C-Suite Insights: Email Marketing, The Gateway To The Digital World

The C-Suite is a vast audience of leaders who all have a little extra insight into their industry and the current business world. I sit down with these leaders to give them the opportunity to share that insight and give a glimpse to their personal stories as a business leader.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Matt McGowan, President of Adestra. Matt has been one of the leaders in the digital media world for more than 10 years, working with companies like Incisive Media and Google.

There is conventional wisdom that email is dead as a marketing tool. Rather, the new marketing avenue is social media. Is that the right assumption, or is this way off-base?

It is way off-base, but it is not a bad off-base. Studies have shown from different organizations asking different questions to different people, “What do consumers rely on for information from commercial entities? Companies?” The overwhelming response is email. Email is the core that really taps the understanding of what the consumer is. Email is the most native kind of product when it comes to mobile devices. The first thing a consumer does when getting a new mobile device is to set up their email account. 50-70% of users are accessing products, company websites, apps etc. via mobile devices these days. It’s literally the easiest way to get in touch with the consumer if you do it right.

How do you build an email marketing plan based on today’s technology that deals with the reality of people wanting to restrict how much email actually gets in to their inbox?

It is not about the amount of email that you send, but it’s about the type of conversation that you are having with the consumer. There are a lot of email service providers available to the consumer – Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc. All of these providers are stepping in the way of email in a good way, to protect the user and to weed out the stuff that is irrelevant. An email marketing plan needs to find the path using relevant information to power the message. The message needs to be one-to-one vs one-to-many. This is the direction companies are going, marketing to a person vs an audience. Companies need to focus on less email, but more on targeted email.

How do you create an email strategy that is one-to-one or relevant to the recipient?

Businesses need to believe in a practice of incremental innovation. To get to that one-on-one conversation, it’s not about the grandiose leap from nothing to something, it is about the incremental steps the marketer can take over time to increase relevancy with the audience. When you are sending one-to-many messaging you are sending stop-shop marketing. Incremental innovation is the idea that every week, know your customer, then try to do something that gets you closer to that one-on-one message. If you look at it over a year, you’ll have enough innovation in your marketing efforts. This will provide movement to make major strides. If you look at it in the short term, it’s going to seem like it’s not enough. It starts with knowing your customer and then making those incremental steps.

How important is it to integrate the CRM (customer relationship management) ecosystem to email marketing and sales strategies?

You first want to make sure all of your customer data is located in your CRM. In order to use that data, you will need to secure an automation platform or ESP (email service provider). You will then want to connect your CRM with your ESP. Over time you will start to incrementally innovate and try new things. What you will end up with is an always-on campaign that is working for you even when you are sleeping. With the rules that you’ve built over time, the campaign will work on your behalf and communicate with your customers to get your message in front of them. This way you can continue to develop a successful relationship with your customers. Then you will be able to build much more complex profiles of what is interesting to your customers as well.

How important is engagement with the customer prior to attempting one-to-one email marketing, and how do you go about establishing this engaged relationship?

You need to be authentic. You are not going to engage with everybody that is on your mailing list. Some people are going to sign up just to get a discount or more information. You can start a relevant conversation instantly by asking two or three key questions that lead you down the path of relevance. Don’t try to push your business on them. Rather, from the questions you asked, offer them something that is valuable and useful.

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