MARCH 31 UPDATE
As we enter another week where the world is mostly under shelter-in-place orders due to COVID-19, we’re continuing to monitor delivery and engagement rates for email marketing sends. We wanted to know:
- How are brands communicating with users during the crisis?
- Are users more likely to interact with mailings now that many are sheltering in place?
- Are users more likely to unsubscribe from mailings?
Email continues to be a critical tool for enterprise brands during these uncertain times. For most industries, consumers are clicking and buying, and even in sectors like travel and hospitality where marketing has essentially been paused, email will be one of the most important channels in getting things ramped back up.
The past 12 months have been crazy for the product team at MessageGears.
From venturing into the world of mobile messaging with Cross-Channel orchestration to enhancing our users’ ability to send content with our Drag and Drop HTML Editor and Deep Application Links, it’s been a whirlwind of product design, development, and release. And while we’re insanely proud of the work we’re doing, we’ve learned a few lessons about how to create and develop software in 2019. I recently had the chance to present some of these learnings to the audience at Technology Association of Georgia’s GeekOut Marketing conference, where dozens of marketing and technology professionals gathered to share how we’re building martech stacks and using today’s tools to drive marketing forward.
I’d like to take a second to share those lessons here as well, but first I want to touch on something that is very important to understand: Marketing is moving backwards.
As email marketers, we understand the importance of email testing and QA. While sometimes tedious, the extra step of testing how your email renders can save your reputation and your bottom line.
But when you’re creating highly personalized email campaigns with lots of custom data, the testing phase can seem daunting. Couple that with the hundreds of different email clients and devices a subscriber could be using, and you’ve got quite a list of variations.
Guess what, though … Testing 500+ versions of an email may not be as difficult as you think. With the right tools in place, you can knock out that QA step with ease.
For Super Senders looking to switch ESPs, the RFP — executed well — is a valuable tool for maintaining an efficient and objective process with a result that greatly improves a company’s cross-channel messaging operation. But our new research suggests that many marketers are making crucial mistakes that are undercutting the effectiveness of their RFP process. And that’s leading to negative misconceptions about ESPs and decisions that cause immense frustration for the marketing and I.T. teams.
In our recent webinar, MessageGears CEO Roger Barnette and Marketing Democracy President Chris Marriott discussed the research, and offered expert advice from both the ESP and consultant perspective on how you can make your next RFP more efficient and successful.
Think back to your latest RFP process when your company was picking a new email service provider. Why did you make the selection you did? Ideally, it was because this particular vendor described in detail why they were the best fit for your particular needs, and how they could help you meet your specific email-related goals.
But, quite often, that’s not the case. At the end of a long, exhausting RFP process, a company might choose an ESP for a variety of reasons. Maybe their sales team had a key connection at your company. Perhaps they had the broadest set of features, or you had an existing relationship via other tools. Or maybe they merely offered the lowest price, and the higher-ups said that was the bottom line.
When sending enterprise email at a large scale, a common obstacle that many B2C martech / marketing operations groups face is the struggle of moving and using their data. We’ve spoken about this topic in the past, and we’ve written about it too — but that’s because there are so many hurdles caused by the data movement necessary with a traditional marketing cloud ESP. Whether it’s setting up nightly copy and replication jobs to send your customer data to your marketing cloud ESP, fitting your data to their stringent data model, handling PII data security, or finding a way to bring your email data back down to your environment, using traditional ESPs at a massive scale can cause headaches for most marketing ops groups.
For many marketers, their conversations with I.T. are mostly limited to times when they have a problem or need something, and they’re hoping I.T. has a solution. That can lead to a largely transactional relationship, where the two are separate teams that only come together when they have no choice, and only for as long as necessary.
That can lead to a lack of understanding — on both sides — of the crucial role the other team plays with respect to the success of the business, and to growing mistrust. The Marketing team thinks I.T. is being too iron-fisted about security and standing in the way of them drumming up new business. At the same time, I.T. thinks Marketing has no appreciation for the risks associated with data exposure, and that it’s I.T.’s responsibility to be the guardians.
No matter how long you’ve been in the industry, successful email marketers know there’s always something new to learn. The evolving nature of email is part of what keeps #emailgeeks coming back, keeping up with new technology and trying to use it to deliver the sorts of messages that excite your subscribers.
Because it’s always changing, sharing knowledge and hearing from others is essential if you want to keep up with where the industry is headed. That’s a big part of what we want to help with, spreading our experience and helping others be better at what they do.
Think about the marketing campaigns that have made the biggest impact on you. The ones that stick with you, and you remember months — even years — later.
Odds are they weren’t straightforward product pitches or sales announcements. They had elements of stories and characters that helped you relate to the brand, and feel something meaningful. They incorporated compelling narratives with images that transported you to a different place. Instead of the brand being the star of the campaign, the star of the campaign was — ultimately — you. And what you could accomplish with their product or service.