The Only Influencers Blog

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

There are dozens of sources, methods, and tactics to grow your email subscriber list, and we all know that not all of them are equally effective. Marketers have vague notions that organic list growth is best and paid acquisition of sources may yield lower quality subscribers, but there is little data available that gets at the validity of that assumption. I pulled some data from my own subscriber list to help throw some hard data into the mix.

One of my goals in audience development at FierceMarkets, a digital B2B news media company, is to focus on adding active subscribers who open, click, and engage with our newsletters and client campaigns. The main way I judge quality of subscriber source is looking at open and click reach – that is, the percentage of subscribers who have opened or clicked any of our mailings in the past three months – by source.

I usually put more weight on open reach than click reach when I’m doing this type of analysis on FierceMarkets lists. We print the full text of each news article in our newsletters, so we have a lot of subscribers who interact with our content without clicking on anything. It’s possible for a subscriber to read every word of our news articles without leaving their inbox, so open reach is a more meaningful metric for us. The most meaningful metric for your company may be click reach or number of purchases or number of downloads or something completely different – just make sure it aligns with your business interests.

I’m going to focus this analysis on four of our top subscriber sources. Most of the new FierceMarkets newsletter subscribers join our lists organically by signing up through one of our websites, so I’ll include that source in the analysis. I’ll also include subscribers we gain by marketing to external lists, by using coregistration vendors, and by advertising through pay-per-click (PPC). I limited the data set to subscribers who joined our lists within the last two years, which is a large enough sample size to be statistically significant.

My initial assumption was that the subscribers who signed up via organic channels would be most active by far. I expected the subscribers from external marketing would be a distant second, follow by PPC, and the subscribers from coregistration vendors would be the least responsive.

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Tagged in: Email Acquistion

It may seem self-serving for the long time CEO of an email agency to write about how to hire an agency. I certainly recognize that I am biased, but so is everyone. I will be as candid as possible. I also think that having worked for one for the world’s largest agency holding companies (NYSE:OMC — 75,000 employees, $16B annual revenue) for the last 14 years I have an uncommon perspective in the email space.

I expect others to write buying guides to agencies. What to buy and what not to buy. What’s essential and what isn’t. Strategy and creative versus technology and platform. Cross-channel generalist versus email specialist etc.. Instead I want to write about what agencies are selling.

Vital questions

The important questions in life are about “who” and “why” not “what” and “how”. This is certainly true when hiring an agency. Look at any RFP though and you’ll see the majority of questions are “what” and “how”.

For this reason any agency will have the basic “what” and “how” down, or at least have answers to those questions. To say any may be a bit of a stretch. There are certainly agencies that play a fake it til they make it game, but a solid RFP will weed those out. If you’re in doubt ask “who” and “why” for each of your what and how questions and you’ll quickly spot the fakers.

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Tagged in: Email Agency

Posted by on in Insights from the Influencers

Why CASL is bad law. CASL – Canada’s new “tough guy” anti-spam regulations, have taken effect. While the world hasn’t ended, the hue and cry from legitimate email marketers has been deafening. Not surprisingly, we haven’t heard a peep from the spam community. Mostly because they needed a few minutes to move their servers to Russia.

While CASL seems well intended (What? You like spam so much that you won’t try to stop it? You must be a spammer!!!!) it’s a lousy piece of legislation. It’s akin to trying to kill a fly with a hammer. CASL is bad legislation for three simple reasons –

(1) CASL does not define spam – Go ahead and look up CASL. Then show me where the word “spam” is defined. Go ahead, I’ll wait…what’s that? You can’t find it? Is this Canada’s answer to the Jacobellis vs. Ohio Obscenity case: “…But I know it when I see it”.

It’s odd that legislation with punishment exists that does not define the crime. Laws just seem to work better when the crime is actually defined. Works well for murder, larceny and environmental regulations…but not for a law where the penalties can run into the millions of dollars? How can you pass a penalty-heavy law does not actually define the crime?

When you point this fact out to fan-boys of the legislations (mostly lawyers and nerdy deliverability “tough” guys) they suddenly try to shift the sands and say things like “it’s not actually about spam, it’s about consumer protection.” CASL = Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation – not a peep about anything else. Which is yet another indication that your law has missed a key detail in failing to define the violation.

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Tagged in: CASL

For many of us in the email marketing profession, customer interaction equals B2C. Tens of billions of marketing emails are sent every day – to consumers. “Buy This!” “Check Out This Incredible Offer!” “Download the Last XYZ You’ll Ever Need!” … the thrust of most email campaigns is planned, designed, targeted, segmented, analyzed, measured, filtered, and executed with one purpose: drive consumers to a website and convince them to take action. So goes the eCommerce engine. And it works.

There is another segment of email marketing, just as compelling, equally relevant, and in some ways arguably more impactful to the digital marketplace. That segment is B2B. In most organizations, B2C and B2B rarely intersect. Yet, there are a number of essential keys to successful email campaigns common to both consumer and business outreach. Assuming you are on top of your deliverability best practices (e.g. your emails are reaching the right inbox when and as expected), here are 6 ideas to get the highest productivity out of your campaigns.

1. Go Viral. Like B2C and social viral strategies, B2B content gets shared. A recent report from the Earnest Agency indicated that 72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email. This presents an incredible opportunity to tailor content for the explicit purpose of have it read by multiple influencers and decision makers inside a target company. The key is to focus on “content marketing” – emails which are loaded with useful details, inspirational in messaging, and understanding of the customer’s needs. Keep your topics current and pithy: marketing information, studies, industry news and tips for the use of existing products are almost always more interesting than the latest products, new customers or press releases. Feed interest in technical details and then attach your own marketing information to it. Becoming an essential and trusted source for industry or market information will give your own news significantly greater weight. A great set of examples of innovative content marketing can be found here.

2. Subject Lines Matter – Especially for B2B. Over the last 18 months, email marketing has become a central discussion topic in B2B marketing. A survey of 100 of the top B2B marketing organizations by B2B strategist firm artegic found that almost three quarters see a rise or even rapid increase of the significance of email marketing for their industries. With this increase, the importance of capturing the reader’s attention early is crucial. Adestra has reported that the key to getting a B2B reader to open a marketer’s email is the subject line – great subject lines can drive consistent opens rates of 90% or higher. Interestingly, subject lines containing “money,” “revenue,” and “profit” performed best. What delivered the lowest performance? Words like “Help,” “ Free,” “Reminder,” and “Percent Off.” Here’s the takeaway: test, test, and test again. Just as in B2C email, testing subject lines – especially utilizing an automated process that learns as it tests – is the differentiator between high open rates and marginal results.

3. Opt-Ins Everywhere. Actionable email marketing campaigns require lists of sufficient size and accuracy to create reach – this is 101. Yet many B2B email marketers still overlook opportunities to invite potential customers to engage. Look for any angle where you touch your customers: websites, downloads, conferences, inquiries, clickthroughs from affiliate sites, any source where you communicate. Of course it’s crucial to ask for implicit consent at every touch point – make it a binding agreement beyond reproach. Once you have their consent, you have a much more valuable asset. Here’s why: a newsletter subscriber is simply worth more than a website visitor. Web visits are transitory and unpredictable. While you ultimately want the drive your traffic there, your customers don’t necessarily engage with you there. Newsletters offer multiple, regular opportunities to develop customer relationships. So make it as easy as possible for prospects and customers to find your newsletter opt-in. Locate links or fields in easy-to-spot in navigation areas, not hidden at the bottom of pages or buried in sub-categories like “Contact Us” or “Services.”

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Tagged in: B2B

Email marketing best practices are consistent for most any type of email communication, but those of us that do business-to-business (B2B) email marketing know that we have to take a somewhat different approach to our email content.  A B2B business relationship is much different than a consumer relationship, and we have to plan our messaging with that in mind. 

When it comes to B2B email strategies, here’s 9 things that B2B marketers need to consider when preparing content for their campaigns.

1. Longer sales cycle. B2B sales cycles can typically be several weeks to several months, and in some cases even a year or more. B2B email marketers need to recognize the longer sales cycle and prepare proper marketing content for each part of the cycle.

2. Relationship driven. Building relationships is key in B2B sales and the longer sales cycle, when handled properly, gives the B2B marketer plenty of opportunity to build strong ties to eventual buyers. Sometimes these relationships will rise above all other factors during the decision making process.  

3. Niche target market. One of the nice things about B2B marketing is that marketers typically have a smaller, more defined target audience. The bad news is that there are a limited number of prospects. Make every communication count by preparing targeted, relevant content.

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Tagged in: B2B