Interview with Jimmy Kim, CEO of Sendlane

Josiah Motley · April 30, 2021 · Short URL:

A look into ecommerce, email marketing, and how Sendlane differs itself from options like Mailchimp

person sending email

Image: Unsplash

One thing the last year has taught us is that companies need to be ready to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of business. Many had to close for a period of time, while others needed to switch to focusing on online solutions.

Obviously, ecommerce companies had a slightly easier time adapting, but many of them had their own hurdles to climb. Shipping issues, customer service, an influx of customers - all of these things had to be addressed to continue business-as-usual as much as possible.

Connecting with your customers has always been one of the main things that help separate ecommerce businesses from one another. Not only bringing in new customers but retaining previous customers is paramount for success.

Email and SMS marketing is one of the key ways to do that, and today, I had the chance to interview Jimmy Kim, CEO of Sendlane, a company that helps ecommerce companies and marketers create and connect with the right customers.

You can read the full interview below.

laptop with graphs on it

Image: Sendlane
Care to introduce yourself and your role with Sendlane? What's your background?

As a first-generation immigrant, I was raised by a father who was a small business owner and instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in me from a very young age. At the age of 16, I started my journey by washing cars at a local dealership and eventually ended up becoming the General Manager of Saturn Franchises by the age of 25.

After being burnt out working 80+ hours a week, I found my next passions in email marketing and content creation and started my first company in 2011 focused on educating young entrepreneurs. At the same time, I had invested and become a managing partner at a men's streetwear brand, KNYEW in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I was in need of an email marketing solution that fulfilled the needs of both my content and eCommerce business, and as a result, Sendlane was created.

What inspired the creation of the company?

The initial creation of the platform was simply for our own use as digital/eCommerce marketers in our own businesses. We wanted to create an email marketing platform that would be simple enough for anyone to use but still provide robust automation features to generate revenue. 

As a Digital Marketer and eCommerce business owner, I struggled to find a product that was built specifically for our daily use and needs. I found that legacy ESP’s were either lacking the features, intuitive UI, and support that I needed OR came with a hefty price tag and long-term contract.

After heavy demand, we decided to open the platform to the public in 2015 as a side business and in August of 2017, I decided our “side business” had become so much more than that.

I decided to go all-in, sold my other businesses, jumped feet first into Sendlane, and never looked back.

In just a couple of sentences, what is Sendlane?

Sendlane helps eCommerce brands/Digital Retailers generate more revenue, increase retention, and automate personalized experiences with email and SMS marketing automation.

This is done using our data-driven, behavior-based platform that allows the marketer to identify, target, and communicate the right message to the right customer at the right time.

sendlane email backend

How important is email marketing when compared to something like paid ads on social media?

Email marketing has the ability to offer the highest ROI. With paid media, your goal is to turn $1 spent into $1 or more, with email marketing your goal is to turn $1 spent into $41 or more. We’re the “primary conversion driver.” That’s why as an eCommerce brand your email marketing should be driving 30-40% of revenue. It’s an integral part of your martech stack and the leading driver of revenue.

In addition to that, unlike paid social, where platforms are constantly changing, your email subscribers are yours. That means you own your own data and can leverage a platform like Sendlane to communicate to those subscribers. Although they have their place, channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Paid Search, etc. — you don’t have control over who sees your content or when.

With email, you’re able to send targeted, relevant campaigns to those who want to hear from your brand that has either purchased or subscribed to a newsletter of yours. 

You call yourselves "Deliverability experts," what does that mean?

We own our own delivery infrastructure, so we’re a true ESP. This means that our in-house experts personally handle our customers' deliverability and help them to maintain a quality sender reputation. The majority of our competitors use 3rd party providers like Sendgrid or white label services due to lack of expertise.

We also boast two industry-leading Deliverability Specialists on our team: Damon Sauer and Evelyn Poon. Both are part of MAWG and Damon was on the original CAN-SPAM council. Our decisions aren’t purely black and white, we understand that every business has different requirements. 

What are some of the easiest ways people can use Sendlane to get results?

Browse Abandonment: Creating a browse abandonment automation flow to automatically message known customers and leads when they are browsing your website. 

Deep Data eCommerce Integrations: By simply connecting your shopping cart, you are empowered with a set of triggers and data that can help drive truly personalized responses based on exact product purchases and SKU's. 

Powerful Segmentation: This connects your web, social ads, shopping cart, and communications under one roof to help create your “perfect audience” takes just seconds to create with Sendlane’s multivariate segmentation engine.  

People are obviously familiar with options like Mailchimp for its ease of use, does Sendlane offer a similar drag-and-drop builder? 

We’ve taken the traditional drag and drop email builder one step further by adding functionalities like dynamic abandoned cart blocks, product pickers, and more.

sendlane backend

Obviously, people that use services like this want to see results and the data to understand those results - is that something you provide?

Sendlane’s deep-data integrations collect 100+ vital customer data points to help users optimize every customer experience. We sort out the who, what, when, where, and how much and turn it into an easy-to-understand format.

Our in-depth analytics provide basic metrics like open, click, and deliverability rates to the actual performance and ROI of every email sent and what products are selling best. We give you a birds-eye view of everything you need to track and assess your email marketing performance.

Who is Sendlane meant for? Small businesses or are you more focused on enterprise solutions?

Sendlane is ideal for growing small and medium digital retailers using Shopify, WooCommerce, Miva, or Clickbank and are looking to leverage data and behavior to drive targeted communications.

Generally, our customers are upgrading from an entry-level platform (Mailchimp or Constant Contact) and are looking for a more robust eCommerce-focused solution. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

We publish our NPS score on our website because we’re so proud of it. It tells you how much our users love our product and service. Customer Success is one of the highlights of Sendlane. We support our clients with a white-glove approach, offering beginner to expert, unique paths to support.

From migrating your current ESP to Sendlane, or creating a strategy for an automation flow, we are here to support. And if you’re not talking to your dedicated CSM, we also have 24/7 Live Support, mostly out of San Diego, CA - we reply in under 20 seconds… even for our FREE Trial users (yes, even at 10pm!).

I'd like to thank Jimmy for taking the time to answer some of my questions.

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Josiah Motley

Contributor at various blogs, with a focus on tech, apps, gadgets, and gaming.

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