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Q&A: The Official Explorer’s Guide to Modern Marketing

I had a blast debuting The Official Explorer’s Guide to Modern Marketing, our brand new webinar that attempts to answer the question, “What makes a successful modern marketer, and how do I become one?” (Hint: It involves email!). During the webinar, I discussed the best ways you can lead your audience from point A to point B during the customer journey as well as the tools you’ll need in your rucksack to make it the most amazing digital expedition ever. Big thanks to MarketingProfs for hosting me and for posting a recording of the webinar (registration required) in case you missed it, or you know, just want to relive the magic all over again.

That's me, Jamie!

You all had so many great questions during the webinar that I just didn’t have time to get to them all. So, I pulled together a list of my favorites to answer here on the Emma blog. Enjoy!

When it comes to subject lines, what are your thoughts on using emojis? I’ve seen this happen a lot and am wondering if it’s something I should try?

Ask yourself this: Do you think it’ll work for your audience? For instance, if you’re a B2C business that’s trying to reach millennials who literally have entire conversations with emojis, it definitely makes sense to try emojis out in your subject lines. On the other hand, if you’re doing email marketing for a funeral home – well, it might not be such a good idea. Maintaining a consistent tone that reflects the most genuine version of your brand’s voice is always going to trump gimmicks and trends.

Generally speaking, though, subject lines aren’t the place to get too creative. Being direct and concise will actually curry much more favor in the inbox. In fact, the length of your subject line can actually make or break whether or not I, as the recipient, will notice or want to open it. Because of this, subject lines are not the space to workshop your standup routine or write your thesis. Smartphones actually cut off subject lines after 32-characters or so – which is important to remember, because over 53% of all email is opened on a mobile device first.

And when in doubt: test, test, test.

You used a lot of retail examples, but I’m a B2B brand. What are some good data points to use when it comes to segmenting my audience?

Retail is usually on the forefront of most marketing trends because, by and large, retailers are working in a crazy-crowded space filled with the shiniest assets (great photography, a lighter brand voice, etc.). However, as a B2B brand, you probably have access to way more concrete information about your audience based on how they find you.

For instance, you probably have a sales or support team that is logging data based on their conversations, cases and so on. You also probably have more opportunities to track meaningful website data that’ll deliver so much more helpful information than just how many times a site visitor clicked on a particular shirt. If a new site visitor comes from an ad that was aimed squarely at creative agencies and goes crazy for your white papers covering a specific topic, then you know that that person should get more of that kind of content.

And even if you don’t have data that sophisticated, you can always monitor what content pieces perform especially well and start serving it to everyone on your list. You can serve more of that type of content to the individuals who respond well to it and try sending something different to those who don’t. Continue the trial-and-error process until you’ve identified which type of content appeals to each member of your audience. 

How many emails do you recommend including in an automated series?

It depends on your goals, your content and your customer lifecycle. A common mistake marketers make when creating an automated series is starting with a certain number of emails and then trying to fit their content into that number. Instead, start with the content you want to share, the story you want to tell and the action you want your subscribers to take. Then determine how many emails it’s going to take to do that efficiently. It could be 2. It could be 10. Pay close attention to your open and click rates and you’ll be able to hone in on the number and frequency that work best for that series.

For even more automation smarts, check out Automation Demystified, our free guide to getting great results from automation right away.


I work for a company with pretty strict guidelines on the brand voice I can use, so I can’t make a lot of jokes — what advice do you have to still be engaging?

A human-sounding brand voice works best in email, but thankfully being human is about a lot more than making jokes. You can still use technology to mimic human interaction – even if it’s a more buttoned-up version. A hilarious voice caters to me when I’m receiving, say, fun emails about cats. But if you’re in HR at a health company, humor probably isn’t the best way to reach an audience to whom you’re delivering vitally important, incredibly serious information. So, in lieu of jokes, clarity and smart targeting using data (aka, relevant content) are your saving grace. 

Can you touch on some best practices for A/B testing your email campaigns?

It might seem obvious, but it’s still worth saying: Only test one variable at a time. It might be tempting to test two completely different emails to see what resonates better with your audience, but the only way you’ll learn what changes are actually working is to make them one at a time.

When it comes to what you should A/B test, subject lines get all the glory. And understandably so, a good subject line is one of the biggest keys to a good open rate. But I also like testing other things like sending at different times of the day, using a different from name or trying different CTA button color and language. There’s no limit to what you can learn about your audience with smart A/B testing.

Have more questions for us? We’ll answer ‘em in the comments!