The Only Influencers Blog

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

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In 2012, after 6 years in strategic planning at various digital agencies, I switched coasts (East to West) and became a client-side digital marketer. 

Lately, I have been reflecting on the transition - and what other consultants and strategists could take away from that perspective to make clients (like me) more successful.

On landing, I initially tried to operate like a consultant, looking to identify and (helpfully) skewer inefficient and ineffective practices to turn them into best-in-class strategies.  What I found, was that the painstaking deliberation and validation of recommendations was out the window.  Also out the window: perfecting a creative brief, my army of copywriters, producers, and other support team members. If something was going to happen, I’d be the one to do it (or borrow the resources to do so), but I wouldn’t have time to write a 20-slide deck or a detailed SOW.

This was liberating and exhilarating – I stopped waiting for client approval and went and slayed dragons.  I formed deeper relationships with some publishers, entered into beta programs, and tried to use our media budget as leverage.  I learned over time to combine ideation, and execution/measurement into as compact a process as possible.  Here’s a great idea, please buy it, now I’ll go do it, and tell you how it went. Then the deck gets written - after the project wraps up.

Over time, I’ve seen myself fall into the same patterns that used to terrify me as a consultant.  The last-minute rescheduling’s, email sent at odd hours, the requests for impossibly precise case studies and benchmarks. I also pride myself on being as good a partner to my agencies and vendors as I wanted my former clients to be: transparent, open with metrics and strategies, constructively critical.

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SI1Perhaps you lost your job recently, or think you might. Maybe you can’t stand where you’re working and envision something better, greater than where you are. Or, like many, you realize “working for the man” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. All you want is to do more with your career – drive it where you want to travel. There’s a zillion paths that get you here, to the proverbial fork in the road, to that decision that’s been tickling the front of your mind for so long a time: Starting your own email marketing consultancy.

SI2I was in one of those boats - actually, I was in a couple of boats. It’s difficult to straddle more than one boat at a time, as you can imagine, and that’s the point! At first, I knew I needed to consult, even if just for a while. The old joke is, “you’re not unemployed, you’re a Consultant!” And that’s sort of how I approached it at first.

I was confident I would find an awesome opportunity that I couldn’t turn down, grow my career and have the safety net of a corporate enterprise behind me. And then, I recently realized this was a completely misguided belief. More importantly, I realized it wasn’t what I truly wanted for myself. There’s no surprise who the misguided driver was – fear.

SI3I was afraid to commit to the consultancy and work to grow the brand. It wasn’t just fear of failure – that’s with anything and everyone has it, at least a little bit, even if they say they don’t. I was afraid of screwing it up, which is a bit different than failure. My anxiety would build every time I thought about it. The questions, “can I really be successful on my own?” and, “do I really possess enough knowledge?” and, the worst, “what if I screw it up?” – All of these questions do nothing but undermine your mission, and I started to feed them, rather than bash them in the head with a baseball bat.

SI4I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My father owned his own Photography business for over 30 years. My Great-grandfather, fresh off the boat from Naples, Italy, worked to save enough dough (pun-intended) to be allowed (by her father) to marry the love of his life. And then, they opened a tavern in upstate New York where he made his own wine, old school bare-foot methodology, and my Great-Grandmother did all the cooking. Clearly, I should really have a bit more confidence in my successful gene-pool, as well as with the Email Marketing database in my head.

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Ever since the final session at EEC 2015, it’s been a seismic few weeks for the email community when it comes to understanding deliverability from the perspective of the inbox providers. In that session, a seemingly innocuous question from yours truly turned what would have been a worthy, but predictable panel on deliverability featuring 4 major inbox providers (AOL, Comcast, Gmail and Outlook.com) into one of the most controversial and talked about panels in the history of the EEC.

It would be disingenuous to say I wasn’t expecting some controversy to result from my intervention, but even I have been surprised by how visceral the reaction has been. Looking back, I should have been more prepared because my question exposes a deep and enduring fault line within email marketing with a simple word at the heart of it: engagement.

Putting revenue to one side (because everyone claims their approach will lead to more money), the two sides can be broadly defined as follows:

  • Those who believe that engagement is the goal and should be measured by rates such as open, click and unsubscribe (campaign-level metrics).
  • Those who believe that email is like any other marketing channel with the goal of maximizing the number of people who get the message and the number of times they see it, also known as reach and frequency (subscriber-level metrics).

For a fuller understanding of this I would urge you to read this white paper in Digital & Social Media Marketing, authored by me.

The reach and frequency point of view roughly translates into “don’t remove inactives” and “send more email” and this is what drives my detractors mad. Even more so if you do not include the infamous rider that goes with everything I say or write… “and don’t be stupid (#DBS)!”

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Earlier this month I had the pleasure of joining many of my fellow Influencers in Miami at the Email Evolution Conference. Hosted annually by the Direct Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council (eec), the event kicks off the email conference year by bringing brands, advocates, vendors and thought leaders together under the south Florida sun to discuss, debate and share innovations and pressing issues central to email marketing.

Here without further ado are key insights, wisdom and lessons learned (including my own) from this year’s event:

Lesson: All Things Old Are New Again

Email Evolution 2015 was a terrific conference – my first since re-entering the email industry last year.  In dozens of conversations as well as the day two keynote and our own breakout session, I was delighted to hear that the professionals in this industry have stayed true to why we leverage email for driving customer engagement: because it offers the highest value channel for treating different customers/subscribers/members/ stakeholders differently.  Personalization may be an old topic, but with today’s technology and access to data we have a chance to actually revolutionize how we talk to each other using email! 

 - Robin Green, VP Sales, PostUp

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Tagged in: The Marketing Life

I am 6 months into my new job and new role as Marketing Director at WorkCompass, A B2B SaaS firm selling Performance management and appraisal software. I am the first marketing hire coming fast on the heels of the first sales hire Colm.

So what’s the perfect pitch for our audience?  I had no idea!

The boss Denis had no idea. He had been selling the software to his extended network of contacts for the last year building up the business.

Colm? Nope, he had been hitting his rolodex (is that still a word?) for the last six months. 

Ok so we didn’t know the pitch.  What job role are we selling to? Mmm, ‘everyone’ is not the answer I was hoping for.

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