The Only Influencers Blog

The top thought leaders in email marketing share their insights and thoughts.

Posted by on in Meet The Influencers

tinktaylorTink Taylor is Founder and COO of dotDigital Group PLC.

How did you get started in Email Marketing?

 Via being a windsurfing instructor! I’ll explain… I started my career as a computer programmer working for an organisation in the UK called Sequent Computer systems that were later acquired by IBM.

 During my time at Sequent I worked in team who experimented with new technologies. As the company was growing fast our brief was to look at emerging technologies and how they could improve internal commutations. One of the first projects I was involved with was to understand how the concept of a new entity call the ‘World Wide Web’ could possibly help! I am showing true my age here! A big part of the work we carried out was focused on electronic messaging, we built and rolled out numerous intranets globally that were powered by some of the first Content Management systems to be built. We of course looked at email and other forms of communication.

Having left Sequent I worked for a few web companies at the back end of the first dotcom crash. I was interested to see that many of projects carried huge price tickets for what I thought was relatively clunky and difficult to use systems. So before long I had with a group of friends set up my a web agency called Ellipsis Media with the intention of building quality easy to use software with a much lower entry price point. Or as we coined it ‘We will build Nasa technology with Fisher Price interfaces’ and make the difficult things easy.

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Tagged in: Interviews Tink Taylor

Posted by on in Insights from the Influencers

Spamtraps are considered by many as the gold standard in proving that someone is a spammer. Secret emails/honeypots/blackholes are the canary in the email coal mine- heretofore absolute proof that you’re a bad actor in the war against spam. We’ve all been taught to believe that spam traps can only end up on your list if you’re mailing old/dead addresses and/or purchasing lists.

The problem is…what happens if neither of those is true? What’s the explanation for hitting a spamtrap when you’re NOT buying a list and NOT bringing back old names? According to some, this is impossible - there’s no way a spam trap address can end up on your list unless you’re engaging in bad practices.

Here’s a quote from an article I recently read talking about spam trap list operators- “For example, often a blacklisted marketer will claim their list is 100 percent opted in when the DNSBL operator has irrefutable evidence in the form of spam traps that it’s not.”

But guess what…”spam traps” can actually open. And even click. How do I know this?

  1. I looked at the results of our own data.

We run a site that is fortunate enough to get between 20,000 and 50,000 new users per day. They sign up, we validate the address as best we can using a third party. We keep non-responding sign ups on our list for up to 5 days, then stop if they haven’t opened or clicked. We only mail opens/click inside of a 45 day time window. Once a month we send to our full 12 month file because, hey, people actually did sign up for our emails.

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Getting customers to opt-in to email communications is a priority for many companies as a means to increase revenue. However, email also serves its purpose as a fantastic cost reduction mechanism when converting customers to go paperless. Now, companies are looking for ways to get their customers to convert from paper bills to eBilling. What better way to do that, than to send email bills instead? In this blog post, we’ll focus on getting consent via email, to maximize customer take up of email as a billing channel.

The key to continued success it to leverage every customer touch point to create that paperless opportunity, but today we want to focus on arguable the top opportunity – the proactive consent email.

We’ve talked before about email collection strategies (check out my previous blog here), so the next step is actually using those emails collected to get customers to go paperless. Sending a proactive consent email generally results in a fairly quick consent rate of 20% - 35% as a percentage of emails opened. This depends on a few factors, in addition to the basics of email testing, which will give you the highest open rates:

  • One-click to consent: The biggest deterrent to going paperless is a lengthy registration process on a company’s web-site. Show the customer you know who they are by displaying partial data on their account in the consent email, and keep their activity to a single click on a call to action button or link. Remember that each additional step will reduce that subscribe rate.
  • Design with consent in mind: Don’t over-complicate the email. The call to action should be the first thing that the customer sees when they scan the email body. Using too much text, too many links or other opportunities and too many paragraphs will take away from the only action that you want the customer to take, which is to go paperless. Where possible, use links in the pre-header or copy of the email body too.
  • Optimize the process for mobile: Mobile usage is rapidly increasing and this will not slow down any time soon. Many companies are seeing over 50% of their email bills and consent emails being viewed on a mobile device. Nothing will be a bigger deterrent than a lengthy registration process for customers who are trying to go paperless from their smartphones. The single call to action in a simple mobile optimized design caters to mobile users.
  • Develop a triggered email consent strategy: This is important to implement if you aren’t willing to leave potential paperless subscribers out (which you shouldn’t be!). A client recently implemented a triggered email consent process, and after just two additional emails sent to customers after the initial email the results are:

-        The first triggered message currently generates a 21% subscribe rate

-        The second triggered message currently generates a 19% subscribe rate

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Tagged in: Best Practices Billing

gretchenScheimanHow did you get started in Email Marketing?
I was working for American Express and I had been eyeing the digital side of the business for a few years, but it was still really tiny. Finally, in early 2000 they started to grow the digital team and I jumped at the chance to work on email marketing. It was a great place to start: American Express had all the rigor and experience of direct marketing to apply to the new channel, and in my role I was constantly challenged to figure out how to drive the best results out of a channel that no one really knew how to use. In a way, it was my first consulting gig. I still believe that the best way to get into email marketing is through a strong direct marketing program.

Tell us about your current role and what a typical day is like.
I run my own marketing consulting firm, L5 Direct Consulting Inc., where I focus on overall marketing strategy and direct marketing - which of course means a lot of email marketing. In a given day I might be talking to current clients about their business challenges, educating them on what the email channel can help them achieve, identifying the right next step or program to help move their business forward, pricing out what that program will cost to put in place, building analyses and case studies to prove a point, or even pitching a new client who I've been referred to. This is the second company I've started, and although the first was 20 years ago and completely unrelated (film production is as unlike email marketing as you can possibly get), a lot of the same principles apply. Consulting is a referral business, so it's still about who you know, how you present yourself, and how well you helped your client on your last gig. I don't meet as many famous movie stars as I used to, but the working conditions and hours are much better!

What do you see as the future of email marketing?
Email marketing is becoming more and more integrated with other channels, which means the strategy and process for email marketing will change as it becomes the driving force behind fully integrated marketing efforts. That is going to drive subtle but significant upheaval in programs as marketers adapt, but fortunately it's going to happen over time. In the short term, there is already some change happening on the creative side, as the line between desktop and mobile client blurs a bit more and people's habits - how they interact with email across all their devices - settle down a bit and are reflected in email design.

Why should anyone choose email marketing as a career?
Email marketing is a great choice for someone who wants to build their career on mastery of a craft. Choosing email marketing allows you to focus on expertise and skills that are the cornerstone of CRM and direct marketing efforts, skills that are always in demand. And because email marketing drives measurable results, you can learn a lot about how to look at numbers, which will be a huge help no matter where you decide to take your career.

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Tagged in: Interviews
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I love "what if" games, don't you?  Recently, in a group to which I belong, this question was posed:  What if the boss gave you $10,000 to improve your brand's email marketing ROI?

How would you spend it?  What would you do?

Well, for me that was a no-brainer.  But before I tell you how I would spend that $10k, and why, let's cover some basics.

First,  just to be sure that we are all on the same page, when we say "ROI", we are talking about a Return on Investment (stay with me here, I don't mean to insult your intelligence).

Second, let's assume that your brand is in business to make money.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Even the most altruistic of organizations need to make money, otherwise they would have to close their doors.

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Tagged in: ROI