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Earn 18x The Revenue with Automation: Tips to Help Find Your Independence This Summer

Earn 18x The Revenue with Automation: Tips to Help Find Your Independence This Summer

Practical Marketer • July 1, 2019

There’s a Chinese proverb that says: “Don’t remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with an ax.” Your friend might lose a nose and that pesky fly is likely to go free. Also, axes are heavy and you probably leave home without one most days. The root message behind that saying certainly holds true with email marketing. How do you say “Don’t use batch and blast email marketing when you want to increase efficiency, skyrocket your conversions and save loads of time” in Mandarin? Kidding aside, smart brands are discovering a fundamental marketing truth in this world of overstuffed inboxes. Sending out the same message at the same time to all of your customers (“batch and blast”) is not a wise strategy. The alternative -- email marketing automation, in which you tailor messages to your subscribers based on their needs, their history and their place in the customer journey  -- makes for stunning improvements in click-through rate and conversions. Email marketing automation helps increase efficiency and gives you back time to focus on other tasks. Or, you can use automation to take some well-deserved time off. Automation is not quite as simple as “set it and forget it,” as they say in the Ronco oven infomercials. But with these tricks we’re about to show you, you’ll see dramatic improvements from automation almost instantaneously. In honor of Independence Day, let’s talk about how to use email marketing automation to boost your revenue, free up your time and give you some much-needed independence from your computer and/or smartphone. Email Marketing Automation Basics: Here’s Exactly What It Will Do For You What’s the secret that explains why automation can supercharge your conversions? It starts with the open rate. According to data-driven marketing firm Epsilon, automated emails get 119% higher click rates than blast emails. That’s because they deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Other sources agree: According to digital research firm eMarketer, B2C marketers see up to a 50% conversion rate with automated emails. And automated emails are 133% more likely to sync with a customer’s purchase cycle than broadcast (a.k.a. batch and blast) messages, according to the Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups. And, our title stat -- according to Jupiter Research, automated emails generate 18 times more revenue than blast emails. The Basics of Email Marketing Automation: Here’s An Easy Way to Get Started OK, you say. Eighteen times the revenue? Sign me up! … now what? If you’re not sure where to start with email marketing automation, don’t worry. It’s easy to dive in. A great place to start is to automate things you’re already doing. Let’s break down a couple of easy places to do this. Automate Your Welcome Email Series or Onboarding Messages Why does Wal-Mart employ greeters, whose sole purpose is to say hello to customers the moment they walk into the store? Why do savvy brands -- such as Disney or Uniqlo -- have specific welcome wording that gets repeated without variation every time a customer initiates contact? It’s because those megabrands know that good welcome messages -- that is, ones that feel totally friendly and natural, but which are carefully crafted to get the maximum impact -- can make a huge difference in conversions, sales and loyalty. Here’s a handy crib sheet of top tips to steal from the masters for your automated welcome emails and messages: TIP 1: Say “Thank You”  This one’s just basic manners. When people hand over their email address, that’s a big deal. Even if they’re doing it for a short-term goal -- say, because a pop-up promised a 10% off code for signing up -- they’ve still extended a measure of trust that needs to be met with genuine gratitude. To make the thank you feel organic, feel free to pair it with useful info for your customer about how to use your offering. EXAMPLES: FROM: Carbonite WHY IT’S GREAT: Simple. Straightforward. Visual enough with some icons and brand colors, yet not too busy to be a turnoff. The helpful content and clean aesthetics are a great fit for this online backup company. The text shows a focus on useful tips, yet the tone isn’t off-puttingly uptight. The beauty of an instant automated “Thank you and welcome” email is that it forms an excellent first impression. Sure, we hardened marketers understand that there’s not a person at a computer hitting send individually on a message thanking people every time they sign up for emails. But when a gratitude-focused message like this hits a new subscriber’s inbox right away, it lays a great foundation of solid goodwill. FROM: JO-ANN Fabrics WHY IT’S GREAT: This colorful, eye-pleasing message is short, sweet and memorable. It’s more designed than the Carbonite example -- which is appropriate for the arts & crafts crowd that JO-ANN caters to. Notice a commonality with the Carbonite message? That’s right, both use a color scheme where bright green and white are front and center. Green is a classic “go” or happy color, which subtly reinforces that joining these brands’ email lists was indeed a great decision. TIP 2: Reinforce Your Brand Whether you do it with your words, your graphics, your colors or something else, use the welcome email as an opportunity to reinforce your branding. This can mean a number of different things, so see what’s right for you. It could be about including a special offer, giving people a little chuckle with your offbeat word choices, driving new signups to a special section of your site, etc. EXAMPLE: FROM: Virgin America WHY IT’S GREAT: When do people sign up for an airline’s email list? Virgin knows that most signups come 1) when people are watching a fare and want alerts when the price drops, and 2) when they’ve pulled the trigger and purchased a ticket. With that in mind, Virgin uses this automated welcome email to reassure new subscribers of the value of their subscription. With that great header graphic -- which signifies either “I Love You” or “Rock on and Hail Satan,” depending whose grandmother you ask -- Virgin America establishes an easy rapport with its new email subscribers. The company also uses this prime opportunity to emphasize the useful information that will be coming through this channel, which is great for discouraging anyone who might feel a case of subscriber’s remorse coming on. TIP 3: Be Clear About What’s Next You can follow all the best practices for writing and designing a killer welcome email, but if you forego the opportunity to get people to use and love your offering -- well, that’s unfortunate. The beauty of automating your welcome messages is that you can send out emails that encourage engagement and conversions based on what point of the customer journey people are in. Make sure you take the time to encourage brand engagement through your welcome message. That can mean a variety of things -- you can have the goal of driving your subscriber back to your site to browse if you’re an eCommerce retailer; you can encourage your subscriber to engage with your social media channels, etc. Just don’t forget a Call to Action of some sort! EXAMPLE: FROM: Lyft WHY IT’S GREAT: Lyft knows that people often sign up for their email list 1) when chasing down a free ride promo, or 2) when signing up to use the service for the first time. That’s why this message is short and incredibly action-driven. In just about 13 words, Lyft does everything that our tips prescribe. Best of all, that enticingly bright call to action button (“Take a Ride”) gets people going to where Lyft wants them -- back to the rideshare app, to use the service. This is a great example of how to write a welcome email for an app-based service. It drives an outward click to the brand’s phone app, as that’s where Lyft wants its customers to spend their time engaging with the brand. Automate Your Promo Emails When you need to signal boost a particular product, service or offering, promo emails are hard to beat. This is a place where automation really shines -- using the data gleaned from your customers’ behavior, you can pinpoint exactly when each customer is likely to be most receptive to your promotion. For some inspiration -- consider automating a follow-up message for people who did or didn’t open your message, or try a follow-up email for those who did or didn’t click on your call to action. Both methods are great for getting more attention for your promotion. Check out these actionable tips for how to maximize your engagement by automating your promo emails and follow-ups. TIP 1: Target your promo Paired with audience segmentation, automation is a critical tool to share hyper-targeted offers to motivated audiences on exactly the right schedule. Time is limited, attention spans are short, and you want to get people enticed ASAP. This is the beauty of automating your promo emails -- you can bank on the fact that when your subscriber receives them, he or she will already be in the mindset to consider what you’re promoting. EXAMPLE: FROM: Code42 WHY IT’S GREAT: This promo email from data backup service Code42 was sent out around the holiday season. This one was targeted to people who had already signed up for the brand’s CrashPlan service, which protects data in the event of an unexpected loss event. The promo urged the subscriber to gift the service to a loved one while promising an incentive to the giver. Audience segmentation and automation were key here -- the promo wouldn’t have made sense if it were sent to subscribers who had not yet converted, or to those who weren’t open to the idea of purchasing the CrashPlan service. TIP 2: Establish urgency You have tracking and analytics set up for your email marketing, correct? (If not, stop what you’re doing and get on that!) Email marketing offers a treasure trove of information about your customers’ browsing habits, shopping preferences and engagement. By using the data provided by standard tracking and analytics, you can create priceless urgency in your automated promo emails by adding deadlines, expiration dates and “while supplies last” caveats. EXAMPLE: FROM: Target WHY IT’S GREAT: Just like Santa Claus on steroids, massive retailer Target knows if you’ve been sleeping and knows when you’re awake. They also know exactly what types of products you’ve been browsing and when -- which allows them to add this super-targeted email footer on their promo emails that display items that you’ve already shown interest in. While your brand may not have the data and programming power of Target (yet!), you can absolutely create a sense of personalization by infusing your automated emails with the insights from specific subscriber habits and patterns. Automate Your Cart Abandonment Messages Cart abandonment messages are one of the easiest and most useful places where you can set up automated messages. Emails like these -- which can give a little nudge about items placed into the online cart and not yet purchased -- are easy to set up and can yield great conversions. Here are a few tips on how to maximize: TIP 1: Consider what timing works best for your customer Something got in the way of your customer finalizing a purchase. Was it price? Was it an urgent phone call? Was it a random coffee spill that caused the computer to glitch out and crash, leaving his or her cart sadly abandoned? Remember: You can use tracking and analytics to determine (or at least make an educated guess about) what the hitch was. No matter what the reason, an automated cart abandonment email that’s triggered to go out at a time when your customer is likely to be in a purchasing mood can work wonders. Think about what that means to you -- are you an eCommerce shop that sells things people buy on impulse? If so, maybe evenings or weekends are the right time to send out your automated cart abandonment messages. Are you a commercial data backup service? Then maybe peak business hours -- say, Tuesday morning -- would be a good time to nudge your cart abandoners. EXAMPLE:   FROM: Chubbies WHY IT’S GREAT: This no-judgment email makes it dead simple to pick things up where the customer left off. Because Chubbies is a leisure/casual brand, this message is timed to go out based on what time of day the customer has been browsing on the site previously. Whether it arrives when the customer is at work or at home, this colorful, lighthearted message adds yet another facet to the customer’s brand experience. TIP 2: Use data to make it personal Why did your customer abandon his or her cart? What was happening at the moment the critical “Checkout” tab was closed, with purchase uncompleted? As stated previously, data and analytics can give you great insight into the answers to these questions. While you’re using that data, why not use a bit of it to jazz up your automated cart abandonment email to make it feel even more hand-sent? EXAMPLE: FROM: Beardbrand WHY IT’S GREAT: Check out that P.S. -- Beardbrand’s automated cart abandonment message is set up to populate this line with an actual product that the customer has purchased or considered. Talk about personal! This is a highly underused tactic in cart abandonment messages, which makes it stand out even more. With the conversational tone, straightforward text and formatting and that slam-dunk P.S., Beardbrand’s automated email feels incredibly not automated (but it gets all the benefits of automation -- namely, going to the right audience at the right time). Automate Your Repurchase/Purchase Cycle Program Messages Even if your product or service is not in the traditional “replenishables” category -- think prescription goods, perishables, seasonal items and more -- you might well benefit from an automated repurchase or purchase cycle email. Here are a few tips on how to maximize these often-overlooked messages. TIP 1: Make repurchase seem essential, not optional We all have those products that we’ve bought and lost interest in. Or products that we’ve pushed aside for an alternative. In order to combat this type of situation -- and to capitalize on a warm lead -- the best automated repurchase emails make the case that buying a product again is vital. EXAMPLE: FROM: Sephora WHY IT’S GREAT: Makeup is a high-margin replenishable, and retailer Sephora is a giant in the industry for a reason. This automated repurchase email is simple, visual and urgent. The language is strong but not over-the-top pushy, and this message goes out to customers in advance of when they might be expected to have finished the product in question. This helps the brand stay top-of-mind at the exact right moment. TIP 2: Automate messages based on season or purchase history -- or both When you set up automated repurchase messages based on season, you open up a whole additional opportunity to help previous purchasers of your product or service that it might be time to buy again. The great thing about doing this is that it comes off as helpful, thoughtful and tuned into the customer’s personal needs. While the ultimate goal may be to make another sale, the objective presented to the customer is to send a friendly reminder about something relevant. That action establishes trust and loyalty. EXAMPLE: FROM: Harrod Horticultural WHY IT’S GREAT: “Is it really that time of year again? The time to kill slugs?” This replenishment email from UK garden supply shop Harrod Horticultural may seem silly to the non-gardener, but to someone who’s purchased this particular garden defense product before, it serves as a helpful reminder coming at a very important time. That’s the beauty of automated messages, remember -- right message, right audience, right time. Envision Your Sales Funnel and Identify Touchpoints to Automate Perhaps you’re really on the ball and you’ve already automated the types of messages above. Perhaps you have a very specific business and not all of these types of emails make sense for you to send. If you’re looking for more guidance on what kind of emails to automate, try this. Envision your sales funnel. Walk through each step of the customer journey, and identify points where your customer might benefit from another touchpoint. You can also reverse engineer an automation strategy based on your goals. Whatever you choose, remember -- automation will help you reach more people with less work on your part in the long run. What could be better than that? What to Do if You’re Not Sure How to Use Email Marketing Automation OK, so you’ve gone through the different types of marketing emails that you can automate. You’ve visualized your sales funnel and brainstormed different points of the customer journey where a specific and useful message might be useful. Maybe you’re thinking: “Wait, back up! What if I don’t know how to use email marketing automation?” We won’t mince words: In order to get the most out of automation, you’re going to have to learn the basics of a new tool. But don’t worry -- much of the knowledge on what to automate lies within you already. For example -- Do you do follow-ups after events? You can automate it! Is your team making a ton of sales calls or sending individual emails to check in with leads? Automate it! If you have emails (or texts or calls) that you regularly send, ask yourself: Could I automate this to make these messages more efficient and engaging? Chances are the answer’s yes! Here are some tips and examples of how to make the most of your more individual email marketing automation campaigns. TIP 1: Get bang for your buck by automating with a date or trigger that applies to all your customers, but which is unique for each one Whether it’s a signup anniversary, a purchase milestone or a birthday -- you can get a tremendous bang for your buck by setting up an automated email message to go out to your customers on a day that’s specific to them. Take this opportunity to do all the things that a great marketing email does -- show gratitude, give a quick reminder of why your marketing emails have been useful to the customer and drive the relationship forward with a great call to action. EXAMPLES: FROM: BestSwimwear WHY IT’S GREAT: Who doesn’t love cake, colors and coupons? Being called “beautiful” on your birthday is pretty great, too. This message is bright and simple. The call to action comes with a compelling reason to click -- a generous 20% discount offer. FROM: ModCloth WHY IT’S GREAT: “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow,” sang ‘60s pop band Spiral Staircase. ModCloth nails that sweetly appreciative sentiment with their anniversary email. As an added bonus, they send out messages like this for both the annual and semiannual anniversaries of their subscriber signups -- a great little touch that makes people feel extra special. TIP 2: Create well-crafted automated messages to re-engage your customers who are in danger of unsubscribing These types of messages are sometimes called “win-backs,” and they’re a great way to boost your overall engagement. Now, you have to walk a fine line with the crafting of these automated messages, of course. First, they shouldn’t feel automated at all. They should feel as genuine, useful and personal as possible. Also -- keep it brief. Lead with something straightforward and un-gimmicky. Approach this message like you’re writing to an old friend who has grown distant, and you’re trying to remind the friend of your good times without being sappy or pushy. EXAMPLE: FROM: Smart Blogger WHY IT’S GREAT: In the blogging world, gig work, hustling and “feast or famine” ebbs and flows are common. Smart Blogger, an affiliate network, caters to a customer base of content writers who often have a lot of passion but also a high risk of burnout. That’s why this simple and useful automated re-engagement message from the company is so effective -- it has a great, friendly “here’s what you missed” tone, and it goes out of its way to offer no judgment for why the subscriber hasn’t been engaging with the brand. TIP 3: Don’t neglect your evangelists We’ve been focusing on ways to use automated emails to close the elusive sale or to lock in loyalty among new subscribers. What about your loyalists? They deserve your automated love too, of course. That sentence may sound funny -- do you really give the people you love a “canned” message? That’s the beauty of the kind of automated email marketing we’re talking about. Because they’re so relevant and tailored, the best automated email marketing messages don’t feel canned or mass-sent at all. In order to identify your brand evangelists, check your analytics to identify thresholds such as frequency of using your app or website, the open rate for your emails or even engagement on your social channels. What are the pain points and goals of these types of hyper-engaged users? Remember, they’re your VIPs -- how can you make their experience even more special? Still feeling lost? There are plenty of resources available to help you learn. If you want to read more about how automated marketing messages work, check out this great catch-all guide by marketing genius Neil Patel. Digital guru Moz offers a similarly comprehensive compendium. And WordPress services startup WP Curve has another great overview of the category. If you’re looking for services to help -- tools such as Zapier and PieSync can help you automate as well. Still hesitant? There’s no reason why you can’t jump right into email marketing automation. Don’t believe us? Check out this rundown of great workarounds to traditional implementation hurdles. Don’t Have the Human Resources to do Email Marketing Automation? Here’s Why That’s Not a Problem  You have a tiny team. Your budgets make shoestrings look like eight-lane highways. “I don’t have the manpower to set up email marketing automation,” you say. That’s where you’re mistaken. Good news -- automation is specifically useful for you! Automation gives you the impression of more manpower, without actually having to have more manpower. That’s because it frees up time and is way more effective than the batch and blast strategy, or, heaven forbid, manual sending. Plus, automation is built into most email marketing tools, such as Automation Pro. That makes setting up your campaigns even more of a no-brainer. However, if you’re still in need of convincing, check out these time-saving tips and examples to make your automation strategies even more of a win. TIP 1: Segment your audience as if your life depends on it We’ve talked a lot about data, analytics and personalization. The underlying assumption, of course, is that you have some sort of tactic in place to capture critical information about your customers and their usage habits. It’s the fundamental building block of great automated marketing emails -- because specialization is what makes your campaigns feel fresh and applicable rather than stale, forced and generic. So, take every opportunity to filter, categorize and tag your customers based on their needs and behaviors. It’ll make things much easier when it’s time to design automation campaigns. TIP 2: Capitalize on seasonal occasions Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and more -- have you set up your automated marketing to acknowledge these special dates and seasons? If not, you’re missing a massive opportunity to increase subscriber engagement with your brand. People love to open holiday-themed automated messages, partly because they feel so novel and fun. It’s also another opportunity to provide useful information or promote special occasion sales, offerings or discounts. EXAMPLE: FROM: Uber WHY IT’S GREAT: Useful, adorable and well-designed -- this Halloween themed automated message from Uber hits all the high notes. It tells customers what to expect on the upcoming holiday and makes the brand seem lighthearted and fun. TIP 3: Make it feel like a conversation We’ve established that excellent automated messages work like a finely tuned machine while giving the customer an experience that feels more like receiving a caring email from an old friend. In order to ensure that your automated marketing messages have that friendly vibe, keep things as conversational as possible. You can do that by asking questions, using slang (in moderation) and injecting personal bits (also in moderation). EXAMPLE: FROM: Groove WHY IT’S GREAT: The phrase “quick question” is like catnip to most email subscribers. It piques curiosity while also appealing to our human desire to offer our expertise and help. Groove makes great use of the conversational tone, starting with its use of that phrase in the subject line. Also, notice how the “From” address is “Alex at Groove” -- rather than simply the email address, firstname+lastname or, heaven forbid, “Do Not Reply” or “No Name.” Missing Key Customer Data That Would Help You Automate Your Email Marketing? Try This! We’ve mentioned the importance of gathering relevant customer information in order to tailor your automated messages to reach the right people at the right time. But what if you want to jump in now and you don’t seem to have any actionable customer data on hand yet? Great news -- automation can help you gather valuable customer data! It can also help bolster your data if you’re already in the practice of collecting it. For example, you can use your automation campaigns to capture info including: Customer names and contact info Customer and lead website activity, including website clicks and shopping cart abandonment Email opens Links clicked in an email Subscribers who open, but don’t click You can even automate the segmentation of your lists based on subscriber engagement. Or, you can automatically move subscribers from one list to another based on various engagement designations, such as: Most/Least Engaged Interested in specific products/services Free Trial/Paid Customers Tailor Your Automation Strategies to Unlock Profound Potential with Your Marketing As July 4 approaches, we hope that you’ll implement some of these tips and strategies to declare independence from the tediousness of manual marketing tasks and break away from the inefficiency of broadcast emails. The beauty of automated marketing is that you can use virtually any kind of information or trigger to tailor extremely engaging, useful and memorable messages for just the right audiences at exactly the right times. And you can start automating at any time, regardless of what your previous strategies have been. So try some of these tricks, learn to love automation -- and watch your revenue light up like fireworks!


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3 Priceless Email Marketing Lessons from Fatherly Advice

3 Priceless Email Marketing Lessons from Fatherly Advice

Practical Marketer • June 11, 2019

Dads. They offer an endless supply of awesomely terrible jokes. They amuse us with their habit of wearing socks with sandals. They keep us humble with their dictator-like control over the thermostat and light switches (everyone’s dad follows them around the house turning lights off … right?!). On top of all the funny little quirks they have -- dads give us some pretty solid life advice that can be surprisingly relevant in a wide variety of situations. In honor of Father’s Day, we’re reflecting on some of the priceless wisdom our dads have passed on to us. Specifically, we’ll examine how we can apply these gems of wisdom to email marketing. Priceless Email Marketing Lessons From Fatherly Advice #1: Have Fun My dad coached my brother and me in Little League baseball. His focus was never on winning -- it was about having fun. Sure, he taught my teammates, my brother and me the fundamentals. He helped us hone our skills and showed us how to get better at the game. At the end of the day, my dad taught us that all our hard work was for nothing if we weren’t having fun. That was an important lesson: that we should be smiling even if we weren’t hitting home runs. That’s an idea that definitely translates to email marketing. Sure, there might be times when it feels like you’re not winning. For example, when you’re just trying to get things going from scratch, or when you’re attempting to rebound after a stagnant period. Still -- as Tom Hanks’ character says in A League of Their Own -- “there’s no crying in baseball!” Similarly, there should be no crying in email marketing! When you find yourself feeling down, or uninspired -- think about what it is about your business that brings you joy. Why did you start doing this in the first place? Maybe it’s the satisfaction of knowing that you’re solving problems in people’s lives. Maybe it’s the joy of dreaming up new products and getting them to the market. Whatever it is, there’s something special and unique that drove you to do this. Channel that feeling, and infuse it into your email campaigns. How do you add that sense of fun into your email marketing? One way is to use humor. Now, a warning: In order to use the power of humor effectively, you have to be … wait for it! … funny. We all know this instinctively. Attempting to be funny and failing is far worse than not trying to funny in the first place. There are lots of places you can inject some humor. For example, your signup form, your welcome email, your unsubscribe page or anything in between. Check out these examples: Examples FUNNY SIGN-UP FORM From: Nerd Fitness Why it’s great: Nerd Fitness, as its wonderfully descriptive name suggests, is “a fitness website for nerds and average Joes.” The company stays wonderfully on-brand with this funny email list sign-up form -- which is jokey without becoming a joke. FUNNY WELCOME EMAIL From: Find Me a Gift Why it’s great: Casual. Congratulatory. And accompanied by a funny and memorable image. This welcome email hits all the high notes. It does a great job of introducing customers to the “quirky little world” of this service. FUNNY UNSUBSCRIBE PAGE From: 1-800-Contacts Why it’s great: Great unsubscribe pages do the opposite of what their name suggests -- they give customers a reason to stay on your email list rather than severing the inbox relationship. This sassy and surprising unsubscribe message from 1-800-Contacts sends out a subtle but powerful message: If you unsubscribe, you’ll miss out on some pretty amusing content! Another way to have some dad-approved fun in your email marketing is by using GIFs. Yes, at the end of the day, we are all like cats chasing laser pointers. Moving images are downright hypnotic! GIFs are great for emails for a couple of important reasons. First, they catch the eye and are much more fun than a photo. Second, they are very current, so they add some hipness to your campaigns. However, be very careful that you don’t overdo it -- or your email will end up looking like a bad MySpace page. Also, be sure to use alt-text -- the little description that describes what an image is either when you hover your mouse over the image frame or if the image fails to load. That’s another great place to infuse a little humor, by the way. Examples From: Ann Taylor LOFT Why it’s great: This subtle bit of movement creates an eye-catching surprise while keeping the message clean, uncluttered and totally on-brand. Who can resist the urge to unwrap a holiday gift that’s wiggling so invitingly? From: Moo Why it’s great: Sale announcement burnout … it’s real. How many emails do we all get every day screaming “Final hours!” “Don’t miss this one!” and such? Chances are unless a customer is further down your sales funnel already -- that is, looking to pounce on a discount or already about to pull the trigger on a purchase -- a message announcing that a sale is about to end could feel irrelevant at best and irritating at worst. Luxury business card printer Moo combats that vibe with this mesmerizing GIF. Priceless Lessons From Fatherly Advice #2: Always Do Your Best There was a second part to my dad’s big lesson about the importance of having fun. Sure, winning isn’t everything. But it’s important to always try your hardest and do your best. When the two lessons are combined, you get my dad’s attitude. For instance, he always wanted me to do well in school, but he was happy as long as I was putting my maximum effort into things. What does this idea mean in the world of email marketing? Stop putting pressure on yourself: Your email marketing does not have to be perfect. In fact, you should give yourself a big pat on the back right now -- just the fact that you’re doing email marketing gives you a leg up on much of your competition. (The fact that you’re taking the time to read an article about how to optimize your emails? You get extra credit!) Take this moment to realign your priorities. Focus on continuous improvement. It’s fine to have big goals, but don’t be discouraged by them -- email is all about the micro-wins. Break your objectives down to their building blocks. Yes, you want eyeballs and engagement. But to start with: Did you get people to open your emails? Great! Now you have a way to see who’s already interested in your content. Refine this data even further by A/B testing your subject lines and “from” names to improve open rates -- and to have even more fun. Next, take a look at whether your customers clicked through to your website. If they did, that means your content was compelling and your call to action was effective. That’s no small feat -- good work! To drill down even further on this data … you guessed it: test your calls to action (play around with the text, colors, placement, etc.), try different things with your content and switch up your design for even more fun. Finally, don’t miss the chance to follow through! You can track your customers from email to website for conversions or follow-ups. There are loads of great tools out there to help with this. Use Google Analytics to see what portion of the traffic you drive from emails is converting on your website. Use Automation to follow up based on links clicked or web pages visited. Priceless Lessons From Fatherly Advice #3: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know My dad built a career on relationships. And it took a while for me to realize this -- because kindness was an effortless part of his personality. It just came naturally to him. I grew up believing my dad truly “knew a guy” at every single place in the city of Chicago. We got special access to places at Chicago Bears games, the zoo and countless other places. Why did we get this special treatment? It was the result of my dad doing tons of favors for others without ever asking for anything in return. If he could put someone in touch with another person to help them out, he would. If he could be of assistance to someone, he would. He knew it would come back around to him at some point -- but that’s not what motivated him. The people who invited my dad to exclusive events and gave him special access behind velvet ropes felt like it was the least they could do for him. The favors flowed naturally -- but they never felt like repaid debts or calculated transactions on either side. I’ve taken that spirit with me to L.A. I’ve been able to help out countless friends as they navigate careers in this city. When I tell folks I was invited to 8 weddings in 2018 -- which is only a slight uptick from most years -- they wonder how I have so many friends. Well, I learned from my dad. Bringing it full circle back to email marketing -- what lesson can we learn from this? Most importantly: Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. That’s no exaggeration. Joe Pulizzi, the founder of Content Marketing Institute, said it best: “Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out who my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort.” That’s the thing about your email list -- you own it entirely. So when you use it for marketing purposes, you have the key advantage of doing things on your own “turf,” so to speak. You aren’t marketing on rented space. Rand Fishkin, the founder of SEO firm Moz, said in his recent keynote speech at Digital Summit Los Angeles, that 10 new email addresses on your list are worth more than 10,000 new followers on social media. How can your email list be a thousand times more valuable than your social media followers list? It has everything to do with the ways we use each medium. Email messages are: Personal Goal-oriented Targeted As such, you can get an amazing ROI of $38 for every $1 you spend on email marketing. Bringing it full circle back to fatherly advice and the importance of leveraging “who you know” -- I’ll conclude now with five killer ways to maximize your email marketing ROI. First: automate your email marketing. Even the fastest typing, never-sleeping, most dedicated and methodical marketer could never hope to beat the sheer accuracy and convenience factor provided by automation. When you automate your email marketing, you take full advantage of your incredibly valuable email marketing list. The addresses on your list are worth their weight in platinum. Focus your energies on creating incredible content for your audience and constantly analyzing how they’re liking it. Make sure you have an incredible welcome email. We’ve mentioned before how important it is to have an on-brand, memorable and compelling welcome email. Use automation to have that message sent immediately once someone signs up for your list. You should make sure your conversion funnel is optimized. As you know, the conversion funnel is the path your customer takes from curiosity all the way to the sale (and hopefully raving to others about it). If you haven’t optimized your email marketing to take advantage of each distinct phase in your customer’s journey, you are truly leaving money on the table. Use dynamic segmentation on your list. This is another critical factor in the idea that “it’s all about who you know” -- because if a person joins your list as a prospect, but then later becomes one of your biggest customers -- you better be sure that your email marketing has adjusted to match that huge change. Dynamic segmentation, or the practice of constantly updating how your email list subscribers are categorized, is vitally important if you want to keep people engaged. It’s only by keeping a firm handle on people’s individual needs that you can hope to create compelling content that feels fresh, timely and personally relevant to them. Hone your timing. We’ve mentioned before that Tuesday through Thursday mornings are a great time to send an email, as a general rule. But taking that a step further -- what information do you have about the individuals on your email marketing list that might cause you to change or adjust that rule? For example, if you have a trip planning app where people enter their travel details -- don’t miss the opportunity to send out uniquely relevant content to your subscribers when they’re crisscrossing the globe, and adjust the send time based on local time zones. Or, for another hypothetical: If you’re an eCommerce retailer, you can track a customer’s interest in a product over time (by making note of when they favorite the item, add it to cart, ask to be emailed when it comes back in stock, etc.). Make sure you’re using the power of automation to send out perfectly timed, personalized content that addresses your customer’s needs and desires. That’s the kind of thing that closes a sale -- and builds incredible brand loyalty. Putting it All Together: Send Marketing Emails That Would Make a Father Proud This Father’s Day, there are bound to be a lot of cheesy ties, #1 Dad mugs and bottles of bad cologne given as gifts. We won’t judge if you’re giving one of those to your father or father figure this year. However, we do urge you to take a moment and be grateful for the incredible lessons that your dad -- and all dads -- have taught us about life, love and the art of email marketing. Have fun, always do the best job possible and nurture your relationships above almost everything else. Those are the best email marketing lessons that my dad taught me. Fernanda Brito - Mexico You must be hot or cold: you cannot be lukewarm with your decisions. Shresth Prabhat - India The best technique to use in the world of marketing is word of mouth. People will generally consider an option suggested by another person. It builds an unmatched reputation. Jason Ashley - USA It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, so don\'t judge or question another\'s actions or who they are as an individual. Learn something from the uniqueness or actions of others, accept them as helping in your growth, even if it doesn\'t seem that way at that time. Juanjo Polo - Spain Take care of your family. Frieder Egermann - Germany It\'s not direct advice he gave me, but he showed me to be responsible and true to myself. Curt Keller - CEO He told, me that my lack of athletic success was ALL IN MY HEAD! I now agree with more than ever. Raquel Herrera - Spain If I have to say one piece of advice that my father gave me, it\'s about having common sense in everything that I do. It is very simple but very deep and important and applying in your daily life helps you to make a good decision. Ilich Lamas - Italy If things do not go your way, look at things from another perspective. There is always a way to change things. Tanay Chaturvedi - India Work smart but do not underestimate hard work. Lisa Fletcher - USA Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see. It was his way to say don\'t always default to trust. Find out for yourself. Yersing Noriega - Guatemala Treat people the way you would like to be treated. Also, one act of kindness from you can change somebody\'s day! Yamile Flores - Mexico More than advice, I had his example. He woke up in the morning to go to his job and would walk. I saw him from the window walking away, and once I asked him, \"why you don\'t take the car?\" He told me because you have to go to school in it. He is a man who took his t-shirt to give it to his sons always. Irene Martinez - USA \'Sacrifices are temporary.\' My dad came to the US as an immigrant, and since his first day here he worked day and night to provide for his family. There was a time where I did not understand why my dad worked so much. But every time I asked, he would hug me and tell me Sacrifices are temporary. - Lo quiero mucho apa!! Sandeep Kumar - India Build/maintain relationships. Leticia Mottola - USA The \'no\' you already have. Go for the \'yes.\' If you don\'t try, you\'ll never know. Titi Bekaert - Belgium Be curious, be open-minded and stay rational in a world that has a lot to offer! Joanne Walker - USA You put in a good days work for a good days pay. Virender Mohan Dang - India This was not a direct advise to me but a cousin in my presence. We were visiting him a few days ago when he mentioned friction with a few family members, that he was trying to resolve the matters, and the lack of response from the rest of the family was frustrating. My dad told him \"No matter what they say or do, you maintain a good mindset\" (If I translate from the Hindi language to English it meant something like \'keep your level of thoughts high.\' Today when I saw a message from Andy to share some advice from my dad that could relate to email marketing, this incident popped out of my memory box. A lot of people see what others are doing when it comes to email marketing and hence try to achieve quick success by purchasing contact lists, sending over content that\'s just not relevant, and sending volumes that would trigger the anti-spam filters of various ISPs. To succeed in email marketing, one needs to keep a high mindset where they are patient enough to generate their own contact lists, work on the content that resonates with their customers, research various ESPs and the features they offer, work on warming up their IPs to help ISPs get acquainted with their sending practices, honour unsubscribes, and so on.  


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Michael Barber: He Got It From His Mum

Michael Barber: He Got It From His Mum

Beyond • May 24, 2019

We first crossed paths with Michael Barber during not one, but two, sessions and workshops he led at Digital Summit Los Angeles. There, we saw him host a four-hour workshop on email marketing that kept us riveted and again for a workshop on marketing lessons from his mum. We enjoyed him so much we asked for more and invited him to be our guest on the Heart of Business. We talk marketing agencies, what makes great content, the importance of email marketing and more. I think [email marketing is] one of the most under-served, less respected, least sexiest tactics that we have at our disposal, but it\'s one of the most impactful that we have. And I think for many, many years, it has been the one that marketers have just forgotten about and I worry, because it is an owned channel, that not only real people continue to be engaged in, but it drives an incredible ROI when you are very strategic and thoughtful about the campaigns and strategy that you produce around that tactic for your customers. Andy Shore: Hey everybody welcome back to The Heart of Business. I\'m your host, Andy Shore here as always with my co-host Daniel Miller and he\'s not here with me while I\'m recording the intro, but he\'ll be here for the episode, I promise, and we\'ve got an incredible guest. We say that every time, but this guy was so great when I saw him at Digital summit not once but twice that I had to invite him out of the podcast afterwards. We talk about being a marketing firm about email marketing, about creating gory content about speaking also. It\'s awesome things. He\'s a really great... Yes, we had a really good time talking to him. Before we get started, I wanna remind everyone about the Benchmark Starter Plan. If you\'re just getting started with email marketing or your list is small, you can do your email marketing totally free. And what\'s great about Benchmark is that as you graduate into a Pro Plan because email marketing is helping your business grow, all the tools are right there for you, you\'re not gonna have to switch another service, whether it\'s marketing automation, CRM, it\'s all there for you on the Pro Plan Check it out, benchmark email dot com. Let\'s get rolling. AS: So how do you doing today, Michael? Michael Barber: I’m well, just wrapping up, what is... What was a very, very long week, but a good one, so... And my mother is in town for Mother\'s Day. So that makes it even the better … very exciting. AS: Yeah, I\'ll ask you more about her later. I got to see your great session at Digital Summit LA that was all center around her. And I definitely wanna talk to you about that. But… I wanted to talk a little bit about Godfrey and everything you guys do there. MB: Yeah, so Godfrey. We are a team of 90 people we serve, mid-market industrial manufacturers and help champion the world-changing work that they do. It sounds about as un-glamorous, is what it is as an agency that\'s dedicated to B2B industries that are not necessarily the most sexy, but certainly super intriguing and gets to a variety of big initiatives with them to help bring both their products services and ideas to life. AS: Yeah, and you say It\'s not sexy … just reading the copy on your website you never know that I loved… We\'ve been really into the whole story, brand story telling of your marketing and just the line your industry is our purpose. It\'s how we make the world a better place, it\'s like, \"Oh these guys are great, they\'re doing awesome things.” So it\'s both the first gate it\'s just maybe not the sexiest things but we\'re championing that. I mean, it’s great. It\'s all about marketing, you\'re helping people be the heroes that they need to be. MB: Yeah, that\'s absolutely cool about the people that I get to spend my time between 8 and 5. it is that we are all... Not necessarily communication professionals at our core. Or should I say that I never probably... What motivated us to get into the communication space? We were builders, were developers. Some of us have a background in science and engineering, and we just happened to also be good at story telling. And so that provides a really interesting combination of people under one roof that do some pretty incredible things for the team of people that we serve. Daniel Miller: Do you guys have any specific focus? You focus more on branding you focus more on specific marketing channels. MB: Yeah, we are full service. But I will tell you that our bread and butter is strategy is really helping to understand the human truths and insights that we can pluck from better understanding our client\'s customers for 70 years. We\'ve done that. It\'s where clients come back to us we keep the team pretty lean in terms of execution, ally being able to work within all the different tactics or facets of what is a modern day marketing mix, if you will. So, some of our clients, we are executing full-service from PR, all the way through execution elements but for most of our clients, it begins with a strategy initiative, and then grows from there, depending upon what they decide to work with us on our work internally with their own team. AS: That’s awesome. And you mentioned everyone in the team coming from different backgrounds. What led you to Godfrey? MB: This is a really interesting question. I actually was a consultant for Godfrey for a number of years, and then in late 2017, the team there, the ownership team. Stacy and Aaron \"Stacy-wise and Aaron Mitchell at came to me and said, \"Hey we\'d like you to do this more often and work with us on different projects and I said, \"Okay we\'ll look at next year, and see what that looks like. We had a team of three working at the consultancy that I had founded many years ago called Barbara and Hewitt and Stace and Aaron on said No, no, no, we\'d like you to do this full-time here. And I said, “in Lancaster?” because at the time we were based in Southern California and Lancaster Pennsylvania is a very obviously different place than sunny downtown LA, where we were based, and within about a month, we had figured out a structure for how we were gonna combine the teams, and went from there. And I have been in a Lancaster for almost 18 months now. AS: That’s awesome. And what\'s that transition like going from growing your own business and consulting firm to transitioning to not being your own boss all the time? MB: I think the best way to answer this question is sort of why I decided to go from owing to helping a team and that is \"as I truly enjoyed the work I found very quickly within the first two years of owning my own shop that while I loved the work, and I love working with clients and figuring out the nuances and challenges of how they are connecting with their customers and clients. What I hated, and what kept me up at night, and what had me worried was legal, HR, accounting, and while I had two parents who had retired at the time that could help me with those challenges, \'cause they had owned a business for almost 30 years. I just didn\'t love all of the operational side of the business and I wasn\'t good at it, and I also didn\'t wanna grow the agency to a place where I would need to sort of add that operational layer to the team. And so this was just the right decision at the right time. And I love the fact, I loved the ability to work with the team on a day-to-day basis, and that\'s why I have found myself why I think I found myself wanting to make this a reality two years ago, was the ability to come in and continue to do work really did work with a team that I had respected and had the chance to almost date before we got married, so to speak. AS: Yeah, I totally get that, right out of college, I had started a music blog that ended up taking off a little bit and I got to do that for four years and it was amazing and when I started at Benchmark, I kind of balanced both for a little while but having a creative team around me and not having to do all the stuff that stresses me out and everything like that. I mean, it was such a much better experience and also helped me to grow in ways that I probably wouldn\'t have had a note. I\'m sure that would have been its own growth experience but it\'s nice to be around people that push you and inspire you and make you do better work MB: Exactly. As an owner-operator, you are challenged with, How do you split your time where do you invest that time given just how valuable time is these days? And I would just prefer to spend my time in the place that really drives me and excites me. And the good news is I\'ve got two other executives as a part of Godfrey Stacy and Ron who are the other sides of the brain, if you will stay leads the operational side of agency and are leading our account management and strategy teams, so, it\'s really great to have three individuals that split, get to split their time on focus and focus their effort on the teams where they have expertise and the areas that they enjoy working in on a day-to-day basis DM: That is so important. I think a day we were watching, I think it was a TED talk or some like that, and somebody was explaining the value of time and how they were trying to book Richard Branson to give some sort of a talk and they offered him a certain kind of money and they said no, and they came back again, with a higher amount and they said No. And it came back again and he said, \"Hire just kept saying No, and they finally say like, Why do I... This is an absorbent amount of money. Like, why won\'t you take... They said Look, it\'s not part of the three things that I need to do right now. This is what I know to be focused on you. This can be handled by somebody else, but it\'s not me. And just having that resistance of nothing pulling back, nothing taking a way no fame no money, no nothing, but staying so focused. I think that\'s what creates the success. And as a question to some of our listeners, here, I see that the chief creative officer what does that mean for the company, and for what you do with clients? MB: Sure, if you look around, first of all, I think it\'s a completely nebulous and ridiculous title. I just want to preface the answer to this question with that answer. It\'s a very fancy title. We love fancy titles and agencies. I will tell you, you can go look up what Chief Creative Officer means and the industry will look at it as, you own the creative voice of your agency. And that being the strategic and execution aspects of the creative that come out of your shop. I will tell you my role at Godfrey is just to help the 36 people on my team produced the best staff possible and that means one thing. Understanding what is the best thing that individually that those 36 people can contribute and helping make sure that they\'re the ones that are contributing that to all of the ideas to the concepts, to the tactics, and pieces of creative that we\'re bringing to life. I have zero background in creative, I am not a designer by trade, I spend zero amount of time in creative type positions in my 15-year career in this space. And so as a chief creative officer, my role is solely to ensure that they all have the tools and the needs met so that they can produce extremely, amazing, creative, innovative work for our clients. Do I get to play a loose role, and what things look like or how they feel? Sure, I tend to be the Mom test, if you will, the last person that they bring those concepts and ideas too, and I get to say yes, I sometimes say No and they say Yes, but... And they convince me otherwise, but my role is Chief Creative Officer is simply to ensure that 36 people inside that building on my creative team have everything they need, and the process in place and the right people on the engagements on the right clients to make sure we\'re bringing really strategic, the impactful work to our clients and make us the most sought after B2B shop in the world. AS: I. Know that roll all too well. Daniel plays that role for me, he\'s my boss, and he gets to hear my first worst ideas, all the times are the ones I know that I\'m almost pitching just to get a laugh out of him but from those seeds come the actual great ideas that we get to present to other people, and that\'s an important role to have. There is just like that last guard, that is gonna push you to get your best, make sure you have what you need and get the best out of you. It\'s, MB: Hey, worst ideas of the best idea is possible. And that\'s funny that you share that example because our executive creative directors who are near and dear to my heart, Scott Trevaw and Cliff Lewis they celebrate our greatest worst ideas on a regular basis, inside the agency. And what\'s funny is sometimes those really bad ideas are actually end up circulating something or germinating something amongst our team that actually ends up being something that is pitched. We literally just had this happen the other day. We have a new client and this is public knowledge. I\'m not sharing anything that is under NDA or anything, but e-Corp, which is a manufacturer of floors, industrial commercial floors, largely within the athletic space. These are floors you\'d find it and gyms or hotels, or in commercial gyms, big brand gyms and such. We are just going through concept phase with their team, and the way that we produce concepts is a very structured format has a specific process of how do we get to a concept that becomes something they\'ll be pitch in front of a client and Cliff and Scott lead that effort, and we bring disparate groups of people together to help develop those concepts inside the agency that could be a web developer and a copywriter that could be a designer and a strategist. It\'s typically two to three people from different parts, agency and they have a traditional creative brief and we give them them some time to start to turn on their ideas and we use cards to initially come up with what these ideas going to be, and then we all throw them out on the table, we start talking about them. And there happened to be one card sitting on a table, a week ago that literally turned out to be our copywriter in said Jen Marie said. Oh, it\'s the worst idea possible. It\'s X, Y and Z. and Cliff, you could see the light bulb turn. He\'s like that is definitely the worst idea ever. But it could be this. And it ended up becoming a concept that was pitched to the client two days ago, and they picked that concept. So I, the worst, best ideas are often the ones where it\'s celebrating and we do. I think some really interesting thing is to not only make sure that they\'re celebrated, but ensure that they potentially become something tangible because sometimes you can find really good ideas in bad places. DM: Yeah, …too often. So I think you can see the memes online all the time, of client expectations versus their budget kind of thing. How do you guys manage that? I\'m sure we have a lot of listeners that they manage their own clients that I\'m sure we all run into that problem to where client says I want this, this masterpiece build, but have a very small budget. Any tips on how you guys handle that to try to steer that conversation and always meet those expectations? MB: Sure, well, I think the first thing is that you have to be very transparent about what your expectation is an agency or a service provider is to your client, you have to say This is our expectation of the investment you\'re gonna make into our agency and we\'re very explicit about this, we have a number... A spend that we expect our clients to work with us for and we\'re trying to grow them, towards... If you can\'t make that number, you\'re not a fit for us because we have a very specific type of client that we\'re looking for. So I think it\'s about understanding you as the service provider, you as the business what is your ideal client and making sure that that client can meet those expectations. Now, that doesn\'t mean that things aren\'t gonna change in the relationship and that means that we as an agency do have to get creative about how we produce things, but that means we also have to be very transparent of what it takes to produce those things and I think that\'s where coupled with just the disasters that to cure the procurement team has done to the agency-client relationship, but we also, as an agency and as a client didn\'t do a good job of pulling back layers, and providing a little bit of an open promo of What does it cost for certain things to be produced. And so, I listen I can... We could spend all day on the procurement side of the conversation, so I\'m not gonna address that but what I can tell you is that the way that we have handled these sorts of situations when it comes to MS expectations and dollar value is simply to be as transparent as possible. It\'s one of our cultural touch stones. We try and be as transparent, we try and be completely transparent inside organization, we do the same for our clients, so we line item, here\'s why, and here\'s what drives those costs or Here\'s why the investment level is at the level that it is and if a client says listen while we only have this budget, we just have to get very aligned on Well what can we do within that budget? What are the things that can or cannot happen? There\'s no secret RESP... That making that success happen but what makes it easier? What makes the conversations abundantly less stressful is the transparency between the relationship of that client and your customer in this case our agency. DM: I think that\'s the philosophy of life. MB: This is true. This is true. This is very true. AS: We mentioned at the start that I got to see you speak, actually, not once, but twice, at Digital Summit LA. When did the speaking opportunities come into play for you? And is that something you enjoyed doing? MB: I love doing it. And I\'ve said for many years, that if I could afford to live on a teacher\'s salary, I would be a teacher. I love teaching, I love helping people get better at what they do because I was so abundantly lucky, the moment I was lucky from day one, my mom and dad moved to the United States in 1980, and then, promptly four years later had me so I\'m giving away my age at this point, but I I also I even I grew up in one of the greatest public school programs in the world, at was abundantly lucky enough and had parents that could help me go to college, at the University of Arizona and then just stumbled into a job opportunity with a guy, a little known guy at the time. name Jay Baer. And if you\'re not familiar with Jay one of the most well-respected marketers and maybe one of the best guys on the planet in our industry. Hay has written New York Times best-sellers, and just as an absolutely stellar human being. And I would not be where I am in my career and I think in life without the impact of him on my career. But that impact comes purely from a teaching perspective. If you worked for Jay. you understood one rule and that was... You were always a lifelong learner if you\'re not learning your diet. And I think he instilled that in every single one of his team members. And I just love that aspect and I just happened to always end up in a place where I had great leaders that were also teachers and so I take that very seriously and given the other path of me is that I love a very nice lifestyle. I know that I couldn\'t afford at the lifestyle that I enjoy on a teacher\'s salary, so I figure, Hey I can combine the best of those, both worlds by helping people get better at what I know best and also continuing to be able to afford that lifestyle. So the speaking thing really came out of this passion of loving the teaching aspects of the knowledge that I\'ve learned over the past 15 or so years and getting on stage, was just really by no fault of mine a happen-stance where Jay could not make a very small opportunity in Phoenix and just said, \"You should go talk to these people because I can\'t do it and... And you\'re really good at this stuff. So go, go do something on the stage. And I was like, \"Go do something on the state. What am I gonna talk about?” And that was 10 or 11 years ago, and I\'ve been doing it ever since and I just love being on stage and bringing a life, something that is, is equally entertaining, I hope and in forming at the same time. AS: Yeah, I have to give you credit. The reason I was in your email workshop is I\'m a content manager for an email marketing company and it was almost curiosity to the point of how someone gonna get people to sit through four hours of an email presentation, and you excelled the point that I wanted to come see another one of your presentation so I do have to give you compliments there … when you\'re planning for that long of a session, what goes into that planning of How am I gonna carry people\'s attention for this amount of time? MB: Yeah, this is a really structured process, so for me, when you\'re doing a workshop there a couple of key components and that is why does this matter? You always have to start. This is a very like Simon sent driven conversation. You always start with why, because if you don\'t give people a reason to sit there for four hours, they are not going to care. And let me tell you, literally the first thing that you could say that would be the worst possible thing is your own opinion, of why people should stay there. So I you have to back up that why with a global well-known resource or set of research that says this is why you should be spending time here. So the beginnings of that of any workshop for me are all ways setting up that why I then try and mix in. Usually here\'s everything that\'s wrong with what\'s happening with X thing, if you will, and I think you can start to see the pattern because you\'ve sat in that workshop. So start with the Y inject here\'s what\'s wrong, here\'s the problem, the challenge, that we\'re having and then here\'s my view. And here\'s why that new matters? And here\'s all the things you do to get to that view. This is not an unknown sort of framework. This is a very traditional TED-style framework, that\'s just stretched out. Thampson, Webster, who is another delightful, amazing speaker and also the former executive producer at TEDx Cambridge which is one of the most well-respected TEDx in the world. She talks a lot about this framework features of content on stages and it has everything to do with allowing people to understand why does this matter setting the problem of showing the problem than saying Here\'s the solution, and backing that solution up with Here\'s all the items that go with that solution. And so there\'s a very strategic framework to building out that workshop and I use it whether it\'s four hours long or whether it\'s something like that. You saw on your second session in LA, whether it\'s something that\'s 30 to 35 minutes long, yeah. AS: I don\'t know if you got to see a Fishkin’s keynote at the LA but the title is Four Horsemen of the Marketing Apocalypse in the first 20 minutes. Literally made you feel like... Alright, let\'s pack up everything and go home marketing dead, it\'s over, we\'re done exactly and then it\'s just like... But here\'s how you can survive and what\'s gonna be okay or how we got back. So just in terms of creating compelling content bring people in. You mentioned your mom\'s there for Mothers Day now, your entire session was lessons you\'ve learned from her and what other people can take from her where you\'re sitting down to create a session like that, and it\'s something so personal how you work that in. Did you talk to your mom about it? And I mean, just what\'s that ideation process like for you? MB: So I set this is an incredible question, I and I think you guys know the answer is already this comes from story. What makes compelling content is great stories, and I think too often we forget that fact, that is a fact. And I have always approached the work that I do on stage in that way, I try and source stories from my life and then build them into something, a framework, an idea and muddle around them and eventually, hopefully something percolates out of it. And by the way, there\'s been hundreds of ideas that I\'ve starting with stories, and I\'m like, \"Oh this is gonna be great this could be fantastic, I can see it coming to life and as soon as I get put some meat on the book that\'s like \"Oh that just falls flat. So, you\'re gonna throw away a lot of it. A lot of those stories that you start with or that you think are a germination for an idea that you bring to stage. But the mom idea, I think it\'s just something that works incredibly well, because it\'s relatable. My mom... My mom, not only brings the life lessons that provide this I think really nuanced framework to how we can think about customer experiences. But back it up with everything that she does, in life, and so it\'s a very honest, raw framework that she has that she has brought life in any number of life lessons through my life. But again, this comes back to this idea of what makes great content is great stories that serve that content. And so when I think about what\'s gonna come to stage regardless of whether it is a pitch we\'re doing for a client or whether it\'s something that I\'m gonna do in front of a marketing conference, it always starts with just thinking about things that are happening in my life and how that becomes relatable and then how can it be educational, and help people get a better grasp of what you\'re trying to say, or the point that you\'re trying to make and how it can impact the work that they do or the goal that they\'re trying to reach. AS: Yeah, when I first started creating content for benchmark and I\'m writing things like lessons from Game of Thrones or Mad Men, or all these things I definitely got different eye roles and I was like... No, that\'s... That spoonful of sugar that helps the lessons go down. And I mean you\'re using videos or your mom and I mean, teasing jokes and all those things that it certain what you\'re like. Oh, I\'m also learning something, I go. It’s almost surprise attack people with the education, but just like you said, doing the storytelling I\'ve... I think I managed to hone, that a little better. We just had a really fun Email Marketing Lessons from Star Wars, for May. The fourth. MB: Oh, I love that, I love that. AS: Yeah, I got to let my internet out quite a bit. It was about 7-000 words, MB: So it’s got some meat on the bones. AS: Yes, yeah, quite a bit. I was just like, \"Oh man, this one might have gotten away from me, but I\'m here for it. DM: Yeah, I so when it comes down to giving talks is email marketing, something that you normally give talks about or do you tend to vary the subject, depending on... On the different type of event? MB: It’s very by event. I focus solely on customer experience and email just because that\'s where my bread or butter is. Email is just something that\'s been in my life since the start of my career, and I\'m just a sponge for it. I love the tactic. I think it\'s one of the most underserved less respected least sexiest tactics that we have in our disposal, but it is one of the most impactful that we have, and I think for many, many years, it has been the one that people, the marketers have just gone about, and I worry, because it is an own a channel, that not only real people continue to be engaged in, but it drives an incredible ROI, when you are very strategic and thoughtful about the campaigns and strategy that you produce around that tactic for your customers and given the fact that we have the ability to integrate this, our data as organizations, our first party data and all these different tactics, we\'re doing from social and beyond, and content and understanding how we recognize existing and known users, that are coming back to our sites or apps and personalizing that experience. It all comes back to knowing who that individual is and behaviors of that individual is doing around and own piece of data like an email address. And I, over the last couple of years, we\'ve seen this renaissance happen and I just continue to be a huge, huge fan, and so, very often, in my day-to-day life, I\'m more concerned these days, with experience for the organizations and clients that we serve. So typically, I love to talk around those two core ideas experience and email DM: That’s great. So I think you hit something really important. We always tend to say that Your email list is your most valuable asset. Without that you can\'t really bring in sales you can, but it... It\'s one of the underserved most just forgotten about things. And I think it relates to as well, if we think about relationships, the new relationships are the exciting ones like, \"Oh a new sale, a new customer blah blah blah and then you kind of forget about all these other people that already purchased from you that maybe probably had a good experience that one single email can get a large percentage of those people to come back to the store experience new products and services. And I agree with you 100% that a lot of people tend to forget about that or they have it as the thing in their mind like let\'s say everything else up and then let\'s send out the email blast as they like to call it. Hate the word, blast anyway, and we talk it and we compare ourselves now a lot to social media, we tend to see that a lot of businesses do split their time between social media and email marketing. And one thing that we try to highlight here is that your social media list, your 20.000 Likes on Facebook, something happens to them tomorrow, they\'re gone. If you don\'t have that email is You don\'t really own that I\'m gonna say, \"Oh you don\'t really own the email list either the relationship is as far as the subscriber wants it to go if they describe that\'s it, but the power you have with that is, so underserved. And my question to you is, I guess, what do you see beyond that, the most valuable part of the email marketing that you think business is kind of put aside? MB: Oh man, I mean. Let\'s start with the topic that you just sort of chewed off there, which was on social. It just the connection to social itself, largely because we exactly as you said it, you\'re on rented land, when you\'re on social media, right, your likes, your followers, your those individuals that are falling, you across those profiles that\'s rented space. If they go away, they\'re gone now, I think we\'re all being a little bit blasphemous when we say that if they\'re gone, we\'re probably in an era where Facebook and the like, are not going away in a sort of a matter of moments, if you will, especially given just the pervasiveness at least Facebook by itself. I think in other social networks we could probably see that happen, but the connection to social is one of them. The value that you have when you have a relationship with a subscriber with a human being in their inbox and then the ability to connect the behaviors that they\'re doing inside that impact two things that you\'re doing within social is one big opportunity that I think that businesses don\'t understand. We\'re spending an inordinate amount of money on the ecosystem that is Facebook and Google\'s ad ecosystems, right? So Facebook\'s got Instagram app, the whole platform, WhatsApp, deepening that experience in the messenger and more of the private areas of Facebook and then under the ecosystem on Google, you have obviously all of their display media empire, the search Empire, all the retargeting empire Mentos. And he likes right? We can take the... Not only just if we have a relationship with that a subscriber and understand the impact of what they\'re doing or what they may not be doing with our email campaigns and then target them with very specific messaging in those two platforms based on those behaviors. We can also ensure that we are not marketing to people that are already our customers, right? So we\'re spending trillions of dollars a year, on marketing, new customer messaging to people that are already our customers when we could do a really good job of excluding them from those paid promotional messages because we have an understanding of who they are. So just the connection to social and email itself is just one area and of value. The next is just experience with your business and how you can personalize conversations with an individual, like a sales rep or you can customize a personalization aspects, on your digital property is like your app at or your website, right? By understanding and knowing that person is a logged in, logged out user or cookie-ing that you with some sort of tracking right? And then understanding the experience that you bring to life or a known subscriber, is going to be very different because you know the activities that they do in the behaviors that they take. So you can not only have the value from Social, you can also start to deliver an incredible experience with real-time face-to-face conversations with customers when you have that subscriber relationship and the digital experiences that you\'re creating for customers on your website, on your app or these experiences that you may be creating. So the value is so much more than just the relationship inside the inbox. It\'s also about all these different areas that we are seemingly trying to reach potential prospects, but also reach our current customers and make sure that, that conversation or that experience we\'re having with them is timely targeted and relevant and personalized for that individual. DM: I can totally see where you\'re the chosen one to give seminars and talks, and stuff like that. Your answers are complete. Wonderful... Good to hear. I agree, 100% and yeah, thank you for your support towards the email world and sharing that. AS: I was gonna say listening and being like, \"Oh we gotta pull some of these quotes and put a giant mega phone on top of the car Blues Brothers style and just drive around blasting them. But the good thing is, this is a podcast and everyone\'s gonna get to hear it anyways. DM: Something that you mentioned that, I\'m just kind of curious about changing gears completely. Keeping your paid customers your existing customers outside of some paid ads they may want. I know there\'s probably some specific ads especially, it\'s like a first time special like, Hey save 20%, off on your first purchase. You definitely wanna keep your existing customers out. But I\'ve read a lot from Amazon and some other marketing blogs that a lot of companies tend to show the same product, multiple times after the customer buys and that does encourage multiple buys or sharing of that product later on to friends and family. Do you have any experience on that or any take on that? MB: Yeah, I mean it is, it\'s purely I think especially from a sharing angle, I\'m not gonna say that I think the experience of re-targeting, for the sake of getting people to repeat purchase is something that we should be championing, because we are a society that is just driving they want of things and I\'m not a big proponent of that, so personally I would say I hope we\'re not doing that by driving things, but again, we have to run businesses, so I totally get it, and understand that it\'s a tactic that will provide value on this idea of sharing. I think that is an incredible insight. And I\'ve been reading some of those same articles and certainly something to me on is this, the power of word of mouth, and obviously Jay being my former boss and a guy who\'s written a book on this, right? It is second to none, it is the thing that is driving purchase right now. And so, yeah. Is it an interesting tactic to consider for how you drive board of mouth? I think yes, I just hope that we aren\'t making we are intentionally doing something to create that sharing mechanism to hit to create Tenali for that customer to share versus simply trying to drive them to repurchase \'cause I think there are much more smart ways we can be doing that without showing them the same ad that we should be showing to a net new customer. DM: That’s a gold nugget right there I agree, I hate it … I’m it\'s not gonna hate it but it just bothers me seeing the same the... So, that I purchased it makes me show it shows to me that that company was a little bit lazy with their marketing and their segments AS: I think is kind of the idea of the flywheel is almost been like jargon du jour lately, but as that\'s becoming people\'s more focus in terms of their marketing strategies, I think they\'ll learn what to do and not to do, from all of that and where the client is gonna get value from all of it. MB: Yeah and even worse, it not even what\'s hard is when you already are a customer seeing a product or service that you bought before and you do that eye roll motion of why am I seeing this ad? What is even worse is when it\'s a potential coupon or it\'s a promotion or something, and it\'s more than you got off potentially a couple of days ago, or a week ago, or six months ago, right? And we\'re so lazy that we can\'t even exclude customers, that literally just bought our product got less of a discount on that product and now you\'re showing them, if they just would have waited a week, they would have got potentially two times more of it. That those things... I\'m like how do we... How do we get that lazy that that\'s even a thing but it is... So just things that we have to tackle as marketers. DM: Yeah, I was at a conference where we were talking about AB testing pricing pages, and they were talking about the horror stories of pricing page that had huge totally different as something 50% different \'cause they were trying to test pricing out and customers that we\'re seeing both of them, because somebody screwed up in the ads and the email marketing. That is not a fun game for customer service will tell you that a... MB: No, it is not not at all. AS: Well, Michael, I really wanna thank you for spending some time and chat with us day liable marketing \"narain could probably to or up for hours but we won\'t. \'cause you\'re on the east coast, and it\'s Friday, so we just wanna give you a chance to let everyone know where they can find out more about Godfrey, and you yourself. MB: Well first I really appreciate the time and getting to spend a Friday afternoon with you two regardless of if it is Friday, afternoon and we\'re gonna go get drinks after this, but if anybody would like to say Hello, I\'m pretty much at MichaelJ. I am at MichaelJBarber. Pretty much everywhere online, so Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, you can find me by just using those URLS and then ending them with MichaelJBarber. AS: Awesome. If you\'re ever an event that he speak can\'t recommend going to see him enough. Thanks everyone for listening and thanks again to Michael for joining us bye guys.


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Working Five 2 One with Vaibhav Namburi

Working Five 2 One with Vaibhav Namburi

Beyond • May 10, 2019

We love a good story here on the Heart Of Business and Vaibhav Namburi is no difference. He left India for his education and found a career, starting a company, Five 2 One, dedicated to helping people make their dreams come true by creating apps and AI for businesses across the globe. They\'ve even worked with the UN!  This episode is packed with lessons Vaibhav has learned along the way and advice for others looking to pursue their own passions. It\'s one of those things where I\'m building stuff and I\'m like, \'Okay this is very hard. It\'s tough for me, I can\'t figure it out, blah, blah, blah.\' And then you\'re like, \'You know what? You said that the other day, you\'ll figure it out. Even if you don\'t, you will find the right people to help you figure it out.\' 00:00 Andy Shore: How are you doing today, Vaibhav? 00:02 Vaibhav Namburi: Mate, you got my name right. So, well done. I\'m doing bloody bloody well. How about yourself? 00:07 AS: I\'m doing great, thanks. I have to admit, I went to YouTube and watched a couple of videos of you saying it, so that I knew I would say it right? [laughter] I did my homework, and it paid off and I\'m glad. 00:18 VN: Well done. 00:19 AS: But for the listeners who haven\'t done their homework, maybe can you tell us a little bit about 521. 00:24 VN: Sure, for sure. Hey guys, my name is Vaibhav. I commonly go by V. We\'re a product studio-based in Sydney, do a lot of apps, products, and machine learning, and blockchain solutions for people. So we\'ve been lucky enough to work with the likes of the United Nations, with DeVry, PwC, KPMG, News Corp and the big ones and a couple of cool startups as well as global corporations. 00:55 Daniel Miller: Nice. 00:55 AS: And how did you wind up in Australia to begin with? 01:00 VN: Fair enough. I actually had a bit of a globetrotter story. So my dad works for a large corporate, so we moved around eight countries or seven. And I came to Australia about eight years ago, just to do my undergrad. And after that, just started working and ended up here because my sister was actually here before me. I was about to go to the States but then I decided to come here, which I guess paid off in its own way. 01:27 DM: Very nice. So, I\'m actually kind of curious, where did the name 521 come from? 01:35 VN: So, the 521 is originally named Five to One, to help people convert their 5 PM to 1 AM side hustle to their full-time hustle. 01:44 DM: Oh. 01:46 AS: That\'s actually perfect, \'cause when Daniel asked me, I started doing like the Dolly Parton like working Five to One, and that\'s exactly what it is. [laughter] 01:55 VN: You knew exactly what it is. 01:55 AS: So if you need that marketing video, you can have that idea. 01:58 VN: Buddy, thank you so much, I will definitely credit you for that. As anything later you tend to realize that people want to convert side hustles to full-time hustles. We don\'t have the money for it, so I was like, yep, I\'m just gonna stick to corporate. That\'s kind of where all the money comes in. So, happy days, the biggest hypocrite is me. 02:15 DM: Very nice. 02:16 AS: But you are helping people make their dreams come true, that\'s why we are here, I don\'t know how to do business, that\'s amazing. 02:22 VN: It\'s always fun working with the smaller companies, we worked with a couple of first-time founders as well. And it\'s really great seeing their ideas being converted to something on a story board, to something on a design pattern, to something as an app and eventually thousands of users using it. So it\'s always encouraging for ourselves to see people use our products, and more so believe in the founders who we once believed in too. 02:50 DM: That\'s awesome. What would you say is your favorite part of the process of working with a new client? 02:58 VN: I think the favorite part always comes into the first time we have them use the product that we\'ve built, whether that might be in the past two weeks or three weeks. And when they finally see, okay, all these things that we were talking about finally executed. Everyone stays in the idea and I want to do something phase for such a long time, that once that idea that, the thing is actually executed in their hands, they\'re like, Oh wow, this is real, right? This is happening and that\'s when they get super excited. You can see them shine and get really pumped up whether... Even it\'s an SME or if it\'s like a corporate, the second we see that happening and they see that this is in their hands, and they actually get to feel and touch their dream. It\'s always a great feeling and that\'s when you see that they get really pumped in, their marketing stars getting kicked off, they\'re like, Oh yeah, we finally have a cool product, it\'s not just us talking about a bunch of ideas over a couple of drinks. So that\'s always been the exciting path. 03:58 DM: Nice. 03:58 AS: Yeah, definitely, that it\'s great to be a part of people\'s growth process and having those [04:04] ____ awesome. 04:04 VN: For sure. 04:05 DM: Especially those who dream, you know. Like this is a dream that I have, I\'ll love to build this app or this piece of software and then being able to see that in your hands, it\'s going to be a good feeling. Yeah. 04:14 VN: Yeah, exactly. 04:16 AS: With the name of the company, it\'s built in, that you\'re helping people with those side hustles, and that\'s the founding of the company but you\'ve now got clients like PwC and Auto Trader and you\'re working with the UN. So what\'s that growth process like for you that led to being able to net those much bigger clients. 04:36 VN: I wanna say luck and I guess right time at the right place. I got on to this whole LinkedIn game about two and a half years ago when there\'s not a lot of people producing content. And honestly I started rambling crap online and some people actually liked the shit I was saying and coincidentally some of the people who liked what I was saying was like a senior HR manager at PwC. And then he reached out to me saying, Hey we\'re looking to have someone help us out with XYZ, do you and your team wanna come in and help us? And I was a small company at that time, I was like hell yeah, I\'ll do for free if you want me to. But luckily, I didn\'t do it for free, which is a good decision. [laughter] 05:21 VN: I basically met them that way and we did that project which was great. Auto Trader won honestly, I think it\'s kind of what you look at as a long-term sales cycle, right? I caught up with their CTO, who was a great friend Jeremy Gupta, he\'s doing his own thing right now. And it was honestly, I just caught up with him \'cause I wanted to meet people who were doing different things in their career. And when I mean different... It\'s a very broad word? It was... How did you start off doing bio-med science, and now you\'re a CTO of a company, right? That\'s literally was my LinkedIn query search. I wanted to find people with interesting career paths, people... It was more so an attestment to me, to give me confidence and saying that, \"Look, I started with a mechatronics background, and now I\'m in software, don\'t worry, it\'s going to be fine,\" right? 06:11 VN: And I messaged heaps of these people, I don\'t know how many. And Jeremy from Auto Trader was one of them. And he replied back, we caught up, honestly it was like six months in, before we even worked together. But that\'s where I... I talked to [06:26] ____, the person who introduced us about this a lot is, I call it the red button principle is basically be so good at one thing, that when someone\'s built something for you and they have a red button regardless of how much you charge and where in the world you are they trust you so much to be that one specialist that they will call you and have you press that red button, right? Because it\'s just as important. And with us it was the same thing, where we were really good in a couple of things and Jeremy was respectful of that, so he called us in, he\'s like, \"Look we\'re building this massive project Hav and we\'re derivative of Cox automotive in America were a massive company. Can you help us?\" And I was like, \"this is great\" \'cause this is gonna be one of our first few products that is actually gonna be televised in Australian TV. Like people are actually gonna watch ads for it, there\'s gonna be thousands of sign-ups, and that\'s how it happened, It was a long, I wanna call \'sales cycle\', but also at the same time, a genuine relationship that was built over non-agenda-driven coffees, I guess. 07:31 AS: Yeah, No, I think those are two incredible points that I really wanted to emphasize while you were talking about it because I was just at Digital Summit at Los Angeles last month and saw both Randi Zuckerberg and Rand Fishkin. 07:44 VN: Oh yeah. 07:45 AS: Neither one of them would recommend someone start a blog right now, because it\'s just such an oversaturated market. So for you to find a channel where you can more authentically connect with people, it just shows and proves that is effective in today\'s marketing landscape that if you\'re finding a way to connect with people and deliver something that\'s valuable to them, that that\'s really... It\'s gonna take you places, and you\'re a living example of that, that\'s great, but the other part is, I mean everyone at our company, here, always laughs at me because I\'ve got eight weddings a year to go to all over the country and I\'m always traveling and it\'s just Like, \"how do you have so many friends?\" But that\'s what happens when you just are kind to people and you make those genuine connections and if you keep talking base that, sure maybe something will pay off in the long run that you get to do for work, but it\'s those friendships that are gonna grow. I mean the reason we\'re talking today is your... One of your childhood friends who\'s... [chuckle] 08:41 AS: One of our favorite guests that we\'ve had emailed me like, \"Hey you have to talk to my buddy.\" [chuckle] 08:46 AS: That\'s what he said and he wasn\'t lying, but it was just that simple, being like, \"hey man... \" we had a good time talking to him. We had a good time promoting it afterwards together. An hour later he was just like, \"Hey let\'s talk to this guy.\" And I looked into you, and I was just like, \"Oh yeah, we definitely have to tell that story.\" [chuckle] 09:04 VN: [09:04] ____. Sorry, you were saying something. 09:07 DM: No, no, no, all I was gonna say is I think more people need to really look at what they love to do, and shine at doing that because... 09:16 AS: Yeah. 09:16 DM: That\'s how you meet cool people, that you\'re gonna get along with. I think there\'s a lot of people that just do things \'cause they think that that\'s what they\'re supposed to do and they end up with a group of friends they don\'t really care for and all that stuff. 09:27 VN: Yeah. 09:28 DM: Not to get too philosophical today. [chuckle] 09:31 VN: I wanted to add to that thing that you guys were talking about right before is be kind to people for the sake of it. I have shared this story multiple times, on linkedin, YouTube, etcetera, one of my biggest projects... One of the biggest ones we\'ve done actually came through, Honestly, just like you said, being nice to someone. I was at a friend\'s birthday at a club, and I was leaving my coat and there\'s a long line at the coat hanging place, and I was talking to this guy in front of me, he was talking to me about his job and what He does, etcetera, and it was so long ago, it was almost two years ago before I actually worked with that particular client. Turns out that this dude I was talking to at the coat hanging place was best friends with who was gonna be one of my biggest clients. And The nicest thing you wanna hear from a client who is a large project is for his best friend to say, \"Oh, V\'s actually a really nice guy. Out of a pure non-agenda basis. He was generally cool and we spoke and we talked about work and helping each other out.\" and it was one of the things where you try and test a few things right? When you\'re in marketing, you throw a few things methodically on a wall and you see what sticks and then you double down on that process, like the whole Sean Ellis growth hacking process, right? 10:53 VN: And I generally wasn\'t sure. Look, I\'m one of those dudes who... Heavily bullied in school, and I was super shy and you sort of need to step out of that shell and just talk to people sometimes without an agenda, sometimes with an agenda. And this was one of the cases where I always talk to the younger founders that I reach out to who reach out to me and I\'m like, \"look it\'s two minutes, you\'re standing there, you\'re not getting anything out of it. Just say a hi. You don\'t know what might happen.\" right? And this is like a living example where I, without again going too philosophical, is about you never know where opportunity stands and you never know where this person might work, it\'s people buy from people. You can tell me as much as you want that we\'re in the internet age, and it\'s all about online marketing and funnel optimization blah, blah, blah. But people buy from people. It\'s as simple as that, it\'s how it\'s been, it\'s how will always be. 11:44 AS: Yeah, I live in LA. The version of that we hear all the time is, you never know who\'s gonna be your boss on the next project. [laughter] 11:51 AS: So all the... [11:52] ____ podcast things I listen to, yeah, be nice to the PAs they might be directing a movie you\'re in next time. [laughter] 12:00 AS: That\'s the much more superficial version of that, but that applies to every industry is just like... The power of kindness, when you go in... When I came to my interview at benchmark the first person I interacted with was just at a desk setting up a computer, turns out that it was the CEO of the company, and I was truthfully kind to him. Not that I would have been anything else I\'d like to think, but you really never know who it is you talk to or what you said, What\'s serendipity it might lead to. So that\'s a really important lesson. I\'m glad we got a chance to hit on that. What else have you learned in this process in terms of growing and as you\'re working with bigger clients, what kind of challenges came with scaling as you had to learn to do that with a bigger client versus some of the Startups or people still looking for their funding and those sorts of things? 12:52 VN: Sure, I think the biggest challenge I\'ve faced in general I think everyone faces in business is, \"Am I doing this right? There\'s a constant battle between am I doing right, can I grow faster, what am I doing wrong? And it\'s right to have that certain level of pedanticness but at the same time it almost consumes you at sometimes. So it\'s just a learning lesson to realize that look, just people say this a million times and I\'ve said it and I\'m the biggest hypocrite saying that is, stop comparing someone\'s tomorrow with your today, is someone that you\'re seeing that you\'re following blah, blah, blah they have put in hours and hours and hours of work into this so stop getting concerned that you\'re not there yet, right? 13:36 DM: Yeah, correct. 13:36 VN: And the second thing is just learning that it\'s somethings are just unfair, somethings are just fair. And when we started working with the corporates I think or the larger companies I think when you put the word corporate, it becomes very... When we started working with larger companies who were... Who were testing innovation I think the... I wouldn\'t call it challenging is actually great working with them because they understood that working with a smaller company meant we get to be more nimble, we get to be more approachable, we get to try new ideas without having red tape attached to it and you know this is what I find interesting. Whenever I have a project within my own company and I wanna offer it to someone else, I tend to not go for bigger companies, I actually got the smaller ones \'cause to my opposition what I think is smaller guys, the small guys and girls they wanna prove a point which means they\'re gonna do 10 times the job to get that reputation up and going versus someone who\'s got a bit of reputation. Not like who has a reputation wouldn\'t do a good job. They obviously will that\'s why they have that, but it\'s always a chance of passing the baton on to someone who\'s trying to make it. 14:43 VN: So, I think that really helped us also shape ourselves is when we were working with the larger companies, the biggest challenge obviously is just understanding how they operate. They work so differently each company to its completely own self, they work very differently but in the end the promise that you have to sell to anyone or what you need to deliver is look, if I can deliver you a good nights rest, that\'s all you need to worry about and most of these people who are working in executive positions that\'s all they care about. They generally want to do good for their business and they wanna do good for their family and if you can offer both of that and do it in a way where you\'re like, \"Look you need to trust the process, you need to trust us, we do things a little differently mainly because we\'re working in emerging technology, we\'re working in Blockchain, you need to realize that this is not just another random web application that will just be built at it\'s predictable, right? 15:38 AS: Correct. 15:38 VN: These are things that are new and you need to trust us and the last part of that trust comes from them seeing us on LinkedIn or YouTube or Instagram, whatever other million ways I\'m trying to get ourselves pushed out there. They\'re like, cool there\'s familiarity and I understand you because you\'ve obviously spoken to X amount of people, I don\'t understand this arena but I\'m going to trust you and that trust is it takes sometime, I think Jeremy actually said this really well, he\'s like look, I think any relationship when it\'s a client service-based situation is much like a marriage, you\'re going to have a bit of tips and fight but both of you really wanna work together, you wanna make something great happen and you need to realize that any disagreement or any qualms is honestly strengthening the relationship further which was exactly the case with us and Auto Trader was it was not just cool, smooth story from start to end, it was like any relationship, you have some tough times but it\'s how do you react to that tough time that decides how this goes on and I think that was a great example of us. We worked with them for almost one year and we loved working with them, they loved working with us and it was purely for the fact that okay, we have a tough situation, let\'s not just run around and pull our hair which I don\'t have much of, but how do we go ahead and make something happen out of this? And that really, really helped us all. 17:11 DM: Yeah, trust is I think the most important thing of any relationship and once you gain that trust, the sky is the limit. A question for you in regards to... \'cause you not only do you work with big brands but you work on big ideas, big projects. 17:31 VN: Yeah. 17:32 DM: What are some of the... I guess, what\'s some of the secret sauce there on tackling a big challenge especially when it\'s things with artificial intelligence, Blockchain, what are some of the things that you guys go through or I guess... What\'s the word that I\'m looking for? Not strategies but I guess, how do you guys tackle those big ideas? 17:55 VN: Now, you\'ve raised a very good point. It\'s about how do you stay on top and I think the easiest way to answer it is by being a little loose in the head. I came back home at 1:00 o\'clock in the morning and I wanted to do machine learning algorithms it\'s... But honestly I wish I had an answer that didn\'t sound for lack of better words cocky or whatever it\'s generally that. I\'m a nerd, I like building cool stuff, you guys understand this as well right? You are doing excellent things in your business because you are trying to push the forefront of delivery and making cool things happen, it\'s that obsession that you have and I think it starts from the top. My team have always forced me to take a vacation \'cause they consider that okay look, we get that you work hard but if you get sick, then there\'s no money coming in, so do it and chill. But I think it\'s just, it dives back to that story. I actually have a tattoo on my arm, it\'s a bull and I keep telling people that I got this tattoo \'cause it\'s Taurus blah, blah, blah but the reason I actually got it was because I got that at the time where I was like, \"Cool. I\'m gonna put this at the time stamp and every time I look at it, I will want to be like \"Cool, I need to run, I need to go fast because I don\'t wanna be where I was when I got that tattoo.\" It\'s as simple as that and it doesn\'t work that much when it\'s winter \'cause I\'m wearing long sleeves clothes but. 19:21 VN: But the principle is basically that the way we stay and solve big ideas and solve big problems because you face 10 times the challenges when you\'re sitting at the edge of the cube, is understanding that it\'s a very frustrating role and embracing that and realizing that... It\'s one of those things, right? And I\'m pretty sure you guys have both faced this. You\'ve both have faced times in your life where you\'re like, \"Oh shit, this is hard. I can\'t handle this break up. I don\'t know how I\'m gonna do this.\" or someone\'s unfortunately not feeling well or, \"I\'ve broken my leg and I can\'t be a football player anymore.\" But then you moved past that and you\'re here. You two are doing really well right now and you\'re achieving something you wanna achieve. And it\'s just that mindset, you\'re like, \"Okay, back then I thought that was the end of the world but here I am.\" Right? So... 20:09 DM: What\'s that saying? In the end it will all be alright. If it\'s not alright, it\'s \'cause it\'s not the end. 20:14 VN: Exactly right. And it\'s one of those things where if you sort of stumble upon these things that you\'re like, \"Oh yeah, it\'s a cliche because it\'s true.\" Right? So it\'s one of those things where I\'m building stuff and I\'m like, \"Okay this is very hard. It\'s tough for me, I can\'t figure it out, blah, blah, blah.\" And then you\'re like, \"You know what? You said that the other day, you\'ll figure it out. Even if you don\'t, you will find the right people to help you figure it out.\" I think one thing that we all appreciate within our team is we understand that we\'re not the smartest but we strive to be the dumbest in that we want to surround ourselves with the smartest people. That\'s when you\'re doing a good job. When you\'re the smartest it\'s always value down, but when you\'re the dumbest in the room it\'s always value up, right? 20:56 AS: Definitely. Yeah, I love that. I\'ve told the story on the podcast before, but I remember at Coachella a few years ago, it\'s when they did the Tupac hologram on stage and I\'m standing in the middle of this field with 70,000 other people and I\'m thinking about how I\'m gonna turn that into a story to write for our weekly newsletter the next day. 21:16 VN: Exactly. 21:17 AS: And making it about an email marketing lesson. And it just happened with a guest blog I did. They were like... It was about email and event marketing and they had wine and cheese in the graphic, but they hadn\'t written anything about wine and cheese in the post. So they\'re like 10 points if you can somehow work wine and cheese into this [laughter] or if you\'re writing about is email and event marketing. I was just like, \"Oh I can turn anything into email marketing, that\'s just how my noggin works now. 21:42 VN: That\'s it. That\'s it. 21:44 AS: Talking about having that tattoo to remind you of that time that you needed the lesson. Daniel was just working with our offices in India, and did come back sporting some beautiful art on his forearm for a very similar reason. 21:58 DM: Very similar actually, I got Lord Shiva on my forearm. 22:02 VN: Oh yeah? Nice, nice, that\'s awesome, that\'s awesome. It\'s just one of the things, right? Once you\'re in it, you\'re switched on. Like you always see like, cool opportunity, everywhere opportunity. I talk to my friends and client services is tough. It\'s very hard, \'cause what\'s your value prop? Everyone\'s doing the same thing, how do you stand out? And that\'s okay. You\'re right, it is very difficult. But then there\'s two ways to look at it. You can look at a 15-year-old killing it in life and be like, \"Shit, it\'s late.\" or you can look at 15-year-old and who\'s killing it and you\'re like, \"Hell, yeah, I wanna be like them and I\'m pumped by it.\" So you can... I look at the skyline at Sydney every day and I see all these big companies I\'m like, \"One day, one day, one day I\'m gonna knock on their office. One day I\'m gonna knock on their office.\" And that\'s just... It\'s some days you\'re like, \"This is... I can\'t.\" I don\'t know about you guys, but I\'ve spoken to a lot of people, I was like, \"I have a magic number and I\'ve kept a book.\" Every single time I wanted to quit in the first year, and I think it was 45. Like 45 times where I was like, \"You know what? Tell the other team I\'m done. I\'m out of this. I\'ll pay you guys off. I\'m just frustrated, right? I\'m out of here.\" But every single time you look at that book, it\'s one of the things like, \"Okay, remember the time you said you\'re done but now you\'re back here? 23:17 AS: Yeah. 23:18 VN: And you just keep pushing. 23:20 DM: That\'s really cool, that is really cool. There\'s this book called Non-Violent Communication. I highly recommend it to everybody. 23:26 VN: Oh yeah. Please. 23:28 DM: And in that book he talks exactly about kind of what you\'re saying. Like don\'t be jealous of anyone else, be happy for them and have that inspire you to keep going for yourself. And I think I really like that idea of keeping a tally of all the times that you wanted to quit to look back at them like, \"Remember that day. Remember how foolish that would have been.\" That\'s pretty cool. 23:51 VN: Yeah, exactly. 23:55 DM: You work with artificial intelligence and Blockchain. I think a lot of people... I mean, it\'s somewhat new, I guess, for the mainstream. 24:04 AS: It\'s a buzzword. 24:05 DM: Yeah. It\'s a buzzword, that\'s what it is. 24:06 VN: It is, it is, it is, huge buzzwords. 24:08 DM: What I wanna ask you is, what is artificial intelligence for you? 24:13 AS: Awesome, that is a beautiful question. Artificial intelligence to me, is something a bunch of IT geeks came up with to over-charge clients. [laughter] 24:21 DM: I love that answer. 24:23 VN: It is basically that. I read this great article, I\'ll actually share with you guys in an email. And I think I loved what she said. She was I think a data scientist, a massive data scientist at Google and she used the word anthropomorphizing. So I actually had it in front of me \'cause I can\'t... What it basically means \'cause I Googled is making something sound Godly when it\'s actually not. So AI to me is simple. It\'s mimicking human beings, it\'s mimicking decision patterns that human beings would take. Which is what? When I look at something, I go through a recognition pattern. I\'m like, \"Okay, where did I see this before? And what was it when I first saw it? When I first saw it I didn\'t know what it was. Then I was told what it was and now I know what it is, right?\" And it\'s as simple as that. It\'s when you show an algorithm or whatever you call it, a bunch of functions, here is the image, tell me what it is. First it doesn\'t know what it is, then it goes back, and this is the whole word people use training models, right? Then it goes ahead and understands what it kind of is. And then the next time you show it it\'s like, \"Oh yeah, I saw this. You told me what it was. So this is what it actually is.\" And it\'s just that going back, failing, repeating and then realizing this is actually what it is the next time you actually show it. 25:46 VN: That\'s all AI and machine learning is. It\'s telling a function that what it predicted was wrong, so please go back and understand the variables that you used to make this prediction and change the variables around until you get it right. It\'s like almost teaching a function to punish itself until it actually gets it right. [laughter] 26:06 AS: Interesting lesson. 26:07 VN: That\'s basically what it is. It\'s... It is a little hard. Don\'t get me wrong. I find it hard as well. It\'s a very deep topic, but removing the complexity at us, when you actually talk to clients, it\'s like, \"Oh, what is this MLAI, like robots taking over the world?\" In all fairness, it\'s as simple as that is you show them something, they don\'t know what it is, then show it again, and because they remember it from memory, they\'re like, \"Oh yeah, this is what it was. Is that it?\" And you\'re like, \"Yeah, you\'re right. You got it correct.\" And sometimes you get it wrong and you tell it and it punishes itself until it gets it right. 26:40 AS: That\'s cool. Do you ever face an issue when you\'re talking with clients, I mean, sometimes when you\'re with a young, hungry startup, I\'m sure they\'re more familiar with it, but sometimes you face kind of that old guard that is more scared or doesn\'t understand it. Is there a pushback in that when you kind of face those people or do you find them becoming more learning to adapt and accept what\'s coming and especially when you\'re able to break it down and explain it as clearly as you can? 27:07 VN: Yeah. It\'s always... I think people are inclined to familiarity. People love comfort zones. Like it or not, I love comfort zones, but only those... When you\'re growing like, \"Yeah, you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable.\" That\'s where you start. We need to get into that mindset, but obviously bigger people don\'t care about that. I think in the end, if you stop selling it in a way that you understand it and you start selling it in a way that they understand it, that\'s all that matters. There\'s always a resistance in any adaptation of a new tool, so if you start telling them, \"Look, if you use this product, genuinely it will make your life easier. This is not about me. Let\'s talk about you. What are the problems you\'re facing right now? What are the issues that is costing you money? How can you do more by doing less?\" That\'s the dream, right? How can you do more by doing less? And this is a solution. Sometimes it\'s not the right solution, so let\'s not do it. Let\'s not just work together for the sake of working together, but sometimes let us actually work together for doing more with less. And it\'s not always a perfect hit, but majority of the time, people actually understand that. If you walk them through the issues that they\'re facing. Do you guys watch Friends, the TV show? 28:26 DM: Yeah. 28:28 VN: Oh, thank God. We\'re best friends now. I love that show and I grew up on that. It\'s basically my depression fix. And you remember that episode where Joey\'s at the gala and he buys a yacht? 28:40 AS: Yes, with Kevin. 28:42 VN: Yeah, and then Rachel\'s kinda like send it off him and she\'s selling it to the second highest bidder, it\'s a great topic on sales and marketing. Rachel never once sold the concept to that dude about how great the actual yacht is. All she did was, she\'s like, \"Envision a picture where you and your wife are traveling on the yacht and then there\'s the wind hitting the hair,\" the little hair that he had, and she sold the dream to him. She sold what it was solving for him. She never showed features. She sold solutions, right? And I think a lot of people get drawn in the fact that, \"Oh cool, look at these 50 features we have.\" No, the client does not care about 50 features, they care about feature number four. Just sell feature number four, and that\'s where what you guys do, which is email prospecting and understanding what clients actually care about and diving really deep on that one thing really makes a difference, which is why, you know, my newfound respect for marketing and marketers over the past two years has honestly just exploded and I\'m learning a lot about it and I\'m trying to learn more and more because what you guys do is have the super power of understanding psychology as skill. And that is just incredible. Some of the things that I learn when I talk to marketers and how they understand people, it\'s incredible. 30:08 DM: For me it\'s been... So I studied Computer Science in college and then halfway through I switched to a Art major. 30:18 VN: Oh, awesome. 30:19 DM: It almost killed me. [chuckle] 30:21 DM: Now the job that I have, I\'m no coder but I understand how to speak to coders, and the artistic side helps me with marketing. So for me, I think it was the best combo that I coulda had because I am able to see the perspective and I\'m curious. I\'m very, very hungry for like, \"What happens if we change this? What\'s the power of this one word?\" And yeah, I just love it. But I think Seth Godin said, going back to what you were saying, a guy going to a hardware store for a drill bit doesn\'t want a drill. He wants a hole in the wall and he doesn\'t want a hole in the wall, he wants a shelf. He doesn\'t want a shelf, he just wants his damn books to be organized. That\'s all he really wants. So understanding that in marketing and being able to tell a story that will relate to that person, that\'s the whole power of it all. 31:18 VN: Perfectly said. It\'s selling that dream, right? This is marketing, correct, the new one, the orange colored book? 31:26 DM: That one, yeah. Yeah, that one. 31:28 AS: I read that through all. [31:34] ____ dream big, has hardware ever stopped a project for you, meaning hardware just wasn\'t there for you to be able to do something? It looks like the battery life or speed or... 31:46 VN: Sure, sure. There\'s always limitations. You always need to work with the bounds of what you have, right? If we didn\'t have that, that would be great. We worked with the United Nations in Devry to solve a big problem for our schools in Tunisia, and it was about delivery of food to people in an efficient way using blockchain for tracking products, etcetera, etcetera. And a large issue that we had over there was the drivers or the people who would move product from one place to the other would not actually have the technology or the phones. We have modern 3G or 4G, but they don\'t have that over there. So yeah, it was an absolute limitation. We\'re like, \"Okay, how do we... 32:28 VN: I have engineering teams and engineers over here with full-scale internet and fast computers. We\'re billing for the modern age, but how do we now scale back and build for people who might still be in the early 2000s or late \'90s. And that\'s where you start really stressed, you start stretching your engineering team and your mindset. This is when you start being like \"Okay how do we be true problem solvers? How do we solve for the client?\" And we\'ve faced that. We definitely faced that and solutions that we came up with was like, \"Okay, we will start doing... An easy way of put-through is [33:04] ____ We\'ll go ahead and basically batch up requests that a user has made when they\'re offline, and the second they get online or get a hint of data, we\'ll just start dispatching these pockets of data to our servers, so they catch on to it. But in today\'s day and age, you\'re like, \"Oh, you\'re pretty much always online. And if you\'re not online, then you can\'t even do anything.\" 33:28 VN: So I was coming up with these cool little things and even so, that\'s where it gets even more fun. If you\'re just doing normal products every day, it tends to be, \"It\'s alright, it\'s great. We made money. Hurrah.\" But how do we go home and be like, \"Oh, you know what we did today? We built something that actually works completely offline and the user thinks it\'s offline, but the second they get online, everything just goes back in.\" And it sounds so easy, and maybe 100 people have done it before, but the fact that you get to do it again, but yourself, gets you even more excited. So, there\'s always limitations in hardware, even when we\'re doing with machine learning algorithms and we\'re trying to train models. We\'re trying to do stuff on... Just FYI, when people say they\'re training models, it\'s just syntax where we got it wrong, and we\'re trying to do it again. [chuckle] That\'s basically all it stands for. 34:20 AS: The positive spin. 34:22 VN: Yeah, yeah the positive spin. It\'s like, when the engineer comes to you and like, \"Hey boss, I\'m re-training the model right now. It\'s not... It\'s basically... Dude, I screwed up. I\'m just gonna do it again and again and again until I figure it out.\" And when you humanize it, it makes it sound cooler. I think Devs are really cool, including myself, are really good at creating black boxes and mystiques around people. I love marketing for the same reason as well. When I didn\'t know much about it, I\'d always go to the marketing team, I\'m like, \"Yeah, so how\'s the QPC and the FPAs and the ABCs and the ZYTs going?\" \'Cause you guys talk a lot in acronyms, right? Yeah, there\'s limitations, but you just need to work around it and if you can\'t work around it, you always need to be very upfront with the client or the customer to let them know that, \"Look, this is not there, we\'re not Google, we don\'t have Google level resources, but we work with what we have, and we build for the future.\" 35:26 AS: Yeah, just talking about working within your limitations and how to adapt to that, I wanna circle back to something you were talking about before, \'cause I think it\'s a really important lesson for our listeners in terms of... You said you like working with the younger company. A lot of times they\'re hungrier, they\'re more passionate. I\'m like, \"Just \'cause someone\'s young or doesn\'t have... Hasn\'t worked with those bigger clients.\" That talent is out there. We\'ve hired freelancers, through Fiverr or Upwork or those sites. And we talked to one guy who were talking about maybe developing a site for Benchmark, who I ended up recommending to another client that I do consulting with. And he\'s now gonna be the CTO of their company because... [laughter] 36:08 VN: Awesome. 36:08 AS: [36:08] ____ We were living up in Alaska and the first conversation that I had with him, I was like, \"I don\'t even know if this guy knows how good and talented he is.\" 36:17 VN: Awesome. 36:18 AS: But I see that and other people see it too. And I think that\'s so important, in like you\'ve kind of approached in two different ways, in this conversation so far, is just, it\'s okay to have the limitations of where you\'re at, whether you\'re a start-up, whether it\'s resources, or the time or the technology. But it\'s adapting and overcoming and finding the tools out there. We have a global marketplace now, where you can find talent and work remotely and do those things that... I just want to hammer that home because I\'ve been thinking you did a really good job of sharing that with people that, just \'cause someone\'s young, they\'re passionate. The passion is there. That\'s oftentimes more exciting \'cause you don\'t get those jaded people that... They\'ve seen it all and don\'t think anything will work, that it\'s a great lesson for people trying to grow those businesses, pursue their passions, is, find the young hungry talent out there. Just \'cause it\'s expensive, doesn\'t always mean it\'s the best and it [37:10] ____ learn to adapt to those limitations. 37:13 VN: Absolutely. I think... Who said this really well? I think Jack Ma said it really well. It\'s one of the many things he\'s... He\'s spoken about it in his conference was, \"When you\'re young, when you\'re in your 20s, work for yourself. Sorry. When you\'re in your 20s, work for a start-up or a big place where you understand process, etc. When you\'re in your 30s, maybe start working for yourself and try figuring things out. When you\'re in your 40s, hire the right people. And then, when you\'re in your 50s, start working for young people because they have the energy, and they have the drive to actually... \" And it\'s so true. I\'m growing old as well, and I realized that soon enough, I start saying, I\'m with friends, I\'m like, \"Oh, he\'s 24, he\'s really young.\" I was like, \"Oh, wait. He\'s young. I\'m old. Never mind.\" [laughter] 38:04 VN: Some people think 24 is old so whoops, I\'ve crossed that part. But it\'s one of those things where, I think you need to embrace your limitations and that\'s the best part, is when you embrace your limitation and you realize, \"I\'m not gonna do everything.\" is when you become really good at resourcing. One of my friends said this really well, \"A CEO is nothing but a great resourcer. You give them a problem to find someone better than them and you to get it done.\" And that\'s what you have to be. A great resourcer is, how do we have budget, how do we find the right people and how the hell do we make this happen. 38:38 AS: Yeah, good point. Absolutely. Well, Vaibhav, I know it\'s the middle of the night for you, so we don\'t wanna keep you too much longer. Before we give you a chance to say the plugs and everything. I do wanna recommend Schitt\'s Creek and Freaks and Geeks, both on Netflix. Those are my pick-me-up shows lately. 38:54 VN: Oh, yeah? Okay. 38:55 DM: They\'re so good. 38:56 AS: They\'re both [38:57] ____ and have just an incredible sweetness to them, too. They\'re just [39:00] ____ so uplifting and nice that they balance those both so well. That [39:05] ____ friends, too. But those are my two more recent ones. It\'s like doing yoga for me, it just sets [39:10] ____ makes me okay. 39:13 DM: I wish they had more seasons of Freaks and Geeks. I cannot believe that there are only... 39:17 AS: There\'s five of Schitt\'s Creek, though. There\'s four on Netflix, a new one will be there soon. I actually just got to see them do a live panel in Austin and it was so fun to see a whole sold-out crowd get excited about Schitt\'s Creek but they\'re both great. Highly recommend those two. 39:31 VN: Awesome. I am gonna watch them. Perfectly, perfectly well said. Thank you, sir. I don\'t think the... [overlapping conversation] 39:38 VN: Sorry, go ahead... No, I was gonna say Australian Netflix is kind of sad. It doesn\'t have a lot of the cool shows that American one has but we\'re in live podcast. I\'m not gonna use words that might put me in trouble. [laughter] 39:53 AS: Did you have any last questions before we go? 39:55 VN: No, this has been a great conversation. Thank you very much... 39:58 AS: Yeah. We appreciate you staying up late and talking to us. Before we say goodbye, let everyone know where they can find out more about 521. 40:06 VN: Absolutely, thank you. Firstly, thank you guys so much. I really, really appreciate the time that you\'ve taken to talk to me. And to [40:12] ____ as well. He\'s an amazing character. Finding me, I think the best place... Nowadays I\'m really active on LinkedIn. It\'s my first name and last name, which is... God bless you if you can figure it out, Vaibhav Namburi. It\'s a shiny bald head, brown dude guy. You\'ll most likely see me at the top search, which is great. And the other places, 521.com.au. Which is, what I\'ve learned, is an SEO nightmare. F-I-V-E, the word, the number two, and the word O-N-E.com.au. If you\'re looking to develop a product, if you\'re looking to talk about machine learning or you just want to chat, like talking to these great guys. I love hearing other people\'s stories. Get in touch. 40:56 AS: Awesome, thanks again, Vaibhav. Thanks everyone for listening and we\'ll catch you guys next time. Take care. 41:02 DM: See you later. 41:02 VN: Thank you. See ya.


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Email Marketing Lessons we Learned from Star Wars

Email Marketing Lessons we Learned from Star Wars

Practical Marketer • May 2, 2019

 By the year 2023, there are expected to be 4.4 billion email users. And that’s just the ones we know about on Earth. Who knows how many are using email in galaxies far, far away. It’s also expected that 347 billion emails will be sent daily. If you lined them up, they’d stretch from here to Tatooine! With these staggering numbers on email, it’s no wonder that email marketing delivers such a high Return On Investment (ROI). In 2018, the DMA reported that for every $1 you invest in email marketing, you can expect on average an ROI of $32. As a way to grow your business and nurture relationships, email marketing truly is a force. As Yoda said: For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. When harnessed, you can use the force of email marketing to vanquish your competition. We’ve put together a handful of email marketing lessons from Star Wars to guide you on your journey. Embrace the Traits That Make You Stand Apart We all belong to groups in our society. Whether it’s a Jedi, a drone racer, a Chicago Bulls fan or you’re lactose intolerant, there are things that inherently make us all the same. However, each of us are unique in ways that extend beyond the parents of us millennials telling us all we’re special. Whether it’s your moral code, your personality or even the struggles you’ve overcome, there will be occasions where your specific skill set may be in need. Embrace those moments. Han Solo was the only pilot who could do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs to deliver the unrefined coaxium on time. With Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing stuck in a Dagobah swamp, Yoda was needed to lift it up out of the muck and show the true power of the force. In A New Hope, it was only Luke who could use the force and guide his torpedos into the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port to destroy it. What does any of this have to do with email marketing? Your subscribers get a lot of email in their inbox on a daily basis. You need to make sure you’re sending content that you, and only you, can deliver. Celebrate what makes your brand unique and your subscribers will open every email you send. How can you identify what makes your brand special? How to Make Your Brand Special Tip #1: Offer Something That No Other Brand Can (and That Your Customers Really Want) In Robert Bloom and Dave Conti\'s “The Inside Advantage: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business,” the authors emphasize that successful brands must offer an experience that is “neither ordinary nor unique.” This means that customers stay loyal to your brand because they’re getting something they need, in a way that they can’t get from other brands. Emails are the perfect medium to emphasize this in implicit and explicit ways. Your emails to your customers -- if done correctly -- feel useful, welcome and intimate. EXAMPLE: FROM: Samsung WHY IT’S GREAT: The smartphone market is an example of a space that’s incredibly crowded. It’s also an example of a space where customers are fiercely brand-loyal. Samsung capitalizes on this with their marketing emails, which combine listings for new features and offers to upgrade with stunning graphics and a conversational tone. Smartphones are ordinary in this era, but Samsung convinces its customers that their offerings are truly unique. How to Make Your Brand Special Tip #2: Offer Something Genuine and Easy-to-Understand to Your Customer So you’ve got a great product that’s “ordinary and unique.” In order to supercharge your marketing, you’ll want to describe your brand’s offering in a way that’s relatively simple and authentic. Once again, email shines for this need. You can keep things as simple as you want -- while many messages make great use of graphics (or even GIFs), the words always win the day. Take advantage of your subject line and pretext header (more on this later), and use the body of your email to tell a story that your customers want to hear. EXAMPLE: FROM: Beats WHY IT’S GREAT: Talk about simple! A two-year-old could understand this marketing: “You used a free trial of our service to listen to music. You liked it. Sign up to continue.” Bonus points for the earworm of a header -- you’re singing the Rihanna song now, aren’t you? How to Make Your Brand Special Tip #3: Offer Something That Stirs the Imagination -- and Let Your Email Marketing Follow That Tone To quote Bloom and Conti again: “People are intrigued and motivated by imaginative acts because they highlight and dramatize the Inside Advantage of businesses and brands.” Drama -- it’s not just for the theatre geeks. Great stories and colorful details make your brand memorable. And, again, email is a place to combine those two things to great advantage. This is a fantastic time to rise to the challenge. Can you beat out the nearly 100 messages that the average person receives each day? Can you get your customer to click? EXAMPLE: FROM: Airbnb WHY IT’S GREAT: Incredible email marketing in action. Quick, what’s the first word you think of after viewing this stunning marketing email for the vacation stay service? More than likely, it’s the word home. Airbnb subtly emphasizes the idea of home through the simple copy, the call to action button and that great photo of people having loads of casual fun. “Home” is about as simple and as powerful a concept as you can get -- making it perfect to use for evocative marketing. Be Loyal To Your Friends A good friend will stay by your side no matter what. Great friendships require some effort, but they pay off in amazing ways when you put in the work. Think about the unbreakable bond that Han Solo and Chewbacca share. Time and again, we’ve seen them save one another’s hides, have fun together and face challenges side by side. Perhaps it’s the friendship between C-3PO and R2-D2 that you draw inspiration from. They’re like an old married couple. While they may becker relentlessly, their loyalty will never falter. This is how you should approach your relationship with your email subscribers. Yes. Email marketing is a tool that will help your business. However, it should be done with your customers’ needs first and foremost. If you put your own needs aside for now to benefit your subscribers, the benefits will pay off tenfold. Your subscribers have opt-ed in and given you permission to send to them. Don’t take that for granted. Use customer-centric email marketing to reward your subscribers. Tip #1 to Make Your Email Marketing All About Your Customer: Put them at the Center of Your Universe The great sales guru Dale Carnegie said it best: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Seeing as he was born in the 1800s, the guy obviously wasn’t talking about email marketing. Yet his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is filled with pearls of wisdom that are eternally relevant to us. The main idea boils down to one principle, which has held true since the era where horse-drawn carriages were a transportation necessity and not just a quaint hipster curiosity: People care most about themselves. That’s why it’s so important to approach your email marketing by considering your customer’s perspective first. It might feel counterintuitive. You might think that your emails should tell your customers about new features or upcoming sales. And they should -- but the thing is, the message will be much stickier if you prove to your customer that you understand what makes them tick and you’ve got their best interests at heart first. EXAMPLES: FROM: Tasty WHY IT’S GREAT: Tasty has a knack for sharing compulsively clickable content. This email demonstrates one of their time-tested techniques: using enticing imagery and hot tips and tricks that are easy to digest (pun not intended). FROM: WebpageFX WHY IT’S GREAT: This digital marketing agency grabs you right from the get-go with the promise of super-useful info. That graphic -- the top of an Amazon Alexa product, showing the Red Ring of Failure (which occurs when the AI can’t process a voice input) -- is also powerful. This is a great example of choosing a central image that will both be meaningful and emotionally powerful for the target audience. Tip #2 to Make Your Email Marketing All About Your Customers: Don’t Make ‘Em Mad! Don’t poke the bear. Don’t tickle a dragon’s tail. Don’t abuse your customers’ trust with sneaky email tricks! No matter how you phrase it, the idea holds true for bears, dragons and people. Nobody likes being taunted, teased or taken advantage of. It seems like this is a no-brainer, but in the rush to grab clicks or signups, it might be tempting to resort to a bit of marketing trickery. (Examples from elsewhere in digital marketing: making popup windows that are impossible to close, using the email address that someone provided for one thing and cross-enrolling it for unrelated and irrelevant lists, etc.) Don’t resort to cheap tricks to boost your numbers. While you might win the battle, you’ll definitely lose the war. Once you create the perception in your customer’s mind that your brand is not to be trusted, it’s almost impossible to correct that. The customer will likely avoid you in the future, and they’ll probably tell their friends … and possibly social media, too! EXAMPLES: FROM: Bonobos WHY IT’S GREAT: Don’t you hate when you get an email promising one thing but delivering another? Like when you get a message alerting you about new markdowns on clearance items, but when you click the link, it goes to the brand’s homepage, which prominently features “new arrivals” (a.k.a. full-price items)? This Bonobos email keeps it clean, simple and easy -- they even helpfully included links to jump right into the sale items for your size! FROM: Hotjar WHY IT’S GREAT: This one keeps it simple with just three colors and a wonderfully enticing description. The opening line sounds intriguing, and you feel compelled to keep reading out of genuine curiosity -- not out of some cheap trick like an empty promise, a seizure-inducing wacky graphic, etc. The full message overs a succinct summary of the entire podcast. Chances are good that the customers reading this one will want to give it a listen -- no trickery necessary. Tip #3 to Make Your Email Marketing All About Your Customers: Get to Know Them By Analyzing the Data In this era of easy A/B testing, cursor tracking, cookies and more -- there’s absolutely no excuse for not taking advantage of the treasure trove of data that your customers offer you. What does this mean in email marketing? You’ll want to avoid the appearance of impersonality by tailoring messages based on a customer’s history and behaviors. It’s not too difficult -- we’re not talking about extreme specificity. But if you take the time to write and program messages triggered by certain actions or non-actions, and if you reference significant information about your customer’s experience with you, it goes a long way towards personalization, which is key to building trust. EXAMPLES: FROM: Uber WHY IT’S GREAT: This is a great example of a nudge. Uber sent this one out as a reminder after sending an initial message describing a fairly compelling flat-rate ride deal. This follow-up keeps it simple by reiterating the key terms and subtly reminding you that this isn’t your first notice about a compelling offer -- and quantities are limited. FROM: Spotify WHY IT’S GREAT: You can bet that this email, written from the perspective of country band frontman Charles Kelly, wasn’t sent to hip-hop enthusiasts. Streaming service Spotify has loads of very specific data on each of its users -- it knows what kind of music you like, what your listening habits are, who you follow and share with, etc. They used that information to great advantage here to announce the presale for Lady Antebellum’s tour. Notice that the email also includes a link to listen to the band’s music on Spotify -- an action that the service knows that the recipient of this email does frequently. Tip #4 to Make Your Email Marketing All About Your Customers: Offer Them a Top-Notch User Experience Life is too short -- and the Internet is too big -- for savvy customers to stay loyal to brands that offer a subpar user experience. From broken links to hard-to-see images and poorly timed messages (think emails that arrive on Saturday night), if a brand doesn’t make things convenient for its customers, they can expect to lose those customers in short order. As you write, design and program your marketing emails, make sure you keep things clean, beautiful and personal. And be sure to stay brand-consistent -- your customers signed up for your emails because they want and expect the kind of content that made them loyal to you in the first place. EXAMPLES: FROM: Birchbox WHY IT’S GREAT: The luxury of a personal shopper is something that only the most affluent can afford. Or … is it? Birchbox plays product concierge in this email, offering a helpfully curated list of brands and products based on unique customer history. It’s win-win, of course -- such an email saves time for the customer, boosts open rates for the brand and is highly likely to convert to a sale. The generous targeted discount codes are a nice touch as well. FROM: Leadpages WHY IT’S GREAT: What customer doesn’t love the idea that a brand will “utterly spoil” them? Leadpages keeps the focus on its rich content here, without pushing products or further signups. This email is nice and sweet, which is appropriate as the intro to digest-style messages. Tip #5 to Make Your Email Marketing All About Your Customers: Offer Rewards Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty / 10-4, no switchin\' sides / Feel somethin\' wrong / You actin\' shifty, you don\'t ride / With me no more, I need / Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty. --Rihanna, “Loyalty” RiRi had the right idea. In this world of endless choices and never enough time, why should a customer stick with your brand if you don’t recognize and reward loyalty? That’s where repeat discounts, VIP offers and rewards programs come in. Piggybacking off tip #3 -- this is a great time to make use of the copious data you have regarding your customer’s likes, dislikes and shopping history. EXAMPLES: FROM: Starbucks WHY IT’S GREAT: When this email was sent, people who signed up for the Starbucks loyalty program for the first time received a promo code good for one free drink. That same program offers discounts and freebies for the customer’s birthday, as well as when certain thresholds are reached. Starbucks regularly sends cheerful, clean email messages offering perks, many of which are time-limited or unexpected. This strategy trains the customer to get excited every time an email from Starbucks comes in. That’s exactly what we all hope for with our email marketing efforts. FROM: Crocs WHY IT’S GREAT: When your customer keeps your marketing emails on the whitelist for one whole year, that’s something to be celebrated. Crocs cleverly capitalized on this, with their one-time $15 off coupon, sent to customers on their 1-year anniversary of being on the email list. Try something similar -- discounts are great to boost re-engagement, but even an acknowledgment of the signup anniversary shows thoughtfulness and builds brand loyalty. It’s Never Too Late To Turn Things Around Darth Vader is the original big bad in the Star Wars universe. The one we were told to fight from the start. However, with the proverbial chips on the table, when it came time to protect his son, he opted to save Luke and kill the Emperor, throwing him down the Death Star reactor shaft. It didn’t change all that he’s done, though, it did give him redemption. Email marketing may not be literal life and death (though it may feel that way sometimes), however, there are things you can do to hurt your email efforts and your brand. It may not be easy, but there are also ways to turn your ship around and return to the light. Tip #1 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Use SPF/DKIM What the heck does sunblock have to do with email? Just kidding. When it comes to email marketing, SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. DKIM stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail. The two work hand-in-hand to add a layer of legitimacy to the emails you send your customers. SPF works, in simple terms, by providing proof that emails are really coming from who they say they’re coming from. In order to take advantage of this protection, you’ll want to ensure that all apps that you use to send emails on your behalf are included in your SPF. Check the support logs for each service and your control panel to see exactly how. DKIM works, in simple terms, by using a unique, private key to encrypt your signature in your email message headers. The private key works in tandem with a public key, which appears in your DNS records. When you send out an email using DKIM, your customer’s email server uses the public key to decrypt your hidden signature in the message header and confirm that everything’s on the up and up. In order to take advantage of this protection, all you have to do is enter your public key information into your server’s records. This will trigger your customer’s server to attempt to decrypt your hidden signature with the public key each time a message comes in. Again, check associated software help guides to ensure you are doing this properly. Using SPF and DKIM leads to increased deliverability of mail. Tip #2 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Improve Your Opt-In Process to Set Proper Expectations We’ve all been there. You’re looking for an answer to a burning question. Let’s say you’ve searched: “How to breed short-haired hamsters.” Hooray -- you find a random blog from someone who seems pretty knowledgeable about short-haired hamsters. A pop-up window promises the world’s most comprehensive free PDF guide to short-haired hamster breeding, provided you enter your email address. You do so. You receive the guide. You start breeding those hamsters. But then … oh no! This random blogger emails you many times a day about something completely irrelevant to you and your short-haired hamster breeding needs. You angrily unsubscribe, and perhaps even hit “mark as spam” on the email for good measure. How can this whole scenario be avoided? With proper expectation setting at the opt-in process, of course. When someone gives you their precious email address, you owe them an explanation of what kind of emails you will be sending them. How frequent will they be? Roughly how long? What will they be about? When you communicate these things clearly upfront, you cut way down on the mutual frustration and miscommunication that can occur when someone starts receiving way more emails, or emails about irrelevant topics, than they expected. EXAMPLE: FROM: Upworthy WHY IT’S GREAT: This signup form tells the subscriber exactly what, when and how to expect communications from Upworthy. Sure, it takes time to be cute and funny about it, but the message comes through clearly, meaning the customer is unlikely to become irked later. Tip #3 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Write Subject Lines That Get Your Emails Opened Before there were computers and smartphones, people used to say “don’t judge a book by its cover.” These days, nobody has time to judge you by anything but your cover. In the world of email marketing, you “cover” is your subject line and pretext header (that short preview of the message content that appears beside the subject line in an unopened email in the inbox). People make split-second decisions about whether to open your message based on these two things -- so make them count! In order to write a great subject line: DO keep things short ‘n’ sweet. DO convey urgency (without being gimmicky). DO use personalization tokens to make things specific to your customer. DO capitalize on relevant references or current events -- within reason. DO give an enticing clue to what the message is about. DON’T get too random. DON’T promise something and not deliver. EXAMPLES: FROM: Brooklinen SUBJECT: “Hmm… what’s this?” WHY IT’S GREAT: Come on, how could you see this one and not click? The sheer curiosity factor is almost too much to bear. The luxury bedding company Brooklinen excels at short, catchy subject lines, which their customers love. FROM: Herman Miller SUBJECT: “The design is timeless, but the sale isn’t” WHY IT’S GREAT: Art & design shop Herman Miller tastefully nods to its artistic icon status while also conveying a sense of urgency. Who wouldn’t feel FOMO after seeing this in the inbox? Tip #4 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Offer a Preference Center One of the top reasons customers give for opting out of email communications is “getting more emails than expected.” You want to stay top-of-mind and you have loads of valuable information to share. So should you reduce what you send? Of course not! What you should do, however, is segment your audience to separate out the die-hards who can’t get enough of your content, the not-yet-fanatics who are still feeling you out and the customers who are somewhere in between. The way to do this is with a preference center, that checkbox option where customers can choose what kind of messages to receive. EXAMPLES: FROM: Old Navy WHY IT’S GREAT: Old Navy does a great job of making one last attempt to hold onto an unsubscriber with a preference center offer that doesn’t feel sleazy. The descriptions of message frequency even sound light and conversational, emphasizing the “no hard feelings” nature of things. FROM: Groupon WHY IT’S GREAT: Deals aggregator Groupon does a great job breaking their email categories out, so that someone who signs up for dining deals doesn’t feel bombarded when they start getting massage discount offers unexpectedly. Tip #5 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Keep a Clean List with Segmentation, List Verification and Removal of Inactive Subscribers Segment Your Subscribers -- and Send Some Messages Relevant Just for Each Segment The humor writer Josh Stern said: “I like gross generalizations...I also like disgusting specifics!” Segmentation relies on the idea that your customer expects “disgusting specifics” from your email marketing. He or she isn’t looking for generic blasts -- today’s customer wants information that’s targeted to location, shopping preferences and even more specific factors like size, gender or previous purchases. EXAMPLE: FROM: Casper WHY IT’S GREAT: This email -- sent just to the segment of Casper’s list that has already made a purchase from the online bedding retailer -- combines classy sales copy with inviting imagery, all wrapped together with a tone that feels fun and in-the-know. Verify Your Email List List verification is the practice of confirming an email list signup. It can be accomplished a couple of ways. First, you can use third-party services such as Kickbox, BriteVerify or many others that scan and verify your list in bulk, based on a CSV, Excel or other data file. Or, you could add an API to check the email address a customer provides in real-time to ensure that it actually exists. (Example for when you would need this: If a customer is after some content that you’ve gated behind an email collection form -- such as a coupon, a free PDF, etc. -- but feels wary of offering up his or her real address.) List verification can also be accomplished individually at signup by making people click or even respond to an initial message -- sometimes called “double opt-in” -- so that the address from which your emails originate can enjoy a prime position on the whitelist. This way, you stay out of the wasteland that is someone’s spam folder. As you can see, each of these methods has specific uses that apply for different scenarios. They each offer different advantages depending on what point in time you need to use them (e.g., when you’ve run a list for many years but haven’t cleaned the data in a while vs. when you have valuable gated content that people keep coming to your site for and you’re looking to bolster your email subscriber numbers, etc.). No matter which method or methods you choose -- implementing list verification for your email subscribers is certainly a worthwhile investment of your time. Remove Inactive Subscribers Removal of inactive subscribers is, of course, exactly what it sounds like -- the sometimes painful but ultimately prudent pruning of subscribers who never seem to open or engage with your content. It’s certainly a good idea to offer a last-ditch attempt to engage the subscriber, though -- this can be done with an enticing deal, a heartfelt interest message, etc. Taken together, segmentation, list verification and the removal of inactive subscribers are three killer tricks that keep your email list fresh and your engagement rate high. EXAMPLE: FROM: Grammarly WHY IT’S GREAT: A bit of personalization. Short & sweet message. A tempting call to action. This inactive subscriber prompt from grammar and usage editor Grammarly poses its request in a way that puts the customer first (“Just to be safe, please make sure ...”). Tip #6 to Turn Things Around with Your Email Marketing Campaign: Send Email Your Subscribers Love Did you know that the average person receives 90 emails every day?! That’s a heck of a lot of noise. In order for your messages to have a fighting shot of being read, you need to make sure that your emails feel deliberate and targeted -- not random and generic. When you combine all the elements above and harness them in your email marketing, the result is messages that feel personal, relevant and memorable. We’ll add one more tip to close this section -- focus on what your customers love. It’s that simple. EXAMPLES: FROM: Amazon WHY IT’S GREAT: Amazon is the master at sending info-rich, relevant product aggregation emails. Think of it as cart abandonment marketing on steroids. The simple but persuasive text, tempting yellow call-to-action buttons and total personalization here make it really stand out. FROM: Net-a-Porter WHY IT’S GREAT: Designer retailer Net-a-Porter combines the commercialism of a department store with the aspirational appeal of a glossy fashion magazine. Make no mistake -- their site is for ecommerce. But their chic marketing emails offer tons of usable, relevant content. Customers know that the news and insights in these emails are a great value-add, so they’re happy to open them. Never Say “I Have a Bad Feeling About This” This is a phrase we’ve heard in basically every Star Wars movie to date. Our heroes are usually right to trust their guts too. Han said it before the walls of the trash compactor starting closing in on them in A New Hope. C-3PO tells Artoo the same as they enter Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Return of the Jedi and BB-8 even beeps and boops it in The Last Jedi. For some, the thought of doing email marketing and automation is enough to utter those words. It doesn’t have to be that way! With testing, you can try out various strategies and find out the ones that will work for you. Then you can hit send with confidence! Whether it’s with A/B testing, following your reports or otherwise, there are many elements of your email marketing campaigns that you can test. What to Test Metric #1: Subject Line This one’s simple, with great bang-for-the-buck. Almost half (47%) of all email recipients open email based solely on the subject line. Almost 7 out of 10 people (69%) hit “report as spam” based only the subject line. Those are some steep numbers! Therefore: Be very careful what you choose as your subject line. EXAMPLE: A/B Test your subject lines to see which ones get more opens. Fun quick exercise: Which of the two do you think is more likely to be opened? Subject Line A: “It’s FREE. All the tiny houses on our site and more.” Subject Line B: “It features all the houses on our website plus more…” Answer: The first one -- featuring that oh-so-irresistible word FREE, got 26% more opens for the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, according to a test the brand conducted via AWeber. What to Test Metric #2: From Name First things first: Whatever you do, drop the “noreply” send address. Nothing sounds more impersonal or closed-off. (“Noreply” emails are still fine -- and probably preferable -- for certain types of simple notifications.) Play around with the name from which your email originates and see what gets the best results. EXAMPLE: When customers love your products -- just like Costco loyalists tend to love the members-only wholesale paradise -- they’re going to get a lot of emails from you. Order confirmations, news blasts about featured offers, branded credit card communications, etc. Keep things clean and click-worthy with clear and specific “from” sender names. What to Test Metric #3: Day of Week and Time of Day According to Propellor CRM, the best time and day to send emails is Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. That doesn’t mean that all your marketing emails should go out at that time, of course. There are various scenarios under which the lowered competition or various customer mindsets at different days or times can work to your advantage. Let the reason for the message and the audience it’s intended for guide your thinking on when to schedule the message’s delivery. Further, should you send out emails in one big blast across your entire subscriber base, or should you stagger them according to customers’ geography and time zone? The answer can vary. For example, if you’re anticipating a big click through rate from an email, you can use that to your advantage -- if you want to avoid crashing your site if you send an email announcing an exciting sale, you could send the message based on time zone. If your message asks people to check out a social media post, on the other hand, you could benefit from a big push that everyone on your subscriber list receives at the same time -- because the heavy traffic might allow your post to trend or go viral. If in doubt -- A/B test, of course! What to Test Metric #4: Frequency What’s a good cadence for your marketing messages? How often should you appear in your customer’s inbox and still provide value, without hitting the tipping point where they’re tempted to press “unsubscribe,” “mute” or the deadly “mark as spam”? As with most of these details, it depends heavily on your audience segment and their motivations. This one’s a bit harder to A/B test, as you of course don’t want to reach that annoyance point and lose a customer forever. If you have open and engagement data to analyze from existing or previous campaigns, you can use those as tea leaves of sorts. EXAMPLE: Online print shop Vistaprint is great about offering free shipping codes and other various discounts. But when you offer too many discounts, you train the customer that “full price” is just a phantom number, and you risk degrading the value of your unique offering. Be careful as well about making things sound special -- great if the sale or occasion really is unusual; perhaps a turn-off if a customer is receiving messages about how you’re “rolling out the red carpet” every single day. Beware of glazed-over eyes and marketing fatigue, which can be killer for your campaigns. What to Test Metric #5: Mostly-images vs. mostly-text A picture is worth a thousand words. Thing is, people checking their emails probably don’t want to read a thousand words. How do you strike the right balance between offering visual appeal and using the power of great copy? A/B test versions of your emails with loads of text and loads of images. This one’s an easy and fruitful test to run, and you can be reasonably confident that the results given offer a usable insight. Here’s what you can expect to find: text-based emails tend to have higher delivery rates (image-heavy messages can get flagged for spam more easily, and/or may not load or may not load fast enough, resulting in the customer not getting anything). Yet, when delivered, image-based emails tend to have a higher click-through rate. EXAMPLE: FROM: Seafolly WHY IT’S GREAT: It’s hard to beat a camel. Sometimes -- such as in the case of an upscale beachwear retailer like Seafolly -- it’s best to rely on images. Aesthetics are such an integral part of this brand’s offering that it’s potentially worth the risk of not making it into some customers’ inboxes. FROM: Milanote WHY IT’S GREAT: On the other hand, this onboarding email from notes app Milanote feels no-nonsense and no-gimmicks -- a great sign of a streamlined life to come. What to Test Metric #6: Copy Length In the evolution from direct mail to email, many marketers have waged an internal war over whether longer is better. That’s generally the rule in the paper, envelope and stamp world of direct mail -- it’s arguably untrue in the pixel, spam and “block sender” world of email. Your ideal copy length will depend on what your product is and what your customer segment has the patience and desire for. EXAMPLE: FROM: Paul Jarvis WHY IT’S GREAT: Wow, that’s long! Then again, Paul Jarvis is an author, and this is the email he sent to his list -- you can bet that most of the people signed up to receive his updates loved this one. What applies for an author may not necessarily hold for your brand, of course, so test out various copy lengths to see what your customers love best. What to Test Metric #7: Links v. Buttons Take it from the kid who smashed all the floor numbers the moment after you stepped into an elevator to head to a job interview on the top floor that you’re running late for -- It’s hard to resist the “press me now” urgency of a button. But if your email buttons don’t load or aren’t appealing, then you won’t be getting any clicks, and you should have stuck with a link. This is why it’s so important to A/B test links v. buttons. EXAMPLE: Which one looks more appealing to you? The answer will vary for your customers, depending on factors like whether they tend to read your messages on mobile, how often you use buttons (be careful -- button fatigue is real!), etc. A/B test to know what’s best. What to Test Metric #8: Number of Links and Placement of Links Some brands probably think that LOL stands for “Lots of Links.” Highly clickable content makes sense for some marketers -- such as for ecommerce brands. Just like everything else, this is a metric that you’ll want to test and re-test to ensure that you’re writing and designing emails that are relevant and appealing to your customer. EXAMPLE: FROM: Refinery29 WHY IT’S GREAT: There are lots of things to click here. Stories, ads, even social media follow buttons. Refinery29 has determined that this is what their audience wants, so they deliver it and reap the strong click-through rates. FROM: Jersey Mike’s Subs WHY IT’S GREAT: On the other hand, sub shop Jersey Mike’s knows that few people can resist the siren’s song of a coupon for freebies, so they’ve made that offer the focal point of this email. What to Test Metric #9: First Name Personalization in Subject Line and/or Email Body When a stranger greets you by your first name, it’s jarring. When a friend does it, it’s music to your ears. When the front desk at a hotel you regularly visit uses it, it’s a nice touch; when a fast food employee at a place you’ve never visited before does it, it’s genuine cause for alarm. Just like anything in life, the decision about whether or not to use first name personalization in emails is complicated and sometimes unpredictable. That’s where the A/B Test comes in. EXAMPLES: Subject Line A/B Test: OPTION A: Subject: [Name], Do You Have a Minute? OPTION B: Subject: Do You Have a Minute? Hmm -- this one straddles the line between hokey and helpful. Your mileage may vary, depending on what your brand’s tone is. Email Body A/B Test: OPTION A:   OPTION B: You’ve gotta admit, personalization in the graphic of this Starbucks email is pretty cool. What to Test Metric #10: Animated GIFs In many ways, we’re all just cats chasing a laser. It’s very hard for people to ignore the appeal of moving graphics -- especially when tastefully done and used judiciously. Do GIFs make sense for your marketing emails? The answer will depend on your brand, your customers and the GIFs you choose. A/B Test to find out. EXAMPLE: OPTION A: OPTION B: In this email from Bonobos, the image is compelling enough -- but the Magic Mike version really sells the benefit (tear-away modular pants) with an arresting animation. What to Test Metric #11: Font Colors & Font Styles Cool colors for calm. Warm colors for excitement. Serif fonts and sans serif styles. When it comes to text, there’s more than just words -- email is a visual medium, so you have to consider the way things appear on the screen, too. A/B test different font colors and font styles to see what impact they have on your conversion rate. Amazingly, something as simple as changing the color of a call to action button can have a big impact! Same goes for using different font styles. EXAMPLES: FROM: 22 Days Nutrition WHY IT’S GREAT: Yellow is widely considered a cheery color that puts people in a great mood. The green text picks up the mint leaf in the photo and conveys “go” -- just the boost customers need to commit to selecting a plan from this meal prep company. Brush script-style fonts aren’t right for every brand -- in fact, they’re probably not right for most brands. But for a floral company, this whimsical typeface conveys just the right vibe. What to Test Metric #12: Tone: Human vs. Corporate “Sup fam” or “Dear Valued Customer” -- there is a huge tonal difference between the two. The tone you choose for your marketing emails will vary based on your brand, your target customer and the reason for your message. In general, you’ll want to stay consistent with your other brand messaging, but there can be good reason for switching things up every once in a while. EXAMPLES: Discount code aggregator UNiDAYS offers trackable promo codes to customers when they provide a .edu email address. No wonder their emails feel so casual and young -- they’re speaking the language of their users. On the other hand, Target keeps it mostly straightforward and informational with their email tone. The corporation sends loads of sale and new arrival emails, so too much slang or casualness could become grating. How to A/B Test: What to Keep in Mind You know what to test. So how do you set up your tests so that the data is clean and actionable? Here are a couple guidelines: Change only one thing at a time: In science experiments, the baseline is called the control. In medical studies, it’s called a placebo. In your email A/B tests, we advise that you change only one thing at a time, and make that thing simple to start, so you can be clear on what’s driving your results. Take time of day and day of week into account: Similarly, realize that A/B testing isn’t 100% perfect -- you may have to run tests at different times or on slightly different customer segments. Always consider how the factors beyond your control are affecting your results. Keep track of everything: You may think you’ll remember different results, but trust us, you won’t have the same encyclopedic recall of your A/B test data that you have right after the test when a few weeks, months or even years pass. Keep meticulous notes, and put new insights into play as you go. Implement testing into your day-to-day. Make it routine! Keep your test groups small enough to be manageable, but large enough to make the results statistically significant. Open your mind to the possibility that even seemingly small differences in your A/B test results can indicate important trends and insights that can be harnessed to make meaningful impacts. Test and re-test to confirm. For the love of megabytes, please take heed of the insights that come from your A/B tests! Otherwise … what was the point? A Little Hope Goes A Long Way So much of the Star Wars movies revolves around hope. Those characters had to believe they can fight the evil empire and shine a light on the darkness. Email marketing is the same way. Before you get started, things can seem complicated or overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be. Start simple and build from there. Should you find yourself feeling like there is no hope, remember our favorite heroes and get inspired to follow in their footsteps. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said: The Force will be with you. Always. Remember the lessons you learned here today and harness the force of email marketing for your business.  


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Digital Summit Los Angeles Day 2 Live Blog

Digital Summit Los Angeles Day 2 Live Blog

Beyond • April 11, 2019

We\'re back today for Day Two of Digital Summit Los Angeles! Yesterday was an awesome day full of helpful workshops and presentations. If you missed it, here\'s the Day One Digital Summit Los Angeles Live Blog. It\'s always fun to be surrounded by so many people that do what I do and have a passion for it. It\'s energizing! Today, we\'ve got a full day of 30-minute presentations, with a couple of keynotes mixed in. Stay tuned, because there\'s a ton of fun stuff in store for today (if you\'re a marketing nerd like me). Digital Content Lessons from a Fyre Festival Attendee - Seth Crossno, Dumpster Fyre Podcast 8:48 AM: We\'re 15+ minutes in and the only lesson I\'ve learned so far from this Fyre Festival Attendee is to get to the meat of your content quicker, because as of now he\'s only managed to make telling the story of Fyre Fest incredibly tiresome. 8:51 AM: We\'re now getting into learning what content works best on what platforms. Images and video are always most popular, but even the social channel it\'s shared on matters. Know who your audience is on each of them and what they want to see. A video that doesn\'t perform on Twitter might be much more successful on Facebook. 8:53 AM: You don\'t have to spend $250K on Kendall Jenner. Find the fans of what you already do and make them your brand evangelists. Invite them in and make them a part of your community. 8:55 AM: Reach your audience where they are and provide the kind of content they want to consume. 8:58 AM: Seth trails off... \"so I think that\'s... (turns and looks at final slide) yeah.\" That\'s literally how it ended. I don\'t know much more about creating \"fyre\" content, but I\'m pretty sure that wet blanket could put out an actual fire. Four Automated Email Series That Get Serious Results - Akerho Oghoghomeh, CM Group 9:18 AM: Automation is an opportunity to inject ourselves into the customer journey. They\'re relevant and timely and should be used by more marketers. Only about HALF of marketers are using automation. Additionally, that half is mostly Welcome Emails only. 9:19 AM: According to eMarketer, B2C marketers leveraging automation have conversion rates as high as 50%. 9:20 AM: About half of the subscribers you engage aren\'t ready to buy. That\'s why automation can be a helpful tool to engage them and stay top-of-mind. 9:21 AM: Welcome Emails are the basic version of automation. Triggered when someone subscribes, by a download (with an opt-in) or a purchase (with an opt-in). Average 8x higher revenue per email Make the most of a Welcome Email by making it a series See where your signups are coming from, determine the next steps, consider the customer journey and create the template and start automating. 9:24 AM: Date-based emails Triggered when a date is approaching or a date has passed Birthday emails genrage342% higher revenue per email Make the most of it by offering a unique promo or follow-up after a purchase Coordinate the dates with what fits your offer, gather the right data and then create and automate! 9:27 AM: Level 2 Automation - Content nurturing Usually centered on educational content What you need: educational content, email, map the outcomes How they\'re triggered: Downloaded content, attended an event, purchased a product, used a service and many more Relevant content-driven emails can product 18x more revenue - Jupiter Research Make the most of it: relevant and based on the specific action they took Where to start: Map the starting points, outline the journey, create and automate Key Takeaways: Content nurturing should be very targeted, based on specific goals Consider what you want them to do next 9:32 AM: Level 2 Automation - Story nurturing Creative use of storytelling to inspire more experiences with your brand What you need: experiences, reviews or case studies, storytelling basics, map the outcomes How it\'s triggered: Purchased or donated, downloaded content Why you should do it: story nurturing picks up where content leaves off Where to start: identify pain points, find stories that fit, create and automate Takeaways: Stimulate the heart The story should relate to your unique value proposition 9:36 AM: Advanced Automation - Behavior in an email What you need: ESP with email click tracking, creativity How it\'s triggered: clicks in your email Why you should do it: Emails triggered by behavior can contribute 30% of your revenue, according to the DMA Where to start: 1. Examine your basic and level two automation sequences 2. See where new tracks can be explored 3. Create and automate Key takeaways You need an ESP that can support this activity (Benchmark does this!) Combine this automation series with your existing automation sequences 9:40 AM: Advanced Automation - Behavior on your website What you need: integrations, webhooks, API, Creativity (or use Automation Pro) Triggered by activity on your website or in-app Why you should do it: Abandoned cart emails may recover 63% of lost revenue, according to Business Insider Where to start: 1. Draw up your customer journey 2. Identify key points where emails can reinforce the experience 3. Create and automate Why Your Brand Works in the “Real World” But Fails When Online - Juntae DeLane, Digital Delane, Digital Branding Institute 10:06 AM: Only 48% of US respondents trust businesses 10:09 AM: Consumer distrust impacts their path-to-purchase 10:10 AM: People are going outside your path-to-purchase because of their distrust. They look to review sites, online communities, etc. That means what we\'re sending to them becomes less effective. 10:11 AM: What can you do about this? Focus on building a digital brand. Digital branding is the whole puzzle: social, content and SEO are the pieces. Delane believes social media is starting to plateau. Audiences know it\'s become less organic, that brands have to pay to play. Savvier marketers are starting to understand what we\'re doing as marketers, making content marketing more difficult. SEO isn\'t just about linkbacks, but engagement with your pages. 10:15 AM: How can you enhance your digital brand? It starts with your brand voice: Character: human characteristics Purpose: your point of view Language: the words you use to describe your offering Tone: it\'s not what you say, but how you say it 70% of those polled by Survata said they were irritated by the use of inappropriate jargon from a brand OPP: Objective, Promise, Personality Be Memorable Use reality shows as market research. See what\'s memorable about the characters. Wendy\'s social media as an example. They\'re adopting a consumer voice. 10:23 AM: On social media platforms, consumers don\'t want to be helped. They want to be engaged. 10:24 AM: Use micro trends to help you capture your own brand voice and align it with your consumers Quickly capitalize on a cultural moment and leverage a micro-trend Assess your organization\'s agility: can you act quickly to do this? Develop a protocol for leveraging micro-trends: Super Bowl, Grammy\'s, Final Four, etc. Is your team equipped to handle social trends as they come? Micro-moments: Be there, Be useful, Be quick Be there: where is your target audience searching for your offering? Be useful: are you creating content with value for your audience? 73% of consumers say that regularly receiving useful info is the deciding factor when choosing a brand Be quick: what is getting in the way of having your target audience taking you up on your offering and what can be done to fix it. 10:31 AM: Prioritize the customer experience Just because you can\'t measure it, doesn\'t mean it doesn\'t exist 65% of buyers consider a positive experience to be more influential than advertising Go from transactional to experiential 10:34 AM: Reaching people isn\'t the challenge-it\'s connecting with people Growth by Content: Driving Massive Traffic Without a Big Budget - Nadya Khoja, Venngage Infographics 11:08 AM: 4-Step Framework for Massive Organic Growth: Goals, Research, Authority, Promotion 11:10 AM: Goals: how to establish specific goals for various types of content Higher domain authority (DA), higher conversions, increased traffic Different content can help you achieve different goals Viral/editorial: higher DA, Actionable/how-to: conversions, inspirational: more traffic 11:14 AM: Research: how to strategically research which keywords to rank for 2-types of pages: boring (high-converting LPs) and not boring (blog posts, etc.) Brainstorm keywords and categories/topics, then keep breaking down \"category\" topics into more long-tail search queries Understand the theme and depth of topics you write about 11:17 AM: Authority: How to structure your content to establish authority on Google 11:19 AM: Promotion: How to effectively promote various types of content for growth Too many marketers spent 80% of their time creating the content and only 20% promoting it Promotion should take up more time than the creation of your content Cold-outreach best practices for link building Don\'t sound like a robot Cull your lists and make sure the content is relevant Don\'t be afraid to inject your personality in your outreach (Be yourself ... unless \"yourself\" sucks ... then be someone better.) Give people a reason to care about what you\'re doing (and don\'t always rely on short emails working) Build a relationship: link building is a long-term strategy Reinventing Content Marketing Into a Measurable Business Strategy - Robert Rose, Content Marketing Institute 11:51 AM: Trust is the one thing that we must deliver. Trust is at its lowest point ever today. 11:54 AM: Content marketing is building a corporate branding asset 11:57 AM: Strategic content is stuck in average 51% “small group” servicing entire company 35% have a formal strategy 24% committed to content marketing 20% very proficient at ROI 90% successful content marketers put audience information needs above all else 11:59 AM: The Four Business Models of Content Marketing Player: content as a contributor marketing tactic Performer: content as a department marketing strategy Processor: content as a service Platform: content as a business model 12:06 PM: Content is a product not a project, it’s not more efficient, it’s a business model. It’s harder. It’s more expensive. But it’s your opportunity to build trust. 12:08 PM: Two important questions: Can I have your attention? Can I have your trust? Zero moment of trust: I trust this message/brand First moment of trust: I trust this product Second moment of trust: I trust this experience The Four Horsemen of the Web Marketing Apocalypse - Rand Fishkin, SparkToro 12:46 PM: In 2016, this happened: keywords sending less traffic, \"good\" content was not enough, links in social get little traction, fewer followers see your posts, influencers failed to influence and ads got expensive 12:48 PM: Social Platforms Massively Diminished Outlinking Traffic Facebook killed organic reach. Outbound, referral traffic went to almost zero. Twitter and LinkedIn also suppress content that has URLs/links YouTube cuts off descriptions to avoid making links visible in default view. They cut it off wherever you put the link. 12:53 PM: Who still does send web traffic? Google has always been the one ... right?! 12:55 PM: Google (for the first time) Sends Less Organic Traffic Google solves more and more queries WITHOUT clicks. The answers for searches are directly in the SERPs. 30% growth in no click mobile searches over the past two years Once Google owns all the traffic, there\'s no more incentive for publishers to create content 1:02 PM: \"Influencers\" failing to influence Very little metrics accountability from brands on influencers. Less than 50% ask what happened with a campaign. That\'s the fault of the marketers. There is a growing backlash on influencer marketing 1:08 PM: Web Advertising ROI (in many fields) is trending to zero Ad bids in many sectors are going beyond what is profitable for businesses Many marketers aren\'t on top of their metrics 1:10 PM: So ... what do we do?! The Smart Marketer\'s Battle Plan Center All Marketing on your website and email lists 10 email addresses > 10,000 New Followers 100 website visitors > 10,000 new followers 100 true fans beats 100,000 visitors Change your approach to SEO Click volume > search volume Build flywheels: a great marketing flywheel scales with decreasing friction Flywheels are hard at first, but get easier and more profitable with scale You want a flywheel that sparks demand Growing branded searches > ranking #1 for generic searches We need to market where our audiences are actually paying attention Discover your audience\'s true sources of influence - market there It\'s hard to get this data, but surveys and interviews are a good start If your competitor ignore a channel, you can get higher content/ad engagement for less money Balance social engagement vs. drawing clicks When content does poorly, Facebook will reduce your next posts reach. Same is true for the opposite. Good post? More reach for next post, unless it starts to show low engagement. True on all platforms. They\'re designed to engage, addict and train us. Use this formula: High-engagement, non-promotional post Repeat step above Promo w/link Back to step 1 Repeat step 1 yet again Broaden Content & Outreach Campaigns Successful content targets topics that resonate with amplifiers, not just customers What your customers care about (only a piece of the puzzle). Doesn\'t help get visibility/engagement Play to what influential publications and people your customers listen to and care about The harder content is to create, the more likely it will be to do well Spray and pray outreach leads to reputational damage for your brand, social, email and search Use Ads to Reach Already Primed Audiences First: Organic and Brand, Then: Ads and CRO How to win at digital advertising Earn brand exposure w/your target audience Get organic visits and social engagement Advertise to those you already know like you Get More out of Every Email You Send - Brett Merle 1:57 PM: 1st big lesson: walk before you run. Start simple. You don\'t have to do everyting at once. 1:58 PM: We have to cut through the noise and inspire action. 2:00 PM: Strategic Thinking Journeys exist within journeys and are incrementally important To control the experience, control the journey and the purchase will come 2:02 PM: Keys for Success Don\'t blast and broadcast Email is a channel for action. It\'s NOT a place to consume content. Leave content to landing pages. It\'s all about the Call To Action (CTA). Every email goes like this: Step 1: Here\'s some 💩 you want to do.\" Step 2: [Do the 💩] (CTA button) Mind your real estate. Compelling CONTENT and CTA must always be above the fold. Keep your messages succinct. Learn to VENT Valuable (targeted) Engaging (personalized) Necessary (goal based) True (validating) 2:09 PM: How do you do it? Know your audience statically. Signup forms are the doorway to your contacts, first opportunity to understand who they are. Know your audience dynamically. People are behaviors. Dynamic content. Right offers to the right people, different CTAs. Segment and personalize. Don\'t broadcast, personalize. Meaning makes action. Timeliness is critical. Put time back into content. Automate what you can, so you can focus on what you cannot automate. 2:15 PM: Results: More targeted, actionable emails that you can actually measure, learn from and repeat. The Most Powerful Email Data Lessons All Found in the Movie Groundhog Day - Sam Douglass III, 250ok 2:31 PM: Groundhog Day is actually a data story. Email isn’t sexy. It’s the “Puxatawny job.” But that’s just a matter of perspective. The numbers show emails impact. Email can feel like the same every day, week, month, season. Use data to take advantage. People get wise, then get angry. Regulations result when this happens. Example: GDPR, CCPA Cobra effect. The law of unintended consequences. Increasing a promo thinking it’ll help, but it hurts the value of your brand. Disillusionment. “You’ll never love anyone but yourself.” Now what? Enlightenment: Missing Something Small, but meaningful ways everyday Use data for good 2:42 PM: Engagement Data Data you see (last seen, clicks, opens) Data you can’t see. Survivorship bias can show you what to do, but how do you get that data? Spamtraps, other reputation-harming actions, be mindful of the emails that don’t make it to the inbox. List validation services help you ensure recipients are actual, real people and avoid unseen pitfalls. DMARC Policy, SPF/DKIM Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) 2:50 PM: Email Design Use your data to design to your audience. Ex: Older audience, use a bigger font. Use email previews and test to see how they’ll look and the devices your reports show your audience is using. 2:52 PM: Google Email Annotations Make the most out of being in the Promotions Tab. Shows more info about your email in the tab. 2:54 PM: Smart Speakers Have to write more like you speak, not use emojis, etc. It’s burgeoning, so might not need to start tomorrow, but be aware of it. Design emails with the user in mind (more accessible for some audiences). Use the preheader text to optimize for speech. Make Your Buyer Your Content Hero - MaryAnn Holder-Browne, One Network Enterprises 3:19 PM: How do we connect with our buyers? Do we lead with head marketing? Appealing to intellect. Do we lead with heart marketing? Appealing to emotional. 3:21 PM: The Approach If you want customers to buy, you must tell a story where the customer is the hero - not you \"Be the wizard who gives the hero the sword.\" How We Win Internally Credible, Useful, Create the Sensation of Winning 3:22 PM: The Making of a Hero Just Do It campaign: Not trying to get you to buy the shoe. Getting you to believe you\'re the hero 3:24 PM: The Journey 1. Call To Action: A normal person is faced with evil or adversity. 2. Supernatural Aid: A mentor, sometimes in the form of a supernatural entity, arrives to show the person what they are capable of and gives them the confidence or skills to battle the evil forces 3. The Master of Two Worlds: The hero battles and defeats evil and brings peace. 3:26 PM: Types of Learners Visual Auditory Reading/Writing Kinesthetic 3:34 PM: People trust a sales rep at 3%. Only profession that\'s worse is a politician. How to Talk to Your Customers in a Voice First World - Dave Isbitski, Chief Evangelist, Amazon 4:05 PM: Alexa gives accessibility to people who can\'t read or write. 4:07 PM: Speech understanding advancements have skyrocketed in recent years. There\'s been a big rise in Natural Language Understanding. It\'s looking at our intention, regardless of who you are, how old you are, etc. 4:10 PM: Amazon believes voice is the next major advancement in computers. 4:12 PM: Alexa gives humans the ability to naturally comunicate with the technology in their lives. Conversation is complex Utterances and Intents: Wake Word, Launch, Utterance, Invocation Name 4:18 PM: What conversations can you have with your audience? Anything that will be a time saver Telling convos: what\'s the weather like outwise? Searching: identifies specific info Doing: performing a task 4:24 PM: Devices like Alexa are also training our search habits. Tailor your content to it. People will ask things like: Alexa, how do I remove a grass stain?  


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Digital Summit Los Angeles Day 1 Live Blog

Digital Summit Los Angeles Day 1 Live Blog

Beyond • April 10, 2019

For the next two days, I\'ll be attending Digital Summit Los Angeles. It will be an event chock full of every aspect of marketing. I\'m going to do my best to bring as much of it as possible to y\'all in real-time (as long as WIFI and my laptop battery allow). I\'ll obviously focus on email marketing as much as possible, but there should be a good amount of general marketing knowledge you can apply to your email strategy and every other channel as well. Email 2020: Email Marketing for This Year & Beyond - Michael Barber, Godfrey 8:51 AM: Adobe Study: Average # of hours spent checking personal email: 2.5 hours The same Adobe study showed 50% of consumers preferred email to other marketing channels 9:02 AM: 71.8% will spend more time next year on email, 86.7% say they\'ll spend more money 9:07 AM: eConsultancy conducted a study showing businesses still may not be shifting enough budget to email marketing. The percentage of sales from email is greater than the percentage of a marketing budget dedicated to email. 9:12 AM: According to Experian, B2B conversions are more likely to convert on a desktop (but that doesn\'t mean they\'re more likely to open on a desktop). On mobile, Women are more likely to convert on a tablet. Men are more likely to convert on their phone. 10:02 AM: We\'re back from break and starting to look at the new inbox developments happening already. Seeing some examples of the interactivity in the inbox that AMP allows for is exciting! Text-based emails are seeing new life with wearables like the Apple Watch that only render the text of an email. 10:16 AM: We\'re gonna start talking about building a list. I\'ll share some of the more notable ideas here: Create a page where site visitors can opt-in to any or all of your email content Make your preference center look good, it\'ll save them from opting out entirely Create a sharable signup page that can be posted to other channels Try using a chat-bot instead of a signup form on a page 10:30 AM: The best email marketers use subdomains for SPF and DKIM records. Example hello.yourwebsite.com, etc. 10:36 AM: Some highlights from the section focusing on the design of emails: #1 Reason someone opens your email is the From Name. Using a person\'s name rather than the company helps to build the relationship. The best use of combo tested \"Name from Company\" in one study. Single column, skinny-based layouts are a must in today\'s mobile age. An inverted pyramid layout helps to show the subscriber what you want them to see A Zig Zag layout helps get more complete eye coverage from the subscriber Headlines: 30px, Body copy: 16px, Button minimums: 44x44 points (smallest one a person can click on) Get specific with button copy. Google \"Button Generator copy\" if you have to. The top results are all good tools. Stop saying \"Click Here\" or \"Learn More.\" 10:52 AM: Talking \'bout Subject Lines: Size doesn\'t matter: the variance in opens is less than 0.1% Sentiment; the words you use does matter. Use different word choices for different types of individuals/subscriber personas. The more simple, the better. Emojis make good subject lines good ... and bad subject lines worse. Superlatives matter! \"Brand New\" +37%, \"Latest\" +24%, \"Exciting\" +19% Phrasee is a great subject line testing resource. 11:22 AM: The difference in average ROI for sending to your whole list versus segmented lists is $28 to $42. 12:12 PM: Welcome emails that are sent immediately after signup have a 10x higher transaction rate and revenue per email. 12:15 PM: My favorite tip so far: BE HUMAN Write your emails like a human Don\'t start with \"WHAT WHAT WHAT\" ie the things you want to tell them, but instead \"WHY\" they need to know about it. Ask subscribers what they want to receive. Give them options. Also, let them tell you when they want to receive it. 12:27 PM: Test audience segments that are similar and different. Test segments that are active. Ensure that your testing groups are statistically significant: 10,000 subscribers or more. Opening Keynote: Future Consumers - Randy Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg Media 1:25 PM: Mark Zuckerberg\'s sister, Randy, opened her speech by mentioning she graduated from Harvard ... which her brother did not (she also mentioned that). There\'s clearly no complex there. 1:30 PM: Randy\'s marketing budget for her first year at Facebook was one box of t-shirts. I hope that worked out for them. 1:34 PM: Randy thought of Facebook Live at a Hackathon and thought it was an absolute failure. Only her mom and dad watched. Then, Katy Perry\'s team called, wanting to launch her world tour on Facebook Live. They developed Facebook Live, just so Katy Perry could do it. Four months later, Barack Obama was regularly using Facebook Live to connect with US citizens. 1:40 PM: Randy\'s best advice for women in tech: have a man\'s name. Advice she rightfully called funny and horrible. 1:41 PM: Hearing the person who created the concept for Facebook Live talk about the highs of the platform and the lows (New Zealand mass shooting) was a sobering reminder that we don\'t always know how the technology we create will be used. 1:48 PM: The Future Consumer: Everything is media Values unique experience Wants a different kind of career Craves healthy tech balance 1:52 PM: We should put a focus on long-form content that can engage an audience on a deeper level. 1:55 PM: Live content creates scarcity. Even with so many options to choose from, people still tune into live events to be a part of a cultural moment. 2:00 PM: Offline experiences also create scarcity. Examples like the Ice Cream Museum show that people will go to take pictures for social media. It also takes advantage of real estate spaces that were previously thought to be hard to fill. Contagious Content: Turn Your Customers From Privately Placid to Publicly Passionate 2:45 PM: S.T.E.P.P.S framework. How to make something catch on: Social Currency: \"People care about how they look to others. They want to seem smart, cool and in-the-know. So be sure to find the inner-remarkability and make people feel like insiders.\" - Jonah Berger (JB) Triggers: \"Top-of-mind means tip-of-tongue. So consider the context and grow your habitat so that people are frequently triggered to think about your product or idea.\" - JB Starbucks does this with its seasonal offerings: Pumpkin Spice Lattes Emotion: \"When we care, we share. Emotional content often goes viral, so focus on feelings rather than function.\" - JB Music is one of the best triggers of emotion that we can use as marketers Anyone can be a hero, the power lies within Public: \"Built to show, built to grow. The more public something is, the more likely people will imitate it. Design products and initiatives that advertise themselves (e.g. red bottom shoes) and create some visible behavioral residue.\" - JB Practical Value Something that connects with both the head and the heart Stories: \"Information travels under what seems like idle chatter. Stories are vessels - so build a Trojan horse.\" - JB 3:01 PM: Take these concepts and infuse them into every single one of your marketing channels. Email, social, etc. Content & Chaos: Diary of a News Marketer - Paul Plumeri, Wall Street Journal 3:21 PM: Marketing should be a service. Not a solicitation. How do I serve the customer at this moment? 3:32: PM: Find your Game of Thrones: what brings people to you Step 1: Recognize the disruption Step 2 Build according to tiers Step 3: Optimize 3:44 PM: Adapting audience experience: bites, snacks and meals More Than Acquisition: Why Marketers Need to Own the Entire Customer Journey - Sean Johnson, Digital Intent 4:03 PM: A retention chart is the money chart. It measures the success and failure of products. 4:08 PM: User Generated Content  (UGC) Loops: User Content > Google Indexes > New Visitors > New Signup 4:10 PM: Strategies to Leverage for UGC: Advocate for any and all user-generated content opportunities Turn lurkers into creators: 90% of users that join a site will usually be lurkers. Levers you can pull to make them user-generated content creators. Ask a question! Consider the cycle of the content: make it easy to share it early/often during that time.our 4:18 PM: Referral Loops let your customers do the marketing for you. Test and build the opportunities for referrals into the flow your customers will follow. Incentivize referrals: doesn\'t have to be money. Dropbox gave away storage space, rather than money. 4:21 PM: Customer activation, especially right off the bat, is the best way to retain customers. Small improvements at each step have a compounding impact 4:24 PM: Tip: go to Product Hunt every Friday and review the most popular companies from that week. See what they\'re doing. What their onboarding is like. What their referrals are like. 4:25 PM: Two steps to all of this: Create a habit Get your timing right 4:30 PM: Create lock-in. What can you do to create more stickiness? Example: Slack lets developers build into or on top of their platform to keep their users there. Bloody Hell! And Other Marketing Truths My British Mum Taught Me - Michael Barber, Godfrey 4:55 PM: We\'re in an era where easy wins. The least path of resistance is the best one. Too often, it\'s a competitor. 4:56 PM: Be Bloody Brilliant Create content where your audience is spending time. Let them get there as quickly as possible. Use Native Always Leverage the context The Magic Castle Hotel didn\'t have the best amenities, but there was something they could do. They could create an experience for kids. They created a popsicle hotline at the pool. All you have to do is pick up a phone and someone in a suit delivers a popsicle. 5:00 PM: Always Be Available Reduce friction to give them what they want immediately. Don\'t have a lengthy signup process. Conversion process should be frictionless. Know your audience: understand their pain points and be there for them Connect people to the things they care about 5:03 PM: Consistency Above All No surprises, ever. All platforms and channels should create a consistent experience for your customers. 5:06 PM: It\'s the little things. Little things create stories. The Hotel Monaco in Portland puts a teddy bear on every bed. The tiniest improvements can have the biggest impacts on experience. 5:09 PM: Be kind. If you can\'t be good, at least be kind. Empathy matters. Build empathetic systems. Do unto others. Live by the golden rule. Chewy (dog food company) has a \"make it right\" budget for customers who tell them that their pet has died. They suggest places to donate the food to, since they can\'t accept it back. They refund them. They\'ve even sent flowers with a note. Bloom & Empathy created a Mother\'s Day email opt-out ahead of the holiday for subscribers who may have lost their moms. It got them far more shares on social media than customers they have.


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Generate 320% More Revenue With Welcome Emails: Strategies That Don’t Require Luck

Generate 320% More Revenue With Welcome Emails: Strategies That Don’t Require Luck

Practical Marketer • March 15, 2019

Writer Lois McMaster Bujold said: A stunning first impression was not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter. Let’s paint a picture demonstrating the wisdom of Ms. Bujold, as seen in email marketing. Someone discovers your brand. It doesn’t matter how. Could be by clicking an ad from another site. Could be by searching for something specific and being intrigued by your company’s meta text on a search engine results page. Could be by having a random finger spasm and keying your brand’s URL into the address bar like some kind of monkey at a typewriter who’s finally stumbled onto something great after years and years of fruitless poo-flinging and keyboard-punching. We’ll assume that your prospect digs your email signup form -- whether it’s a snazzy pop-up or a well-timed exit intent nudger. She eagerly clacks her address into your form and smashes “submit” (or whatever carefully crafted call to action terminology you’re using). Now, you’re a marketer in possession of a virtually priceless thing: your target customer’s email address. She or he has explicitly trusted you with that magical combination of characters that whisks you past the velvet rope of skepticism and deposits you smack into the promised land … the inbox! (And naturally, you’ve done the legwork to make sure all your efforts don’t get relegated to that horrid no man’s land called the spam folder.) It was either the 18th Century French philosopher Voltaire or the 20th Century Uncle Ben from Spider-Man who said that “with great power comes great responsibility.” You’ve got the email address (great power). Here’s how to make sure your welcome email knocks the socks off your new subscriber, maximizes the priceless sales opportunity and creates a diehard loyal brand evangelist for life (great responsibility). Sound hard? By following these tips, you’ll be able to take full advantage of one of the most valuable marketing tools on the planet. Welcome Emails Don’t Require Luck—They’re Destined to Outperform. Here’s How to Unlock Their Full Potential The stats are staggering. According to Invesp, welcome emails: Generate 4x more opens Generate 5x more clicks Boast a 50% open rate -- making them 86% more effective than standard newsletters Generate 3x more transactions and revenue per email over regular promo emails (on average generate 320% more revenue per email basis than other promo emails) With numbers like these, it’s not about luck. Audiences show us that they expect these messages. As well they should -- 57.7% of brands send welcome emails to new subscribers Not only are your subscribers conditioned to receive a nice note upon subscribing to your list-- they tend to enjoy reading it, actively engage with it and are more likely to take action before closing it. Subscribers who are sent a welcome email show 33% more engagement with the brand. The average welcome email has a 14.4% click rate, whereas other email campaigns average 2.7%. Welcome emails deliver results. Back to that bit about getting your subscribers to take action. We’ll expand on this in the next section, but first, let’s establish why it’s so important to have a goal in mind for your welcome email. Simply put -- that message is valuable real estate. To continue mixing metaphors like the mixologist at a trendy bar mixes up cocktails … that message arrives at just the right moment for your audience. The moment of receipt is when your audience is most engaged. The average conversion rate for welcome emails is .94%, whereas it’s .1% for a typical email. And welcome emails with an offer can boost revenue by 30% per email compared to welcome emails without one Hear Voltaire calling out to you from beyond the grave about great power and great responsibility again? (Or Uncle Ben, take your pick.) We’ve established that welcome emails get read and get results. Now we’ll talk about how to design and structure them in order to maximize those outcomes. These are the secrets to unlocking your welcome email’s full potential. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #1: Time is of the Essence Feel free to get this rhyming couplet tattooed on your bicep: It doesn’t pay to delay. Send your welcome email right away. A whopping 74% of consumers expect a welcome email the moment they subscribe. In fact, 45% of first-time purchases made by new subscribers occur inside 24 hours of opting in. Strike while the iron’s hot! Make hay while the sun shines! Take time by the forelock! And other adorably quaint sayings about acting fast. You need to have your knockout welcome email ready to go, and you should set it up to be sent out to new subscribers immediately upon signup. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #2: Your Subject Line is Key Winston Churchill -- who might have drawn the ire of the #metoo movement had he said it in the present day -- once proclaimed: “A good speech should be like a woman\'s skirt -- long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” Hashtag army aside, the above is a great guideline for your welcome email subject line. When you create your killer welcome message, start with a clear and engaging subject line. Make sure that your subject line conveys that this is the welcome email. But also tease your readers a bit -- make it intriguing enough to entice subscribers to open it. Also, this isn’t the time for riddles. Make your welcome email subject line easy to understand. All the words in your subject line should be simple, one- or two-syllable words. Use simple, natural language and avoid complex words, because it’s difficult to memorize them. Here’s a good average length for your subject line -- about 6.5 words. You want to be sure that your recipient can read the line and process it quickly. Avoid ambiguity. Be specific and clear in your subject line. Attention spans are an endangered species at this point, and you have a fast-shutting window of time to attract the interest of your recipient. Your subscriber is the center of your universe, so focus on her needs in the subject line. What makes her happy? Annoyed? Excited? Use that, and stir that emotion with just a few words. Examples of Highly Effective Subject Lines: From: Online eyeglass retailer Warby Parker. Subject line: Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring Why it’s great: Uh-oh! That’s simplicity, urgency and a great conversational tone all wrapped in one. Plus, it creates urgency and makes things personal with the note about expiring prescriptions. From: Deals and discount clearinghouse Groupon. Subject line: There are no deals in this email Why it’s great: Wait … what? Then why are you sending me this?! This email dials the curiosity factor up to 11, which is a sure way to get clicks. Be careful that you don’t abuse this technique, though. You don’t want to make people annoyed or feel manipulated. Once in a while packs a powerful punch. From: San Francisco-based online magazine The Bold Italic. Subject line: Just Pho You: Where to Eat SF\'s Best Pho Why it’s great: Punny. Surprising. Makes the mouth water. And best yet, this subject line lays out a super-specific piece of information that you know you’ll receive upon opening the email. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #3: Throw Down the Welcome Mat Subscribers are primed to receive a welcome email. So why not use a tone that’s warm, familiar and reassuring? Use your welcome email to make people feel at home right away and to continue the introduction to your brand. From: High-end but economical luggage brand Away. Why it’s great: Lots of white space. Conversational tone. Lets you know what to expect and speaks to you in a cheeky but friendly way. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #4: Tell People What to Do! This is not the time to be vague and mysterious. Your welcome email should clearly convey to new subscribers what they should do next. Is there more onboarding that needs to be done? Do you need them to take action? If so, what? Want them to follow you on social media? Want them to check out the “new arrivals” section of your store? Want them to be mentally prepared for another message, coupon or campaign from you? Design your welcome email around the desired action that you’d like your subscribers to take. From: Online hospitality marketplace Airbnb. Why it’s great: Simple. Clean graphics. Tells you exactly what to do and makes you feel like part of a vibrant existing community. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #5: Keep Your Promise This secret’s pretty simple, and it has the added benefit of giving your welcome email a true Reason to Exist. Deliver on the promise made at signup. If you offered a lead magnet, such as a PDF, ebook or another resource, send it in the welcome email. If you told your subscribers you’d be delivering other content, information or value, make sure there’s a taste of that in the welcome email. And of course, abide by the other secrets while you do that -- have a good headline, send it out fast, use a welcoming tone, etc. From: Headspace, an app specializing in meditation. Why it’s great: This email does a great job of delivering a valuable lead magnet -- the complimentary 10-day course -- while subtly conveying to the subscriber that there’s much more value to be had beyond this freebie. “Basics” is a great description to describe the freemium model -- it doesn’t sound derogatory, but it sure sounds like if you’re serious, you’d benefit from investigating further offerings. Secrets of Highly Effective Welcome Emails #6: KISS The terribly condescending acronym KISS reminds us to “keep it simple, stupid.” Since we’re not about that negativity (refer back to Secret #2!), let’s just say: “Keep It Simple, Sweetie.” Or how about: “Keep It Simple, Smartmarketer!” Eh, maybe there’s a reason they went with “stupid” in the original saying -- it’s, well … simple. Keep this critical lesson in mind when you write your welcome email. Know the goal of your welcome email, and aim all of the content in your welcome email at it. It’s a delicate balancing act to do the previous steps of giving a warm welcome, informing subscribers of the onboarding process and delivering on the promise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you can always advance those goals in separate follow-up emails. Don’t overburden yourself. Don’t try to stuff 10 pounds of onboarding into a 5-pound welcome email, as it were. From: Customer service software company Help Scout. Why it’s great: Thirty-three words. That’s all this welcome email has. And, bonus: 5 of the 33 are the word “help” -- the first word in the company’s name. That helps to make the entire message quite sticky. (Hey, they just got us to say a variation of the word “help” in our last sentence -- talk about effective subliminal messaging!) The email also includes lots of white space, friendly faces and helpful page link buttons. (Hey, they just made us do it again with “helpful.” We can’t … er, help ourselves!) More Welcome Email Examples for Inspiration The magic of what makes a great welcome email isn’t just about the above rules. Your welcome email should be a nice extension of your brand’s culture, marketing and general themes. Ideally, someone could look at a version of your welcome email that had all necessary identifying information stripped out, and still know immediately that it was an email from your brand. Check out these rockstar welcome emails that get the job done with style and memorability. From: Designer brand Kate Spade. Why it’s great: Holy orange, Batman! Nothing about this email is bland. Frankly, the white text on the macaroni-and-cheese-colored envelope is a touch harder to read than the usual “lots of white space” traditional email format. Seriously, we could imagine our nana rubbing her temples and slamming the laptop shut. But that’s part of the fun. This email -- from the exclusive discount code to the bold colors to the promise of more exciting things to come -- it does a great job of making the recipient feel like a true fashion insider. From: Mattress and sleep gear brand Casper. Why it’s great: How can you look at this gorgeous, well-themed email and not yawn? It’s concise, the puns fit the laid-back vibe and the message does an excellent job of focusing on the #1 person in email marketing: “you.” From: Shaving startup Harry’s. Why it’s great: Whimsical! Concise! Unabashedly cute! The razor market seems to have been around for as long as people have had facial hair. It’s a saturated, noisy and … excuse the pun … cutthroat industry. The blades-by-mail segment that Harry’s occupies operates on razor-thin margins (we can’t help ourselves!). That’s why it’s so important for Harry’s to stick to its brand values in this email. It’s fresh, it’s breezy and it promises to add a little fun to your day. From: Arts and crafts megastore Michael’s. Why it’s great: Somebody buy this designer a beer. This message from Michael’s is a work of art! Thanks to the cute and eye-catching design, the email manages to advertise several of its on-trend offerings (we count knitting yarn, chalkboard paint, oil paint and stencils) in a completely organic way. In contrast with some of our other examples in this article -- this email has a fair amount of text and links. But thanks to that great design, it never feels too busy or off-putting. From: Sleep startup Eve. Why it’s great: That collection of photos up top is just plain evocative. It helps remind us that, hey, our beds and sofas aren’t just for sleeping every day -- they’re also the places where we do some pretty important living. The excellent color palette -- white space, placid blue, bright yellow and the model’s lovely red hair -- does a fine job of suggesting the cheer that one feels after getting a great night’s sleep. From: Lifestyle/beauty brand Glossier. Why it’s great: Here’s an example of a message that truly puts the “welcome” in the welcome email. You read this one and you feel instantly calmer. (Notice the tiny but effective “we’ve got a good feeling about this”?) The subtle not-quite-a-CTA of “see you on Instagram” helps build the connection without sounding pushy or unnatural. From: Women’s fashion house Karen Millen. Why it’s great: Wow -- talk about a headline that forces you to read what follows. “Five Reasons We Know You’ll Love Us” --  if your eyes don’t race down that page out of sheer curiosity, you’re probably clinically dead. Or, the important point -- you probably hold zero points of commonality with the target audience. (Say, you’re a middle-aged dude who couldn’t name the brand of the pants he’s wearing currently if his life depended on it.) And that’s not a bad thing. Welcome emails don’t have to roll out the red carpet for absolutely everybody. A little bit of tailoring (pun not intended) and specificity help to reinforce that feeling of specialness among new subscribers. Final Thoughts Welcome Emails are an extremely valuable tool for marketers. Subscribers are conditioned to expect them, and they tend to read them, click on them and act on them at much higher rates than other types of messages. Make sure you take full advantage of this incredible platform by sending your welcome email out immediately, using a great subject line, writing in a warm and welcoming tone, being clear, delivering on your promise and keeping the tone and language simple. Now it’s your turn. What do you think? We bet you’ve received at least one email from a brand that was pretty memorable. What was it, and why did it stand out to you? Hit the comments section to tell us what you liked. Or, feel free to tweet us @BenchmarkEmail on Twitter to share your thoughts.


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We ❤️ Newsletters: Tips and Inspiration from the Newsletters our Email Marketing Experts Love Most

We ❤️ Newsletters: Tips and Inspiration from the Newsletters our Email Marketing Experts Love Most

Beyond • February 14, 2019

Newsletters are probably the form of email marketing that businesses and consumers are most familiar with. They provide the perfect excuse to visit your subscribers’ inbox whether it be monthly, weekly or even daily and help you stay top of mind. Why are newsletters so popular? The New York Times newsletter readers read two times as many stories as those who don’t receive newsletters. They’re also two times as likely to become paid subscribers. They have  more than 50 newsletters with a grand total of 14 million subscribers. It’s the goal of their newsletters to “build meaningful relationships with readers by delivering our original, world-renowned journalism and product experiences straight to their inbox.\" Newsletter readers spend 80% more time on NewYorkTimes.com than non subscribers So, what makes for a lovable newsletter? Here are a handful of tips for making a newsletter that your subscribers will love: Keep your subscribers in mind. Sure you’re sharing updates about your company and goods and services, but it must be with your subscribers’ needs in mind. Solve their problems and you’ll see the results. Choose a template that can be customized for your brand. There are some services that offer HTML email templates, such Stripo.email and many others. Make sure you choose a newsletter template that’s set up to serve your goals for your newsletter and that it feels like it comes from your company. Use subheaders. Attention spans are at an all time low and subscribers will more than likely be skimming your email. Make it easy for them with subheaders. Keep it short and simple. Use teasers for each piece of content and bring your subscribers to your website to read the rest. Use captivating images. Grab those skimmers’ attention with some great photos or graphics. Send regularly. Monthly newsletters may be the most popular, but some businesses prefer to send weekly or even daily. You want to stay top-of-mind with your subscribers so that your business is the first they think of when they’re in need of your goods or services. Check your reports. It’s important to track what is (or isn’t) working with your newsletters. If your open rate could use a boost, test different subject lines and make sure you have a familiar From Name. If your click-through rate could be higher, try including different content in your newsletters. At Benchmark Email, we love newsletters as much as the businesses who use our tools to send them. And we see a lot of them! I asked the Benchmark team across the globe to share some of their favorite newsletters with all of you. Here’s what they had to say: Adastros Cruz - The Artist Formerly Known as Senior Marketing Designer - Guatemala What I love about this email from Grammarly is how the content is goal oriented, this was their \'new year\' email and at the end of it they included a recap of their 2018 but kept it customer-focused. See the full email here. What I love about this newsletter from Muzli is the content I get, but also how simple it is, just an image a graphic and a clear short and sweet CTA. Daniel Miller - Marketing Director - USA Subaru is one of my favorite newsletters. If you’ve ever owned a Subaru, you’ve experienced what it means to be part of the Subaru family. Subaru’s real marketing kicks in after one has purchased a vehicle. From tips to where to camp, hike and travel with your new baby (the car that is) to new releases, rally competitions they’ve won and even experiences shared by other drivers. No matter what level of “car expert” you are, Subaru speaks their customers language. Adventure, discovery and fun! Their newsletter backs their message and creates brand loyalty. I ❤️ my Subaru and the way the company treats me. Fernanda Brito - Social Media & Digital Partner - Mexico I really liked the content in this email from Cracks, it is also practical and quick to read, without a doubt I expect the next email. 😊 I like the design of this Cool Hunger MX email which has a lot of color and notes of interest as well as city events related to art and design. Love Veg always shares new recipes and ideas according to the seasons of the year. Ronald Liang - Frontend Development Manager - USA Kumar Guarav - Email Deliverability & Support - India They say great minds think alike and Ronald and Kumar shared love for the same email. Here\'s what they said: Ronald: I love receiving these newsletters from Smashing Magazine, because they’re a quick way to catch up on the latest web design news and topics. Their newsletter is text-heavy, but they do throw in some playful graphics of their mascot here and there that keeps it fun. Kumar: I love the way these guys present the entire newsletter, the content at the top includes a brief description/welcome message from the Editor, Table of content at the top with every article numbered and linked accordingly to the actual article in the newsletter. Proper spacing between the articles, fonts large enough to be readable on all devices. Sponsor ads being marked accordingly and finally at the end, sender information and the purpose of the newsletter. Everything is presented in a very professional format. Kristen Pon - Senior Product Designer - USA I also love getting Action Rocket’s newsletters because it keeps me up to date with email industry news (they compile articles from various sources). Also, over time I’ve seen them test out various things to push email boundaries like switching up their layouts, adding interactions, etc because of who their audience is. (At the top they mention they use experimental code) Sorry, the forwarding of their newsletter breaks those things so you can’t see it.. but this is what their newsletter normally looks like. Action Rocket also does special newsletters every so often, like this one here. It\'s goal is to show how much of an email shows above the fold. Yamile Flores - Learning Experience Designer - Mexico I have a lot of subscriptions in several newsletters: fashion, shoes, food, recipes, but this that comes from NESTLE I really love it, Why? As you can see since the subject line has my  son’s name, then this newsletter reminds when my son turns months /years and what he should achieve in that month, some recipes I can cook for him and other important facts relative to his age. So I really love to read it and keep it. It’s a pity the promotions are just for Spain, not for México, but still I like it. I reminds me to say Congratulations Jaden! Every month. Denise Keller - COO - USA I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting this email from Tim Ferriss every Friday like clockwork. It’s 5 bullets, so it’s quick and easy to read while I’m sitting a traffic light.  It is always informative and I inevitably learn something I didn’t know before. This is one of my top 5. I’m forever taking screenshots of this newsletter from Scott’s Cheap Flights and sending them to family and friends saying “Let’s GO!” I love the easy to read format and the info telling the best way to book this particular flight. Even though I rarely cook, I thoroughly enjoy Ina Garten’s occasional newsletter emails. They are super basic, no fancy graphics with an easy link to her recipe.  My husband and I actually made this one and it was FAB! Alvaro Rosado - Product Design - Mexico I like this email for the brightness of the images, the animations and the clarity of the message. The text is really easy to read and understand. Also it has clear call to actions that allow me to understand what to do next. Jason Ashley - Web App. Development Manager - USA I like the Crunchbase Daily newsletter because it gives links to the latest updates of companies to watch, and the subject line refers to the companies too. Goes to variety of blogs. The newsletter content is a lead in to a blog. Also, the blogs have links to outside resources used for research, so the newsletter is like a gateway to different blogs and the different blogs have multiple resources which are commonly other blogs on the same subject. I like this Node Weekly newsletter because it references the latest updates of node.js a programming language I like to stay on top of. The sections reference multiple resources from a variety of common well known blogs from different community services. It really helps to stay on top of what’s new, and if nothing new, to see the items those in the community feel are important. This is my favorite of all time. It gives the graphs of my favorite currencies, their projected short term trend, the give rates, the levels they see as resistance and support to watch for. Allows for a quick view of trend and cross currency comparison on similar pairs. This is my absolute favorite email for the last 7 years since I found it. Bulat Kutliev - Frontend Engineer - Russia I like Medium’s customized feed for me, with additional nice recommended topics. Topics are sorted from more specific to common articles. The design is also minimalistic and neat. Lucas Braga Peres - Customer Engagement Specialist - Brazil The content has my name and the name of the course that I have done here in Brazil on the main text. Then, they suggested more courses based on my certification level, with CTAs and images. Also, they have social media links and the image and text proportion is ok. Emperatriz Ortegón - Marketing Designer - Colombia I really like video games, especially the competition and co-op games. always I want to know any news, updates or offers for video games that I play, so I choose this email from my favorites. Epic Games aaaalways sends me information about events, new maps, new game styles on the platform. I also like how they use colors, images and the newsletter structure is not too rigid and clean.


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We Hosted Rodney Couch the CEO & Founder of Preferred Hospitality, Inc.

We Hosted Rodney Couch the CEO & Founder of Preferred Hospitality, Inc.

Beyond • February 8, 2019

Rodney Couch doesn\'t just have the typical story of going from the dishwasher in a restaurant to running the whole place. He worked his way from the ground up and found a way to do things differently in the service industry. Now, with transparency on their side, his company Provider is disrupting the contract foodservice industry. Trust is not something easily earned in the environment that we currently live in. Profit is not a bad word, but it does and can be abused by vendors and contractors. People are very suspect. That\'s one of the core initiatives that I have when dealing with customers. We need to earn their trust and that doesn\'t happen overnight. It can happen, and when it does happen, you find yourself in a very collaborative relationship. If you prefer to read, the transcript is posted below: 00:14 Andy Shore: Hey everybody, welcome back to the Heart of Business. I\'m Andy Shore, here, as always, is my trusted co-host, Daniel Miller. 00:19 Daniel Miller: Hello everybody. 00:20 AS: And we have an awesome guest for you today. His name is Rodney Couch, and he is the founder and CEO of several restaurants, contract food service, all sorts of stuff. We did it during our lunch break and I know I was ready to go eat afterwards. We sampled some of their restaurants and they\'re quite good. 00:42 DM: Very, very good. 00:43 AS: And he\'s got a great story and they\'re doing some fun stuff and disrupting the industry. So, we were excited to talk to him. Before we get started, I wanna remind everybody about the Benchmark Starter Plan. For up to 2,000 of your contacts, you do your email marketing totally free, let you get started, start sending those first emails, start building those relationships with those subscribers. Check it out, benchmarkemail.com. Let\'s get rolling. 01:06 AS: So, how you doing today, Rodney? 01:08 Rodney Couch: I\'m great, thank you. And yourself? 01:10 AS: Oh, we\'re doing good, doing good. We\'re recording on a Friday, and happy that that\'s finally here, it\'s been a long week. But we\'ve got you here and we\'re excited to talk to you and hear more about everything you do. So, you\'re the CEO and founder of Preferred Hospitality, can you tell us a little bit about that company? 01:30 RC: Sure, yeah. We started our business back in 1989 with the seafood restaurant called Market Broiler and developed a number of those retail brands across the State of California. We\'ve also started a contract food service division, where we\'ve been serving other clients in mostly the educational sector, with some government and schools and others. And so, that business has grown over the years. And then we also have a chain, or involved in a chain of restaurants called Blue Water Grill where I\'m a general partner and we have eight restaurants throughout Southern California under that brand, mostly at water locations. 02:24 AS: Very cool. And where did you get started in the food service industry? [chuckle] 02:29 RC: Well, I started at the ripe old age of 15 and a half. Back in those days you could get a motorcycle license and get a permit at school that would allow you to work. And so, I took my first job as a dishwasher at a group called Lord Charlies, which was part of the C&C organization. And I really enjoyed working in the restaurant environment, it was much like in athletics, very much a team style environment, and so it just stuck. I stayed in the restaurant business my entire career. 03:14 DM: That\'s great. What do you think are some of the best qualities that one can get from working in the restaurant industry? 03:23 RC: Well, it\'s one of those things that you don\'t get taught in school. In today\'s public school system, most of what you learn is through reading and memorization. And actually in the work environment, particularly in restaurants, what you learn is team or collaboration in solving problems and working together. And that\'s something that, I think, most athletes enjoy. There\'s no one in team, there\'s just the group as a whole that participates to achieve high-end results. And as a leader, that\'s mostly what we do as leaders is organize teams to strategize to best deliver a customer experience, and not something that one person can do in a restaurant or a contract food service environment. We really need to operate with team to get results. 04:28 DM: I worked myself in the restaurant business for many years, and when I first got started at a very young age I never really thought what I could really learn from this and how that can help me later on in life. Going in there I\'m like, \"Oh, I got this job and I gotta wash dishes and clean floors and serve people.\" But like you say, the valuable lessons that that can teach you to work in a team, to be efficient, customer first, there\'s no other place that the customer is first more like in the restaurant business. You screw something up there, they\'re coming to your place to have an experience. So, yeah, I value a lot of what you say about... There\'s a lot of team building in the restaurant business itself. 05:15 RC: I read a restaurant staff from the Restaurant Association that reported that over 50% of the citizens in this country have worked in a restaurant at one point in time or another. And I think that really bodes well for the hospitality that is important in every business. Customer service is essential no matter what type of business you\'re in. I think most of us cut our teeth in the restaurant business, which is the epitome of the intimate fellowship with other people. Sharing a meal is something that we\'ve been doing as Americans for a long time. 05:54 AS: Yeah, absolutely, as people continue to get lost in their phones, that opportunity for social interaction and learning those skills is important. But in prepping for the episode and doing some research, what about that experience you had gained, made you believe that it was possible to go out on your own? 06:14 RC: C&C Organization was where I first cut my teeth, and I was in [06:21] ____. But I went on from there and worked for a number of other restaurant groups, including Red Baron and Taco Bell, a couple others, but I did work for a company called Seafood Broiler, where right out of high school, I was hired in the... And we grew that restaurant group from six restaurants when I joined, to, I think, 32, and that\'s the company that in fact, we did sell to Red Lobster. And during that time... You know, I mean I love my job, I was recognized as one of the the best leaders in the organization, and never thought twice about changing companies or moving on. 07:09 RC: But when the company decided to sell, ACCOR sold to Red Lobster, and it was kind of a turning point for me, where either I could, A, start over and prove myself to the new management team that was operating the restaurants, or it was an opportunity to start fresh and not face that threat again of having somebody buy out the group. And so, the decision was quite clear at the time and so I started looking for opportunities to open my first restaurant, drew up a business plan, raised the capital, and what can I say, that the rest is history. I was fortunate enough that the first restaurant I opened was a success, and that was in October 19th of 1989 and that restaurant is still successful to this day. 08:08 DM: Yeah, that\'s amazing. So just to kind of get a timeframe, that was right around 1988 or so? 08:20 RC: It was October of 1989. October 19th, 1989 was our first day of operations at Market Broiler in Riverside. 08:28 DM: Very interesting. And out of curiosity, has much changed in regards to how you define and set up a location for a restaurant, its menu? For some of our listeners here, that may be wanting to open a restaurant, what\'s been some of the changes from when you\'ve done that, to now, of what it really takes to start a restaurant? 08:57 RC: That\'s funny that you ask that question. A lot\'s changed. 09:02 AS: I\'m sure. 09:02 RC: Simultaneously, some things never change. What doesn\'t change is the value proposition of what a restaurant offers. The ambience, the quality of the food, the service, the cleanliness of the restaurant, the entire value proposition. When it gets to the point of reaching an art, and that\'s when the culinary experience is at its best. People know a great value when they see it. And they through word-of-mouth, flock to a restaurant that provides those things. And typically my experience has been, is when you do a good job, there\'s typically a margin there. 09:54 RC: On the other hand, what\'s changed is the economy of restaurants. And I think the biggest change that I\'ve seen in my career is the moving away of full service, or full service casual restaurants or full service restaurants at large and the shrinking of that marketplace, and the movement towards fast casual restaurants, and the reason is, one is price, it\'s a lot less expensive to operate and the prices at fast casual restaurants that don\'t have full service is more of a value. But second, the hurrying of America, everybody is so busy. The convenience of getting better quality food than you would get in fast food in these fast casual restaurants has really caused an explosion in America of these type of restaurants. 10:57 AS: Yeah. And you\'d add in the Uber Eats and all that, that you can get it delivered to your house while you\'re driving on the way home, it\'s nuts, it really changes the dynamic of the customer and the restaurant experience. 11:11 DM: Yeah, what advice could you give on staying on top of those trends, as Yelp comes into the fold and social media, and all that stuff that plays a role in any businesses, but especially in the food service industry? 11:25 RC: Without speaking to it specifically, I would say that any leader needs to be looking at organizational change as something that they have to accept and adopt. Every organization is constantly changing and the restaurant industry is no exception to that. You have to adopt changes and stay relevant, and if you don\'t, you\'re out of business. 11:55 DM: Yeah, absolutely. And I wanna kinda shift gears a little bit and talk more about provider, \'cause in our research and heard a little bit about what you guys are doing there. I mean, my experience in college, I remember my parents buying me a food plan and going to the cafeteria and they\'d get no refund at the end of the year if I didn\'t use all of the plan. So we\'ve been going to the convenience store that you can use your meal plan for and loading up on cases of water and Gatorade and snacks, and all sorts of things. And there is a McDonald\'s you could use it for that would just be treating friends to food because like I said, it wasn\'t going back to my parents or anything, or who knows where that money was going? And what you guys are doing with your contract food service operation sounds like it\'s looking to change all that. 12:52 RC: Yeah. The Contract Food Service Division was something that I tripped into, if you will. I was a member of the board of directors of a large church in the Riverside market, and there was a movement in the mega church movement to incorporate food service. And so my pastor asked me, \"Hey would you consider running the food service operation here and leading it?\" My first response was, \"No, that\'s not why I go to church, to work. I go to church to worship.\" But after I thought about it, I was really convicted. If not you Rodney, then who? And so I decided that I would lead the charge, and that... But it was important to me to memorialize the contractual agreement in which we were more of a steward over the program as opposed to a contractor. And you might think that that\'s a subtle difference, but to me it\'s not subtle at all. I don\'t think that universities or businesses should be bifurcating the responsibility and letting a contractor determine food prices, food quality, service, operating hours, all of those things that are important; aesthetics, to a well-run food service operation. 14:29 RC: So what I did that was a little bit disruptive is I organized a contract where in collaboration with the leader of this particular church, we, together chose and decided on, what was best practices for that particular business? And things worked out fairly well. We were earning a fee for doing what we know how to do, which is to, well, run restaurants. And the clients that we were serving were getting first class, best of breed restaurant practices. And so, that morphed into a collegiate account called Cal Baptist University, and we were brought on to alter the trajectory of the current food service that was operated by one of the big contract food service companies in America, Sodexo. And so they hired us and I basically deployed the same model for them, and we\'ve seen, over the last 15 years, this university has grown from less than 2000 folks on campus to over 10,000 folks on campus. And the food service budget is 15 times what it was, instead of operating one outlet, we\'re operating nine outlets with three additional outlets coming online in the next year, year and a half. 16:05 RC: And so it\'s just really been an exciting time for me because I get to exercise my gifts and hospitality in a way that helps strategically the university accomplish its long-term goals of attraction of new students and retention of students. And we were fortunate enough this year and in the last few years, to be rated second best in California and I think seventh or eighth best in the country for the type of program that we\'re operating. And all that with the university really controlling the cost of what program they wanna offer. And that\'s just been exciting to be able to serve them and accomplish the things that we\'ve accomplished together, has just been very rewarding for me. 17:02 AS: So to go from zero to hero for an industry that seems like it\'s already pretty well established, what are some of the big differences that your program has versus the others? 17:19 RC: Well, I think one of the differences is clearly the perspective that we bring to large contract food service accounts. In retail, it\'s every guest every time. In the contract arena, that sentiment is not always every guest every time. And so, bringing this retail mentality of just doing a great job with each and every guest, and you\'re only as good as that last meal that you serve, that\'s really structurally helped us in the contract food service arena, because typically in the contract arena, it\'s not operated to the degree that we operate in the retail sector. I think that\'s one of the big differentials for us, is just the level of hospitality service quality that we serve to each and every guest in the contract business. 18:24 DM: That\'s great. And I\'m sure going into this new arena with provider has helped in the other side of the business too, you flex muscles a little differently. Maybe even just in the relationships you have with your vendors. I\'m sure it\'s helped you grow everything just using like I said, flexing new muscles and thinking about things from a slightly different perspective. 18:48 RC: And that\'s probably another point of differentiation. What we\'ve gleaned in this business is that the competitors that we operate with, in the contract arena, they\'re certainly not as transparent with the financial information as our model has proven to be. And so there\'s a lot of learning that takes place with our clients, in terms of what is best practices, what is your actual food cost, what are labor costs? We manage those things in the retail environment because we must, in order to be successful, we have to keep control over each and every cost of operating a restaurant, \'cause there\'s just... There\'s not that much margin in restaurants. 19:44 RC: So when we activate those costs in the contract arena, it delivers the same type of results that we deliver in the retail sector. But again, one of those differences is that not all the large contractors disclose what their real costs are to their clients. So we found that in meeting with new clients, oftentimes the most negotiated part of the discussion is about price. We try to take price out of the equation by building a contract that gives us what we call our stewardship management fee, and then by sharing with 100% traceability and transparency what the costs are, the risk is taken out in regards to price. So we spend majority of our time with our clients talking about best practices, how to achieve strategic results, as opposed to incessantly negotiating price each and every day we serve them. 20:55 DM: Yeah, I think transparency really is one of the strongest tools businesses can have and it\'s way underused because the world we live in today with social media, phone chat, email, they have so much access to your business, for brands to be transparent upfront and with their customers, helps build that trust that is what gets you loyal customers. 21:16 AS: Yeah, I\'ve been reading a lot about how businesses can clarify their company message and how to be customer-centric, and the two main things that they do focus on is people buy not what they think is the best, but what they understand the best, that is gonna solve their problem. So there may be two competing services, one works way better, but the other one explains it better, the person is more likely to buy that one, \'cause they clearly understand what they\'re getting into, the value proposition cost and so forth. And the other main thing was, people don\'t really worry about price, what they\'re worried about is being played. So it seems like you guys have the perfect recipe of setting the customer upfront, being transparent, clear. And by doing that, that shows the success that you\'re having. So, yeah. Congratulations. That\'s awesome. 22:11 RC: Well, thanks. Trust is not something that\'s easily earned in the environment that we currently live in. We\'re a fallen people and so none of us are perfect and so many of us have been abused and taken advantage of, and it\'s certainly like that in the business environment. Profit is not a bad word, but it does and can be abused by vendors and contractors, and so people are very suspect. So that\'s one of the core initiatives that I have when dealing with customers, is that we needed to earn, earn their trust, and that doesn\'t happen overnight, but it can happen. And when it does happen, you find yourself in a very collaborative relationship, all strategically shooting for goals that your client has, in regards to their overall business and their core competence. And while as stewards, we use our core competence to deliver the type of program that best suits their needs. 23:26 AS: Yeah, definitely. And so what\'s next for you, guys? Is it more restaurants and expansion and getting more schools for the contract food service? Is there bigger ideas in the works? 23:38 RC: No, I think it\'s stay on the continuum that we\'re on, operate where we operate best, which is in the hospitality sector, certainly, we want to grow both the retail and contract food service components. We think that it\'s really important to have both. We like cutting the teeth of our leadership in the retail sector, and then moving those leaders into the contract food service arena, where each and every guest experience is extremely important, that\'s working really well for us, and I think it\'s worked for quite a few contract food service companies historically, some of the best have been incubated in the retail sector, where every meal, every time is critical. 24:33 AS: Yeah. I think that\'s great. You guys are clearly on to something and it\'s working, so congratulations and keep up the good work. Wanna thank you for spending time to talk with us today. 24:45 RC: Well, thanks a lot for your time, that was fun. 24:47 AS: Thanks everyone for listening and we\'ll catch you next time, bye guys.


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