The Birth of the Ikonick Art Brand
Mark Mastrandrea and Jeff Cole met via an email introduction when Mark was dating a mutual
friend of Jeff’s at NYU college. At the time, Mark was running a comic book T-shirt company
and needed a design contractor. For three years, Mark and Jeff communicated through email
and phone conversations, not once meeting in person.
Mark immediately realized Jeff’s immense talent and tapped him to be his go-to digital
creative producer. He eventually convinced Jeff to move to LA where they continued to work
at various companies together.
In late 2016, Mark and Jeff took the entrepreneur leap and founded IKONICK. By this time,
Jeff and Mark had worked together for over 7 years and created print canvases as a side
hustle selling canvases at $1,000 a piece. IKONICK was born out of the idea that canvas art
should be high quality, affordable, and inspirational.
At the time, there was massive hole in the art market. High quality art canvases tended to
sell for thousands of dollars a pop. IKONICK set a goal to be the global leaders in
affordable motivational art canvases.
The Email Story
We started working with IKONICK in May of 2017. At the time, IKONICK recently transitioned
off Squarespace onto the Shopify platform. Additionally, the brand was investing heavily in
paid Facebook and Google Ads to bring new users to the website. As a hot new startup, the
challenge we faced was converting the increase of visitors to the website into long-term
We tackled the problem by focusing on growing the email subscriber list, adding value to
existing customers, and adding strategic flows with advanced segmentation. We were able
grow IKONICK’s email list 3.5x, increase repeat purchase behavior 3X, and show 11X
growth by the end of the year.
3.5X List Growth in 7 Months
In order to convert new visits into email subscribers, we created strategic popups to capture
email subscribers on select pages of the website. For example, new visitors landing on the
homepage might get an incentive like below.
This is your typical 10% off popup that does a good job of email collection. You collect an
email address, fire off a Welcome Series through your email platform, and incentivize the
user to make a purchase.
We wanted to take this a step further by branding the experience based on how the user
reached the IKONICK website. For example, IKONICK was releasing new Space themed canvases
and wanted to give a unique experience to people landing on the Space category page.
New users landing on the Space collection page through a paid ad, social post, or organically
received an email collection popup like the above. The unique overlay allowed us to get
creative and keep the branding consistent throughout the user’s journey. Additionally, the
Welcome Email Series referenced the space collection once a user added their email address.
Lastly, during select eCommerce holidays, we created a branded website popup experience for
all visitors to take advantage of the seasonal discount.
New users and repeat visitors (by repeat I’m referring to window shoppers who haven’t
an email address) receive the opportunity to take advantage of the seasonal discount
engaging with the popup. Additionally, a triggered email fires off to redeem the discount.
Why go through all the work of creating branded popups?
If done correctly, without annoying the user, branded popups tend to increase the conversion
rate (visits to emails collected) by 20 – 30%. IKONICK had very aggressive email acquisition
goals in anticipation of the peak-shopping season. Our strategy was to maximize the
efficiently of paid ad spend by converting website visits into email addresses at the
highest rate possible.
Due to strategic popup implementations, branded website experiences, and an increase of
quality traffic, IKONICK’s email subscriber list grew exponentially. We were able to account
for a 3.5X increase in the total number of email subscribers by the end of 2017.
In the eCommerce world, significant high quality email subscriber growth usually equals
significant revenue growth. IKONICK was no exception. New customers became repeat customers,
which built up IKONICK’s loyal VIP fan base.
3x Increase in Repeat Purchases
In eCommerce, or any business, it’s much more cost effective to retain an existing customer
than to go out and get a new one. In early 2017, IKONICK was just starting to make a name
for themselves by investing in serious top of the funnel traffic while also doing
collaborations with other name brands.
One of our first initiatives was scaling up the number of campaign sends to IKONICK’s email
subscriber base. Since we managed most of IKONICK’s marketing initiatives, Jeff and Mark
were able to focus and hustle more to launch new product categories and motivational prints
for IKONICK’s customer base.
Investing in collaborations like Muhammad Ali and branded NBA motivational prints gave
existing customers a reason to keep coming back to IKONICK for art inspiration. We kept
email deliverability and engagement high by giving subscribers first access to any new
releases or limited edition canvas prints.
Treating Customers like VIPs
In the email marketing world, it’s very easy to treat subscribers like dollar signs. Want to
know one of my favorite hacks for separating your brand from your competitors? Treat your
customers like VIPs!
Thanking your customers for taking a desired action is one of the best ways to keep them
engaged and coming back for more.
In the above examples, we created text heavy content thanking customers for their purchase
and for leaving a positive review. (A positive review is any 4 and 5 star
Any replies to the email would get directed to Mark and Jeff personally to respond at their
discretion. These emails tended to get open rates of 75% and above!
By the end of 2017, we were able to increase the number of monthly returning customers and
sales by 3X. We can’t take credit for the entirety of the success as the number of
new releases during this time also had a big impact in repeat customer behavior.
In addition, Mark and Jeff’s dedication to their brand and customers by providing a
personalized customer support experience also contributed to the huge number of repeat
purchases. For example, how many business owners would spend an entire day, personally
calling customers thanking them for their support?
Mark Mastrandrea personally calling IKONICK customers.
11Xing Email Attributed Revenue
When we first began working with IKONICK, we felt limited in the number of eCommerce flows
and segmentations available to us. After a recent transition to the Shopify platform, we
decided to also transition to an email marketing provider built for Shopify customers,
Our goal was to give IKONICK the best marketing tech stack possible to allow us to execute on
exponential brand growth. Additionally, as the email list started to grow, we wanted to make
sure deliverability and engagement remained superb. The combination of behavioral based
triggered emails and advanced segmentations gave us the edge we were looking for.
TOF – Top of Funnel
The increase in top of funnel traffic from Facebook, Google, and organic collaborations
allowed us to build and create unique flows to convert visits into purchases. I mentioned
above the different types of overlays and popups we built for IKONICK. Once a user enters an
email, we built custom Welcome Series to convert email subscribers into purchasers. Below
are a couple of examples
The Welcome Series accounted for about 21% of IKONICK’s total email revenue.
MOF – Middle of Funnel
The middle of the funnel was pioneered in the B2B industry with the implementation of CRM
data with marketing automation. The idea of lead nurturing was invented to market prospects
with additional content before going in for the hard sell. The lowest price point for an
IKONICK canvas is $90 (at the time of writing this). Most first time visitors won’t
on their first visit.
Subscribers that complete the Welcome Series without making a purchase get added to the
weekly campaign calendar. In addition to one-off email campaigns for nurturing, we created a
series of middle of the funnel category and product abandon funnels.
Above is an example of an email you might receive when visiting a category or product page on
the IKONICK website. Category and Product nurturing funnels accounted for about 9% of
IKONICK’s total email revenue.
BOF and Retention – Bottom of the Funnel
Traditionally, email marketing is the #1 marketing channel for bottom of the funnel marketing
and retaining existing customers. Almost every eCommerce brand we’ve worked with has some
sort of Abandon Cart and Post Purchase messaging strategy. IKONICK already had a
well-rounded Abandoned Cart funnel. Most of our work was focused on Retention. (However,
did segment messaging between new and repeat abandoned cart offenders as well as based
(AOV) Average Order Value).
I mentioned above how we went about 3Xing repeat purchase behavior. Adding in unique customer
centric email funnels allowed us to engage existing customers and provide them with valued,
quality content. Abandon Cart and Post Purchase funnels accounted for about 16% of
total email revenue.
The bigger the email list, the more need for segmentation. Instead of blasting the entire
list, we created segments based on purchase behavior. For example, VIPs and customers
usually received the highest discounts and first opportunities to buy limited edition
canvases from IKONICK.
The general audience would still get the opportunity to get notified of the new product
launches, but only if they consistently opened or clicked IKONICK’s emails.
Additionally, we built a number of segments to function as real-time lists inside the
Facebook platform. IKONICK was spending quite a bit of money on Facebook and we wanted to
create an edge that most marketers weren’t taking advantage of.
Adding real-time segments for building look-alike-audiences allowed us to sync purchase data
and various other CRM data points to get the best possible audience for Facebook
Segments for building real-time look-alike-audiences in Facebook include:
- Purchased X Product
- Purchased 3X times
- Purchased at least X value
- Opened/Clicked last 90 days
- Added to Cart
- AOV Greater than X
- Not Purchased All Time
By the end of the year, we were able to increase Email attributed revenue by over 11X.
combination of new users + behavioral automation funnels + advanced segmentation allowed
IKONICK to produce huge growth numbers going into 2018.
Email Marketing became IKONICK’s number 1 revenue-producing channel. The execution of all
online channels allowed Mark and Jeff to focus on creating the most sought after
motivational canvases on the planet!
Today, IKONICK is unquestionably the worldwide leader in motivational canvas art. Mark and
Jeff’s mastery of social media and putting the customer first
attracted the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Scooter Braun. Together they became strategic
investors in 2018 to tap into the limitless potential of the IKONICK brand.
Additionally, Mark Mastrandrea and Jeff Cole are two of the hardest working most accessible
business owners on the internet. Jeff currently has over 500k passionate
subscribers on his
Instagram account where he posts unique artist collaborations and fresh digital pop
content directly to his subscribers while Mark uses his high traffic Instagram
post motivational content, event updates, and collaborations with other entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, The YouTube web series Behind the Hustle is
a must watch for any
entrepreneur looking to cut their teeth as business owners.
While e-commerce is their primary business model going into 2019, there is no stopping Mark
and Jeff’s passion and hustle for brand growth. IKONICK plans to collaborate with hotels,
restaurants, corporate offices, co-working spaces, and home furnishing retailers around the
world to turn blank walls into inspiration.
Follow Jeff Cole
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