Andrew Kordek is the co-founder of Trendline Interactive, a market research agency based out of Chicago. Before that, he was responsible for strategy at Groupon, the first ever group-buying start-up, and fastest growing company of all time. With nearly 20 years marketing experience, Kordek knows his stuff. He's an avid blogger, and advocates responsible email marketing. He was in New Zealand for a few hours last week, so we nabbed him, and made him spill the beans...
Kordeks' number one top tip? Subscribers rule. "They are the boss. They must always feel that they are in control," says Kordek.
"Go beyond best practice. What does that mean anyway? The most important thing to remember is that every single time a message or communication goes out it represents your brand. Introducing your brand, as you'd like it to appear, should be the onboard strategy."
"And don't forget to follow them. Be aware of your audience, where it is going? What time does it go shopping? When is it most receptive to email? That information is out there, but are you using it?" says Kordek.
Email marketing is sometimes seen as a little passé in this digital revolution. But Kordek says nothing could be further from the truth. Digital marketing began as email, and it will continue to be the backbone supporting much of our social networking lives.
"It's old school. Think of a sandwich. Email is the bread that is holding together trendy fillings such as Twitter and Facebook. You can't make a sandwich without bread. Email was there at the beginning, and remains one of the few constants in a rapidly changing digital landscape," says Kordek. Knowing how to use it properly though, is the key.
"Nothing is fool proof. You may break an egg. The secret is to work smarter not harder. Try new things. Email is cheap, meaning it is very easy to hit send, and reach 5000 people in seconds for just a few cents. But you need to be aware that emails also have the potential to go viral if issues aren't thoroughly thought through before hitting send. One way around this is by applying the Front Page Test. Put simply, how would I, or the chief executive, feel, if this appeared on the front page of tomorrow's paper?
"Change programme. Test and learn. Research and develop. Test and tweak. It's cheap. Try sending out small batches until you are sure the message is right, and is getting the sought after results. Forget 'set and forget'. It should be 'set and optimize,' says Kordek.
Consumers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages, and they are becoming much more very media savvy. So, to stand out to your target audience Kordek says it is crucial to deliver consistent marketing messages across all channels, making sure you tweak the content so that it is channel-appropriate across every platform your consumer engages with. For example, if you only deliver your best content via email, you’ll be missing an opportunity to reach your Facebook and Twitter users, and vice versa. By delivering targeted content across all channels, you'll reach your customers regardless of where they spend their time.
The Social Break up
Consumers have become accustomed to email marketing. However, as the old saying goes, sometimes familiarity breeds contempt. Marketers need to remember that relationships are built on trust. Subscribers are becoming more selective about giving out their email addresses to companies. Consumers are also highly sensitive to the difference between permission-based emails from companies they know and trust and unsolicited messages from unknown companies.
Today’s consumers are incredibly media savvy. They know that companies have the ability to send highly targeted, personalized messages—if they care enough to make the effort. Relevancy has become a baseline requirement for consumers, and they are quick to judge companies when their email programs fail to live up to this standard.
Like any relationship, the consumer-brand relationship follows a distinct cycle. There is the initial 'spark' when the consumer becomes a subscriber, fan, or follower, followed by a honeymoon period where the consumer finds out more about the company.
The next step is getting the consumer to take the relationship to the next level; be that a purchase, or a recommendation. But Kordek says marketers need to keep in mind channel variance. Communications showing warmth and respect on one channel can convey indifference, or worse, through another.
And when a company fails to show enough respect, or bombards consumers with irrelevant offers, they will get dumped. The company is defriended, unsubscribed, unliked, or worse, marked as SPAM... or they just ignore all communications in the hopes the company will get the message that it’s over. Either way, it's not them, it's you.
So what triggers the break-up? Why makes consumers decide to end the relationship?
According to Kordek, two-thirds of consumers formally unsubscribe using the unsubscribe links in a company’s email, while only eight percent click on the 'spam' or 'junk' button. When email does get tagged as spam, he says one of the following is usually true:
- The consumer doesn’t recall giving the company permission, which may point to issues with the opt-in process
- The consumer has made unsuccessful attempts to unsubscribe through the unsubscribe link and use the spam button as a last resort
- The email content was bad enough to warrant “punishment,” and the consumer wanted to protect other consumers from repeating their bad experience.
Kordek points out that cleansing your email list of consistently unresponsive recipients is now crucial to avoid having your emails labeled as spam by ISPs. Think of it as an opportunity to initiate the break-up instead of getting dumped.