Email Marketing

Study: Klaviyo, Text Messaging Drive DTC Ecommerce

Klaviyo’s text messaging service was surprisingly popular in an anecdotal study of 50 direct-to-consumer brands. The review also found that most brands used pop-ups to capture emails but did not appear to use a welcome series.

I recently researched how DTC brands deploy email marketing. I created a list of companies based on Jasper’s AI chat and Google search. I then chose sites haphazardly from each source.

I signed up for each brand’s email using the form on its home page and a free AOL email address for this purpose. I used BuiltWith to determine a brand’s email service provider.

I accessed each DTC website just once. But many had A/B testing software installed according to BuiltWith, indicating I might have experienced a different sign-up process on subsequent visits.

While it’s not scientific, reviewing these DTC websites uncovered four patterns: the widespread use of text messaging, ubiquitous pop-ups, extensive incentives, and a lack of welcome sequence messages.

Cuts Clothing
Marc’s Magic Rub
Pulp Pantry
DEUX, but textKlaviyo
The Ridge
Ten Little
Warby Parker
WP Standard
Pura Vida
American Giant
Buck Mason
Combatant Gentlemen
Fame and Partners
Frank and Oak

Klaviyo Driving Text Messaging

Of the 50 DTC ecommerce sites, 31 used Klaviyo for email marketing.

Shopify invested $100 million in Klaviyo in 2022, so it is not surprising that every Klaviyo site also used Shopify. What is surprising is a whopping 80% of Klayivo sites asked for my mobile number. Of the 19 brands not using Klaviyo, four asked for my mobile number, bringing the total of text-seekers to 29 out of 50.

Screenshot of a Cuts pop-up soliciting a mobile phone number in exchange for a 15% discount.

Cuts, a DTC apparel store, offers a 15% discount for providing a mobile number.

This does not mean that any brands are collecting mobile numbers, but they certainly want them. One brand, Deux (cookie dough), asked for my mobile number in a pop-up but not my email address. To subscribe by email, I had to find the form in the footer.

Screenshot of Deux pop-up asking for a mobile phone number.

Duex asked for a mobile number in a pop-up but not an email address.

DTC brands use text messages like email, including shipping and delivery notifications, promotional offers, abandoned cart reminders, and similar. The difference is in responsiveness. While they often have multiple email addresses and receive many emails daily, shoppers typically have just one mobile phone and receive much fewer text messages. Thus those same shoppers are usually more responsive to mobile communications, at least for now.

Even before reviewing these 50 sites, I was convinced that text messaging was a top opportunity for ecommerce companies. Now it could be imperative.

Pop-ups Rule

Despite reports that consumers dislike them, pop-ups appeared on 38 of the 50 online stores.

Some pop-ups appeared the instant my browser loaded. Others waited for me to scroll. Often the pop-ups loaded on multiple screens, meaning I had to interact with them up to four times — requesting my email address, my mobile number, and why I visited.

Screenshot of Bombas pop-up offering a 20% discount for new email subscribers.

Thirty-eight out of 50 DTC stores used pop-ups. This example is from Bombas, the apparel brand.

Most Offer an Incentive

The next trend was that most of the DTC brands offered an incentive to subscribe to email marketing. Twenty-nine of the 50 offered a discount, free shipping, or a chance to win something. Allbirds even offered a chance to win a vacation to New Zealand!

The best incentive experience came from sites that provided a coupon code in the same subscription pop-up. Kuiu, a seller of hunting gear, added my coupon code to the website’s header — ready to use at checkout. That was the best experience of any of the sites I visited.

Email Welcome Series

When I set out to review the DTC sites, I was most interested in the email welcome series.

So I signed up for the email lists and waited. Then I waited more.

Only four of the brands had welcome messages. Quip (electric toothbrushes) put an email message in the AOL inbox the instant I clicked the subscribe bottom. Frank and Oak (sustainable apparel) and Kuiu delivered messages within seconds. Roka (performance sunglasses) emailed me twice in the first 20 minutes.

The 46 others took a long time. After six hours, only 25 had sent a welcome message, including many that had promised a coupon code to use on the first order. The message from one of the 25 went to my spam folder.


My anecdotal study of DTC brands’ use of email marketing left me with three takeaways.

First, ecommerce businesses should experiment with text messaging. It’s easy for DTC brands using Klaviyo to add a mobile-number-capture form to their websites, but it does not mean they execute it well. Thus implementing a text message plan can help keep up with a competitor or even outperform, perhaps using a text-specific tool to facilitate sales in addition to sending links.

Second, use a pop-up with a clear incentive. If these DTC brands are indicative, pop-ups are worth the friction.

Third, there’s an opportunity to engage with new subscribers via welcome email series. Roughly half of the tested brands don’t use one.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
Bio   •   RSS Feed