The Only Influencers Blog

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


"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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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.



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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