The Only Influencers Blog

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

“You are all the same”, the words uttered by brands to ESPs, the words that ESPs don’t like to hear.

But is it true?

So here’s some advice for brands to answer this.

I know the situation from both sides, from working within an ESP and over the last four years on the other side of the fence. As an independent email consultant I’ve used a dozen of the top ESP solutions in the course of my work.

At first sight the ESPs do indeed look similar. They all offer content setup and editing, data management, segmentation, split testing, reporting, triggers, auto-responders or automation features.

Last modified on
Tagged in: ESPs

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the letters “RFP”? Chances are it isn’t something good—unless, of course, you work at The Relevancy Group. We love RFPs and helping our clients manage the process and get great deals. But for the rest of the email world on both the buy side and the sell side these three letters come with a lot of baggage. Why is that?

The Sell Side
It’s a fairly simple question to answer if you are on the sell side of the business. When your client decides to conduct an ESP RFP you face the probability that you’re going to be less one client at the end of the process. While The Relevancy Group always advises our clients to be biased towards the incumbent, this rarely happens in most RFPs. Sometimes it’s as simple as relationship fatigue, while other times there are real issues that the ESP has neglected or been unable to address. In any case, for the incumbent ESP an RFP represents the commitment of a lot of resources to defend a piece of business in what will be an uphill battle.

For those ESPs who are not the incumbent, these three letters are a little more palatable. But let’s face it, most sales people trying to woo a new client secretly believe they can get the business without that prospect conducting a formal RFP. They continue to believe they can pull that off up until that point in time when the prospect announces they are going to RFP. And once it goes to RFP the odds for any individual ESP to win the business goes down in proportion to the number of ESPs invited to participate.

For the ESPs participating, the RFP process represents—just like for the incumbent—an enormous commitment of resources with no clear idea of when that commitment will be over. Many times the people managing the RFP on the client side have little or no experience in managing an RFP so the process proceeds in fits and starts, with decisions that can sometimes appear capricious to the participants. While the ESPs who have been in RFPs that we’ve managed know that we’re going to put them through the ringer, they also understand our process and know that our scorecard-based approach leads to a very objective evaluation process (and that we’ll keep the process moving forward to a timely conclusion).

The Buy Side
As mentioned earlier, there are many reasons why a marketer goes into an RFP. But just because it’s their decision to conduct an RFP doesn’t mean they have to like it (and sometimes the marketing team is pushed into the RFP by procurement rules which require one on a regularly scheduled basis). In fact marketers tend to dislike RFPs for any number of reasons, including:

Last modified on
Tagged in: RFPs

I have a confession to make - I’m a tech nerd. I love how technology is constantly evolving, getting smaller, faster, bigger, smarter, easier, and everything in between. In fact, I’ve had my new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for all of 48 hours and I am still flying a cloud of nerdtastic awesome!

Tech is powerful. It has the ability to bring people together, tear them apart, as well as the ability to surprise, delight, and let’s not forget - freak people out. This last details is worthy of some focus – freaking out over technology.

Techno Freak Out is NOT a New Dance Sensation

samnov5 1Allow me to qualify this statement – “freaking out” in regards to technology can have many meanings. In this case, I won’t be discussing the “Big Brother” freak out variety. The specific “freak out” scenario I’ll speak to are those of Email Marketers who immediately freak out when an ISP, Email Client, Browser, or Mobile Device makes an update to their software or device.

Even in Email Marketing - the least sexy, but diehard gem, of the digital marketing realm – we love tech! Tech doesn’t change as much within the confines of an email as many of us would like, but it changes everywhere else that affects design, development, and delivery of an email. That being said, the impetus for this quality rant on “freaking out” is brought to you by none other than Google. Not really much of a surprise there.

Back to the Future with Google

samnov5 2Let’s take a step back to 2013 when Google introduced the new Gmail inbox with Tabs. Talk about freaking out! Clients, vendors – everyone – was freaking out. All I heard for months was, “What happens to my promotional emails now?” and “Will my subscribers even see my emails?” and let’s not forget the classic, “How am I supposed to reach my goals when both Gmail and Users can sort their email?” Seriously, it was never, ever a big deal. But, we talked about it. We wrote about it. Clients asked for my point of view on how to battle this change repeatedly. Sometimes, they listened… most still panicked.

Last modified on
Tagged in: Email Technology

It’s holiday email season! Right about now is when I start having a hard time managing my personal email – there are quite a few brands in my inbox and while I really do want email from the companies I enjoy, the volume is at times unmanageable and causes me frustration. I know my family and friends feel the same way. How can marketers make sure they are maintaining their brand reputation and inbox placement, while at the same time sending what’s needed to help companies reach their holiday goals? Here are some reminders on how to send smart email and maintain a good sending reputation that will carry you into the New Year.

Reminder #1: Segment. Maximize your seasonal subscribers. Pay attention to those subscribers who are consistently engaging with your emails. If they make a purchase, become active in a certain group, buy holiday cards, listen to more music - whatever your business model is – listen to that. Your most dedicated customers are more likely to react positively to the increased frequency that comes with the holiday season, and will appreciate special offers created just for them. Also, make sure you’re taking note of location and demographics. If there’s something that is super relevant to a certain group, segment and mail to those subscribers. Think about location and certain holidays that are celebrated.

Reminder #2: Give your subscribers the option to “down subscribe.” Maybe offer a “no more holiday mail” link next to the unsubscribe link, or include down subscribing as an option on the unsubscribe landing page. That said, an unsubscribe isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you, spam complaints that can damage your sending reputation are much worse.

Reminder #3: Be smart about trying to win back subscribers before the holidays. If you send out win back campaigns – don’t continue to send to those who are unresponsive--remove them from your list.

Reminder #4: Don’t scrape the bottom of your list just because it’s the holidays. It’s not an excuse to send to old users or share email lists across other business channels within your company.

Last modified on
Tagged in: Holiday Campaigns

I have the pleasure of working with some truly talented people. But just because you’re good at designing crisp logos or iconic product packaging or gorgeous posters doesn’t mean you know a thing about designing for direct marketing. It’s completely different. And lately, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of having to tell some of my most talented colleagues that they stink at email design.

Designing direct marketing emails as if they are magazine inserts will give you lovely emails that depress response by 45% or more. At least, that was one of my more dramatic test results, your experience may be different. Before you fall into a pit of despair upon seeing the latest glossy-but-useless design, here are 7 rules to share with your colleagues.

The Rules for Driving Email Results

1. The offer must be clear and visible, above the fold.

You’re selling something, so you need to be blatant about what you’re selling, and maybe pushy too. Brand voice is important, but shy brands don’t drive revenue. So use your voice and make sure that offer is loud and crystal clear.

Last modified on
Tagged in: Email Design