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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. 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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