Kevin Vaudry is the product management director at Campaigner, a marketing automation company that helps eCommerce businesses drive sales, bring back lost customers, and cultivate repeat buyers.
Vaudry recently joined forces with his teammate Amy Doyle Ellwood to cover data-driven email marketing for the MailCon Webinar Series. During the webinar, the two talked about how data helps ensure better customer experiences and improved growth for companies.
Tell us what drove you to marketing and what keeps you interested in the field.
My introduction into the digital marketing world came when I joined a web analytics company. It was a great introduction to the concept of online engagement and tracking outcomes. I found it very rewarding to track the results of our marketing efforts, but I was particularly interested in testing and measuring how changes in our marketing influenced the way our audience interacted with us, both online and via our sales and services teams. The desire to attract and create a connection with people continues to be my favorite aspect of marketing.
What’s one thing that you love about martech? What’s one thing that you’d change about it?
My answer is the same for both. I love how marketing technology has evolved to the point where we can connect with people at various touchpoints along their digital journey; especially when the timing and method of connecting (e.g., SMS) matches customer expectations.
At the same time, I’m concerned that this ability will only amplify the perception of a further intrusion into someone’s privacy. I understand how it can seem intrusive to some, but I maintain that if you took away the advances in marketing technology and regressed to the days of “one size fits all” messaging that people would miss how we’re able to enhance their digital experience in today’s world.
What’s the driving force behind your marketing innovation at Campaigner?
The driving force behind our marketing innovation is a combination of optimizing our customers’ use of Campaigner and providing insights into digital marketing best practices and trends to help them adapt. Giving our customers the knowledge and tools to improve their performance with every email or SMS campaign they send will help shape our way forward. Our success depends on our customers’ ability to successfully use Campaigner to connect with their customers, subscribers, and leads, so helping them improve their campaigns brings a universal benefit. Hopefully, providing insights, education, and data informing them of how digital marketing (and digital in general) is evolving will help them adapt as technology, and consumer behavior evolve.
How are marketing conferences beneficial to a business like Campaigner?
What’s better than talking with and learning from others who run the marketing gauntlet daily? I consider myself fortunate to have met and worked with many sharp, intuitive people over my career. The formal and informal learning opportunities from conferences like MailCon are always something to look forward to. It’s great when I can introduce someone to Campaigner, but it’s the ideas, inspiration, and people that mean the most.
Why should a client use the Campaigner software?
There’s a lot to like about Campaigner, but our automation (workflows) engine is really at the heart of what we do, and it’s why so many of our customers stay with us. Now that we’ve added SMS as a marketing channel, Campaigner offers the ability to use that in combination with email in your workflows, increasing the likelihood of favorable outcomes from your campaigns. We’ve also recently introduced Reputation Defender, which will significantly assist with list hygiene and protecting your sending reputation. List hygiene, in particular, is something we always mean to get to but often gets lost in the many other items we have to do, so this can help.
In your experience, what is the most effective form of marketing? Why do you think so?
I think we’re all very familiar with the incredible ROI of email marketing. I consider it the most effective form of marketing because it’s the one channel that offers you a few minutes of (digital) 1:1 time with someone. When someone opens your email, the focus is on your message as they engage and hopefully take the desired next action. SMS is amazing for its immediacy and ability to create an effective message, but it lacks the creativity and flexibility (and affordability) of email. Though I love and recognize the value of social media, when someone likes an Instagram post or retweets something, it’s a faster, less attentive type of interaction because of the feed dynamics.
How can companies be more connected and more engaged with their clients? What hurdles are companies dealing with currently?
Assess what you already know about your customers and identify gaps that might be inhibiting your ability to engage them better. Timely, relevant, and highly-personalized messages continue to be the best way to create and maintain a relationship with customers. I would also suggest the occasional check-in – whether that be sending a survey, employing NPS, or some other means it’s a great way to understand if your customers’ needs and wants have changed over time. Giving them a means to provide feedback often provides some very valuable insights.
In terms of hurdles, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the need for a strong digital presence, or for some, it’s meant to pressure to simply get online for the first time. This has affected companies and marketers at every level, from the local SMB to the global enterprise. This drive to digital has introduced an increased competition for mindshare and share of wallet, and for our respective audiences, it’s made an already noisy world even noisier. This ties nicely back into personalization. Knowing whom you’re messaging, and doing so in a way that makes them feel like you crafted the message just for them, will absolutely stand out and deliver results.
What are some great tools that email marketers don’t know much about?
I can’t speak to the level of knowledge among email marketers, but given the ever-present challenge and time required to create relevant content, I’ve become a fan of Curata and Pocket. Content curation platforms like this are very helpful. One personal favorite, simply because staying organized is always a challenge for me, is ClickUp.
What are some email styling tips for an average marketer?
Interesting subject lines and well-written preheaders: They are your first opportunity to get someone’s attention in the inbox. Creating value and/or setting proper expectations about the content of your email can really elevate the success of your campaigns.
Match your design and layout to match how people interact with email content: People tend to skim or scan an email, looking for the quickest way to determine if they are interested in your content. An eye-catching headline, image, or subtle or interesting animation that doesn’t distract from the message has proven to be very effective and driving engagement.
Engaging, personalized content: Although obvious, this is not always given the attention it deserves. Present your subscribers with content that’s relevant to them (use your data, folks!), and they’ll be far more likely to respond to your call-to-action rather than look for the unsubscribe link. Images should be considered part of your content, so keep them relevant to the messaging, and they will enhance the effectiveness. The most important thing is to keep it simple. The inbox is a busy place, so if you succeed in getting someone to open your email, respect their time and be clear with your message and your CTA.
How important is personalization in email marketing?
I’ve touched on it already, but it’s hugely important, especially in today’s increasingly competitive digital world. Making someone feel appreciated or creating an awareness that you see them as an individual is priceless.
Personalization drives greater and often repeat engagement and ultimately more conversions, whether that be sales, subscriptions, downloads, or whatever your ultimate measure of success is.
What are some email metrics that matter? What are metrics that you think should be given up?
Metrics that convey next-level interaction with your email should be most in focus – CTR, conversions, and revenue, if applicable, are all good examples of interactions that really convey engagement. You should continue to also pay close attention to bounces, unsubscribes, and spam complaints too. Those also convey engagement, just not in the way we marketers like. By contrast, the top-level metrics like open rates really should begin to fade into the background. Much like hits and page views don’t convey engagement on a website, open rates are not a measure of engagement with email.
Does email segmentation work? What’s its importance?
Absolutely! Segmentation is very helpful in personalizing your emails to drive greater engagement and conversion rates. The ROI of using segmentation as part of your email marketing strategy can be up to six times.
Segmenting your lists also helps you quickly see who your most valuable customers are. Once you know that, it becomes easier to build a strategy to find more customers with the same profile and adjust your messaging with your less engaged audience to see if you can increase their responsiveness.
What email marketing trends do you see going away in the near future?
Great question, and a difficult one to answer as I don’t know if these are trends or just bad habits. What I will say is too much of a good thing is a sure way to have people looking for the unsubscribe link. A few examples:
- Resist the temptation to include too much text or too many images or animations. They can make an email seem visually overwhelming.
- Though personalization is very important, be careful not to overdo it. Using someone’s name too often in an email can quickly take the tone from personal to insincere.
- Too many CTAs in an email is also not great for performance. It comes across as a “hard sell,” which can lessen the value of what might truly be a great offer.
What’s the future of email marketing?
Marketers are hungry for more data, and new privacy features aimed at consumers are being introduced to make some of that data less reliable. The immediate and probably ongoing future will include marketers and platforms, including ESPs, searching to find balance and solutions that will allow us to continue to do the things we do today – personalization, segmentation, testing, and so on. The expectation is for broader adoption of AI and other means to enrich data to drive even greater personalization. One offshoot of this is for email marketing to increasingly be seen as one channel in a connected, digital journey that can include SMS, push notifications, and other channels for reaching customers at key points of interaction.
While this is not new, omnichannel marketing is not yet widely adopted or within everyone’s budget. As it becomes more common, expect ESPs and other platforms that cater to all types of customers to look to enable marketers to create this connected journey.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse into Vaudry’s innovation in email, here’s a peek at what he and Doyle Ellwood talked about during their webinar on Sept. 20.
Data-Driven Email Marketing Webinar: A Brief Overview
During their joint webinar, the pair dove into their topic by covering a set of data challenges for email marketers with the philosophy of “what got you here won’t get you there.”
Let’s take a look at what was discussed:
Some of the most immense challenges and roadblocks for email marketers stem from corporate and government initiatives to further regulate or block consumer data collection. Some of those include:
- Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection
- The impending demise of 3rd party cookies
- Current and proposed legislation
- IAPP Tracker (US states)
- Varonis blog post – US privacy laws (federal & state)
- Global view via UNCTAD
The solution? Adapting and altering marketing strategies to focus on metrics tied to tangible outcomes and conversions.
Other data challenges include:
- The abundance of available data can be confusing to maintain and process
- The vast pool of data sources can drag on a marketer’s ability to experiment and iterate new strategies rapidly
- Data biases instilled in marketers
How to stay on track? Have a clear set of defined KPIs and know their importance to your business model and strategy.
Concerns and Opportunities in Data Collection
When consumers opt-in to share their data, it can indicate they are interested in a deeper level of engagement with a business, and businesses shouldn’t miss these opportunities to engage.
And the good news here is that email remains a highly-effective marketing tool and channel for many business models. As a matter of fact, whenever used with SMS, email tends to yield a 15% lift in effectiveness.
So, why is it essential to adopt a data-driven approach?
Simply put, data helps marketers make educated decisions about their outreach campaigns. While managing new campaigns, it’s helpful to keep in mind the following:
- Every subscriber will respond to your email campaigns in different ways
- This is why we create segments, use dynamic content, and employ personalization as a best practice
- You can always start with what you know, then narrow it down and iterate as you go.
- When adhered to as an ongoing best practice, the improvements in campaign performance should follow
3 Steps to Delivering a Data-driven Strategy that Increases Subscriber Engagement
1. Understand the Subscriber Journey
Ask yourself the following questions when trying to get on the same wavelength around the customer journey:
- What is the difference between a transactional versus a marketing email?
- Transactional emails have an average of an 80% open rate
- Marketing emails have about a 20% open rate
- Transactional emails receive about 43% more clicks than marketing emails.
Then when planning for the launch of a new campaign, follow these thought processes:
- What is your current/optimal email communication timeline?
- Consider timing, audience, and cadence
- What type of communications are they?
- Separating transactional from marketing to optimize delivery & build trust
- How do we give context to the communication?
- Which processes can be automated?
Once you understand the journey, you can focus on the use of and exchange of data.
2. Conduct Data Exchange and Generate Feedback
Develop a full picture view of your email audience to generate better feedback on your audiences:
- Zero party data: includes product interests, email preferences
- First-party data: includes email engagement, previous purchases
- Second-party data: includes customer surveys and website activity
- Third-party data: includes demographics, cookie-based browsing activity
Once established, find out what data you have and what data you’re missing to better target your audience. Once data is collected, you will be ready to approach campaign measurement with a data-driven approach.
3. Know the Characteristics of a Data-driven Measurement Strategy
To ensure data-driven marketing decisions, you need to create a singular view of your campaigns and choose the metrics you want and need to be following. Some of those important metrics include:
- Click rates
- Average Order Value (AOV)
- Bounce rates
- Revenue Per Subscriber (RPS)
Then, you can go ahead and set your benchmarks using historical performance data. Following that, watch and interpret the behavior changes of your customer base. Then extract the data from these trends and use it in future campaigns.
All in all, the data collection cycle should follow this sequence: Analyze → Plan → Execute → Collect → Repeat.
Stay tuned and connected for future announcements and details on MailCon’s next webinar and the upcoming in-person conference.