Welcome to the second episode of our "Behind the Glasses" podcast, which features one-on-one interviews with some of the very best minds in marketing.
This time around, we were grateful for the opportunity to chat with Jay Baer – a renowned speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and founder of Convince & Convert.
Convince & Convert
Despite all the new tactics in digital, the only way you can have a known, reliable relationship with customers is email.
For a lot of people, email is incredibly important. It’s the weigh station to customer participation.
‘Influencer marketing’ is hot right now, but it’s so often misused and misapplied that I think there’s going to be a backlash.
Jeff: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Emma’s “Behind the Glasses.” The podcast where we bring you the curious marketer, conversations with the latest and greatest movers and shakers. And yes, I’m gonna say it, thought leaders in our industry today.
I’m Jeff Slutz and I’m the Senior Content writer here Emma. And joining me today is a dear friend of Emma, Mr. Jay Baer. If you’re not familiar with Jay, first, where the heck have you been? Because he is literally everywhere. And second, you’re in for a real treat. As a fellow Midwesterner, I know how awkward it can be to brag about yourself, so I will do the bragging for him.
Jay is a renowned business strategist, keynote speaker and a “New York Times” best selling author of four books. He travels the world helping business people get and keep more customers. And he has advised more than 700 companies since 1994 including such companies as Caterpillar, Nike, All-State, and 31 of the Fortune 500. He is the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service.
So, hello, Jay. Thanks for being with us here today.
Jay: And I am delighted to be here. Congratulations on the new show as well. Pretty excited.
Jeff: Awesome. Yeah. We’re excited, too. So, we really appreciate it. So, to get started, Emma is, first and foremost, an e-mail marketing company. So, our audience is obviously interested in what you have to say about it. But in marketing terms, you know, e-mail has been around forever and it seems like, you know, there’s always new channels that come along and suck up all the oxygen in the room. So, you know, you can Google “email is dead” right now and get literally hundreds of hits.
Jay: Oh, yeah. It’s definitely not dead. That’s the hilarious thing, right? So, if everybody writes blog post about email is dead, but then email doesn’t die, do you ever get held to account for that prediction?
Jeff: Exactly. That’s what I wanna know. So, why do you think it is that so many marketers try to write it off so quickly? And, I mean, more importantly, are they right?
Jay: Well, there’s two pieces of that. First, everybody likes to write “blank is dead” because you get clicks even though nothing ever actually dies, right? When TV came along, if we had blog, there would have been hundreds of blog posts or thousands that would say, “Radio is dead.” Well, we still have radio, right? Still to this day. Now, have dynamics changed? Of course, but nothing ever dies. So, to begin with, that’s a foolish way to articulate the change in marketing or in business to begin with.
But, I think, the prediction of email’s demise is obviously greatly exaggerated. But on the surface, you can see why futurists, and consultants, and business sites, and even individuals might think, ‘‘Geez, maybe something else is gonna come along here.’’ And, I think, that’s partially because e-mail itself at its very core hasn’t really changed all that much in 20 years. And so, we are enveloped by change especially in digital marketing and e-mail is, sort of, the one piece of that entire ecosystem that hasn’t changed that much.
Yeah, little things here or there, but fundamentally works the same. And so, if everything around you is changing except for this one thing, the obvious prediction is this thing must change, or be replaced, or just intermediated as well and people start talking and I’ve written this as well. And, you know, at some point, will we be using Messenger and SMS, and all these other technologies to communicate? And to some degree, maybe we will. I certainly get Facebook Messenger pings from people in circumstances where at one point in the future that would have been an e-mail. That is 100% true.
But every interaction I have with a business, almost, fundamentally comes through email still to this day. So, well, I think, we may see some some segmentation of communication that some things that we might have used email for quick, you know, individual one line messages may go somewhere else. Ultimately, when we’re talking about business, which is why Emma exists, it’s gonna be email for the foreseeable future.
Jeff: Right. I think that’s an interesting thing, too. It’s like even when you’re using all of these other channels, your email address is literally the one thing that is always required. So like the idea that e-mail would die, even though that’s basically your online passport, is just kind of silly.
Jay: Yeah. It’s hard to say e-mail is going to go away when email is required.
Jeff: Yes. So, your new e-book, which is fabulous, by the way…
Jay: Thank you.
Jeff: ...which is called ‘‘Why E-mail Holds the Key to Lasting Customer Relationships.’’ In full disclosure, you partnered with Emma to create that. So…
Jay: Of course.
jeff: The really core of that is that, you know, e-mail is sort of the heartbeat of your digital marketing and is really central to the strong relationships that brands can build with customers. So, why do you think that is?
Jay: Because all the other ways that you can interact with customers are ilinear or unreliable in some way. And so, I’ve been talking about this for years. And, I think, finally we’re waking up to its importance. In fact my friend, Jeff Rohrs, wrote a book four years ago, when he was still at ExactTarget before they were purchased by Salesforce called the, ‘‘Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers.’’ And in that book, we’re gonna get for years last week since when it came out. He talks about the fact that the most important commodity and the most important element of your business is its audience relationships, its e-mail addresses, its subscribers, etc.
And email is the nexus of all of that, and it’s for this reason. If I want to communicate to people who have given me permission to do so, there’s a lot of way that I could theoretically do that. I could email them, I could call them, I could reach out to them on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere else. Amongst all of those options, the only option where I know for a fact that everybody will receive the message is e-mail. That’s it. It offers reliable reach.
If I say, I’ve got 1,000 customers and I want to communicate to all 1,000 customers, I press a button, they all get an e-mail. Now, are they all going to open the e-mail? No. Are they all gonna click on the e-mail? No, but they’re all going to actually receive the e-mail. And the only other way you can do that with any sort of reliability might be direct mail. But, of course, that is expensive and time consuming, it has its own shortcomings. So, I think, email is actually going to enter into a new renaissance, a new age of importance because people have realized that, despite all these new tactics and techniques and things that you can do in digital, the way you can have a linear, known, reliable relationship with your customer still is email. They will receive the message.
If I put something on Facebook, less than half of a percent of my total audience is likely to see that thing, half of a percent. You know, what’s your average deliverability rate on an email at Emma? Ninety-nine percent, 98.6%? I mean, it is fundamentally everybody. So you’re talking about a difference between 99% and 0.5%. That’s your reliability difference. That is incredible.
Jay: Yeah, that’s powerful stuff. And, like, when it comes to talking about that reliable reach, I think, the other side of that equation is that email is really one of those channels that really plays well, so well with all the other channels at your disposal. Because, I mean, if you’re doing marketing well, nothing is happening in a silo there, and that’s one of my favorite parts of the book is where you really break down how email can work with your other digital channels that marketers can use. So, can you give some folks some examples of ways that they can use e-mail alongside their other channels?
Jay: Yeah. E-mail is the glue for everything especially online. I mean, you know, I’ve done a lot of work in my career in content marketing. Well, especially in a B2B circumstance and, in some cases, B2C as well. Why are you creating content? Well, in many cases, it’s to persuade a prospect enough that they will do what? Give you their email. I said so. So, the email is essentially the path to purchase in almost every case especially online, and especially anything that’s considered a product.
Now, if you’re gonna go by I don’t know, Twizzlers, or something, right, during the liquorish game, you know, you’re probably not collecting a ton of e-mails on the path to purchase. However, you may wanna get e-mails of Twizzlers fans to make sure they know about contests and promotions and special offers and other cool stuff. There’s a lot of e-commerce liquor sales that I’m aware of. But for a lot of people e-mail is incredibly important. It is the way station towards customer participation.
And so, you can use e-mail not only as, sort of, the finish line of your customer solicitation, but also if you play this game well, you can use e-mail and it’s inherent measurability and deliverability to test and refine other elements of your marketing game. So, for example, let’s say, you want to do some paid Facebook ads as many of us do. Facebook ads can be incredibly powerful. However, I have experienced, as has a number of other people, a great deal of variance in variation in Facebook ads results.
So, what smart people might do is say, ‘‘Hey, let’s use the inherent measurability of email and do some subject line testing. Let’s send out an e-mail to our audience, let’s send out two or three different subject lines so an AB or an ABC split. Based on the results of that e-mail, let’s use those lessons and take the winning headline and use that headline in a Facebook Ad.’’ Now, does Facebook perform exactly the same as e-mail? No. However, if I have clear mathematical evidence that one particular positioning line, or subject line, or headline works better in e-mail, I, sure as heck, think it makes sense to try that one first in Facebook.
Jeff: Right. So, I could talk to you about e-mail all day, this is awesome but I’m sure our audience wants to hear your thoughts on some other things. Let’s zoom out for a minute here. You’re a marketing expert, you literally consult with brands every day about how to do great marketing. But, I’m curious though, what are some of the brands that are inspiring to you? Who do you think is doing great marketing out there and why is that?
Jay: One of the things I’m working on right now is a new book on differentiation, and having the courage to the dig when other companies that, again, in being distinctly unusual in a way that it creates word of mouth. One of my favorite marketers who really takes that to heart is Casper, the mattress company. They’re very, very good in digital. They’re everywhere, but they create so many marketing executions that are just interesting, and wacky, and wild, and wonderful. Their email program is great but they have other things just like “insomnobot,” which is actually a Facebook bot that interacts with you in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep.
And it like tells you stories and asks you trivia questions. And then, well, if you can’t sleep you just play with the insomnobot. And since they’re in the sleep business, it’s, sort of, on point, pretty interesting to do something that other folks wouldn’t think of doing. So, I’ve been to a lot of case studies and research about that kind of marketing right now. And Casper is one of my favorites.
Jeff: Yeah, they’re awesome. Their e-mail marketing is on point, too. We feature them in a couple of blog posts.
Jay: Oh, great.
Jeff: They do great stuff. So, you know, in marketing, we obviously, we love our trends and we certainly love our buzz words, whether or not they really mean anything or not. So, I am curious, what is your least favorites current marketing trend or buzz word that you’re hearing out there?
Jay: How much time we have? This is gonna sound crazy but I would say one of my least favorite buzz words presently is “influencial marketing.” And that is ironic because it’s actually like a main category button on my website because we do influencial marketing counsulting for our clients all the time. But my challenge with it is that people are having trouble with paid advertising effectiveness. They’re having trouble with a lot of other parts of marketing.
And so, what a lot of businesses are attempting to do now is, sort of, ‘‘take influencers.’’ I’m throwing up in the air quotes right now, ‘‘take influencers’’ and, sort of, use that as a replacement for paid. And, it doesn’t really work like that, and nor should it. And part of the problem is that influencers are misused. And part of it is we confuse audience for influence all the time. Just because somebody has ostensibly a large audience online doesn’t mean they’re influential. It doesn’t mean they can create behavior. And ultimately, all we’re trying to do is create behavior, not necessarily spread awareness.
And so, I think, it’s something that is red hot right now but is very commonly misapplied and misused in marketing, and, I think, there’s gonna be a backlash as a result.
Jay: It’s interesting. I mean, because you’re right, because it’s like it doesn’t necessarily matter if they have a big audience if it’s not the right audience for you. So, that is very interesting. And my least favorite buzz word by far is “snackable content” maybe because I am…
Jay: I have used those words. So I do not use it routinely. We prefer “atomized content.”
Jeff: There we go. That’s good. I like it, but I still don’t want my content to be associated with Funyons [SP].
Jay: Yeah. Cool. Funyons. It’s a nice reference. I appreciate that very much. I would also probably throw in there at second place, even though I have investment in this area and we do some work here, too. I have a little bit of a challenge with account based marketing right now even though I love the premise of being hyper relevant in your marketing, especially email, but, I think, most people don’t really know what it is and they’re not really doing it well or right. But it’s become like this caused Celebron [SP]. And I just feel like there’s just a lot of confusion about how it actually works in practice.
Jeff: Nice. Okay. So we are recording this here in November, which means, you know, 2017 is winding down. Obligatory question, what should marketers be prepared for in 2018? Or, if you wanna give them, what’s one thing, what’s the secret to success in 2018 for marketers out there?
Jay: This is my first 2018 prediction I had a few other opportunities that I’ve been busy and I haven’t actually taken them up on it. So this will be my first utterance for 2018…
Jay: ...prediction that I’m pretty excited about actually. I believe 2018, kind of, going back to my influencial marketing comment, I believe 2018 will be the year that companies understand that their best and most effective marketers are their current customers. That we start thinking about the inherent power of the folks we’ve already earned and try to unlock that through more UGC, and advocacy, or word of mouth, those kind of things, so we stop working quite so hard trying to get new customers out of thin air, and instead start using the customer that we already have to get more customers.
Jeff: I think that’s great because honestly, word of mouth, there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth. I mean, just think about your everyday life, when it comes to, if you’re looking for something, or a product or something, you’re gonna ask your friends about it. And so, that customer base, that’s such the biggest untapped audience that, I think, a lot of marketers aren’t spending enough time on, and so I think that’s great.
Jay: Yeah and you nailed it, you said it, untapped. That’s the part, that’s such a puzzlement, right? You’ve got this group of volunteer sales people at your disposal. We just don’t unlock them very often. And Emma is a great example. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, and you may not either, but I know for a fact that a large percentage of Emma’s customers came because their friends are Emma customers, you know, like, “These guys are fantastic. They treat you right, and they’ve got good service, and it’s fairly priced, and I love my e-mail list. You should use these guys as well.” And all of a sudden you’ve got a second customer.
Jeff: So, speaking of 2018, you’ve been a huge part of Marketing United since it began three years ago, and we are happy to report that you’ll be back for 2018. So, that will be in April here in Nashville.
Jay: I will be there.
Jeff: You know, you speak at events all across the country. So, I’m curious, what, in your opinion, makes Marketing United different from those events that you speak at?
Jay: And you’re right. I do 60 events a year, almost every, pretty consistent, every year. Every year about 60. So, I’ve seen a lot of things and I love Marketing United. It’s a great event and I recommend it to people all the time, clients, friends, members of my team all over the world and it’s for a couple of reasons. One, it’s the right size. It is big enough where there’s lots of stuff to do, and interesting speakers and activities, but it’s still small enough that you can really interact with speakers and attendees and there’s, you know, collusion of all networking time.
When you get events that are very, very, very large, it, sort of, loses that interpersonal feel, so it’s got sort of a Goldilocks size about it which is great. I love the fact that Marketing United is sort of a pan digital conference. Now, of course, there’s a heavy sampling of e-mail because Emma is, of course, an e-mail company. So, if you wanna know about e-mail, the best place to do it. But it’s not just about e-mail. It’s about content, social, and digital, and storytelling, and design. And so, you can learn a lot of different things at Marketing United. It’s not just one subject.
I think that’s not only very interesting and useful for attendees but also commendable for Emma to say, ‘‘Hey, let’s do a conference that’s not just about our own little corner of the universe,” which is terrific’. And then I would say that present company excluded, the speakers at Marketing United are really great and curated in a very interesting way. So, there’s lots of people that I have seen speak at Marketing United that I don’t typically see on the circuit. I just don’t see them speak at other marketing events. And so, the team at Emma has done an amazing job of pulling in speakers who aren’t necessarily marketers ‘‘to teach left to marketers’’ and adjust them really first rate fantastic, fantastic presenters.
So, you know, I’m pretty judgmental about that kind of thing as you might suspect and, you know, Marketing United is the only conferences in the world that I would go to as an attendee. If I wasn’t speaking, I would still go and that’s a real shortlist.
Jeff: Well, thank you so much for those kind words. And you may have excluded yourself from talking about the speakers but I will say that Jay is consistently one of our top rated speakers at Marketing United. So, even if you can’t come to Marketing United, be sure to check out Jay if he is speaking at an event near you.
Jay: Thank you.
Jeff: So, as you heard today, his insight is incredible. So, Jay, we wanna thank you for your time, and for being so generous with your answers to our questions here today. So, that’s all we have for you. So, thank you so much for joining us.
Jay: I appreciate it. I’m wearing my glasses right now. So, everybody, everybody win.
Jeff: All right. Thanks a lot. Take care, Jay.
Jay: See you.
Jeff: So, if you want to download Jay’s amazing new e-book, ‘‘Why E-mail Holds the Key to Lasting Customer Relationships,’’ and trust me, you definitely wanna do that, head over to myemma.com/jaybaer. That’s myemma.com/jaybaer to snag that and more content goody from Jay. And, of course, please stay tuned for future episodes of “Behind the Glasses.” Thanks.