The Only Influencers Blog

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

This week I was able to sit down and speak with Bill Wagner, the CEO of StrongView to talk about the name change for StrongMail and what is coming up in the future. 

OI: Can you tell me why the name change and what does that signify for the company

Bill: StrongMail was a great name for a company that was founded 10 years ago as an email infrastructure provider, but we have evolved so much beyond that. As we announced the rebranding the question I'm getting more than "Why did you change the name?" is "why did it take you so long to change the name." And we tend to agree with that.

It is really a reflection of who we are. We have so far surpassed what StrongMail was when the company was founded that we felt the timing was right and frankly it fits our aspirations and the products that will coming out shortly.

OI: Can you Talk a little about those "aspirations".

The new name doesn't mean a new strategy. The new name is catching up with the strategy. StrongView is a reflection of not only the cross channel capabilities but more importantly the visual nature of our product. It has evolved quite a bit: there are a lot of visual elements to it. Visually depicting audience engagement across all the different possibilities of various test splits , the view of campaign performance as it is happening in real time, dashboards that really give you a view of what is happening in and across campaigns. To some extent it sets the immediate reflection of "view" within the product, but the more aspirational view has to do with what is going to be coming out that is not yet announced, so i can't give away too much detail.

But we did an announcement in February with Amazon where we are leveraging the Amazon data warehouse and our upcoming product release which will be coming out very shortly, will reflect that integration. We are going to be doing some really interesting things with data that nobody else is doing. At that point the "Visual" part of the name will be beyond "visual" aspect of the product,  per se, and more visual as a reflection of insight and knowledge born out of the data. So that is the aspirational aspect of what you will see shortly.

OI: Will clients notice any difference in they currently way they function with the product?

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OI: Return Path recently rebranded themselves as an Email Intelligence company. Can you tell me what exactly that means? 


George: The goal of Email Intelligence at a high level is to take a lot of the guess work for marketers in how to optimize their email marketing program. Everyday on the Only Influencers list there is a question "say, should we do 'X' and our goal is to provide empirical evidence that if you do 'X' here is what the results are based on where you are in your email marketing program right now. So it is the application of a lot of different data - some of panel data that Josh was talking about comes from Other Inbox, some comes from ContextIO, plus our vast store of reputation data, the data we have coming from ISPs - apply some really great analytics to that and turn that into solid advice for email marketers. 


OI: can you give me a concrete example of the kind of advice a marketer might be able to get out of it? 

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Let me Explain. No, there’s not time. Let me sum up.

It all started with a nine year old girl begging her father for an Apple IIe for Christmas…
Several computers later, and a brief quandary as to whether to pursue fashion design or computer programming as a career, I’m pleased to report “none of the above”.
·         Sometime in the last century, Bulletin Board Systems, CompuServe, Prodigy, etc. set me on the technology path in hardware, then software QA for several companies. Email was a communication method, not a marketing channel in my mind at the time.
·         In 2002, I switched gears and earned sufficient gamer-geek credentials for “Coolest. Job. Ever.” amongst my friends when I joined the Xbox team as the beta coordinator of a then unnamed online service run by Microsoft. Email was now something I did “professionally”. Post-launch I moved into more content and project management roles for – in addition to posting the “message of the day” on Xbox Live, I helped out on email stuff. Still didn’t think email would translate into a full-time job.
·         In 2004, I got a call about a database marketing position at Expedia. Still wasn’t sure why they needed a “highly-technical” person to send email.
o   Met Ted Wham, took a leap of faith. It might have been the Rubik’s Cube that won me over.
o   Day 1, team was reorged out of  software/product development and into the marketing organization.
o   Spent the next few years convincing tech friends that marketing is not evil and had better cookies.
I’ve met quite the cast of characters over the years,  learned that marketing and development teams can get along, and that database marketing is a career path that is sufficiently geeky and creative.

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I fell into email .....

Originally from Los Angeles I started my career in radio, first with a syndicated radio firm where I oversaw a library of 250,000 VINYL LPs and 45s (remember those??). I moved into radio journalism, interviewing all the white hot celebrities of the day such as Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Eddie Murphy. However, my cherished memories of those heady times are of interviewing many of the last of the 'real' movie stars such as Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Ralph Belamy, Don Ameche, James Stewart and Burt Lancaster.

I began the next phase of my career working in publicity and media relations at several record labels. I've helped represent some of the world’s most famous (and often notorious) bands and musicians. Guns N' Roses, Paul McCartney, Robbie Robertson, Counting Crows, Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, Crowded House and Nirvana, to name just a few. I have many stories and photos to share when I am languishing in my dotage, such as lunch with Kurt Cobain just before he and his band went on to change the face of music.

Both radio and the music business,in the form they existed for so many decades, are on the brink of extinction. I picked up on the "reinvent-or-become-extinct" signs many years ago and began looking around for my next fork in the road. It was the early days of the internet ('94). I thought email absolutely magical the way you could send a message and it was received instantaneously by the other person! (I still do.) I was convinced this 'new' communication channel would benefit from 'old' ways of communicating, and that well-written content, good stories and interesting angles would always be of value. I took the fork in the job road by making a living at combining the two. I had just moved to europe, and in 1996 formed my own email agency writing content and sending email newsletters on behalf of many blue chip companies. (In those days it was all plain text emails  and Majordomo desktop broadcast delivery.)

In 2002 I merged the business with european ESP Newsweaver. A fantastic, growing company. Email is still a booming business. I love my job as Lead consultant. I remain very very passionate about email, and email has been very very good to me.

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Chester Bullock has been with AAA Arizona and will be starting as Senior Manager of Email Development at Merkle. This is his story. If you like Chester's story, share it with your network and help him win a bottle of wine.

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