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Ecommerce Case Study – Nebia: Pre-launch Customer Acquisition

A few months ago, I stumbled upon Nebia’s pre-order campaign for their innovative new shower head and was captivated. While the product itself is intriguing, it was the marketing strategy that truly caught my attention.

Although I can’t vouch for the shower head’s construction or whether Nebia will dominate the global shower head market, I must say their pre-launch campaign was executed flawlessly. I was so impressed by their marketing tactics that I reached out to Phillip Winter, Nebia’s founder and CEO, to commend his team. They confirmed that the pre-launch campaign had been a massive success, generating over $3 million in pre-orders within a single month on Kickstarter.

This campaign reflects a contemporary adaptation of the strategy my team employed with great success in building 11 million email subscribers and 7 million Facebook fans for Country Outfitter, an ecommerce business I founded in 2009, which eventually raised over $100 million in venture capital.

The initial component of the campaign was an engaging Facebook ad in my feed, dubbing Nebia as the “Tesla of Shower Heads” and guaranteeing the “Best Shower in the World.”

From a data-point of one, their targeting was spot-on as well — I am a fairly wealthy homeowner of a 7-figure property in the middle of a bathroom remodel.   I’m not sure if they targeted me based on my recent addiction to Houzz, off my pinterest profile, or just got lucky, but they found me nonetheless.

After clicking the ad, I was taken to an equally brilliant email squeeze page:

It’s not often that I willingly provide my email address, but in this case, they presented a persuasive reason – the reward of acquiring more information outweighed the risk of getting yet another promotional email. If having early access to the “Tesla of Showers” meant offering my firstborn child, I’d definitely give you my email address!

Significantly, the only action you can take on their landing page is to provide Nebia with your email address – a classic, underused, squeeze page technique that we deployed with immense success at Country Outfitter. Perhaps you recall posts like these flooding your Facebook feed in late 2012 and early 2013?

Just like the technique Country Outfitter helped popularize many years ago, Nebia fully gates their landing page and requires an email subscription to move forward.  While it’s counter-intuitive to allow 50% or more of your visitors to leave without the opportunity to “learn more,” the benefits of email capture usually far out-weigh negatives. 

As such, optimizing the conversion rate of visitors to subscribers is vitally important.  Conversion rates on email capture pages are highly variable.  While poorly constructed squeeze pages can have conversion rates far below 5%, well constructed pages with a compelling call to action like Nebia’s can exceed 50%.  

A/B testing is critical to optimize email collection rates. To wit, after hundreds of A/B tests on Country Outfitter’s giveaway squeeze pages, we improved our conversion rate from 28% to a maximum of 86%.  Testing beautiful imagery and iterating calls to action were our levers we used to capture this improvement.

With such a high abandonment rate ,the “email gating” of content is counter-intuitive — why would a business allow a large proportion of visitors to leave without the opportunity to “learn more?”  The answer lies in the ability to do push marketing to subscribers.  The conversion rate (and revenue) of the 10–30% who subscribe to receive push marketing messages will likely FAR exceed the revenue of an un-gated experience… in fact, it’s usually not even close.  In Country Outfitter’s case, the revenue delta from Facebook ads was over 2500% — the email gated landing page outperformed the un-gated landing page by more than 25-fold.

Want to learn more? Tough — give me your email address first.

Want to see it in action? Tough — give me your email address first.

Want to buy it? Tough — give me your email address first.

After subscribing to their email list, the real magic begins. Checking my inbox, I immediately received the first email in a powerful email drip campaign. The email was a personal note from the CEO. It contained a warm welcome, reinforced that Nebia is a a great product, professed that it uses 70% less water than traditional shower heads and thus it’s great for the environment.  It ended with a simple and effective call to action — PRE ORDER NOW.

This email is the beginning of a several day long cascade designed for new subscribers. The tracking in the email click URL is solid too — utm_medium, utm_source, utm_campaign are all utilized. I imagine they are tracking results and ROI to the nth degree.

The importance of event-driven email cascades (or drips) can’t be understated.

With 11 million email subscribers, Country Outfitter was forced to quickly move away from a “batch and blast” email marketing strategy — a strategy where every subscriber receives the same email at the same cadence. Instead, we moved to a complex series of event-driven email marketing cascades.

In addition to the classic new subscriber email drip, and the abandoned cart email drip, our team built out dozens of cascades that were triggered by discrete events. Despite being only 10% of the send volume, these customized, individualized event-driven emails drive over 350% more revenue than their “batch and blast” counterparts.

In conclusion, Nebia has crafted a remarkable customer acquisition campaign. By employing accurate targeting, stunning visuals, the application of email acquisition best practices, and skillfully executed email calls to action, they are undoubtedly surpassing most of their competitors.

UPDATE: I origianlly wrote this post years ago. In 2023, Nebia was acquired by Brondell, further solidifying its position as a key player in the industry.

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