In light of my last post for the Influencers blog, I thought it good karma to write a systems check post in order to show a fundamental, systematic process for improving the customer experience from hard data - in turn, making email marketing more fun, and definitely more rewarding. Email marketing is a craft; an art form, melding technical precision and emotively-artistic talents. The reward for appreciating this craft is a profitable, interactive email channel. The customer experience is ultimately relational, data or no data, trigger or no trigger - every email needs to relate to the recipient.
After nearly 20 years in the industry, it still astonishes me to find how many email marketers aren't doing everything they can – legally! – to acquire high-quality subscribers.
I’ve been in email marketing for 9 years now, the latest iteration of a digital marketing career that I have had going for over 20 years. During this time, I have seen interesting new technologies emerge—from Send Time Optimization, to Machine Learning, to AI being leveraged for content and subject line suggestions. And yet, I look in my own inbox and am forced to ask, “What the hell is going on?”
In today’s Unboxing article we look at Ongage, a seven year old profitable email marketing technology company based in Israel with corporate offices in New York City. Ongage has carved out a very unique niche for themselves in the email technology universe as an independent front end for ESP’s and SMTP’s with their sweet spot being the SMTP/MTA world which often lacks a front end of their own. It also allows you to integrate multiple SMTP’s into a single common interface. Let’s open it up and look under the hood, starting with the list of recommended vendors that Ongage has integrated with:
Email Marketing continues to prove its value on a regular basis. When a brand sends an Email they know who opened, clicked, purchased, even down to what they purchased. This data helps in developing targeted Email segmentation plans. Does this mean Email Marketing is easy? If you are doing batch and blast it can appear easy but Email is complex when done right. However, the payoff is worth the effort. Some people believe that Social is easier since in real time you can post content and get instant likes. But is this really the same thing?
"Interactive email" and "AI” (artificial intelligence) are all the rage in email these days because they offer lots of promise to keep email's future bright. But, they're tops on my list of overhyped trends. So let’s step back for a moment and look at where we are now and where we should go with them in the future.
A few days ago, I posted a link on my Facebook page to a blog post I'd written about an American Airlines year-end recap email. I praised AA for going above and beyond the call of email duty because it used my own data to hyper-personalize the message.
Then, a friend commented on that post, saying, "Does it ever bother you that we've been preaching the same things for the last 10 years?"
Email marketing is a game, or at least it should be. The sentiment is captured in the now-aged movie, “Moneyball.” The movie, focused on a sub-par baseball team that used strategy to improve their winning percentage. It is a great classic for marketers everywhere. In the movie, the A’s manager, Billy Bene, applied Marketing principles to baseball and moved the team from a projected worst place finish to making the playoffs and changing the way the game is played forever.
It’s lovely to see more organizations consistently testing to boost performance! But it’s sad to see marketers doing tests which are returning inconclusive or just plain useless results. Here are three of the most common testing mistakes my team and I run across working with clients, along with tips for how you and your team can avoid making them in the future!
This year I asked the members of Only Influencers to brag about their accomplishments for 2017. The response was outstanding and we will be making this an annual event. So, here is what the members of email marketing community accomplished this year:
I remember when CSS was barely usable in HTML email and plain-text versions were our attempt to be ‘mobile-friendly’. Table-based, inline-styled emails were all the rage way back in 2007. Seems like ages have passed since, although Outlook will always remind us of the good-old-days. Now, emails are mobile responsive, contain kinetic elements, and even contextual content by using real-time information gathered from the recipient - dilly, dilly!
Change is hard! With email, change can even be more overwhelming because what you are doing now is likely something with which you are comfortable. However, isn’t it time to leave that comfort zone? We tend to lose sight over the impact that small changes to our email program can have. We test subject lines and day of week, the length of the email, text vs. image, and the frequency in which a subscriber should be mailed, etc. The list of what you can test goes on and on. Testing is great because it provides us good insight into how we should be engaging with our subscribers. However, one of the things I don’t see happening often is a change in the creative template. Both with my clients and what I see as a consumer (and yes, I get tons of emails) I see the same template time and time again.
To respond or not to respond is always the question. Some marketing automation platforms have taken the position that they will not respond to RFPs during the sales process because it is not the best use of their time. However, I believe that RFPs can be highly informative and useful during the procurement process as long as they are written with intention. As RFP season begins to wrap up, I took stock in the different RFPs that crossed my desk. I reviewed countless RFPs this quarter, some good, some bad, some 125 pages long and I realized that many brands have no idea how to write an RFP for a marketing automation platform, so a generic procurement RFP template is wordsmithed to reflect marketing automation language. Below are some surefire tips to make sure that a salesperson does not fall asleep reading your RFP.