The Only Influencers Blog

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

Recent blog posts

Today’s marketer is inundated with messaging about the power of automation. When it comes to triggered messaging – from welcome series to win-back messages – it’s no longer enough to just set it and forget it.

With leading marketing technologies already established and new technologies emerging on a seemingly daily basis, marketers are faced with making decisions about how to optimize and deliver results with their technologies of choice.

At Sailthru, we believe that without personalization, the automation of messaging across the marketing ecosystem is ineffective. At the same time personalization, without automation, cannot be scaled. We operate knowing that automation and personalization are inextricably linked and that for automation to truly make a difference it must go beyond standard triggered messages by being personalized, timely, tested and clear in terms of calls-to-action.

We’re speaking with “digital first” marketers every day and the successes that our clients see in transforming revenue generation and customer retention validates our theory that in order for triggered messaging to succeed, it must go beyond pure automation. Here’s the roadmap we abide by for all things triggered:

1) Personalize at a 1:1 level.

There’s a lot of noise around personalization, with definitions ranging far and wide. For some, it’s knowing a user’s name and location, for others, it’s using a rules-based approach facilitated by relational databases. For us, it’s knowing behaviors, interests, devices and purchases from both explicit and implicit omnichannel data that can be actioned on in real time. Regardless of how you define personalization, the bottom line is that your triggered messages must be functionally and emotionally aligned to the individual recipient to produce the desired outcome. Functionally: sent at the right delivery time and cadence, optimized for the right device, differentiated by acquisition source. Emotionally: subject lines and headlines that resonate, relevant content that aligns with user behaviors and interests, calls-to-action that align to a user need/want. These are the characteristics of trigger messages that we see successfully and consistently driving action.

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Tagged in: Triggered Messages

Triggered messaging is a rapidly growing part of marketing with extremely good ROI. It's about delivering business messages that are personalized and near-real time: often sent by email but increasingly by other channels such as within web pages.

Industry experience from years of email marketing are now being incorporated into triggered messaging as technology allows rich customer data to be collected at the point of customer interaction and leveraged at the point of initiation. It is evolutionary: supplementing, not replacing current email and web marketing.

Triggered messages are usually initiated by an individual’s activity, not sent as part of a scheduled send. A large part of their content is likely to be very topical and transient – for example suggestions for in-stock products that the shopper should like, the start/end date of the next sale, or details of the holiday they were just choosing on-site.

Where a triggered messaging system is used, it should cooperate with your ESP and web marketing system, so each does what it does best. Your ESP handles email design, marketing, and list management. Your eCommerce system runs the business. The triggered messaging system integrates data between these two and sends highly-personalized communications at times when each shopper is highly engaged and responsive. For example real-time messages for cart and browse abandonment and new personalization options such as suggested products.

This post continues with some examples business cases and then briefly summarises two methods of implementing triggered messaging – (1) by using a standard ESP and (2) by using a purpose-built triggered messaging system.

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Tagged in: Triggered Messages

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about responsive design and coding with respect to email. I’m sure you’ve seen the stats:

I got some great insights on responsive design and coding for non-techies from my colleague Luca Bellavita, a design and HTML manager for Alchemy Worx, which I shared in a recent ClickZ column.

But one thing that’s been taking a lot of my head space lately is how and when to leverage responsive design and coding in unconventional ways.

First let me explain what I mean by unconventional. I’m looking at times when responsive design and coding might be used not just to optimize the viewing experience of the email, but to change the call-to-action to be more appropriate for the device it’s being viewed on.

Here are three examples of times that this might be useful:

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Posted by on in Insights from the Influencers

The classic ROI (Return on Investment)  model was developed to measure the effectiveness of the use of capital. For example, a company wants to build a new plant and it is relatively straight forward calculation to calculate the return on this investment: the revenue generated by the plant-the cost of the plant which is then divided by the cost of the plant to get a percentage. In the interest of completeness it should be noted that the calculation has to be adjusted as the revenues and costs are spread over a number of years.


Return on marketing investment is not as straight forward. First in the example above, the money used to build a plant is a capital expense and therefore does not immediately impact the P&L whereas all marketing spend is an operating expense and therefore hits the P&L. Second, measuring the output of a plant and therefor the resulting revenue is easy to measure. The revenue generated from your marketing on the other hand, is substantially harder to measure because it is difficult to attribute specific revenue to specific marketing spend.


eConsultancy recently published a blog on marketers’ views of marketing attribution in multi-channel marketing. The general view is that it is a massively convoluted issue with no good solution. Similarly, Google’s Avinash Kaushik goes into the challenges of attribution and using ROI as a metric of email effectiveness at great length in his recent blog , discussing the pros and (mostly) cons of each attribution model – I highly recommend that you read both of these articles.

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Hopefully Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is not a surprise to you at this point. CASL’s enforcement start date is rapidly approaching on July 1, 2014 and to help you prepare I am offering 4 “Must Dos” for things to accomplish to help you get your Digital Marketing Programs ready and compliant with the legislation. These tips are based on many discussions with marketing professionals, legal professionals, Industry Canada and the CRTC.

1.Data Collection

Review how you are collecting data and build a plan to bridge the gaps between your current processes and potentially new processes under CASL. Begin by identifying all of your input sources. These may include:

  • Point of sale
  • Call Center
  • Web
  • Social Channels
  • Paper contests
  • Events
  • Third parties
  • Other?
  • Email Service Provider
  • Mobile Marketing Provider
  • Web pages/triggers
  • Ecommerce solutions
  • Corporate emails
  • Social Networks *(Posts to your own social accounts; Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. are not considered CEM’s but DM’s and possibly @messages are.)
  • Other?

Then identify all of your output sources. These may include:

A few questions to get you thinking about some changes your programs may require: Are you burying consent in a Terms of Service, End User License Agreement or Privacy Policy? Are you using pre-checkboxes on your forms? Do you have all the prescribe information at the point of data collection and within your email templates? Do you upsell in your transactional messages?

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Tagged in: CASL Deliverability