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Marketers Reveal Their Top 5 Challenges




64% of marketers don’t have the time or personnel to do the marketing they would like – and that’s just the beginning.

In this live Q&A with Jeff Slutz, the author of our just-released industry report, we’ll answer all your burning marketing questions, dive into the biggest challenges facing today’s marketers, and offer solutions for solving them (spoiler alert: email marketing works).

You’ll learn:

  • • The latest goals, trends, & challenges driving today’s marketers

  • • Advice and solutions from top industry leaders

  • • Tips you can use today to do more successful email marketing

Jamie: Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s presentation, “The State of Marketing 2017: Marketers Reveal Their Top Five Challenges.” Before we get started today, we’re gonna do a little housekeeping. We will send the recording of today’s presentations. So if you need to hop off or you just wanna share this with a friend or everyone you’ve ever met, please do. We’ve got you covered. So don’t worry about that. Also, you guys are muted, but please feel free to ask questions throughout today’s presentation. We’re gonna be skipping those up. You can type those directly into your GoToWebinar chat panel and we’ll get to those at the conclusion of today’s podcast. And you guys actually already asked some really great questions at registration. We always love that. So we’ll get to some of those as well. So if you could type in a question, we got you too. Yeah. So anywho, let’s get into it, shall see?

So we know that not everyone on the line today is a customer. So for those of you that may be unfamiliar with Emma, Emma is a provider of best in class email marketing software and services, and we help organizations of all size get more from their marketing. We’ve been around since about 2003 and we are based in Nashville and Portland, Oregon among a few other little spots. I’m actually in Portland today, which is exciting. And my counterpart, Jeff, who I’ll get to in a second is in Nashville. So we’re bicoastal. But who am I? I’m Jamie Bradley. I’m the customer marketing manager here at Emma. And basically that means that I get to come in every day and develop communications and other programs for our customers at every point in their journey with Emma, which I am honored to do and I’m excited anytime I get to talk to you guys, one-to-many or one-to-one. So thank you so much for joining us.

And over in Nashville, we’ve got one of my favorite fellows, Jeff Slutz. On a normal day, we sit right across from each other and we work really closely on the aforementioned communications and programs. Jeff is our senior content writer. There is not a stitch, a word, a syllable that does not pass across Jeff’s desk on the website and beyond. And that is also certainly not limited to our very first industry reports. There it is. It’s so beautiful. A virtual copy of it, mind you. So what is driving today’s marketers? Jeff is gonna tell us a little bit more about the reports, our findings, and then we’re gonna hop in, you know, back in…or I’ll hop back in, sorry, as we go throughout the report today and look at sort of what we discovered. So, Jeff, tell us more.

Jeff: Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for that lovely introduction, Jamie. So why did we decide to do an entry in Portland in the first place? We certainly love data around here and it was sort of a crime that we had actually never gone out to collect some of our own from the smart marketers we get to work with every day. But more importantly, we also love helping marketers be more successful and get better at what we do. So with having nearly 1,000 marketers joining us at our annual Marketing United Conference this past April, we figured, why not ask them? What do you wish you could do better? What are some of those big barriers that are preventing you from doing it? And more importantly, how are you trying to overcome them? And the other nice thing about conducting that survey at Marketing United is that we had access to some of the most brilliant minds in marketing and our keynote and sessions speakers. So we were able to ask their advice, incorporate that into the report, and we actually learned some really interesting things and we’re excited to share some of those highlights and findings with you.

Jamie: So for today, we’re going to distill the report into really three main categories and we’re gonna divide and conquer it together because we’re all in this together, guys. So number one, we’re gonna go over some of the things that are just facing us today, these challenges that are really common. And some we knew, sometimes a little bit by surprise, and all of them are things that Jeff and I can empathize with you guys with. Also, we’re gonna look at solutions for conquering those. So we’re not just gonna highlight the problems, we’re actually going to show you some ways that specifically you can use email as a channel to sort of break down some of those barriers that we’re all facing as common roadblocks.

And then, of course, we’re gonna look at examples. That’s my favorite. we’re gonna take a look at what other marketers just like you and I are doing and how they’re tackling some of these pain points and all that, Jeff. So first, challenge number one, let’s look at it. Drum roll, please. Marketers struggle with conflicting priorities. Jeff, what does that mean? What does it mean? Tell me.

Jeff: We’ll tell you. So this is really all about the push and pull of audience expectations versus your internal goals. So we found that 47% of response who took our survey felt more pressured to meet internal goals than those audience expectations. And while on the surface, this seems very natural since your organization is the one that’s paying your salary, but if we take a step back and look at some of the most current thought leadership and success stories we’ve been seeing out there over the past few years, then we know that the best marketing is actually centered on the customer, not necessarily on your internal goals. It’s like 80% customer service and support, the content that they need and they find most relevant versus roughly 20% offers from your brand. I mean, Jay Baer wrote an entire bestselling book about this idea in utility. So you’re welcome for the plug there, Jay.

But then we decided to dig a little deeper into that and we saw there’s a definite disconnect with that prevailing customer-centered thought leadership. We found that 68% of marketers say that gaining new customers while increasing revenue are actually their ultimate measure of success, not customer satisfaction. So if we’re not careful as markers, that can quickly lead to a lot of that really bad sell, sell, sell type of marketing that you see out there. It’s marketing that’s not about your customers’ wants and needs at all. It’s literally all about you and your brand and what you have to offer, which, you know, sitting on, you know, taking the marketer hat off for a second, when you’re sitting there looking at your inbox, that’s at the very least annoying and at the worst that can be outright counterproductive to your end.

Jamie: Exactly. We’ve got this quote here, plug Jay Baer, we also had Justine Jordan for Litmus joining us at the conference and she said this. She said, “There’s a part of the Venn diagram that has your customers’ needs and there’s a part that has your business needs. And when they meet in the middle, that’s when the magic happens.” And that’s why I really love this quote, is it’s helping shift that perspective, you know, by focusing on your audience, their wants and their needs., you know, you do become more valuable inherently and more useful to them. Today’s consumer is too, you know, they know that they’re being sold to. We know that there’s marketing everywhere. We even have it, you know, in Amazon Alexa in our house and we are constantly being marketed to, online and out. And it’s not always a bad thing if you’re doing it respectfully. And a really good example, you know, again, I know what I’m being targeted with an ad on Facebook, but if that ad is useful to me, it stops being an ad and it starts to actually being something that I’m likely to react to and perhaps driving me closer to that brand.

And you can actually sell more in the long run if you sort of take this approach. And, you know, when you think about it, if you wanna frame it this way, you know, what that first priority was, “Hey, we wanna satisfy our bosses.” But if you really think about it, the consumer now is your boss’s boss. So if you’re trying to make your boss happy, make that consumer happy first. Be focused on that customer, you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone. And you live to market another day, which is nice.

So challenge number two that marketers are seeing is that they’re trying to keep up with the biggest brands in the world. And so let’s look at a little example here of what we mean by that? You know, this is a snapshot from a typical day in the inbox. This is a mobile view of my actual inbox. And marketers here and we say they’re trying to keep up with the biggest brands. You’re also keeping up in this space with people that actually know me. You’re competing with my colleagues. You’re competing with other brands that I just happen to really like, and you’re competing with brands that I have to pay attention to in order to be successful like TechCrunch, for example. And, you know, again, that’s something to be really mindful of in this space. So when we say you’re competing with the biggest brands, it’s not just your direct competitors, it’s all brands. It’s everyone from Coca Cola to, you know, let’s see, Domino, for instance. So let’s look at a stat here from Jeff. So yeah.

Jeff: And so, yeah, when it comes to keeping up with those big brands, as you can see here, most marketing teams are actually pretty small. Fifty-eight percent of those who took our survey said that they have actually less than five people on their team. There’s likely to be a little bit of variance here depending on how you define a marketing team. For example, some organizations might not include a designers or developers under that umbrella, but I think the overall sentiment is right. There are going to be more smaller fish and there are bigger fish. But the point is that consumers don’t care how big or small your team is. They’re not gonna grade you on a curve when it comes to your marketing of those… As you saw in Jamie’s inbox there, those emails are on even ground when they land there. So you have to stand out on the strength of your content and your strategy.

But we get it. That is certainly easier said than done. And, you know, the stat here isn’t actually from our report, but I think it really hits the nail on the head that marketers are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of volume that’s coming…volume of info that’s coming in. There’s tons of data. There’re a ton of channels. You look at what the big brands are doing out there. You look at your own limited resources and frankly, it kind of makes me wanna throw up. So with all of that stacked against you, how can you go toe-to-toe with those Coca-Colas and the Apples and the Disneys of the world.

Our friend, Kevin Carroll, who joined us at Marketing United and he really said it best, which is really just focus on you. Don’t try to do what the big brands are doing because you actually have the ability to do things that they can’t. You’re more agile. You can move faster. Things don’t get held up by the bureaucracy and the endless approval processes that marketers in those big brands have to go through. And because of that, you can actually test your concept more often and hone in on what truly works for your brand and when you find what works, go after it hard. So testing is really your secret weapon. And here’s why, it helps settle arguments. So much of what we do as marketers is still very subjective. So if you have creative differences, and I’m sure that happens all the time at your organization, just like it does here at Emma, test it and let the data decide. We do this all the time, especially with subject lines and headlines. So if you have two ideas, you can’t choose between, do a 50/50 test and see what wins.

Testing also helps you convince your boss. Pitching something to your boss is always stressful. So it certainly helps to have that data on your side. If you wanna sell your boss on trying something new or invest more into a particular channel or launch a new campaign, test certain elements out of it out first, and get some data that really supports your case. It’ll make that pitch much less nerve-wracking. And most importantly, testing gives your audience a vote in how you market to them. So when you’re testing and you’re letting that data lead the way, what you are actually doing is listening to your audience. They’ll tell you what they wanna see from your brand. All you have to do is listen. And that takes some of the guesswork out of your marketing, which is always a beautiful thing. And Jamie’s gonna tell you how we do some of that.

Jamie: I am, yeah. So we’ve talked obviously Marketing United is where we conducted the survey. And it’s a huge event for us each year. And so one place that I would say, you know, our most fertile testing ground has really been centered around this Marketing United Conference, seeing, you know, what people are reacting to, how they’re responding when we send something about speakers, you know, what does that look like when you send something about, you know, the agenda or the venue. But one of the easiest places, as Jeff mentioned, to really center, you know, those efforts and get people to open those emails is to test the subject line. And when we talk about testing, email marketing testing, that’s really one of the easiest levers that you can pull and one of the most important. Because it doesn’t matter how powerful, you know, how big of a brand you are. If you’re Coca-Cola, if you have a bad subject line, I may not open your email.  I may not even pay attention to it.

So in this example, what we were testing was the subject line “They’re baaaack…” versus “Look who’s coming back to Nashville.” You can’t not say it, by the way. And you can probably guess which one won just based on my enthusiasm alone. Of course, it was “They’re baaaack…” And there are a couple of reasons for that and actually, I’m gonna dig in deeper because “They’re back” only won for a very specific segment of our audience, which was the customer. The other subject client actually worked by a slightly larger margin with the noncustomers because Marketing United is something that we don’t exclusively market to our own customer base.

And so there’s some interesting things going on here with these subject lines. One, first and foremost, “They’re back,” that is a little bit more familiar. It’s a little bit more personality inflected there. It’s, you know, that’s something that is actually a part of our brand voice and that is, you know, something that Jeff is the keeper of, if you will, you guys are in luck if you have questions about that. But with that brand voice, with that, our consumers or our customers recognized that and appreciate it and understand it and they’re more likely to engage. The “Look who’s coming back to Nashville,” that’s a little drier. It’s a little bit more direct and there’s, you know, probably a reason why that worked with some of those noncustomers who don’t know us yet. And so, you know, the other thing too though about “They’re back” and my personal preference is that just visually, it’s a shorter subject line and we’ll talk a little bit more about some of those best practices as they go. So we’ll put a pin there, but just remember that it’s less characters than the longer subject line and that can actually matter, too.

So let’s look at another test beyond the subject line tone. So once you get in, once you sort of nail those subject lines and learning more about your audience and testing them, you can get into actually some deeper segmentation or content testing here. So we actually have a team internally, our services team here at Emma and clients can reach out to us and work with those services specialists and they sit down and they come to them and they can strategize on anything from a subject line to the design of the emails themselves. So this particular client came to us and said, “Hey, we’re not seeing the kind of engagement in our mailings that we wanna see. Why do you think that is?” And one of the easiest ways to track that engagement of course is click behavior, clickthrough rate on a mailing.

And so we sat down with them and we looked. And with this sort of back and forth, we could see the email on the left was sort of their original design that they were going with on a more regular basis. The email on the right was what actually their bosses or rather sort of a supervisor suggested that they do. It had tons of little buttons and it had tons of articles. And Koloa Landing, you know, it was like, “Hey, we’ve been sending the one on the left, but really liked this one, but our supervisor really wants us to send one that has tons of buttons in it. What do you think we should do?”

And so of course their services specialist said, “Let’s test it.” And the one on the left, the one that they had been doing actually outperformed the one on the right. And so what that told us was that we were able to see the messaging, perhaps, you know, it wasn’t necessarily the design of the email. It wasn’t that they had too many buttons or, you know, so on and so forth. It was that there was actually probably something else going on there with engagements. We were able to at least eliminate that it was the formatting of the email by that. We were also able to give that client something that they could take back to their boss to say, “Hey, we actually tested these and the one that we have been doing outperformed your new idea. So let’s go back to the drawing board and think about maybe it’s the value of the package we’re giving away. Maybe we need to, you know, have a sale or something of that nature.”

So with testing, it’s as much about the structure of the mailing as it is about sort of the content that you’re sending and just being able to sort of put those two things side by side in the inbox can be really helpful to find out what is gonna move the needle for you there. And so they’re still testing, which I really like. And you see here, they’ve got it, it’s pretty small, but they’ve got, “No place on earth quite like it.” They had a more of a subject line there and then they had “No place like it for romance.” So they’re actually just testing the language now, not the structure of the mailing.

And this is just a screenshot from within their account of our A/B content testing tool. And what’s really nice about this is that you can test all kinds of things when you’re testing content variables. So it’s not just the buttons, it’s not just the calls to action. It’s actually the image placement. It’s the content length. You can test shorter or longer mailings, obviously, subject lines and pre-header text as we looked at. But you can also even test the sender name and sender address, and that’s something that we can kind of dig into as we go forward. But you do it across the percentage of your audience. And we’ll actually, after about four hours, send the winning email out. But it’s nice to know, too, that you actually can go in and you can stop that test if you think, “Hey, I proved my point,” or, “Hey, we’re not really seeing the results we want. We feel really strongly about mailing A over B,” you can go in and sort of override that. So that’s important to note.

But again, when it comes to testing, it’s not just the subject line, it really truly can be, you know, it’s not baking in your own assumptions. It really is looking at the data and seeing what your audience is telling you, which is, as Jeff said, the most important aspect.

Jeff: So while testing is certainly one way that smaller brands can keep up with those bigger brands, one mistake that a lot of us still make is thinking that we have to be everywhere those big brands are all the time chasing every shiny new channel that comes along. So that brings us to our next challenge, which is that there are too many channels and marketers are simply not seeing enough return. So there are a couple of stats that I would like to share with you from the report. So first, 47% of the marketers report that email generates the most ROI or ROI easy for me to say for their organization. And second, 58% plan to increase spending on email marketing during the next year. Both of those stats are higher for email than for any other channel.

So if you’ve been paying attention to marketing trends over the past few years at all, then these numbers really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Every new channel that comes along wants to proclaim that email is dead. But bad batch and blast email, yeah, that certainly should be put out to pasture and frankly should never have been allowed to live in the first place. But smart, strategic email marketing, these numbers are showing that it’s thriving. So even though the new channels seem fun and shiny and new and you wanna jump on them, you really don’t wanna invest a ton of time in them if you don’t have that well-oiled email marketing machine in place first. So when it comes to building that machine, there [crosstalk 00:20:26].

Jamie: Well, step one, focus on growing your list. You know, the biggest takeaway I think from our findings, again, is that the customer is what you need to put first. And, of course, you can’t have a stellar solid email machine without people to email. So it really is your most valuable asset. We’re gonna look at a couple folks that are doing that really well. So when you talk about, you know, growing that list, growing and maintaining that list, the average email list will actually churn at about 30% annually. And that’s just a healthy list. That’s just normal. People will fall off, people will switch jobs. Email lists are not static by any means. And so focusing on your list sort of growth and list maintenance are, again, super valuable.

So what you see here is a brand GoldieBlox, they’re a retail brand. And they have this lightbox form. And you’re probably thinking, you know, “Oh, my gosh, I see those forms all the time. They pop up.” You know, you may like them, you may not. One reason that you’re seeing them everywhere and why you have for the past couple of years is because they’re incredibly effective. In some cases when they’re implemented, you actually could see about a 46% to 50% increase in new signups when you start implementing these types of forums over those static sort of embedded forms.

That’s not to say static forms are bad. You can actually even see grade out at the top there. It says “Join our email list.” These just sort of worked together mainly because they are hitting people exactly where they are sort in their customer journey. So things that are good about this popup form one is that it’s establishing value right out of the gate and saying you’re gonna get 10% off your first order. You’re gonna get free shipping, all that jazz, and we are only asking you, it’s very low friction, only asking you for just one piece of data. We just need that email address to do it.

The other thing that’s really great about this lightbox form is that it doesn’t appear when you just hit It actually is what’s called an exit intent popup, meaning that this form appears when I go to actually leave this website. So this is a really, really great experience on a desktop specifically, which is nice. Not all experiences are built for that. But when you go to actually exit this webpage, then it pops up and that is just a great way to say, “Hey, you know, we do want you here.” It’s sort of a last ditch effort to capture your attention. The thought being that, you know, perhaps if you were saying on the website and engaging further, you may sign up, you know, on a different page and get a different offer as well.  So it’s really, really nice and again, it’s not asking for too much, but most importantly, it’s customer-centered both in when it shows up and what you’re getting, which is really, really nice.

So when we talk about really great experiences, though, you know, again, like I mentioned, that’s good on a desktop. Where you really have to focus this on the mobile experience and it is long overdue. If you’re not designing all of your web experiences, especially your email experiences for mobile-first, you’re kind of behind the curve. And I’ll show you an example of really what we mean by that designing for mobile. We have a good before and after here. So we have a customer called Visit Philadelphia. They are the convention and visitors bureau for Philadelphia. Imagine that. It’d be weird if they weren’t. And so they came to us. They have an amazing, you know, they had an amazing email list. They had a good program. It was solid. But they came to us and they were like, “We wanna iterate, we wanna get better, we really wanna grow.” And so we were like, “Hey, that’s what we love to do, too.”

So if you look at this email here on the left, I pointed out some reasons why it’s not fantastic, but first and foremost, if you just glance at this email, what I do like to point out is that it’s not bad. Like, unless you’re a big email, you know, sort of analyst and looking into it and sending on behalf of this brand, you would never receive this email and say, “This is a bad email. But there were things that can make it much stronger and most importantly, it was really designing it for that mobile space in mind.”

So you have sort of this classic layout. There’s way too many calls to action. And if you notice, too, those calls to action are all appearing in the form of text links. So earlier when we looked to that Koloa Landing example, you know, they were testing buttons. This email, and you’ll see here in a moment, could really benefit from buttons mainly because when we say design for a mobile space, buttons are much easier to interact with. Just basically, your finger can tap a button much more easily than it can a tiny, tiny text link. And that’s exactly what it’s gonna look like on phone. And then, of course, when you look at it mocked up in a telephone, you’re only able to see a portion of the header because it is not a mobile-optimized template. And just using a service like Emma, just by making that switch, we are able to actually, you know, design a template for them that no matter what, it was going to render properly on mobile, but we’re able to also educate them on some tactics that they could use.

So if we look at the after, there we go, first and foremost, one thing that sticks out is that Read More button. It’s very clear what they want me to do. They’re still using great imagery. They’re still using a strong headline just like they did before, but I now know that I can click on that. I know that I can go to read more. They also switched to a single-column layout, which just allows focus. One reason that Koloa Landings, that example from before, you know, one reason why the one on the left performed better than the one with multiple buttons is because it was about one singular topic or it had a little bit more of a focus. It was easy to see what you wanted them to do. This one actually has multiple buttons, but each one corresponds to one sort of topic.

So they were able to pare down, instead of having hundreds of links, they were able to pare down examples, I’m sorry, events, sort of one at a time and really give focus to the mailing overall. After all, it’s a digest. It’s okay that there’s multiple articles, but there’s a cohesion. It’s things to do this weekend. And again, there’s a great mobile responsive design. It’s just going to show up and look good on the phone. So just for making these tiny tweaks, they got some great results. In fact, they got a 20% lift in clicks immediately. And just by doing this as well and by investing in their list and by investing in designing for those mobile experiences, which we actually did both for them. They’re growing their list by thousands of people. They actually get to do the lightbox and they’re getting more engagement than ever before. So they are doing it right.

And step three, as we just saw before, having a single, focused call to action is key. And again, preferably in the form of a button, not a text link. So we’re gonna look at more examples here because I can talk about that literally for hours.

So I love this example from Patagonia. They’re sort of taking all of the elements that we’ve mentioned and sort of marrying them. And they do this in this beautiful way with every mailing that they send. So when we say focused call to action there, they’ve got this button. It has actionable great language on it. It’s “Shop Backcountry Touring,” which is the name of this line. What I love about this mailing is that they actually, not only does it look amazing on a mobile device, but they’ve made it so that you are really experiencing this new line of active wear in a way that might strike you no matter who you are.

So right out of the gate, they’ve got this amazing, amazing video up here at the top. So they’re actually showing you…they’re showing someone actually wearing these clothes and having this amazing experience in them. Then they have a little blurb about it. Then they have this button and then write beneath that, you can see in the long, this is just three different views of the same mailing. They’ve got it put together as an outfit. So if you’re having trouble visualizing the clothes or you can’t get a good view in the video screenshot, there you go. And then if you’re just, you know, sort of the cut-and-dry type, down below that, they’ve got a titled out per piece that you can experience this line. So just sort of, you know, visually, there’s different things you can click, but again, there’s one cohesive theme. There’s buttons where you can experience it.

And again, that video anchoring at the top is really, really important. Video views on mobile are through the roof. Video and email specifically, or representation of a video can increase your clickthrough rate by, you know, 100%. Just showing that there’s video content sometimes can get me to click through. And Patagonia is the real winner here because if I click through that video, guess what? The landing page where I go looks really similar to this mailing as well. So they’re replicating a cohesive experience and it’s just a huge winner. And they’re embracing the scroll.

So it’s okay to have a little bit longer of an email on a mobile device because we’re, you know, sort of flicking our thumbs up and down just inherently anytime that we open anything on phone. So it’s okay to sort of slowly unravel and repeat some content there for that experience. So but, you know, you’ve got a great list. You’ve got buttons. You’ve got an awesome mobile experience with video, but what’s missing? What’s left?

Jeff: All those are great examples, and I think the through line there is that you’re trying to create the best experience possible for your audience. And that brings us to challenge number four, which is that marketers, they want to get more personal. And while we certainly frame this as a challenge, I actually find these numbers encouraging because 37% of marketers wish they could do more targeted marketing, and I think that’s a good sign. If you’ve been paying attention, then you’re picking up on the theme that targeted customer-focused marketing, that’s the ticket. So it’s nice to see that marketers wanna do more of it. Because personalized marketing, that’s the stuff that resonates, that drives results for your brand. Like this quote from Matthew Luhn of Pixar says, “If you want someone to take action, then you have to make them feel something,” whether that’s an emotional response, a feeling of connection, or simply a sense of urgency.

And you can’t really do that if you’re sending impersonal, disconnected batch and blast communications. But segmentation, it’s not only about creating those warm and fluffy feelings of connection for your brand, it actually drives real business results. I mean, just look at that stat right there. That’s insane.

Jamie: That’s a big stat.

Jeff: I mean, if you wanna talk about… Yeah. If you wanna talk about pressing your boss and resolving the conflict between those internal goals and audience expectations, that’s how you do it right there. And there are a few brands who are certainly crushing it when it comes to the segmentation.

Jamie: Yeah. So, you know, and just, again, to reiterate what Jeff said, you know, when you put that consumer first, segmentation being a huge part of that, it’s not just putting the consumer first and, you know, messaging them, it’s really honing out on what do they wanna know, where are they in the journey, where did they come from? So this example from The Escape Game, for those of you who are unfamiliar with The Escape Game is where you pay someone money to lock you in a room for fun. For fun [inaudible 00:32:10]. And I’ve actually done it and despite my horrible anxiety, was super duper fun and I would highly recommend it. The Escape Game knows that, too. This is why they’re a really smart brand. They know that even the trepidatious first timers like me will probably end up loving this experience.

And so they have this amazing email that they send out after you register, or sorry, after you go and attend an escape. I actually didn’t escape, which is so embarrassing. They do eventually let you out of the room. I know. So that was my fear and I got out. But once I got out of the room, I got this email basically saying, “Hey, thank you so much for playing. You played in Nashville,” which was an easy piece of data. They of course know where I was physically when I did this game. And they’re saying, “Hey, Fallfun.” That’s easy to skim and scan. About 80% of your audience is just scanning. Jeff, cover your ears. No one is reading your emails word for word, so pay attention to the words you use, but this email is really great.  Not only is it segmented, but it’s super easy to scan. The message is the same. Everyone’s getting the same, you know, offer.

And so you’re able to skim this, scan it right off the top. I can see, hey, I see Nashville Orlando or Austin phone numbers. I see that nice, beautiful header showing me, you know, an image for my city. I also can scan and here’s a fun fact. The way Fallfun is just formatted without a space, our brains are now getting trained to know that that’s probably a promo code, which is really interesting. Book Now is this beautiful, huge, actionable button that I can click and then down below that they’ve actually customized the games. So mission to Mars, which is what I wanna do next is not available in the cities of Orlando and Austin, but it is in Nashville.

So this entire mailing from top to bottom is tailored to what city that I’m in. It’s just a really great subtle use of segmentation and personalization because they’re not saying, “Hey Jamie, you did this thing.” They’re actually saying, “Hey Jamie, we know you live in Nashville. We’re paying attention. Oh, by the way, here’s the other stuff that you can do.” So not only are they giving me a discount, but they’re teasing me. I didn’t even know that I could go to Mars and now probably gonna do it. So really, really brilliant example, crazy effective. I could talk about it all day. And I might.

So this next example sort of taking it a layer deeper. This is a brand called ecobee and they make ecological, smart thermostat, home thermostats. And this is a really great example of what’s possible even deeper with dynamic content and personalization because ecobee is getting a little bit more advanced with using their data in the previous example.

So here they’re sending a mailing to a woman named Kristen and telling her exactly how much money that their thermostat was able to save her on her last electric bill. And this is a really remarkable use of segmentation and content to very plainly spell out the value of the product to Kristen and increase the likelihood that she is going to buy even more of their products, because she already has a thermostat. That it’s not something, if they’re making these products correctly that she can buy it again. So these mailings have to continue to strengthen the relationship with her as a valued customer. They’re saying, “Hey, this is why you did this.” And they probably also have other segments or other products that they would like her to buy. And so it’s a really great way to just show that this product sort of sits in Kristen’s world and in her life and literally in her home.

But what happens… you know, we saw that you can get a 760% increase in revenue when you segment, but what happens when you don’t. So 56% of people actually unsubscribe from emails due to content that is no longer relevant. So when I said it earlier that 30% sort of just churn annually fall off your list, that’s by natural means. That’s not necessarily because they were alienated by your content. When you’re not segmenting, when you’re not sending content or trying to pay attention, you can get yourself into trouble. So this is an example from my world. So I have a Toyota Yaris, very proud Yaris owner sitting over here. And I got this email from Toyota that says, “Jamie experience the world of the Yaris ownership,” which is a nice sentiment, right? That is they know what car I drive, they know my name. The problem is, is that this content has absolutely nothing to do with that at all. The content itself is not cohesive.

And, in fact, when we talk about design, when we talk about sort of the experience that I’m having with this brand, I don’t even know what they want me to do. Not only is it irrelevant, I’m not sure they want me to buy a new car. They are apparently telling me that I lose my keys a lot. Then they’re also trying to sell me an SUV and then they’re bragging about this photographer. I mean, it’s all over the map. But I’m happy to report that they’ve gotten it together.

And so once I started receiving emails like this from Toyota, I actually started to pay attention to them. Truth be told that, previous mailing, that’s in webinars, I talk about it, but those were never effective to me. My eyes glazed over them. When you give people too many options, that’s actually a cognitive phenomenon called choice paradox. You become overwhelmed with too much choice. I call it like the Netflix effect. I can’t tell you how many times I just look at all the options and then I turn my TV off because I don’t know what to do. But when you have data, when you’re using it properly, and you’re able to serve me content at strategic touch points in my life cycle, I’m much more likely to pay attention. So this email on the left is a great example of reengagement. “Jamie, you haven’t brought this Yaris in, in a hot minute, you know, it’s about to explode, probably, your check engine light is probably on.”

I actually have gotten to my car service from an email like this because I’m like, “You know what, I’m about to go on a trip. You’re right.” And they’re actually saying, “We miss you,” which is great language. The buttons in this mailing are red. The color of the button is important here because it’s urgent. The placement of the button, it’s above the text. Again, I’m not reading this. I don’t need to read the message below to even understand what they want me to do. They just really want me to schedule a service and they want it to be urgent.

Meanwhile, though, the email on the right is the one actually trying to sell me a car. So they’re trying to get me to upgrade and really what they’re doing here. How many people, and I can’t see your hands, so that’s rhetorical, how many people have actually purchased a car from an email, probably about zero. It’s probably not very common. But you can plant the seed, you can nurture the relationship. You can tell me, you can suggest that I should buy a car from an email and they know that.

And so when they’re telling me that I’m eligible for the upgrade, what they’re doing here is that they’re putting the content first. What they’re gonna do is entice me with that big, beautiful image. I might read the message and then there’s some nice sort of gray buttons saying, “Upgrade now or view options.” And really what they’re trying to get me to do here is just hopefully land on a page where I can, you know, or maybe suggest that on a lazy Sunday I should go look at some cars, which is how I got the Yaris in the first place. So really great example of hitting me at the right time, but also structuring a mailing correctly and making sure that the timing is appropriate as well as the messaging. And it’s just a phenomenal example that I do sure love.

But what if you’re not Toyota? Again, you may not be working on behalf of the brand that doesn’t already have international name recognition. And so that’s gonna bring us back to sort of our fifth challenge. What is it, Jeff?

Jeff: That is that marketers don’t have the resources that they need. I imagine there are probably some heads nodding on the other end of this line because this is by far the number one pain point I hear about when I’m talking with marketers out there. And the data from our surveys certainly proved it out, 64% simply don’t have enough time or personnel to do the kind of marketing they would like. And look, we feel that too around Emma. There’s always something more that we’d like to do that if we just had more time and help. But there’s also a few ways that you can solve for that. So if you think back to that Kevin Carroll quote I shared earlier, “Focus on what you do best and then once you have that, maximize the heck out of it.”

Number two, there’s a mantra that we have around these parts, which is “Never market alone.” Marketing is a team sport, so do some co-marketing with your partners to widen your reach or make sure you choose vendors who offer some strategic and tactical support in addition to the products that you purchased. That’ll certainly help.

And number three, it’s time to embrace automation for real this time, because, like, we hear it all the time that, you know, “I know automation works. I know I should be using it, but I just haven’t got around to it or I don’t know where to start.” And look, we’re right there with you. We’re a marketing software and services company and even we could be doing a better job of using automation. But the fact is, not only will it help you save time, it’ll help you with that. There’s lack of resources. The results are just simply too big to ignore. The stat comes from Blueshift, and they found that triggered emails drive 624% higher click rates than batch and blast emails. That’s some serious smelling salts for marketers who are still blast sending the same content to everyone on their list. But look, automation can certainly seem intimidating at first. We’re all afraid that we might screw something up and have like a marketing robot going off the rails. But there’s some quick and easy ways that you can start. And one of those is [crosstalk 00:42:41] walk us through.

Jamie: Absolutely. And this is a fun fact. I am actually in the process where some of our customers right now trying to develop a new version of this. And it is so important, we believe in it. And we really believe in this sort of one, two, three, four model when you don’t know where to start. So when we’re showing you this, this sort of template here, this is truly the beginner’s welcome series. So if you were, you know, talking to a new segment, it could even be a segment that you’ve been talking to, but it’s just a new interaction point. When you wanna get someone acclimated to a new idea, you wanna say, “Hey, we’re glad you’re on this list or we’re glad you’re this type of customer or we’re glad that you did this.” This sort of nice automated introduction period with email is really, really important.

And so I’ll just really briefly outline this because, again, your data should help inform how this sort of grows and shifts over time. But email one, it should always be, “Hey, thank you.” It’s an introduction, especially if I’m brand new. It’s really just telling me, “Hey, here’s what’s valuable about this new interaction that we’re having whether it’s the first time we’re meeting or just something new that you’re doing as a customer. Also, this is the point where if you were offering it at a discount, this is where obviously, you wanna make good on that. You wanna make sure that it short up with the experience they had when they signed up for your list or they got into this workflow. This is also just a great place to just tell us a little bit of, you know, tell us a little bit more about what we should expect from this email series. If you’re planning on sending a daily sort of, “Hey, this is gonna be sent, you know, every day this week. We’re gonna actually have five emails.” This is where you set those kinds of expectations, which is key with the relationship. Clarity is key.

Email two, so let’s say you’re not sending it day, you’re sending it maybe every few days. Email two is where you can start to, again, show me more value, show me value in this relationship. And a really great way to do that is by showing me how someone else is experiencing your brand. So it could be a case study. It’s social proof. It’s someone saying, “You know, this brand made a difference in my life and it’s really helpful.”

Email three is where you start to perhaps show me some content that other people find to be valuable. Again, you’re still building a case for this new sort of interaction point here. This is also a mailing where just by simply having multiple options or multiple things for people to click on, you can start to provide sort of some pathways for customers to self-identify what’s most important to them. A recent example is that our third email in our welcome series, it’s all about getting the most out of your data. But we have three different flavors of that content. So, you know, flavor one is just to help resource. So this person wants tech help. The number two is how to use the feature, and number three is a social, you know, a story about how someone else is using it. And from that data, once we start getting that in, we’re gonna be able to segment that audience and see, “Hey, these people are maybe in some different spots and then we can talk to them differently down the road.”

Email four, that’s where you can start to sort of make the suggestion that maybe this is a back and forth relationship. Maybe I actually do really want you to do something, but you’ve built your case in the previous emails. So email four is where you can get a little bit bolder, a little bit clear with your call to action. And in this example, this nonprofit is simply saying, “Hey, become a recurring donor. We’ve shown you everything that you need to know about this product and other services.” And so this is a nice little place to start and we believe in ourselves here at Emma. So once you start sending though, and once you get in there, you can actually trigger things not just off of experiences people have on the web, but you can actually trigger emails off of other emails.

And so with automation, again, based on what people are clicking, how people are engaging with emails, you can actually start to send content immediately with automation that really gets them at the right time when they’re ready for it. And so this example here, this is from my inbox, as you can see, and I actually went to this place. This is a real story. Email on the left, I got this email. It was just their nice little sort of general digest that I signed up for from this hotel group, but the image down there of Hotel Havana in San Antonio, a place that I frequent because of my family, caught my eye and I clicked on it. And then, I actually didn’t register. I didn’t buy the hotel. A few days later, I get this email saying, “Hey, there’s still availability at Hotel Havana. This is a great hotel.” And they just used the same image.

So this, you know, was a super impactful touch point because it reminded me, “Hey, I kind of abandoned this. This could work for items in a cart.” This could also work for, “Hey, they, you know, went and read your case studies about donating, but they didn’t sign up. They looked at some content, but they didn’t fill up the gate and download the whole piece or whatever.” You can use this, you know, sort of interactions based on what people aren’t doing to send them really, really impactful follow-ups. And I love this example, and these are easy things to do and implement. And here with Emma, again, we’ve got the services specialists that can help set it up for you.

So in closing, we are gonna take some questions. But, you know, as we’ve said today, the top sort of four takeaways, having a rock solid email strategy, really focusing on the things that matter are really important. Testing and testing and testing again, looking at that data, making informed decisions and using it, too, to go to your boss and fight for maybe changing the format of an email, maybe moving a button, whatever it may be that you think can make things more impactful, that data’s gonna be your best friend. And then it’s getting more personal, segmenting the audience. It’s paying attention to people’s behaviors and their response data. And then again, using that data to embrace automation, to get the timing correct and get in front of people when it really, really matters. So all right, Q&A. All right, Jeff, you ready? Okay.

Jeff: Yeah, let’s do some questions.

Jamie: Yeah. So let’s see here. So I’m gonna just go right out. This is from registration, Ellen asked, “Does email design make a difference to millennials?” What do you think, Jeff?

Jeff: Absolutely. You know, the thing is, you know, there’s such a focus these days on how to market to millennials. But I think what a lot of people are missing is that millennials are people just like anybody else, like they like the same things that anybody else does. And if anything, design is probably more important to millennials because they grew up with beautiful email. They weren’t around for the early days when it was like crappy stuff coming in where it’s like, “You’ve got mail.” Like, they don’t remember that stuff. So they’re used to seeing gorgeous design. So I would say absolutely. That’s my favorite.

Jamie: I would definitely…I go to that, and I tell people often, you know, a lot of those design principles that, you know, we talked about, that we’ve mentioned and we have some other webinars and content pieces where we dig really deep into it, those are human stats. Those are sort of where we are as society. Some of them are ancient. Some things like skimming and scanning for quick information, cavemen did that. You know, some of these things being surrounded by enough space, like those are sort of cognitive occurrences that are happening just because that’s human nature. It doesn’t matter if you’re 80 or 8.

And then, when it comes to millennials, I love the point Jeff just made where, you know, millennials are not these different, you know, aren’t this different breed of people and some of these things, some of these online sort of UX principles are dictated by their behavior as much as anyone else’s if not more because they grew up online. They’re living online. They’re not like that Oregon Trail Generation like Jeff and I were. We live, you know, one foot in the analog world, one in the digital. Like, you know, they were born with the internet and would see email and just design that matters. So yeah, I would definitely say it makes a huge difference if not even more so. So definitely focusing there.

And so, okay. Oh, here’s a great one. And this actually segues really nicely. So Christina [SP] wants to know, “If we make a fantastic looking email, we wanna make sure we send it the right time of day. Any suggestions regarding the best time to send an email?” And I will say that this is… I don’t think I’ve done a webinar ever and Jeff probably can answer it based on their blog and things like that. We get this question constantly, that sort of when they said, yeah, how do you answer, Jeff, [inaudible 00:51:57] the same answer.

Jeff: Well, this is one of those things that’s really for testing. So it’s one of those try different times of day and see if it makes an impact on your response results. You know, and the results are a little bit of, you can be a little bit intuitive, you know, if you’re a B2B brand and most of the time, you know, your audience is opening emails when they’re at work. You probably might wanna hit them right away early part of the day, or maybe time it when they’re at lunch and checking their email and things like that. So there’s a little bit of intuition there. But for me, it’s testing because every brand is different. Every audience is different. So you’ll, you’ll, you’ll find it [crosstalk 00:52:40].

Jamie: Exactly. And then, you know, on automation for a reason because I think it’s something that seems crazy daunting, but it’s actually, there’s very simple ways. I mean, you can send a welcome series based on, you know, one sort of piece of criteria. Maybe it’s…you know, when something happens in your CRM, this email starts firing. But the timing is… You know, the consumer is in control, the customer is in control. So sometimes timing, you know, there’s the batch and blast kind of time of day stuff, which is what there’s more thoughts on that, too. And to Jeff’s point like you just have to test it and there is no silver bullet. But timing too is the when you send it can be…when somebody wants it, when somebody does something, they get X email, when they click this, they get that. So I think lumping those two ideas together is really important.

Frequency wise, again, I would just echo what Jeff said, looking at your data. A fun thing, about a week ago, my colleague and I sat down to look at this sort of monthly email that we send. And we’ve taken a break from sending it because we wanted to do some analysis and make sure, you know, that we’re doing the right things. And we looked and we noticed that when we… We used to send it once a month and when we increased sending it to twice a month, we actually got more opt outs, which is a negative metric. You don’t wanna get a lot of opt outs. And so that tells us that perhaps that two times a month is too much and/or maybe it’s two times a month because the content didn’t seem relevant enough, or you know, there’s more things to unpack there. But looking at that data is really, really important because it helps you at least start to figure out, okay, we have one data point which is opt outs. Then we can walk that back and start testing different things too to make sure that that was the reason. So that’s a great question, but again, let the data be your guide. And let’s see. Oh, Denise has two questions for Jeff and I kinda like put Jeff in the live fire here. “What do you say when people say email is dead?” So this is like if I’m Jeff Slutz and I work at Emma and somebody’s like “Email’s dead,” then they have a pitchfork and they’re jabbing, what would you say?

Jeff: I would say that you’re probably doing it wrong. As we go back and look at, you know, we kind of talked about this a little bit earlier. The numbers simply play it out that email time and time again is shown to drive the most ROI when compared to any other channels. So if you look at your base metrics and how you’re actually driving true business results and affecting the bottom line, email is the channel that you’re gonna wanna turn to and maximize. That’s not to say it’s at the expense of other channels. I think all good marketers know that your channels work together to create that sort of a cohesive experience. But typically, when you see the email is dead it’s because there is something new that wants to challenge it. And time and time again, email has shown to be the king. Do best, but not the king if it’s not [crosstalk 00:56:06]

Jamie: I like that. And actually, she had two questions. The other one was more about let me look here, because we’re actually getting some amazing questions live so I hate… I’m gonna let you answer this one while get probably a live question. Based on your… You got it? Yeah.

Jeff: I got it. Yeah, I got it. So yeah. So it’s, “Based on your observations, how many people do you believe are needed to run an effective email program like Emma for 15,000 active users?” So that’s across the board from creating, writing, tracking, managing. I can tell, you know, that’s the thing that we know is that very rarely is there one person on a marketing team that does email marketing, that has the job of email marketer. I mean, when we ask this at conferences. I think you might see that, you know, people spend maybe 25% of their time doing email.

So it truly is a team effort. I can say at Emma, you know, we have writers. We have a team of two writers at least touch at least in every email. We have a designer if needed, we have a coder, and then someone that kind of manages the automation and the tracking and the metrics and that side of things. So it’s definitely a team effort. So I guess, yeah, that would be the best way I would say. It kind of depends on the size of the program and what you’re doing.

Jamie: Yeah. And, you know, I would definitely say, too, it’s like how you’re using the channel, not necessarily like, this is so and so’s job. All they do is this one job. It really is. Okay. Are we…multiple people I think strategically should be having a hand in that and thinking about it even if it’s not…you know, the execution may fall on one person, but like it really is, to Jeff’s point, just totally a team effort. I think that’s good to know. And if you’re a one-man shop, obviously, it’s all on you, and that’s kind of where, honestly, Emma comes in a lot for a lot of customers. We have some people that don’t have the resources in-house, and so I think finding someone out there like in Emma or something else that can sort of guide you and help strategize with you, you know, we are truly in this together and it usually takes more than one person to get it all, you know, shipped.

So there’s a couple that I just really wanna highlight. I know we’re out of time, but Shelly asked, “How does this apply to B2B?” And I think a good final thought here is that a lot of the tactics that we discussed, everything that we discussed, actually, that is B2B, it’s B2C, it doesn’t matter who’s in the audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling consulting services or, you know, toys, paying attention to the audience’s needs, making sure that you are looking at your data and iterating and testing. Those are top level sort of metrics and tips that we would tell anyone. Obviously, those things can sort of shift and change depending on the audience, like maybe those start to get into some tiny nuances that are really specific, not necessarily industry-specific, I think.

Jeff: And I think the thing to keep in mind, too, is, you know, a lot folks [inaudible 00:59:23] B2B space or nonprofit space and they see these examples like, “Well, we’re not retail. We can’t do these fun things. That’s not in keeping with our brand.” The important thing to remember is value. That’s what will get your audience engaged. If you’re constantly delivering value, and clear and human communications, that’ll keep your audience engaged and coming back. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fun and flashy all the time. If it’s useful, they’ll keep coming back.

Jamie: Agreed. And thinking on this design tactics, I would say, look in your inbox, you’re a human being. Just because you do marketing doesn’t mean you stop being a person at the end of the day. And so look at your inbox, what are you reacting to? There are probably retail emails, there are probably emails you enjoy reading, copy some of the things that you like best about those and use those things to test. If you’re reacting to it, likely that someone else will as well. So I think what is it? “Take your own medicine,” is what they say? Take your own medicine, guys. We are out of time for it today. And I am sad because I can do this all day. So thank you so much. Thank you, Jeff. Yeah?

Jeff: Yes, thank you. Thanks everyone for joining us.

Jamie: I’ll see you in Nashville at the end of the week. Bye, guys.

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