just customer purchasing. For example, here are some common conversions that you might already be monitoring on your website.

  1. Online sales.
  2. A visitor adding a product to their cart.
  3. A visitor adding an item to their wishlist.
  4. A visitor signing up to your email.
  5. A visitor sharing something on social media.

Just to name a few. However, today we are focusing specifically on e-commerce conversions. I mention the other examples because its always tempting to go straight for optimizing your social shares or trying to grow your email list but we shouldn’t really be focusing our attention on those elements until we’ve really nailed our sales conversions – otherwise it’s just like pouring water into bucket riddled with holes.

How do you calculate the conversion rate for an eCommerce website?

Simply divide the number of users that come to your website by the number of sales you make. For example, if your eCommerce store is getting 10,000 visitors and 100 conversions, that means you have a conversion rate of 1%.

What is a good eCommerce conversion rate?

A good eCommerce conversion rate is on average 2% of your users, to begin with

It may well be that you have already hit 2% – congratulations!

2% is a good base rate to aim for, but you can always be optimising, testing and converting more – so let’s dive into how you can increase eCommerce conversions on your website.

Increasing eCommerce Conversions

Luxury eCommerce Checkout Example of how to create a website that converts for a Fashion Shop

1. Optimise Your Speed

I often find that speed doesn’t get mentioned when talking about conversions, because most people include ‘speed’ in the realm of ‘SEO’ (Search Engine Optimisation) and whilst Google certainly takes into account speed, it does so for good reason.

Put simply, the quicker your website loads the better your user experience is.

According to Neil Patel: 47 percent of consumers expect a website to load in no more than two seconds. After two seconds? Well, they are getting bored and clicking on to the next site.

2 seconds may sound like a small amount but, put yourself alone in a small room with someone who is struggling with a poor internet connection and we can realise how long two seconds is!

So, the first thing I would like you to do? Check your speed!

Because all the tips after this are for nought if your website is taking too long to load and people aren’t even getting to see your product!

How do I check my website speed?

You can check your website speed by using any of the following websites. Just pop your website URL in and they will run a speed test. I use GTMetrix but there is also uptrends and dareboost, to name a few others

Each of these speed test websites will check your speed for you and offer suggestions on how to increase your speed. Quite often it is the size of your images that causing the biggest lag. Also, if you are on WordPress and are using a page builder like Elementor or WPBakery, these plugins can really eat into your load time as well.

2. Use high-quality images, video and details on your product pages

Taking a flatly shot of a tables cape with iPhone

This is old advice I know but stay with me.

I’m sure you know the importance of high-quality images to showcase all of your products – that the photos be good quality, well lit and staged.

But I just wanted to add an extra thought that you might want to consider when choosing your product shots.


Especially given the current world ‘situation’ many of us have not been able to go out a physically try on or examine good with our own hands. How something feels not only accrues points in the logic part of our decision brain, but the experience of that sensation is part of the brand experience that touches the desire part of our brain that fuels the purchase of all ‘non-essential’ items.

So, when choosing your product photography do try to include those shots which give the user a ‘feel’ for the fabric and the experience of wearing it. This can be close-ups of the details of the product and the fabric, but it might also be setting it in scenes that evoke a feeling of ‘cosiness’ or a feeling of ‘relaxation’.

Speaking of customer experience . . . .

3. Simplify and optimize your eCommerce checkout process

A simple checkout example for homeware

There’s a lot about our websites that we can change to give a unique experience and set ourselves apart from the competition. However, the checkout process should not be one of them.

In the design business, we call it a ‘pattern’. People are used to particular patterns and particular ways of working. Its why many of us can pick up any kind of mobile phone and have a rough sense of where everything is. Why many of us associate the three dashes as a menu, without seeing a label.

When your customers go through your checkout process, we want to make sure there are as few steps as possible and that it is so familiar they really only need to be paying the barest of attention to complete the process.

Here are ten things you might want to consider to get you started:

  1. Allow guest checkout
  2.  Provide many payment options
  3. Make sure your design is mobile-friendly
  4. Make sure your display trust signals and badges
  5. Remove unnecessary form fields
  6. Use a progress indicator to show how few steps there are and how close they are to completion
  7. Limit distractions (ie no menu, headers, footers)
  8. Flag up errors (user put their phone number in incorrectly, let them know straight away!)
  9. Try to keep the checkout to one page
  10. No last-minute costs (looking at you sudden VAT added at the last minute)

4. Use Cart Abandonment Software

Abandoned carts are where someone has chosen items from your site, clicked to add them to the cart and . . . decided not to purchase.

This is definitely an issue that needs to be diagnosed – is it the checkout process? Have they simply forgotten their passwords?

MasterCard and University of Oxford study in 2017 showed about a third of purchases were not made because the person could not remember a password.

A likely cause is that it might be a sudden charge they weren’t expecting?

A big cause of this can be the shipping costs. Just as an FYI – people love free shipping. So much so that 93% of people asked in one study said that they preferred free shipping over discount codes.

People are attracted to the word free – even if a discount code might give them more money off, people are still more likely to want the ‘free’ option.

Now I know shipping costs can be huge – but do consider whether people would be willing to pay more on the price of an item and have free shipping than have a cheaper item and then be hit with an unexcited shipping cost.

Anyway – even once you have eliminated all barriers, you still may have a few abandoned cart issues. People putting things in carts and then being distracted by one of their several hundred other tabs for example. Not mentioning any names specifically.

Abandoned cart software works when the user has started inputting their email details, but not completed the rest of the process. So you can follow up with them via email.

Sites like Shopify provide this service for free, and you can also use integrations with your email marketing provider, like MailChimp, to set up sequences to entice shoppers back.

This might be a simple reminder or you might want to offer a discount in order to sweeten the deal!

5. Show that you’re safe and trustworthy.

Safe checkout example using credit cards and green padlock for security

Do you have an SSL?

Have you got your little green padlock in the URL bar that shows you process people’s bank details securely?

You will need an SSL certificate to get the padlock (and indeed the security that comes with it). The good news is that most eCommerce platforms like Shopify include this with their setup. Hosting providers, like Siteground, also provide free SSL certificates with their hosting.

If you don’t have an SSL and need to buy one, there are a few different levels and types of certificates but in general, there are four different types;

  • Extended Validation (EV SSL) Certificates (most expensive)
  • Organization Validated (OV SSL) Certificates
  • Domain Validated (DV SSL) Certificates and
  • Let’s Encrypt (free)

If you’d like to learn more about SSL certificates or aren’t sure which one you should go for, just drop me an email I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Do you have trusted payment options?

Do you use Paypal? Accept credit cards? Displaying small unobtrusive images of credit cards and logos are commonplace on eCommerce websites and form part of that pattern people expect to see.

Do you have security?

McAfee, GeoTrust or any other security badges are also helpful to display if you have an account with them.

6. Make Your Site Easy To Navigate

Customer experience is everything, so it makes sense to end on this for today!

It sounds like an obvious point, but when you’ve perhaps built your website yourself or you haven’t gone through the process of buying from the perspective of a new purchaser, it is so easy to miss little things that are missing or difficult to find.

So – here are a few things to be mindful of.

Grab visitor’s attention quickly

If I land on your website and I’m not sure what you are selling (or if what you are selling is for me) – I’m probably going to head off somewhere different. Make sure your offer is clear and communicated by your branding and visuals.

On average your customer spends about 3 seconds deciding whether to stay on a website or not. Three seconds is not a long time to read anything, so you want to convey in visuals what you are all about and what audience you there to appeal to.

A checkout with a easy to follow bread crumb menu

Make the next step easy

Your customer should never be wondered what they should click next – make the next step in the process as clear and obvious as possible.

Make your inventory easy to navigate

Ever been to one of those shops where you couldn’t browse through different categories?

If I’m looking for a mid-length skirt and I’m having to trawl through trousers and dressed to get to what I want – I’m not going to scroll for long. Make it as easy as possible to find what people needs.

Once you’ve got your categories and sub-categories sorted, you might also want to add ‘curated’ categories like ‘night out’ looks or ‘back to school’ looks.

Make your “Add to Cart” and “Checkout” buttons stand out

If you squint your eyes and look at your blurring screen – is it still easy to tell where you ‘Buy Now’ or call to action (CTA) button is?

If a user is considering a purchase and the buy now button is right there, this can be an easy prompt to take the next step on their journey. Sometimes a user is thinking of buying and can be further prompted to do so by an actionable button that says exactly what to do and that stands out from all the other surrounding text and images.

And, of course, as we said above – make your checkout process as simple as possible.


I already have a part two to this post planned, because there are so many different ways you can optimise your website! However, these six are definitely some of the big foundational items you want to tackle as they represent the best actions you can take to produce the biggest results.

If you’d like to book a one to one consultation or need some advice on optimizing your website, please do get in touch.

A call to action to download the free SEO checklist for beginners

Why The ‘French Girl’ Is Worth a Billion Dollars (And How Your Brand Can Be Too)

When I say ‘French Girl’ what comes to mind?

For me, it’s the book Love, Style, Life.

I believe this is truly a testimonial to the power of book cover design (& Instagram) because I literally bought this book due to the fact I saw it in hundreds of Instagram photos.  I, too, decided that it was the perfect photo prop. Once purchased, I thought it would be novel to read said book.

For the uninitiated, Love, Life, Style is a book written by Garance Doré, a French photographer, illustrator and author.

I’d always been aware of French ‘style’.

Casual yet elegant, red lipstick, stripes and jeans, not too revealing but endlessly captivating nevertheless.

However, I have to admit, reading this book was the first time it really struck me just how much people yearned fto become ‘a French Girl’.

It wasn’t just a style, or the accent, or the love of Coco Chanel quotes.

It was about the whole lifestyle

Then suddenly, like noticing a corner shop in a hometown that has been there forever and you’ve never entered, I started seeing ‘The French Girl” everywhere.

Brigitte Bardot themed playlists on Spotify, the art of ‘shopping like a French Women’ in Fast Company, how to dress, exercise and date like a French woman.

Who Is the French Woman?

She is intensely stylish but doesn’t put in any effort at all.

She ostentatiously does not care about diets but nevertheless retains the body of an off duty model.

She ages gracefully whilst remaining completely timeless.

She must, of course, have her signature scent. Whilst never snobbish enough to claim to be a wine expert, a glass might be in her hand at a laid back but completely chic gathering.

Gathering, not party – a party connotes planning and effort.

No, French women roll out of bed, effortlessly and arrive( without a pre-arranged appointment) at gatherings that no one RSVP’d to.

Woman holding Coco Chanel Perfume

Admittedly when you put all of these ‘French women’ tropes together, the image becomes less and less reasonably attainable. Nonetheless, the French woman has power over us.

Billions of dollars worth of power.

From iconic French brands such as Coco Chanel to French style icons Birkin to Bardot and even those brands that are simply just borrowing the reflected glow of French glamour( La Garçonne and Agent Provocateur spring to mind). All of them radiate a taste of ‘French Girl’ mythology.

Why is this relevant to my business?

Especially if you don’t have a French connection to speak of and nor are you interested in your brand becoming another purveyor of said French lifestyle. Or, even more elusively, you’d love to be a French Girl brand but simply jumping on the minimalism style trend and rolling out the Chanel quotes doesn’t seem to be working.

Many people have tried to break down the allure of the French Girl. Words like ‘chic’ and ‘sophisticated’ are thrown around. There’s also a hint of sexuality present, from the appeal of Bridget Bardot to the aforementioned Agent Provocateur.

Personally, I am compelled by this idea of ‘effortless’ and understated beauty.

That is a tale as old as time: how do I achieve a thing, with the minimal amount of effort on my part?

For a business, looking to capitalise on these traits, it might be difficult to just pull one or more of these attributes out. Much like tugging at a single thread that unravels the whole garment, it seems that just taking a bit here and a bit there rather fails to capture the allure.

Especially when so many of these attributes seem so contradictory.

Agent Provocateur, for example, seems to be, if not worlds away, from a very different neighbourhood than French Girl Organics.

Yet, they clearly seem to have that same, almost unidentifiable, feel in common.

Something we can hardly call ‘Frenchness’, especially given that, on some level, we all know that these traits are not something that all French people are naturally born with and that not all French women spring out into the world with perfectly messy bangs and a bank account big enough to have an understated ‘investment’ piece to go with every laid back outfit. As far as I am aware.

So, what is it that all these brands, despite selling different things and targeting different customer needs, have in common? More to the point, what is it exactly they have in common that is making them into multi-million dollars companies?

What Do You Feel?

lover archetype

There may be many convincing answers to that question, but for me, it’s all about the ‘feel’ of a brand.

This is something we find hard to put into concrete terms.

How can we utilize this in our brand if we don’t exactly know what ‘it’ is?

Why Copying Ends In Failure

When we look at brands we admire and we try to emulate them in order to be successful, it often fails. Or, at least is not the success we want it to be.

This is because we emulate all the things we can see; the layout of the website, a style of cut, a way of marketing.

These are elements that, when strategically drawn together, create the ‘feeling of a brand’. However, without that strategy, or understanding of what binds these disparate elements together – they are just that. Elements.

And individual elements do not, themselves, make a brand.

Branding is a discipline that is all about feeling. From your copy to your colour palette, you are trying to make an emotional connection with your audience.

Back in the day, it might have been good enough to be the best, or the first company to do something.

Even now we are told that we need to have a unique selling point. This is completely true, we absolutely need to differentiate ourselves from everyone else.

But man, it’s hard right? It seems like everyone is selling what you are selling. Even if it’s not exactly the same thing, it seems like your market is just flooded with people and you are drowning in the noise.

Connecting on an emotional level with your customer? Is it 100% necessary? Maybe not. But it’s smart.

Less Eat, Pray, Love

When I say connect on an emotional level, I don’t necessarily mean in a personal way.

Naturally, when we think about the connection on an emotional level, we might think about how we communicate with our audience. About how we can write heartfelt emails, how to really serve their needs, how we can connect more on social media.

These are all great things to do and they are important.

But for the new brand founder, it’s all about balance and scalability.

In the beginning, the personal touch is vital. Most sales come from true, one to one, in-person conversations. The trust, the refining of your idea, the getting feedback, making those initial business partnerships and getting into the manufacturing. This often comes from selling to friends, family, friends of friends and then branching out.

But once you start to scale, you need to learn the art of creating emotional connections with your customers at scale. Remember, you are not your brand.

Even a personal brand, is still a brand. It’s not 100% you and nor should it be.

It’s important to have that boundary.

You can make personal connections with peoples still, of course and you will need to.

But your brand also needs to make personal connections with people. And don’t forget, your brand is going to make a lot more connections that you, personally, will ever be able to.

Which brings us back to our French Girl.

What is it about that persona that makes it a billion dollar industry?

The Lover Archetype

To my mind, one of the reasons why the French Girl persona is so effective is because it is almost completely a perfect embodiment of The Lover archetype.

For those who are not acquainted with archetype, or archetypes in branding, let me give you a quick crash course.

Jung and The Archetypes

Stories resonate with us. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of this fact.

Books and films and theatre have the capability to make us laugh and cry. For fans to obsess, create art, write their own stories and create passionate online communities.

As you know, we live in an age where pretty much every product, service, course and ideas are already out there. Products are no longer sold on whether they are the ‘best’ on the market, or, indeed, the ‘only’ product in the market.

It was in 1983 where Paul Hawken claimed that “meaning” was starting to take on more significance than “mass”. Which makes sense, after all, how many purchases do we make because it ‘feels’ right – rather than simply on the base of factual pros and cons? Maybe all of them.

By using  these timeless archetypes to tap into these feelings, we can ensure we are building a brand that will inspire our audiences, connect with them and with stand the test of time. These aren’t gimmicks, tricks or marketing tools of the day. This is human psychology and psyche that as been observed since antiquity.

Anthropologists and mythologist alike see the same themes, situations and stories played out through both time and through geographical space. Indeed Joseph Campbell believed that all myths throughout the world as the same expression of the inner emotions and journeys of all humankind. Dr Pearson believes this is because archetypes reflect our realities and struggles. Whilst the external factors and situations may change, in the essentials, the journey remains the same.

In this way Margret Mark and Carol Pearson believe that the understanding of archetypes can help lead us to the missing link which marketing and science has so far being unable to give us. This is , what is the missing link between customer motivation and sales? The link between customer motivation and product meaning.

Archetypes have recurred through history, from the Greek myths to the Bible. In Jung’s belief, these archetypes represent the most basic and timeless of human desires.

By tapping into these most base emotions, Pearson believes that we can create products which tap into these desires and trigger a sense of recognition and meaning to our customers. If we understand these needs and desires, we can build products which will act as mediating function between the need and the fulfilment of that need. Making for very happy customers indeed.

When it comes to branding specifically, Jung’s archetypes have been expanded into twelve.

Of relevance to us, in this particular case, is the Lover

The Lover Archetype

Accordingly to archetypal lore, the Lover persona’s core desire to attain intimacy and their goal is to build relationships with people, work, experiences and the surroundings that they love.

And the biggest Lover Brand?


Seamstress, cabaret singer, mistress to a wealthy playboy. There is a no doubt a certain romance to the story.

But this is not all flowing gowns and romantic pinks.

Chanel The Lover ArchetypeChanel dressed to shock. Bucking standards, trends and using menswear to inspire her women’s lines.

The Lover archetype is not simply about love, romantically, at least. But also about aesthetics.

It’s about the senses, about ambience, about savouring perfectly balanced flavours in a dish, enjoying the complexity of a musical score or the scent of fresh flowers.

The Lover fears being a wallflower and is often engaged in acts of self-improvement. Although many cosmetic and beauty companies take on the Lover persona, it is not about creating a superficial transformation. It is about the products better reflecting and enhancing the truth of your character.

As Griffin-Grimes, Founder of French Girl Cosmetics was quoted as saying in a recent Racked interview:  “We’re not French girls just because we think being French is cool, which it is,” she says “We’re French girls because we’re on a mission to promote self-love and self-care. I think that really is at the heart of it.”

At the end of the day, the Lover archetype yearns for a deeper connection. This is where you can see the French Girl brands converge, irregardless of what the product is they are selling.

The most powerful of them offer a deeper connection to self. Whether that is through self-care, a la French Girl Organics, sensually, as per Agent Provocateur or through creating the best connection between our inner selves and our outward projection, as in the case of our Lover fashion houses.

So sure, it’s about effortless style, loving beautiful things, aesthetics and signature perfumes.

But’s at its core it’s about connection. To ourselves and to others.

Would you kindly share this on Pinterest? I would be so grateful, thank you!

How To Super Power Your MailChimp List And Grow Your Business: Part Two

Last time we covered how to level up your lead magnets, but as we know getting people onto your email list is only half the battle. Indeed, we might even spend more time increasing our sign ups only to be a little lax on concentrating on actually converting those leads into customers.

So let’s talk about what happens once our subscriber arrives.



As with all things in life, sometimes we need a little clarity and organisation in order to return to or obtain peak efficiency.

With MailChimp, due to its list based system, sometimes we can end up in a little bit of a muddle.

So, let’s start with a little bit of segmentation and organisation.

We’ve written an in depth post about how to set up automation, segmentation and other MailChimp advanced features here, if you’d like to read up on what all this means.

We all know the more personal we can make an email and the more relevant we can make an offer, the more loyalty we can grow and the more sales we can make. In that regard, we want to more effectively target who we are sending our emails to.

Sometimes when we have a particular MailChimp list, it can quickly become unruly and end up with us sending out ‘blanket’ emails that may or many not be relevant to everyone on that list.

So, let’s have a clean up and start segmenting our lists into relevant categories.


What Are Groups?

To quote MailChimp, groups are:

“A collection of subscribers, categorized by their interests or preferences. A group consists of a group category and group names.”

It’s easy to get Groups and Segments confused in MailChimp. You can read more about them and how to set them up technically speaking, in our tutorial here.

For the moment, the easiest way I find to distinguish between them is that Groups are things you know about your subscribers, like their interests and hobbies because you subscribers have self identified that they belong to that ‘group’ or you have put them into that ‘group’.

Segments on the other hand segment your list based on actions that have taken and criteria that they meet. For example, the date they signed up, how many campaigns they have opened or what products they have purchased.



So, you can see how dividing up your list depending on their interest can be very beneficial. How do we actually do this?

Let Subscribers Choose


The most straight forward way of identifying what your customer want? Asking them.

Ground breaking stuff here.

With MailChimp you can create your form to have radio or tick boxes where you can ask your audience to identify what they are interested in. You can use this in a number of ways, for example asking how frequently they would like to hear from you and allowing them to update their preferences.

You can also use it to ensure that you email subscribers can self selected their preferences in terms of content. For example, that they are only interested in receiving offs regarding women’s clothing, not male fashion items or childrenswear.

The drawback to this, of course, is that you are putting more steps between your audience member and joining your email list. We do live in a world where the debate still rages as to whether adding a ‘first name’ box in addition to asking for an email address might reduce sign ups.

So, if you do decide to let subscribers select their preferences on the initial sign up form, you might notice an initial drop in subscribers. There are a few solutions we might employ.

Take It Back A Step

You might present the sign up form as a simple form and once your visitor has signed up, you can redirect them to a page where they can then select their preferences. As your visitor has already made the commitment to signing up to the list, this is the perfect time to ask them for a small favour as they have already taken then first step. Plus even if they skip this step, you still have obtained their email address.

The drawback to this is not everyone is going to fill in their preferences. You then end up with a list where some people are grouped and others are not, which creates slightly more work on the back end for you as you will need to have an email to send to Group One, Group Two  and then the ‘Not Grouped’ groups on your list.

Add The Groups Yourself

It is possible to manually add the data and sort your subscribers into Groups. For example, you could infer from other information, such as purchase behaviour what your subscribers are interested in. However, this does require an element of manual labour on your part, or at least entering into the morally great area of hiring someone on flivver to help you out.

So not ideal.

However, this is another area where we can boost our MailChimp efforts by using a tool like Optin Monster.

You can create Lead Segments straight from your opt-in forms with Opt-in Monsters lead segments. They will let your subscribers choose straight from the form, or you can set up each form so that all subscribers who sign up through this method will automatically be assigned to a group.

So everyone who signs up for our Ready, Set, Goal workbook for example might be sorted into a ‘Goal Setting’ Group, straight from the sign up form. This cuts out the need to ask your audience to fill out their interests and saves you time of trying to put it all together from the back end. Perfect.

FYI: The Solution To The Big MailChimp Problem


If I may divert slightly off topic for a moment. As you are probably aware one the frustrating things about MailChimp is that you can quite easily end up having to create separate lists for each of your opt-ins. This ensure that your welcome sequence, relevant to that opt-in, goes out to the right people.

However, this ends up with multiple lists to manage. Which makes sending a single campaign out to all of your list tricky, not not mention the whole account can come become quickly unruly.

By using the Optin Monster monster and separating people into groups right out the outset, you can avoid this problem and make your account much more manageable. Instead of setting your Welcome Automation to go out to a particular list, you can set it to go out to a particular Group within the last. Thus all your subscribes end upon on list but all get the relevant welcome series.

Problem solved.

Now back to. . . .




You can get segment your MailChimp lists into very specific categories. Firstly you might want to start off with some general, overall categories such as purchasers and non-purchasers, by type of purchase or interest, by engaged and not engaged subscribers for example.



Segments are filters we can use on our lists in order to separate the list into different target audiences.

You can use up to five different ‘conditions’ to create each segment.

If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! Once you’ve had a look through and starting using segments, it becomes much easier but in order to get you started we have a few ‘pre-made’ segment ideas for you below that you might like to use.

If you need a step by step guide to setting up segments, you can find it here.

Static vs Auto Update

Just a quick FYI, you can create segments as static or auto update. As you might imagine, static segments are fixed when you create them and are not updated. Auto updated segments will automatically add any subscribers that satisfy the conditions you set.

Most of the segments we will be talking about will be auto updated.

We’ve talked about making sure that we understand what our email list is interested in by using groups. So, we already made our first distinction.

The next distinction we want to make is to divide our customers into those who have not purchased from us yet, those who have purchased and those who are repeat customers.



Signed Up But Hasn’t Purchased

You know the story, someone comes to you site, maybe they sign up for a discount and then. . . nothing.

They are now on your email list, so they will be getting your regular offers and emails, which may remind them to come back to your site and purchase. However, wouldn’t it be great to have a specific welcome series for those people who signed up but have yet to buy anything?

To take our discount example, maybe you have a welcome series that goes out to remind them that they have a discount with you. Maybe a follow up email to remind them that their discount is about to run out. Maybe that welcome series could involve some specific nurture sequences that helps address any question first time buyers usually have about your product before they buy.

This is a person who was interested enough to sign up to your list but there is some particular barrier holding them back from buying. Sending out a specific set of emails to this segment of subscriber, if you are not already doing so, would certainly help increase your conversion rate.

Clicked In Email

Divide By Interest

Let’s say, for example, that someone has signed up to your list via a free opt-in. They have gone through your nurture sequence and now you have begun to pitch them your product.

You can choose to segment your list based on those people who have clicked or not clicked through to your shop from the link in your email. This is where Groups and Segment might collide a bit, as you could create a Segment based on interest, gained from wether they clicked the link in your email. So for example, if someone clicks the link in your email in which you are directing people purchase sunglasses, you might create a Segment within your list of people who are interested in buying Sunglasses.

The drawback to this is that MailChimp, unlike Convertkit, does not give you the option to Segment based on ‘which’ link the customer clicked, only that they clicked on ‘a link’ within the specific campaign that was sent. So make sure that all links within that email are ones that do indeed, in the case, signal an interest in buying sunglasses.

Clicked But Didn’t Buy

Another way you can utilise this situation is taking a step further, not just by segmenting the people by whether they clicked or not, but you also can targeting them based on who clicked to visit your shop but then did not buy.

MailChimp calls this ‘Product Retargeting’ and their tutorial on how you can get that all set up is very easy and straight forward so I will link to it here. Its doesn’t require that you have your eCommerce integration set up.

The slight drawback to this is that it is not specific to the particular product that you mention in your email. Product Retargeting only works if someone click through  your email and visits ‘the top 8 most recently added or best selling products in your store’.

So, if those proverbial sunglasses were not added recently or are not the best selling products in your store – then no retargeting email will be sent. Not a deal breaker, but just something to be aware of.

Abandoned Cart

This isn’t technically a segmentation, this is actually just an automated sequence you can set up really simply in as a part of your automation sequences. However I did just want to give it a quick mention as part of the set of sequences you should definitely have in place. Abandoned carts are such as huge money pit getting your engagement campaign in place can save a huge amount of otherwise lost revenue

Creating an abandoned cart series is as simple as creating a campaign, choosing the automation type of campaign and from within the eCommerce section, selecting ‘Recover abandoned carts’. Full instructions are here, but really it’s pretty straight forward, just like setting up any other sort of automation.


You Might Also Like . . .

Customers who have made a purchase of one item, but not another, might like to be offered the complimentary item that would go perfectly with their purchase. Whether it’s a quick upsell offer or time appropriate wait between someone purchasing your beginner course before you offer them your advanced course, knowing what your customer is interested in buying is crucial.

Most revenue comes from repeat purchases and referrals.

Don’t just think this is for eCommerce purchases only. Have a segment of clients who have brought particular services from you and make sure to send them out an email to remind them you are still there and ready to work with them again. You never know, that person might have a new project or it might just let them feel secure in recommending you to someone else, knowing you are still in business.

Perfect Timing

So much in life is about timing. Fortunately for us, when it comes to purchasing behaviour, there are a few tricks we can use to get things just right.

For example, I really love Dollar Shave Club’s business model because they make sure, right at the beginning of the purchase process that they get their timing just right. Dollar Shave Club, for the uninitiated are a shaving subscription box. They send out razors and other shaving products to their subscribers based on the information they collect during sign up.

Not only does this take away the nessanace of having to remember to go buy their product, it also means that their product is being marketed to their customer at the best time every sales cycle – ie when the customer has a need for their product.

So, if your product is one that needs renewing, how long do you think it would last you average customer? Wouldn’t it be good if you could time your next promotional email to them just as they become in need again?

If someone buys a present and requires it gift wrapped, is that a birthday present they are buying? Will they need to find a present again next year? I’m not suggesting you only send an email once a year of course, but think, if all your customers were all making one extra purchase a year – that would mount up right?

Are You Following Me?

MailChimp knows who is following you.

On Facebook and Twitter at least.

It sounds creepy but nonetheless another way you can segment your list. Very helpful, for example, when creating Facebook ad campaigns as this information might well come in helpful.

If they aren’t following you, it might be nice to invite them?

Plus if you are using Opt in Monster, you can show people different content based on where they were referred from. So if they came through from Twitter, you might want to ask them to follow you on Facebook, making sure you are covering all your basis.

I think it’s important not to think of social media and email marketing as two very separate things. Most people, for example, are not willing or happy to be emailed every single day. However, most people have no problem, or might even expect, to see a new social media post from you each day.

Think as social media as simply being like mini email marketing campaigns that link your actual emails from one week to another. It helps customers to remember you between emails (increasing or at least maintaining your open rate).


Give Customers The VIP Treatment

As we just mentioned, encouraging repeat customers should definitely be at the top of any businesses’s priority list. As we talked about, you can use information about what your customer has purchased in order to send them other relevant products.

But now let’s take it up a notch.

Premium Products

There is a thought in the eCommerce world that you shouldn’t be disheartened if someone unsubscribes from your email list, as this person was never going to buy form you and therefore you haven’t actually lost any revenue. Whilst comforting and to a certain extent true, this is not always the case.

Just in the same way we talked about displaying different content to new and returning visitors, we don’t want to bombard potential customers with products that we have not built a sufficient level of trust to sell to them.

For example, n maybe the more familiar land of online courses, you might not want to offer your £999 price point course, to someone who has purchased a £24 book from you. Not because this person we will never buy a £999 course from you but because there is a sufficient large amount of relationship that still needs to be built before they are in a position to consider investing with you. To offer such a course at this early stage in the relationship may end it before it had time to develop, which would be a shame.

Loyalty Points

As someone who has spent a long time frowning at my screen whilst trying code a credit system into my site, I know that creating any kind of loyalty system can be daunting. However, by using Segments in MailChimp you can actually create a basic loyalty points system that is very simple in execution but can work really effectively.

How Do I Set This Up?

You can Segement you list in MailChimp by ‘Total Amount Spent’ in your store and ‘Total Purchases”.

How you want to adjust the levels of this will depend on the average price of your of your products and average spends but let’s take a look at a small example. ‘

Let’s say we have three levels of reward, bronze reward, silver reward and gold reward.

We could say to our customers, buy two products from our shop and you become a bronze member and earn the bronze member reward eg free shipping on your next purchase. So when someone buys two products they get added to the bronze Segment, they get an automatic email congratulating them on becoming a bronze member and giving them their free shipping code.

Set up the next automated email to go out, say, a week later two weeks later reminding them that they are a bronze member and they can level up to ‘Silver’ membership by buying making another purchase and get the silver reward, a free, limited edition tote bag for example.

So your Bronze Segment parameters would be:

“Product # Order” “Is” “2”

You could also create your Bronze Level like this:

“Total Amount Spent” “More Than” “£9.99”

“Total Amount Spent” “Less Than” “£19.99”

This is a very simple system and thus is not going to give you the ability to implement advanced gamification techniques unless you rope in addition software. As far as I can see anyway, if you have ideas for more advanced ideas I’d love to hear them in the comments

Here’s an example of how ASOS uses a reward system. Now here they use a system of credit, which may be a little bit complicated for us and beyond the scope for what we might achieve with MailChimp alone, but I think it’s a great example of how reward systems like this can work in practice.

Personal Email Or Letter

I’m a huge fan of Bumble and Bumble, recently I tagged them in a post and they sent me a DM to say thank you. It was as simple as that, it might even have been done by a robot for all I know, but I was very happy nonetheless that they had taken the time to get in touch.

If you have customers who have made multiple orders or spent a particular large amount of revenue with you, wouldn’t it be great to reach out and say a personal thank you? You could create a Segment  as above by number of purchases or total amount spent and reach out to those customers personally.

I would recommend actually doing this personally but there is a way of automating this, which we will talk about below when we discuss using Zapier.


Birthday Treats


Really simple to do, but delightful nonetheless. When collecting information about your customer, give them the option to select when their birthday is. Again you might not do this on the initial sign up form, perhaps you have a preference centre they can fill in their preference post sign up. Maybe you could even send them a special email asking for their birthday and explaining that you’d like to send them something special on the day.

Please be aware that MailChimp has a special ‘birthday’ option you can add to your forms and you will need to use the ‘birthday’ option as opposed to the regular ‘date’ option.

Then all you need to do is head over to ‘campaigns’, sleet ‘automation’ and then MailChimp has a nifty ‘birthday’ option. Simples.

If you are a smaller business and fulfil your own orders, you might want to keep a list of birthday’s handy and slip in a birthday card to any order made by those customer’s who are ordering around the time of their birthday. A little extra manual work perhaps, but a nice little touch.

Using Surveys

Never underestimate the power of a good survey. Especially if that survey is in the form of a quiz (read more about using quizzes here).

Did you know you can insert surveys directly into your MailChimp campaigns using survey merge tags?

Even better, you can then Segment your list based upon your subscribers’ answers.

Not only can you use this to Segement your list by interest, for example

Question: Are you more interested in content about wedding photography or our photoshop presets?

But you can also us surveys in the more traditional way:

Question: How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend of family (maybe not written as stiffly as that!)

Not only can you then create a Segment to follow up with customer’s that aren’t so happy and find out how you can help but you can also keep a Segment of people who love your product and want to share it with family and friends. Might there be an email asking them to share something on social media to promote your company in their future?

Admittedly MailChimp’s survey system isn’t the most sophisticated. However, never fear, there is a free way to upgrade your survey prowess. MailChimp integrates with Survey Monkey.