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The Email Marketing Blog

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

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Last week, organic grocery giant Whole Foods announced its plans to open a low-cost grocery chain targeted at the millennial market. The concept, according to CEO Walter Robb, will be “unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace,” boasting “a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated section.” In the same week, McDonald’s—in an attempt to boost its falling popularity with the twenty-something set, revived its Hamburglar mascot complete with a head-to-toe hipster makeover. With two major players joining the race to capture (and retain) their share of the millennial market, media outlets and marketing professionals alike have called into question the efficacy of their tactics. Why the skepticism? All too often companies miss the mark when it comes to millennial marketing, due in large part to the mass confusion surrounding how to engage this elusive yet highly influential group.

How do you speak to “the selfie generation?” Well, for starters, don’t call them “the selfie generation.” Millennials comprise about 25% of the U.S. population, making them the largest demographic in the country. The sheer size of this cohort means they have big buying power and even bigger marketing potential. However, millennials present a unique challenge from a marketing perspective because they are more diverse, demanding and discerning than generations past. Millennials are the first digital natives; oversaturated with marketing messages since birth, they don’t trust easily. They have mastered the art of sifting through the daily onslaught of competing promotions—processing, analyzing, critiquing, and rejecting. According to the McCarthy Group, an astounding 84% of Gen-Yers don’t trust traditional advertising, speaking to the need for innovation when comes to millennial marketing.

If millennials are so distrustful of traditional advertising, how do they inform their purchase decisions? Tap into the millennial mind with these 4 digital marketing tips guaranteed to drive brand loyalty:

1. Email is not dead. While it’s true that Millennials are checking their email accounts less often, the 2015 Salesforce State of Marketing report reveals that your young subscribers still want to hear from you in their inbox.  In fact, most millennials have an email account solely dedicated to promotional content, with 95% of them subscribing to an email list after “liking” a company on Facebook.  Since millennials admit to checking their social media accounts far less often than their email inboxes, it’s all about the quality of your messaging and putting the right content in the right channel. Use email and social media in tandem to target your millennial shoppers, or better yet--combine the two for powerful results. Thanks to real-time behavioural marketing technology available today, marketers can now incorporate live social feeds and dynamic product suggestions into their email campaigns. The beauty of such features is that your social and product feeds are delivered in real time from the second your millennial subscribers open your email.

While Millennials may claim to place less importance on email communications, a recent article published by Marketing Land reveals that Generation Y is seeking ”downstream, one-to-one contact with companies, whether for transactions, updates, customer service or other dialogues.” According to the article, when given the option between communicating with a brand through email, in personal, postal mail, social media, phone, online chat or text message, “respondents overwhelmingly  chose email straight across the board.” Social media is a great platform for what AWeber calls “fun communication,” a role that can be fulfilled with the help of brand ambassadors (more on that later), but email has proven to be most effective for more serious, personalized messaging.

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It’s your first week as an email marketer.

Then you blink and a whole year has flown by. It happened to me, and it’s probably going to happen to you. After a year of email marketing, you certainly haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you do discover some pretty eye-opening lessons.

Many of the ah-ha moments come from the areas you have to tackle your first week on the job. After 12 months doing email marketing, you’ll have a whole new perspective about those areas, plus additional epiphanies changing the way you do things. Here’s what to expect when year two rolls around (hint: you’re still breathing into a paper bag when you hit the send button).

Read consistently, but be choosy.

Whereas reading everything and anything you can about email marketing is essential for the noob, it’s not practical or helpful for the more experienced marketer.

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Tagged in: The Marketing Life

"It is almost ridiculous how much money you can save by being a self-sender. At Zeeto, our ROI has doubled since we went down the path of self-sending – even though we have experienced each and every one of the cons outlined"

All right, email marketers. Who of you out there hasn’t said (while usually shaking your fist at the sky) “I’m spending HOW much money and putting up with WHAT from my ESP?! I’m going to do it myself!!!”

The temptation to dump your ESP and take things into your own hands can be strong. So strong, in fact, that we took our ESP-led system and – in a fit of rage, hubris and adventure – took our 40 million email per month program and became our very own self-sender.

For those of you who are considering the move, I thought I’d put together a list of pros (there are some awesome ones) and cons (there are some awesome ones.) There’s really not a ton of literature on the subject…mostly because your ESP friends will abandon you (“You just want to be a SPAMMER!!!”) and the send engines are not, frankly, a fountain of great advice (first CON!)

The first piece of advice is a word of warning…becoming a self-sender is NOT for the faint of heart. If YOU are not technical – or have a solid team of developers who are – you should stop reading right now. Which brings us to our first CON (actually, the second…) of the evening.

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There is an old saying that Email was the first Social Network. But for all the discussions about building community, increasing Facebook Likes, driving people to your online “forum”, and building your Twitter following, nothing is said about one of the oldest technologies on the web, the simple Listserv. For the last 12 years, I have built a vibrant community using just this simple tool. And in that 12 years, I am constantly amazed at how powerful the email channel is for building strong, engaged communities. 

So what is a Listserv? 

A listserv, like the old Mailman software, used to be the main way that communities were built at the dawn of the Internet era. You would “subscribe” to the list and you would post your comments to an email address. Once sent, the email goes out to everyone who is also subscribed, and any responses are also sent out to everyone on the list. It is the ultimate “push” channel with discussions going on in “real-time” and landing in your inbox as they happen. This gives a sense of urgency and immediacy to the posts that is missing when members are required to go to a website to view the latest discussions. 

So how do you begin to build your Email Community. In this article, I will outline exactly how I built Only Influencers into one of the top communities for email marketers using only a simple Listserv to do it. 

Step One: Take advantage of dissatisfaction and crank up the exclusivity. 

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Tagged in: Community
"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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Insights from Todays Leading Email Marketing Experts and Thoughtleaders