The Only Influencers Blog

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

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I love "what if" games, don't you?  Recently, in a group to which I belong, this question was posed:  What if the boss gave you $10,000 to improve your brand's email marketing ROI?

How would you spend it?  What would you do?

Well, for me that was a no-brainer.  But before I tell you how I would spend that $10k, and why, let's cover some basics.

First,  just to be sure that we are all on the same page, when we say "ROI", we are talking about a Return on Investment (stay with me here, I don't mean to insult your intelligence).

Second, let's assume that your brand is in business to make money.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Even the most altruistic of organizations need to make money, otherwise they would have to close their doors.

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There may come a time in your career as an email marketer where you’ll be presented with a (legitimate) list that you need to integrate into your database; for example, your company could make an acquisition or you could be taking over marketing activities from another business unit. FierceMarkets has had a flurry of these kind of activities in the last 18 months, and we’ve developed a plan that has been successful so far. I’ll share the main points here to help with any integrations you may face.

Let me pause here and say that these integrations were not purchased emails from a list broker. In one scenario, FierceMarkets acquired a blog and took over publishing its newsletter. In another, we absorbed a newsletter from a different business unit in our parent company into our database. I am unequivocally against buying emails and adding them to your database. Buying a list and adding it to your database could have disastrous consequences that would outweigh any sort of decent response you might luck into.

The first step of a legitimate integration actually begins before moving any emails over. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through these integrations, it’s that you have to fight for a look at the data before you commit to the acquisition. A blog may have an email list of a certain number, but it could have a 15% bounce rate or a 2% open rate, or have full demographics or only emails – all good pieces of information to have before a sale is completed.

Your initial audit should also include analysis of any websites attached to the email list, but I’ll limit my discussion here to the email side.

Once you have access to the email list, give it a very thorough review. Not every blog or email list owner has grown his or her list responsibly, so it’s important to try to weed out as many of the questionable email addresses as possible before adding them to your own database. It’s also a good idea to check the original IP address for any presence on blacklists. Many smaller email lists are on shared IPs, so any blacklists may or may not have been the result of bad emails on your new list, but it at least gives you another data point on list quality.

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(editors note. Full title of post: “3 pretty complicated but incredibly important reasons why your subject line split tests aren’t teaching you very much about your customers”)

Split testing works.

It works amazingly well… if you plan the tests, and analyze and interpret the results correctly. I’ve worked with hundreds of marketers across the world who implement split testing with varying levels of statistical robustness and success.

What I’ve learned from this is that most email marketers don’t run their experiments optimally.

And this means they aren’t learning very much from their split tests. They focus on one-off lifts in response rates… and don’t learn much about the all-important cognitive buying signals you can learn from correct split testing methodology.

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(Andrew Kordek is the Co-Founder and COO of Trendline Interactive)

How did you get started in email marketing?

It started by accident in 1999 when I was in software sales and looking for ways to increase my production.  One day, I stumbled upon the power of mail merge in outlook and my obsession with email began.  Every night I would take thousands of email address' (yes they were somewhat opt'd in) and merge them to send out over the course of the night.  They had expressed interest in the past with the software, so I figured it was a great way to cross sell them on a similar product.  Over the course of weeks and months, I did this every night and every morning I had the highest downloads and leads resulting in becoming the number one salesperson in the group. Other salespeople found out what I was doing and wanted to be trained on the content I wrote as well as how to send out email to their own patches.  Eventually, the marketing department caught wind to what I was doing and asked if could help promote a local seminar.  When the email went out, the seminar became oversold and they received record attendance and closed a ton of business.  This success led me to do other emails for other cities and then email marketing was born.  I quickly moved into a marketing role and within a year, I owned email marketing across the globe for this $500+ million company. We ran an instance of Lyris on premise and I quickly cut my teeth on segmentation given the breadth and depth of the product line.

Tell us about your role and what a typical day is like.

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1. How did you get started in Email Marketing. I was working for IndyMac Bank running a huge direct mail operation when I saw the handwriting on the wall and got out of mortgages. In 2007 I ended up getting hired by Live Nation to be their VP of Direct Marketing, even though I had little experience with email marketing - because they wanted someone with a strong direct marketing background. I jumped at it because (a) it was a relatively new channel and (b) it was in the concert industry…which really is as cool as you think it is.

2. Tell us about your current role and what a typical day is like. My current role at Zeeto is as the VP of Technology. I am responsible for the email program, our business intelligence team, our optimization team, our coders and our dev ops team. My job is relatively straightforward in that I spend most of my days either helping my teams solve problems or creating new problems for my teams to solve. In a typical day I might talk about redesigning a site, eCPM results from the dozens of test we run every month, helping my team negotiate a deal with a vendor, doing a deep dive on email delivery issues, educating myself on what’s new and interesting in the tech marketplace, revisiting our project management processes to make sure our projects are all on track and/or writing a blog post on Only Influencers that manages to tick at least a few people off. It’s really a bit of a hybrid role that continually presents me with new and interesting challenges. Or, in the words of the esteemed Vanilla Ice “You got a problem, yo I’ll solve it”…we even have an in-house DJ who can “revolve it.”

3. What do you see as the future of email marketing. I think the future of email marketing is brighter than ever for two reasons – (1) the (begrudging) recognition of email’s power by finally understanding the “non-linear” nature of the medium and (2) the fact that email marketers have come to accept that more frequent communication is not the road to eternal damnation. However, I don’t see a massive amount of change in emails themselves due to restrictions at the ISP level. The most interesting question will be around how the massive sizes of new phones change how we present emails to consumers.

4. Why should anyone choose email marketing as a career. If you’ve got any level of scientist in you, email is a fantastic career choice for one simple reason – you get to replace “I think” with “I know.” You’re able to strip away the fluff and get to what’s really happening…which I think is tremendously cool. Even if you’re not terribly analytical, email will force you to look at things more pragmatically. Which can be a tremendous boost to your career.

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