The Only Influencers Blog

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

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"To not have an email address is the digital equivalent of being homeless. Without an email address, you cannot shop online, bank online or engage with social media."

Last week, Google announced a new service that will enable advertisers to target ads based on the email address. In the wake of this innovation, we spoke to leaders in the email marketing space to learn how the move will potentially impact email practitioners. After all, there are a number of similar tools, such as Facebook’s Custom Audiences and Twitter’s Tailored Audiences, already in market. But it’s the almighty Google that’s drawing attention to this non-cookie based marketing technology. With so many players in the space, is Google too late?

How would Google’s targeting work? A brand would upload segments of their subscribers into Google (just like you can with Facebook, Twitter, and others) and when those subscribers log in to Google to search, whether on Maps, Earth, YouTube, Waze, etc., the brand would bid on the their customers in real time and show an ad based on rules they’ve set. The uncertainty of targeting the right person has plagued the marketer since the dawn of digital. This ability to target a logged-in user is the future of the industry and that is what Google is going after. Will marketers be pleased?

As Bob Frady, vice president of monetization at Zeeto Media told us in conversation, “I am thrilled that our substantial email database can be re-leveraged. CRM retargeting is a nice, complimentary piece to a marketer's tool kit.”

Marketers have been reaching users for years based on cookie matching. The majority of modern marketing is basically built on this premise, similar to the way email marketing is based on sending email. Oracle Bluekai, eXelate, Datalogix, and so many others are built on matching cookie segments.

The more devices and browsers that each person uses, the less effective cookie matching becomes. Hence, the industry is moving to identity matching. The email address is the best identity solution because people use it to log in to everything…Facebook, Twitter, Gilt, Chase, Pinterest, Amazon, iTunes, Groupon…everything.

As Dela Quist, CEO of AlchemyWorx recently wrote, “To not have an email address is the digital equivalent of being homeless. Without an email address, you cannot shop online, bank online or engage with social media. Furthermore, iOS and Android devices now require an email address to set up and it will surely not be long before this a requirement on all Internet-connected devices.”
 
Now more than ever, email addresses are an important piece of data. The email address is not only for sending email, it’s also for reaching consumers wherever they are paying attention. Jordan Cohen, CMO of Fluent has said “CRM retargeting works so well because it targets existing brand loyalists (people who are already on a marketer's email list) and also, critically, lookalikes of those brand loyalists, which enables marketers to bring new prospective customers into their funnels more effectively and profitably.”
 
Email marketers who can adapt to these new solutions are going to be very successful.  However, those who think the only purpose of the email address is for sending mail will soon be at a disadvantage. The best future practitioners will embrace “email as identity.” Those who do not will still have a place, but ultimately may be marginalized as email becomes one channel amongst many competing for users' attention.
 

Google’s latest launch is going to be huge and transformative for the email industry. “The fact that the largest online advertising company on the planet is now on board is a signal that email-based display advertising, as opposed to cookie-based, is the future,” states Cohen. Get on the bandwagon or get left behind.

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58% of people said they abandon because shipping costs increased the price too much. 57% said they wanted to get an idea of the price including shipping. 55% said they weren’t ready to purchase and wanted to save the basket for later! 50% said their order didn’t qualify for free shipping and 37% complained shipping costs were shown too late in the process.

I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to email marketing managers who  have said something along the lines of…”I’m not sure we should be sending basket abandonment emails, it feels a bit Big Brother to me” and the look of terror when I suggest that, not only should they be sending basket abandonment emails, but, where possible, sending browse abandonment emails as well. If you are a bricks and mortar retailer and someone walks into one of your outlets, picks up and looks at the same item say three or four times then you would expect your sales staff to engage them in a conversation about the product and attempt to sell it to them. Well, the truth is, your website is your online shop so why would you treat your customers differently online than you do offline?

So let’s take a look at basket abandonment first. In their June 2014 report on “Abandoning shopping cart” BI Intelligence discovered 58% of people said they abandon because shipping costs increased the price too much. 57% said they wanted to get an idea of the price including shipping. 55% said they weren’t ready to purchase and wanted to save the basket for later! 50% said their order didn’t qualify for free shipping and 37% complained shipping costs were shown too late in the process.

MikeParryImage1April15

*source www.businessinsider.com

It’s clear that a well timed basket abandonment email with a free shipping offer is likely to have a dramatic impact on conversions and bottom line revenues and basket abandonment emails make sense, rather than be “Big Brotherish” after all.

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Tagged in: Cart Abandonment
70% of email marketers don’t have time to think of subject lines, and only 5% use advanced analysis techniques"

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about the power struggles between the teams traditionally responsible for information technology and those responsible for marketing. Heidrick & Struggles sums up the collision of these two functions very well:

“Yesterday, CMOs and CIOs had little in common except places at the executive leadership table. Today, they are being driven together by the proliferation of technology platforms, the torrent of big data, and the almost limitless choices and power customers now enjoy. Tomorrow, the two roles could converge in a single position.”

CMOs are grounded in a rich strategic understanding of market dynamics, the positioning and role of a brand, and leveraging engagement across all customer touchpoints — and this offers a big advantage over the CIO. On a related note, in 2012 Gartner predicted that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. But to really get there, CMOs must meet the CIO head-on, by becoming more data-driven and knowledgeable about data science and enabling technologies.

As a CMO myself, I don’t believe that we must become data scientists. However, we need to know the potential of and how to use data-driven technologies to succeed. Predictive analytics, machine learning, and automated personalization and optimization are found in all of the most exciting marketing technologies of 2015.

In fact, these are also what’s making email marketing sexy again — and not only for companies with lots of money to procure advanced email marketing platforms and the big teams to keep them running. The advent of “plug-n-play” add-ons for the most common email platforms is bringing technologies based on data science to mainstream email marketers — with minimal need for involvement from their technical colleagues.

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Despite all the talk over here about the EU Data Protection Reform, with its unknown content and unknown timescales, we’ve been relatively calm and relaxed about the whole thing. After all, who has time to worry about something “12-24” months away when you have things which matter now?

Well in the last few weeks that has all changed and it’s going to catch a lot of people off guard.

We have had:

1. Third-party data industry exposé, with allegations of big name UK brands illegally selling consumer data

2. The ICO and the courts both being given more powers to issue fines for DPA and PECR breaches; with the ICO already starting to flex its muscles and begin proactive searching for non-compliant companies

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Tagged in: Email Data

Personalization is under attack. Not the act of personalizing messages to be more relevant and valuable – just the word itself. A recent Buzzfeed article reports that brands like Walmart, Macys and Gap are eschewing the term "personalization" in favor of "relevancy." Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, with the amount of contextually relevant data now available to marketers, the term personalization seems dated, limited and even "invasive and robotic," according to the article. Second, brands are very aware of not crossing the line between relevant and creepy. 

Deep down, consumers likely suspect that brands have a lot of their personal information and are using it to market to them, but they don't want to be reminded of it through overly obvious ploys. Even the word "personalize" leads consumers to think of "personal data," which they've been trained to guard closely to avoid being the victims of identity theft. As a result, most marketers today are more likely to talk about relevance than personalization. And it's not just because "personalization" has become tainted.

Relevance Replaces Personalization

The idea behind relevance is that it goes beyond simple personalization. For many marketers, personalization is linked to the largely static data found in CRM systems, which is often used without careful regard of whether the data provides value to the recipient. Recent research referenced in "The Forrester Wave: Email Marketing Vendors, Q3 2014" shows that 85% of marketers are using personalization, but more contextually relevant tactics like open-time personalization and microsegment targeting still have limited adoption.

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