Email is the most widely used communication tool in business, yet too many email programs are essentially on autopilot, and "meh" open and clickthrough rates are often accepted as the nature of the email game today. But email can do more. And email can do better.
Join Emma, New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer, and Patina Restaurant Group's Director of Marketing, Rachel Insler, for an inspiring, relevant webinar all about the power of email marketing. You'll learn:
• How email can outperform your expectations
• Why email is still the center of the digital universe
• Five specific ideas to get people to love and talk about your emails
• Powerful case studies and examples you can mimic to make your own email more awesome
Becca: Hi everyone, and thanks so much for joining us for today’s presentation, five ways to make your email more awesome. My name is Becca Foreman. I’m a Customer Success Manager here at Emma, and I’ll be your moderator today. For anyone joining us today who might not be familiar with Emma, we’re an email marketing company based in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, I’m so excited to be here with the one and only Jay Baer. Jay is the founder of Convince & Convert, a “New York Times” best-selling author, an expert on all things marketing, and of course, a dear friend of Emma.
I’m also joined by an Emma customer that I get to work with closely, Rachel Insler, the Director of Marketing at Patina Restaurant Group. Just a few housekeeping notes before we begin. First, we’ll send out a recording of the presentation later this week. So keep an eye out for that in your inbox, along with a free copy of one of our eBooks. Second, if you have any questions, type them into the GoToWebinar chat box or Tweet them at @emmaemail. I’ll go ahead and let you guys kick things off. Jay and Rachel, thanks so much for joining us today.
Jay: Delighted to be here. Thanks very much for that warm introduction. Thanks everybody for tuning in. Again, I am Jay Baer, friend of Emma. I think the one thing in my bio that was left out that’s really important is that I am a tequila collector. That’s not part of today’s presentation, but perhaps in the future. My co-host today knows a little something about tequila because she’s in the restaurant biz, but she also knows an awful lot about chocolate. Rachel, tell ‘em about your chocolate background.
Rachel: It was about a little less than 10 years ago, I had a chocolate shop in East Village. I was [inaudible 00:01:33] proprietrix and a chocolatier there. So I did that. And that’s actually where I fell in love with marketing because my shop was on an alley in New York City without a street sign, so kind of had to get the word out on my own.
Jay: The old store without a sign problem. I love those. Thank you for being here. We’re gonna talk today about the importance of email. And here’s something that’s interesting. This is from Emma’s 2018 Email Marketing Industry Report. They found that 25% of marketers, so 1 out of 4, plan to significantly increase their email spend this year in 2018. Okay, so a quarter of all marketers are spending more on email this year than ever before. And that’s true, even though email really sort of as a marketing tactic, as a discipline, as a tool hasn’t changed all that much in 20 years, certainly not in comparison to other forms of digital.
In my way of thinking, email is like the Willie Nelson of digital, right? So check this out. This is Willie Nelson in 1998. This is Willie Nelson in 2018. In those 20 years, according to these pictures, Willie Nelson has aged 15 minutes. It’s like an unbelievable like biological circumstance. Email is the same way, right? It continues to be reliable and effective and successful, even though it hasn’t really changed all that much. But we can still do a lot of things with email that maybe we’re not thinking about. There’s more that we can squeeze out of that turnip boy, five ways to make your email more awesome is why we are here today. Right, Rachel?
Jay: The first way… Feel like we should have a drumroll for these. The first way to make email awesome is to make email your digital nerve center. And I think for a lot of organizations, it kind of already is naturally, but to be more proactive and strategic and purposeful about that. Like 59% of marketers, okay, say that email delivers the best ROI in comparison to any other tactics. That’s 6 out of 10. That’s a lot, obviously. Social has changed a lot in the last couple years. I think everybody would admit that in many cases, social media is now largely an advertising tactic as opposed to an organic reach tactic. Email still is the most flexible, most dynamic way to reach your customers.
And when we talk about ad targeting, whether it’s display ads, programmatic ads, social media ads, email opt-ins, email behavior, clicks, opens, etc., can be used to dramatically improve your ad targeting. So if you wanna be better at ads, one of the ways to do that is to be better at email and mine that email data, roll it back into your advertising in a sort of one plus one equals three circumstance. Rachel, I love what you did here with the Paella Patio party. What would be good with this is some tequila, in my estimation. Tell us about this program for The Sea Grill.
Rachel: Sure. Yeah, so The Sea Grill is a fine dining seafood restaurant in Rockefeller Center. And then over the summer, we do some big outdoor events. And we try to sort of take it down a notch, relaxing things a little bit, people loosen their ties, because we’re a white tablecloth restaurant indoors. And so we have these events to sort of, you know, help people find out about the softer side of The Sea Grill. So we had this event last summer. We’re doing it again this summer later in August. And, you know, we use good old fashioned email to promote it. We promote it in other ways as well. But most of the people who came to this event were on our email list.
So, you know, again, we’ve done other things, but, you know, we sent out this email to, you know, few 1,000 people on our list, people who have opted in to hear about The Sea Grill. We ended up with about 220 guests for the event, which is, you know, a nice showing for an event like this. And it’s a one night event. And 194 of those guests, we could trace back to reservations, made from people who received the email on our email list. So the vast majority of those…
Jay: Wow. So 194 out of 220, whatever, that’s huge.
Rachel: Right. Yeah, came from email or were on our email list. So that, for us, is an amazing ROI. And it makes sense. You know, these are people who have asked to hear from us. They want our content. They open our content. Everyone else you’re sort of knocking at the door trying to get in, and these are people who have invited us into their homes.
Jay: I love it. Congratulations. That’s really pretty exceptional.
Rachel: Oh, thanks.
Jay: The second way to make email more awesome is to personalize and micro-target. Nobody, even people who love Paella, are thinking, “It would be awesome today if I could get my email.” Like nobody is like, “Please, send me more email,” or any other form of outreach, right? Nobody is saying, “Please, send me more text messages” either. But I gotta tell you, every marketer in the world, including me, including Rachel, tells themselves this same lie. And the lie we tell ourselves is this, “Our audience is just too busy. They’re too busy to open the email. They’re too busy to attend this amazing webinar.
“They’re too busy to listen to the podcast. They’re just too busy.” And it’s totally not true. When somebody tells you they’re too busy, what they really mean but won’t tell you because they don’t wanna hurt your feelings is that what you’ve given them is not relevant enough. It’s not relevant enough. Relevancy is what creates time. Relevancy is what creates attention. So the more that you can use email to treat each subscriber like an audience of one, the more relevant your messaging will be and the more effective your messaging will be. And this is one of the things that email is disproportionately good at. Eighty six percent of…
Rachel: My only issue with one comment there, Jay, that people aren’t…
Rachel: …begging for more email. It’s just that, exactly to your point, relevancy. We do have people. If they, you know, we end up in their wrong folder, or they accidentally unsubscribe, we will get people emailing us saying, “Where’s my email? I haven’t gotten your email. I wanted to go to this event. I didn’t know about it.” So I 100% agree with you. They’re gonna get off your list of it’s not relevant. But we literally have people asking us to…“Where are my emails?” So it’s a great point.
Jay: I love it. It’s great. Eighty Six percent of consumers, according to Infosys, say that personalization actually impacts their purchase decision. So a lot of times, clients will ask me, “All right, Jay, you say, we’ve got to be more relevant and we’ve got to be more targeted, but how? Like what specific thing should we do?” Certainly, personalization is one of the things that can take you down that path. The other thing from an email standpoint, is just really be thinking about segmentation. And even though segmenting your email and saying, “Look, we’re gonna send one email to this group of people because we know they like Paella.
“We’re gonna send this email to other people because we know they like something else.” That’s not terribly difficult, technically, in email, certainly using a tool like Emma, yet, according to Emma’s own research, fewer than 30% of all marketers are segmenting all of their email. So even though we have the capability to be more personalized and more targeted and more relevant, many of us are not taking advantage of that capability, which actually breaks my heart. Right? I mean, it’s just sad, right? So we all we all appreciate messages that resonate, right, that speak to us as individuals, like, “Oh, these guys get me. Like, they understand what I want.”
But as email marketers, sometimes we ignore just how good that actually feels and we don’t take the steps necessary to be as relevant as we could be. So some of the things you can use in your segmentation in your email, how did people subscribe, right? When and where did they get on your list? You can use that as a segmentation key. Location, obviously, where are they located? Engagement history, how often do they interact with your emails? Their click and purchase history. And really, any other trackable action you can think of, either on the email and/or on the website. All of that can be mined to add additional relevancy, targeting, and personalization to your emails.
Now, one of the best ways to do this, Rachel is gonna tell you about it in a second, is to take your email behaviors, combine it with non-email behaviors, right? So then you really get a powerful sense of information about each subscriber. And you can use that information to give them something that really resonates with them. Tell us about oysters.
Rachel: Yeah, we think about this a lot where we are, you know, being primarily a non-ecommerce business. You know, we can’t say, “Oh, you clicked on this. You…”
Jay: I can’t buy oysters online from you guys? This is ridiculous.
Rachel: Not yet, but any day now. So, you know, we have to take an extra step and do some things to bridge email to our purchase data, our visit data. We have separate systems for email, reservations, POS. We got to bring all those things together. One tool we use to do that is a tool called Venga, which we utilize very heavily here at Patina. And what is great about Venga is that it helps us make our segmentation even smarter. And I will say and I think this is something Jay and I both say, we discovered when we were prepping for this is the more automatic that you get these processes, the more human you have to be when you deploy them. Because we are humans sending emails to other humans so we have to think like humans when we do these things.
So we’re setting up processes, we’re segmenting. What you don’t wanna say is, “Hey, guys, I know you bought seven oysters last week. I’d like to send you this email.” It may seem obvious, but sometimes, you know, I’ve definitely gotten emails, where it’s on Amazon, you know, “Oh, because you bought this, now you want this.” And I’m like, “Don’t be creepy. I don’t want you to know that I…” yeah, anyway. So we sent this email. We pulled a segment of folks, customers who’d visited us a certain number of times. So it wasn’t just people who came in once, but who had made a purchase of oysters. So it happened to be had spent $25 on oysters with us over the last six months.
Now, we pulled a segment and it was a very tight segment of people who fit the criteria of visits. It was 80 people. So you’re gonna say, “Rachel, you sent an email to 80 people?” I absolutely did send an email to 80 people. Almost, we had over 50% open rate on that email and 12 of those people came in and redeemed this oyster. These people who received this email felt great. We know they like oysters, because they bought them before. And we just said, “Hey, because you’re one of our most loyal guests, we’d love to give you this gift.” Twelve of the 80 people came in. Now, I think I’m a pretty good marketer. I don’t get adoption rates have very often when I send out offers like that. I don’t know if you guys do. If you do, come work for us here. But this…
Jay: Fifteen percent conversion from on-the-list to actually buying oysters is pretty darn good.
Rachel: To come in and receive the oysters free actually then they made another purchase. So they felt great. We felt great. And it was a big success for us.
Jay: I love that one. It’s super fantastic. This one is similar, right? This is sort of the same idea, but a different execution.
Rachel: Yeah. So this was an idea where we had had guests also at The Sea Grill who were sort of, you know, people I would have considered regulars, people who had been to our restaurant a minimum of 10 times, but for some reason, hadn’t been with us in over a year. So at some point, they were coming frequently and now they’re not. There were still on our email list happily so we were able to email them. And rather than saying, “Hey guys, what happened?” We sent a note from our general manager. You know, we used their first name here. It was from our general manager in the from line, which people love that sense of personal touch. And it wasn’t a hard sell.
We just sort of said, “Hey, you know, it’s been a while since we’ve seen you. I wanted to introduce myself. I’m the new General Manager. We’ve got a great new chef. Here’s a link to our new menu, you know, hope all is well. Please let me know if I can ever help you with anything.” Within two weeks of sending out that email, people we hadn’t seen in the restaurant in over a year, eight reservations came in from this, bringing parties with them.
So it wasn’t just like we got eight guests out of this. And what’s more is that we got notes back from the guests, some email, one even a handwritten note sort of saying, “Thanks so much,” or explaining where they’ve been. One person we found out had a sick husband in the hospital. So we sent food to the hospital. It was just like a great engagement opportunity for us. So that personalization, making people feel heard, seen, and kind of identified really goes a long way. And with the tools we have available to us now, it’s pretty easy to do.
Jay: The third thing we can do to make our email more awesome is to boost authenticity and user-generated content. Every business is just a collection of people and nothing more. We trust people more than we trust businesses, generally speaking. And that’s getting more and more true all the time. In this Instagram age, we can use user-generated content to find really interesting, trustworthy images and commentary that you can then build into your email programs. And as Rachel mentioned earlier, the more your email feels human, the more persuasive it will be, which is why their executive chef used, you know, “This is my actual name. I’m Philip, etc.” That kind of thing really works. When you don’t see that, it doesn’t work, right? So I got these two emails within, you know, like a day of each other.
And one was from a large brand, MGM Grand Hotel asking me to rate my experience on a 0 to 10 net promoter score scale. And I was like, “Okay.” And the subject line here, the from line, I should say, the from line is from MGM Grand. And the subject was, “Tell us about your stay at MGM Grand.” The next day, my wife placed a food delivery order with a company called ClusterTruck. And the from line is from Chef Tim, and the subject line is “Alyson,” her name, “How was your ClusterTruck?” And then it’s his picture in the email and says her name again, right? So this is the exact same email. Like, it’s literally the same email for the same reason, you know, using the same deployment mechanism. But one is very personal, very human, and gets probably, I don’t know this to be true, but I suspect a much higher response rate than the other one.
Rachel: Yeah. We see a similar thing. We use our chef’s name in the from line when appropriate, right? Because the other thing you don’t wanna do and I think basically every piece of advice we’ve given in the last, you know, 20 minutes comes with a caveat. It’s like you don’t wanna do this every time and you only wanna do it when it makes sense. So in this case, this is an event for us, Sardinian pig roast. Our chef is an Italian-American man and this is a very personal event for him. He grew up spending summers in Sardinia, attending these pig roasts with his family. So the content of the email is from him, you know, it’s a story about his personal experience growing up, and it’s from him.
Now, if we were sending out, you know, a sort of more generic email that was sort of like, “Hey, holiday reservations are available,” you know, we wouldn’t necessarily put our chef’s name on that. But if it was a note from the chef about holiday reservations, you know, we would apply his name to that. So it’s important to maintain authenticity when you’re doing this. But when you can do those things, it really goes a long way. Because our open rates…I can confirm that, Jay, our open rates are considerably higher when we use the chef’s name on the emails. But I would not wanna lose our subscribers’ trust by abusing the chef’s name and applying it to emails where it doesn’t really make sense.
Jay: I’m in for a Sardinian pig roast too, by the way. That’s one that I would like to be a part of. The fourth way to make your email more awesome is to test, test, and test. Rachel’s talked about some of her experiences in that regard. Only 11% of email marketers today always at least A/B test their email, so about 1 out of 10. And again, this isn’t that complicated to do. I mean, I feel like we should always be testing and that we should never send an email without a test included. Sometimes that doesn’t work. But that’s probably the optimal idea. Email is, in my estimation, the most testable form of marketing ever devised. The data is the easiest to track.
At some point in this age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, testing will no longer be optional. That tools like Emma will automatically test your email. You won’t even have to think about it. It will just happen. So those days are coming quickly. The things that you can and should test, in my estimation, and you should test them in this sequence, are from line, day of week you send it, time of day you send it, subject line, as we’ve talked about a minute ago, calls to action, and content and design. There may be some other things that you might wanna test, but those are kind of the big six. And that’s the order that I would try to tackle them.
One note, you should really try to avoid testing more than one thing simultaneously because you can get conflicting stories about what actually impacts your behavior. So test one thing, get that sorted out, then test another thing. When you’re starting to test multiple things in the same email, that can be pretty tricky, unless you’ve got a pretty good-sized list and some real data knowledge. Once you finish testing, then start over, right? So go through this list of six things and then start with the first thing again. People change. And how consumers use email and certainly the impact of mobile and email, all of those things will change the results of your test.
So once you’ve finished a round of testing, start over from the beginning and do it again. As I mentioned, the best possible scenario is to never send an email that doesn’t have some sort of testing component. A couple of things about this. Start with a hypothesis when you’re doing an email. So your hypothesis should be, “If we change this call to action button, it will increase our click-through rate versus the control,” which is your historical norm. What you wanna do, you have a hypothesis is then try to prove yourself wrong. If you try to prove yourself right, you will typically find a way to make that happen, right? It’s just the way people think and the way data works.
So try to prove yourself wrong, you’ll be much better off. And remember, when you have smaller numbers, a smaller segment, a smaller test, you’re gonna get bigger swings, bigger variations in your data. So use caution. Make sure if you’re making decisions about your email, going forward, that you’re doing that based on enough responses, enough data to say, “Yes, this is actually true.” As opposed to we just sort of had a random blip of occurrences, okay? So you just don’t make…just make sure you’re not leading yourself astray with too small a sample size.
Becca: Absolutely. And retesting helps with that also. If you don’t have a huge list, you know, and if you’re segmenting heavily, you really need to make sure you keep retesting to ensure that your results have enough power. So that’s a great point. I love that side, Jay, because I actually sat down with my team and we went over the scientific method. I’m a nerd who majored in cognitive neuroscience. So this was sort of my, you know, the way I approach everything, but it’s a really valuable tool. Just helps break it down, keep it really simple. So I love that side. This is one of our tests that we did. For a long time, we were sending emails with…if there was a menu, if there was an event, we would put the menu in the email.
We’re thinking this makes it really easy for our guests, right? They can look at the email, they can see the menu and then, you know, they can decide if they wanna come or not. Well, it really hurt our click rates is the first thing. And the second thing is that, you know, it’s sort of nice, I think, when somebody kind of to low commitment click, that’s what I call it, right? View the menu versus reserve now. You know, people are really willing to engage with View menu and then they’ve taken a step…they’re already kind of…they are on our website, right? And maybe they’re not coming to that dinner but, you know, maybe they’re gonna check out the other menu or maybe they’ll come to another event we’re having. So, for us, it turned out to be a great way for us to get more people to our website.
And you can see we did a test, same exact content, but different CTAs. One had a menu Mailing A, had the menu in the e-blast, mailing B just had a CTA to view the menu. And you can see the click rate, we went up to 7.5% for Mailing B versus only 0.43% in Mailing one. So, going forward, you know, we tested this several times and now that’s our policy. We don’t put an email in a menu unless we have a really great reason to. We’ll put menu highlight information. You know, we’ll basically do whatever we can to get people to click through to our website. But we didn’t really realize that this was a better result and that we still got great attendance at the event by doing this. So I 100% recommend this. It changed sort of our policy and what we do with this.
And then on the next slide, it’s just the results of our personalization tests. So what’s great about Emma is that you can set up a…you don’t just have to say “member” if you don’t have the person’s first name. So this is a personalization task. You know, we wanted to see which way resulted in higher open rates. One was, you know, “Your name, we’d love to see you at our Rosé Wine Dinner.” And the other one was, “We’d love to see you at our Rosé Wine Dinner.” Now, I hate when I get an email that says, “member.” I mean, nothing drives me crazier. So, I would recommend that you only test personal…
Jay: Very personal. Very, very personal, very [inaudible 00:22:09].
Rachel: It’s just the worst. I would recommend that you only do this if you have either most people’s first names or if you can think of something cute and clever that makes sense and fun to use as the default if you don’t have their first name. So, if we didn’t have their first name, what they got was, “Spring Weather. We’d love to see you at our Rosé Wine Dinner next Tuesday.” And we did that because it had been really, really gloomy in New York and we were all saying, you know, “Okay, we hope we’ll see the fun, spring weather on Tuesday.” So even if we didn’t have your first name, you still got sort of like a cute subject line that would hopefully make you open. We did see better results with that.
But I would sort of argue that you wanna make sure not to overextend the results you come up with because like anything else, you gotta keep it interesting. If every single email that you send starts with someone’s first name in the subject line, that’s not a human sending that, right, that’s a machine. So you wanna be careful not to overextend your results. If you see that exclamation marks work better, don’t end every email with an exclamation mark. Nobody likes to be yelled at. So I would just make sure that you take these results and you use them as recommendations, not necessarily policies, unless it makes sense.
Jay: Sure, because it may work better in conjunction with this particular Rosé Wine Dinner. It may not work as well in conjunction with some other type of content.
Rachel: That’s right.
Jay: And certainly in your case, going across brands, right? You have so many different restaurants in the portfolio that to say, “Well, it worked for this particular restaurant, ergo, it will work for another restaurant.” It’s probably a dangerous assumption as well.
Jay: The fifth way to make your email more awesome is to look at benchmarks and then ignore them. Like, we’ve showed you a bunch of stats from Rachel’s programs today. And that’s awesome. I hope found that illustrative. But your results will vary. Like because it’s so measurable, and frankly, because it’s been around so long like Willie Nelson, there’s more email results benchmark data published than anybody else, right, than any other form of [inaudible 00:43:05], right? So Emma has their state of email marketing report. All the other email service providers out there publish similar data. You can easily, easily, easily with a simple Google search find average open rate, average click-through rate, average click to open rate by industry type.
It’s useful in that you can look at your own program and say, “How are we doing theoretically against companies that are kind of like ours to make sure you’re not way, way, way, way above the norm or way, way, way below the norm. But here’s the fact, if all you care about are averages, you will always be an average marketer. Same is lame. Trying to find somebody else in your industry and copy exactly what they’re doing is never going to make you anything other than second best. So to truly stand out, choose to do something different with your email. The best tests, and I found this to be true specifically, the best tests are those that pit something normal versus something really not normal. Not a slight change, but a major change.
A totally different thing, that actually tends to tell you more information as well. And it’s remarkable how often really unusual emails work because it breaks through the inbox inertia that we’re all faced with when we get a lot of emails. So if you see something totally different can be really effective. So don’t be afraid to test something wacky. This is actually an email that is an animated GIF email. You can see this is what actually happens in your inbox, right? It actually animates the different flowers and the emphasis on the coupon. That is pretty cool. You don’t see that very often from Flower Child. Super effective email. Huge results from the Fox Restaurant Concepts group. Let’s recap.
Rachel: I love… Yeah, yeah, let’s recap.
Jay: The five ways to make your email more awesome. First, make email your digital nerve center. Second, personalize and micro-target, great examples from Rachel, boost authenticity, and that should be UGC, not ugh. Although boosting authenticity and ugh is probably…that’s hilarious. Actually, that’s the funniest typo I’ve ever had in a webinar. Boost authenticity. And you UGC…apologies for that, that’s funny. Test, test, and test and then look at benchmarks and then ignore them, right? So just make sure you’re not way, way above or way, way below the norm. And other than that, don’t worry about it. Do your own testing. Play your own game, as Rachel is. Anything to add, Rachel?
Rachel: No, I think that these are great points. And then the last one is sort of the most important one because I can tell you what works well for me, and Jay can tell you what works well for him. But we don’t have your audience. So the most valuable work you can do is to get to know your audience and what works for them.
Jay: Even in terms of when you spend, right? Like I to send our newsletter for convincing people on Sundays, because we just found that it works better for our audience. They’re mostly mid-career or more senior marketers. And they tend to do that sort of Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening email check before Monday starts. And it’s the best time to sort of get on their radar. That wouldn’t be true for a lot of people.
Rachel: And yeah, depending whether the email’s gonna be, you know, asking somebody to make a purchase, how good is your mobile website if you are asking somebody to make a purchase, right? If you don’t have a great mobile experience, I would recommend you get one. But let’s say, you know you don’t, don’t send an email, you know, when you expect people are commuting, right? So just think about the situation and don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Jay: Yeah, it’s interesting point about commuting, right? If you’re sending emails during a commuting window, right? Whether it’s, you know, it’s 7:00 to 9:00 maybe in the morning or, you know, 5:00 to 8:00 at night. You know, people, especially in urban areas like yours, you know, they may or may not be able to view this on a desktop. It’s gonna be mobile only at that point. So you gotta think that through.
Rachel: Yep. I agree. Cool.
Jay: I think we’ve got a little bit of time for questions. We had some questions roll in during the session that we want to ask or answer. What do we think?
Becca: Yes, we do. Our first question is from Amanda. Her question is, “What are some tips for growing our list beyond a typical signup form?”
Jay: Rachel, you wanna take that?
Rachel: Sure. Yeah. So there’s a few different strategies that we’ve used successfully. One is social media. You know, we’ve had some success with both paid and organic. You know, different engaging content, putting that out there on social with a link to a signup form because it all ends at the signup form. So hopefully, I’m answering your question because we always end up using a signup form, but different ways to drive people to those signup forms, so social is one. Referral bonuses. You know, if your subscribers recommend somebody who come in and stay on the list, that’s another thing you can try. In-unit signups. So um, there’s something we haven’t used yet but we’re looking into called Text to Join, right, is that what it’s called, Becca?
Rachel: Where you can text on it and it integrates seamlessly with Emma. So we’re gonna pilot that over here. You know, we use signup forms in the restaurant, right, just like a paper signup form. And that’s an effective tool for us, but we know it’s gonna be a lot easier and we’ll probably engage with the demographic we’re looking for a little bit better. We can make it textable. So that’s another thing we’re looking for. And then sweepstakes work. We just wanna make sure whenever we’re doing sweepstakes that we are monitoring that cohort of signups to make sure that they’re quality subscribers because you can grow your list in a lot of ways, but I think the most important thing is to have an engaged list. So small engage list I would take over a large unengaged list any day.
So, for us, we actually…you know, the first year we started working with Emma, we actually shunk our list by getting rid of people who had been dormant and our success has been really, really positive since then. You know, we’re seeing obviously better open rates because we’re sending to smaller people. But we’re seeing more people open our emails through our improved strategies. So, I guess the web to recap, it would be, you know, think about different ways you can drive people to your signup forms, other than putting them on your website. Think about where on the website you wanna put them.
You know, we had a sort of very small, discrete signup box. It doesn’t work. Try a pop up, right? You can add in a light box to call people’s attention to it. Use social to drive people in with engaging content. Try sweepstakes. And then within your store or restaurant or whatever kind of operation you’re running, if you have an in-person experience, you know, make sure you utilize that as well. So, yeah, I think those are some ways.
Becca: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you.
Jay: I couldn’t agree more.
Becca: That kind of leads… Oh, go ahead, Jay.
Jay: I just wanna say something really quick. That list hygiene point is really important. I wanna reemphasize that that, you know, we sort of play this ego game about size of list. And it’s really misplaced. You’re much better off having a small engaged list, not only from a result standpoint, but even from a email delivery standpoint, right? Google, other email delivery organizations, will look at open rate over time, and use that, in part, to make decisions about how your email is treated. So, the higher you can keep that open rate, the better off you’re gonna be. And sometimes, that requires you to send to people who actually have demonstrated by their actions that they do wanna receive your email. So, I mean, the human being reality is this, if somebody hasn’t opened the last 9 emails from you, the chances they’re gonna magically open the 10th one is pretty small. So, at some point, they have voted with their inactivity, and you should feel free to not send them stuff anymore.
Rachel: Yeah. And I think the one thing about that to take a look at is it plays back into segmentation, right? You know, we were looking at our list, and we were getting very aggressive with our hygiene, probably a little too hygienic. And then we sort of started to take a look at what emails people were opening and MLS, you do this by seeing contact history. We have people who maybe only come to us around the holidays every year. So we don’t wanna stop talking to those people. But we only wanna talk to them about the holidays. So we’re not gonna send them the same emails of somebody who’s opening every email or every other email. So yeah, it’s a great…
Jay: Great point.
Rachel: …idea to look at your subscriber history, try to identify patterns, and then send people what they want.
Becca: Absolutely. And that brings us to our next question from Keith. He’s asking, “What is a re-engagement email? And what’s the benefit of sending one?”
Rachel: Do you want me to take that one, Jay, or do you wanna…?
Jay: I’ll start. Yeah, so the idea of the re-engagement email is in the circumstance we were just talking about a moment ago where somebody has not opened a number of emails and they appear to not be participating in your email program, what you would send them is an email that says, “Hey, we just wanna make sure you still wanna get email from us, or we’re gonna give you some options to maybe get a different kind of email from us or email on a different [inaudible 00:43:01] from us. Would you like to do that instead?” If you send them an email that essentially acknowledges their inactivity and ask them to either verify that they wanna stay on the list or take some sort of action that it gives you some additional segmentation information to improve the relevancy of what you’re sending.
So, you basically write up that email and you send it out for folks, and then some are never gonna open it, and those that do are gonna click in and say, “Yeah, I’m still here.” Just to Rachel’s point, maybe you only are interested in getting stuff around the holidays, so maybe give them that as an option. If perhaps you can’t get at that data because you don’t use Emma. Maybe you wanna try and get it from subscribers themselves and say, “Would you like to only get emails from us around the holidays?” That maybe one option you would offer in a re-engagement campaign.
Rachel: That’s great. We used re-engagement to try and help us, you know, keep only our engaged subscribers on our list, and it’s been a great tool for us. It helped us keep our list in a really engaged place. And we send an email that is very simple. It has a sort of a strange subject line. It says, “Hello again,” and we get about a 15% open rate on our re-engagement email, which Becca tells me is pretty high for a re-engagement email, but that’s good. You know, it kind of says to us, you know…and then the person does…sorry, let me finish. So it’s just a picture of a beautifully plated dish of food, and then it kind of says, “Hey, you know, what would you like to hear about? Here are some options.” Clicks through the manage preferences link, and then it puts them back in control. They can opt in and out of whatever they’re interested in, and it’s been great for us.
And then if they don’t open it within a certain amount of time, then we opt them out of the list. It’s not perfect to be, you know, totally transparent. We have had people who say, “Hey, I’m not getting your emails anymore, and they’ll email and we’re like, “Yeah, we know. We tried to tell you that.” And then we have to ask them to opt themselves back in. But for the most part, it’s been effective, and I feel good that I’m only sending content to people who want it. So I highly recommend re-engagement. You can also try sending an offer. We don’t do that for a number of reasons, but I know a lot of brands do if it fits with them. And those are effective.
Becca: Yeah, that’s great. Our next question is from Elizabeth, “How do you make the most of an integration with a CRM? Rachel, I know that you guys integrate with Venga. Could you speak to how you’ve been able to optimize that integration with Emma?”
Rachel: Sure. For us, it’s a multi-faceted integration. Emma and Venga are very helpful. But for us, we also need that…Venga pulls data from OpenTable and it pulls data from Micros as well, which is our POS system. It works with several POS systems and Emma, and it puts it all together in one place. So previously, we didn’t really know what an individual customer was doing. And all that information was in separate places. So it helps us answer a lot of questions. It also pulls in reviews, which is super helpful. So we can, you know, if somebody writes a negative review, if we have their email address, we can go into Venga and see, you know, “Oh, this person is actually a very good customer.
“You know, this is why I wonder what happened.” You can also see which server, you know, was on their table that night. So it helps us sort of just tie everything together. I mean, we use the Venga integration quite a bit. Tells us about the effectiveness of our email campaigns from an email perspective. So I don’t know if other marketers get this a lot. But you’ll send out a beautiful email and you feel really great. And then people will say, “Well, did it work?” I said, “Yes, all these people opened.” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, but did more people come into the restaurant?” And so before we have that integration, we honestly, we didn’t know. We would say, “Oh, some people, you know, clicked on it and I think they’re gonna make a reservation.”
But now we can actually figure out how much revenue was generated from people on our email list. So it helps me also make a case for marketing. You know, our organization is very supportive of marketing and it’s wonderful, but it helps to be able to kind of put the money where my mouth is and show some real tangible results from our campaigns. And, you know, it also makes me happy that I know that all the energy and effort that we expend on our emails, on copywriting, on our designers creating beautiful emails, you know, that it’s worthwhile.
So, for us, it’s validation, but it’s also getting smarter. The Venga information from Micros and OpenTable, from our POS and from our reservation system, that’s what helps us segment. You know, it helps us know about visit history. It helps us know about frequency. It helps us know about purchase behavior. You know, if we send an email about Rosé, let’s not send it to someone who’s never bought any wine from us. So it helps us evaluate our efforts and it also helps us segment and focus our efforts. So, for us, it’s been very valuable.
Becca: Wonderful. Our next question is from Cody, “How do I get started with autoresponders or automated emails?”
Rachel: Autoresponders. So…
Jay: It’s usually pretty easy to set up an autoresponder. You know, the technology part of it’s simple if we’re using a tool like Emma. I think what you’re gonna want to map out is when and why to use an autoresponder. And it’s usually to provide some information back to the customer or the prospect or subscriber that would be to time…it would require too much time to do that manually or maybe it’s gonna take you a while to think it through. So, for example, maybe somebody is going to request an eBook after a webinar. So, they sign up for your form. You send an autoresponder back, which has a link to the eBook so they can download it instantaneously, instead of you having to, you know, do that manually.
The other good reason about…especially in a B2B scenario, using autoresponders and say, “Okay, give us your email address. We’ll send you the link to download this via the autoresponder,” as opposed to just doing it on a Thank You page is that that way, you know, you’re getting an accurate and true email address. If somebody can put in “I’m, you know, firstname.lastname@example.org” and you give them the link to the download on the Thank You page, you have no way to verify that that’s an actual email address. If you say, “We will autorespond or email you the link,” then you know it’s a real email. Does that makes sense?
Becca: Yeah, totally. And then we’ve got one more question. This question is from Joe. He’s asking, “Are there any design tips to make our emails more engaging? I feel like we’ve gotten into a rut of using the same template, stock photos, etc.”
Rachel: Well, I think it’s hard to necessarily answer that question, you know, depending on…because, like everything else, it depends on the audience, depends on what you’re trying to do. For us, you know, we see a lot of success with big, beautiful food photos. We try to make…you know, we have a few templates that we use, but we try to make the imagery different enough that, you know, every email looks and feels on brand, but also a little bit different. So beautiful photography goes a long way. We don’t really use a lot of stock photography in our emails. Occasionally, we’ll do for landscapes and things like that. But for the most part, we try to take…we’re lucky.
You know, food is beautiful. So we have a lot of really beautiful [inaudible 00:40:44]. But big, clear calls to action. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t try to be cute… I mean, be cute with what the CTA is, but make it super clear. Don’t try to hide it, put a big button in the center. I mean, that’s one thing you’ll see about all of our emails. Every email has at least one big CTA button, and making that change for us has gone a long way. We try to hide links and text. You know, people are busy. They need you to be clear. You need to tell them what you want them to do. So I think the best design tips, at least for me, have more to do with sort of clarity.
And honestly, if you feel like you’re in a design rut, what is your data telling you? Are you seeing less engagement? Are you seeing fewer clicks? That actually should tell you there’s a problem. You know, just changing it up for the sake of changing it up. You know, there’s an argument to be made in favor of that. But if what you have is working and it’s effective for you, yeah, then see if you can sort of riff on it. But you wanna be careful not to make big design changes to things that are successful.
Jay: Yeah, I’d say three things to that. One, nobody in the world, including your most loyal subscribers, are looking at your emails as much as your email designers are. So if they’re like, “Oh, we’re bored.” It’s like, “Yeah, but nobody pays that kind of attention to this except for you, right?” So, understand that you are not the target audience for any of this. Second, we talked earlier about authenticity and UGC. And this is an area where, in addition to nice food photos that you have produced, this is where you can take and work with your actual customers to grab some of their awesome Instagram photos and put those into your email, which not only adds a little different vibe, but adds some authenticity as well.
And the third thing I would say is that given the fact that now…and your results may vary by company. But overall, more than half of our emails are opened on a phone. I would encourage everybody to be designing emails on a phone, for a phone, right? So what we’ve done since the very beginning of emails’ history is we create an email on a desktop and then we make sure that it works on a phone. I think we’re at the point now where we should be designing it for the phone and then make sure it works on a desktop.
Becca: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for that information, you guys. Thanks again to Jay and Rachel for joining us. And I just wanted to mention for everyone else attending that we’ll be sending out the recording on Friday. So thanks so much for your time, everyone, and have a great week.
Rachel: Thank you.
Jay: Thanks, everybody.