The Only Influencers Blog

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

Recent blog posts

Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to help build out an entirely new attrition program. An attrition program tries to get customers who have left your product or service to come back – and it goes by a different name in every organization I’ve ever worked with.

Attrition programs are hard to build, just like any other program, and our fabulous team has had our fair share of stumbling blocks. List fails, organizational oddities, you name it, we’ve dealt with it. Along the way, I realized our approach would help build just about any program.

Here are 6 steps to success, no matter the obstacles, when you need to build a new marketing program:

1. Set goals

Goals are pretty important, mostly because you can’t tell everyone how well you did without a goal to hold up against your results. You definitely can’t turn your spectacular fails into hard-won learning opportunities if you don’t have a goal to point to. So it’s a good idea to have a goal.

Pick a metric that is easy to agree on and which you know you can measure. Then set a target that you know you can hit. Businesses are more impressed by teams that can blow away low targets than they are by teams that barely miss (or make) a tough target. Set the bar low. This is probably the last time you’ll be able to do that. Set it as low as you can, the better to exceed it by a wide margin.

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Tagged in: The Marketing Life

Posted by on in Email Design

Did you know that sometimes your users will open email on a mobile device? I know, it was a shock to me too. But here we are in 2015, and after at least 5 “the year(s) of mobile email”, we’ve mostly got past the idea that we have to at least do something to consider this.

There’s plenty of stats and reasons why mobile is important – we won’t focus on those here (though, for the record, it’s around 55% opening on mobile for the average audience). However I have seen a bit of misinformation and confusion around mobile email design lately, so I thought it’d be useful to look at the three main approaches to improve the experience for mobile users.

Spoiler alert: the best approach is to adopt all three.

Mobile Friendly

As a base level, it’s a great idea to incorporate basic mobile friendliness into your design.

What we’re trying to achieve here is essentially a ‘desktop’ email, but one that looks ok and is still usable if appears zoomed out on a mobile device.

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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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