It's Not Email Marketing. It's Engagement Farming

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Too many brands leverage email marketing to drive sales. That's it.

But Coherent Path CEO James Glover contends that retailers should use email marketing to build stronger relationships and help consumers discover new opportunities, and, yes, drive sales.

He calls this approach "engagement farming". It's based on the idea that customers should look forward to getting email because it engages and deliver values. If they also buy something, that's great. 

 For more about James and this episode of Marketing Spark, check out the show notes

My name is Mark Evans and I'd like towelcome you to marketing spark the podcast that deliver small doses ofinsight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs and the trenches bysmall doses. It's conversations that are fifteen minutes or less on. Today'sshow we're going to talk about email and how to create campaigns that drivebetter results. I'm excited to have James Glover C E O was coherent path, aSASS platform that takes retailer's content and distribute it as a dietthrough email to maximize customer engagement and lifetime value. Welcometo marketing spark thanks for having me on the show mark now. One of the thingsI want to ask you James, is that email is still alive and well there's allkinds of different ways to connect with customers. Yet email never seems to die.I mean people still embrace it. People still open email. How do you explainthat? I think one of the ways to think about this is you know, we're a datascience company. So we like to look at what data we have on hand in order toto help with the conversation with your customers, and when we look at the datawe see at gap, for example, they might email their customer, something likefive or six hundred times a year that same customer probably buys from thegap four or five times a year and visits their website ten or twelvetimes a year. So when you think about the email channel in that context, youknow five hundred of your five hundred and twenty interactions with yourcustomer. It's easy to understand why it's still viewed as one of the primaryvehicles for communication that large brands have to reach their customer.It's also a channel where they can control the conversation. You know whenthe customer visits the website they visit for a reason, whereas when youdecide to send out an email, you get to decide what to talk about. Of course,it's hugely important that that that topic be relevant to the person thatyou're sending it to. But you get to decide what you want to talk about withthe customer, and so I think that's another reason why email is still agreat metic for building your brand and...

...having a customer a conversation withthe customer. Now one of the things about emails, we live in this world ofmarking, automation. I mean marketers love these tools that allow them to doa little bit of work but get maximum impact, and it has driven this wholeidea of drip marketing where you continue to hammer away at your yourprospects and customers with all kinds of different offers and information.But my sense is that there's there's email fatigue because, after a while,the drip marketing refuse isn't as effective, because it's yet anotheremail from a company to a prospect, hoping they'll do something. How cancompanies take a smarter, better approach to email marketing and howdoes it marketing fit into the scheme of things? I think part of it? Is Youmeet a lot of retailers that think of email, kind of like an ATM machine andwhen you get behind at the end of the quarter? How are you going to make upthat revenue? Oh, send out another email and, if you're still behind, sendout another email, and so what you're trying to do when you do? That isleverage the people that are at the bottom of the funnel the transactionfunnel in order to get some revenue today, and that is certainly a realityfor many retailers that that number is important and and they use email inorder to help them hit the I the number. What that scures, though, is that emailis also the primary like we said before, the primary vehicle for building yourbrand for having a conversation with your customer. So for me it kind ofreminds me of when I read that book by Michael Pollen called the omniversedilemma and he went down. In any metaphor: Er in the farmer soldchickens and eggs and rabbits and all kinds of different things, but hedescribed himself to Michael Poland as a grass farmer that if he took care ofthe grass which all of the animals eat, then you know he would always have agreat farm that would continue to...

...produce. For many many generations andI kind of think of email marketing as engagement farming, you have the rightto capture that customer at the bottom of the funnel, because you've continuedto engage them in a conversation you know, and so you know, retailers needto think about using email to build their brand and to encourage customersto shop in new categories to use it, for you know, discovery of things thatthe customers never seen before and in that respect they should think ofthemselves as building engagement, as well as also doing the important sortof make the cash register ring in important moments. When I think aboutemail is that there's conversions are often equated to sale. So if I send anemail, I want somebody to buy something, but should conversions be looked at indifferent ways. So, for example, should we as marketers and retailers, lookatemail campaigns as opportunities to engage and educate where the sale maynot be the primary Ob Jective? I mean at the end of the day. That's what youwant people to do, but your your emails have different you're looking for themto deliver in different ways. Is that the way to look at at conversions thesedays when it comes to email, if you think about sending out a hundredemails, you'd, be excited if one person converted and as I said for the averageretailer, you might see a frequency of four or five conversions per year,regardless of channel, let alone driven through the email channel and so fromthe email channel. It might be one conversion a year, and so, if you focusyour six hundred emails around trying to get that customer to convertexclusively on trying to get that customer to convert pretending thatthey are always at the bottom of that conversion funnel. Well, then you'llsee an email diet. That kind of looks like the American Diet in the sense ofbeing very rich in promotions, and you...

...know trying to take advantage of the byright now sort of thing, as opposed to telling the story in building the brandand taking the opportunity to educate the customers. Lo Ben one of ourcustomers said this: customers only bought shirts from us, we're prettysure they wear pants. You know, but if I use every email as an opportunity totry to sell them another shirt on a discount, I'm going to miss out on thechance of educating them about the pants and the socks and the shoes andall the other things that I sell. And so we need to use the balance betweenokay. This customer has a purchase in a while a promotion might be a good toolto try to get them to convert need to balance that with the reality thatthey're going to convert five or six times a year, and I'm going to get fivehundred at bats to talk to them, and I need to be as broad as possible interms of and still being relevant for them in order to, you know, keep therelationship and keep them opening the emails at a sufficient rate. If I don't,if they don't open an email for nine months or something like that, I don'tget to, I don't get to continue the conversation. The other thing that Ithink about when it comes to email was the idea that a lot of companiesembrace a one size fits all approach or what they do is they do a little bit ofsegmentation based on customer personas and they believe that is the way thatthey can deliver relevant content and offers. But when I'm wondering about isif whether there's a better approach, whether we can use machine learning,for example, to deliver a personalized diet of content, as you say, contentthat is relevant to people's interest, their activities, what their buyingbehavior all those other variables, so that when you get an email from acompany, you say to yourself. This is this is for me they're there. It'saligned with WHO I am, and what I do and want to like to buy. Is that kindof the Promised Land? Does it make customer Personas anachronisms for thatmatter? When I think about this...

...question, I kind of think of it in tworespects, and often I'm talking to a large retailer, and they say to me: Howdo I get to kind of the stage where I my program looks like some of the greatprograms that are out there? Your l beans is a great example. How do I getmy program to look like l beans program and I kind of break it down in tworespects and the first and I sort of used the first one is like slay thedragon and the second one as marry the princess. If I can slay the Dragon, Iget to go back home and marry the prins. What do I mean by that? So you knowthere are lots of things that I'm doing that just simply don't scale, and so alot of the reason why I'm not providing relevant content to my customers isbecause I can't scale to the place where a bean is sending out fivemillion different versions of its email every day. How are they doing that? Howdo I scale to the place where I can? I have the the infrastructure to send outfive million, let alone knowing what each of those five million people wantfor dinner tonight. But how do I serve five million different meals to fivemillion different customs and and that's about having a library ofcontent? That's available. It used to be that folks, like blooming, Dales orothers of our customers would create an email today and they would send it outand then that email would die. You know perfectly good, create investment increative and and yet something that they would just let live for one daynow they add it to a library, that's building up over time, and so at anygiven time there might be two or three hundred options in the loben or theblooming Dales Library. So that's about how do I get better use out of mycreative in order to scale to the place where I can have a personalizedrelevant conversation with the customers and then there's the templeate standardizing the templates, making them ready for a dynamic content. Youknow there's a lot of work that goes into the idea. You know, if you thoughtabout how would you q a five million...

...different emails? Well you'd have tostandardize a bunch of different things and have templates that were ready forpersonalizing events and so there's a lot of work that goes into the workthat you would do with your email service provider. In order to get youready to be at a place where you could send five million different emails andwhat we found is that often you know when you're doing some segmentation andyou're sending out six versions of the email in a relatively manual fashion,going from six versions to five million versions: You're automatic, a ton ofstuff that you used to do manually and in fact it's less labor. And so in thiscurrent economic climate, we see a lot of people driving towards automation asa way to reduce cost. And so, if you can do that and and put in aninfrastructure that will enable you to send out five million differentversions of the email with less labor, we call that slaying the dragon nowyou're ready. And then you know the Mary. The princess is okay. What is the,how do I get to take advantage of this infrastructure to kind of get myprogram to the place where I'm having a relevant conversation with eachcustomer and that's the machine learning that is required, where you'retaking in all of the different information that you're getting fromeach of your different channels and you're thinking about it is a dietthrough time. What we found is that, if you rely on segmentation, you're verylikely to over represent some of your categories while neglecting others. Youknow a simple example of that one of our retail partners. They would apply alabel of women or men to each of each of their customers and that seem tomake sense to them. But what we showed them was that, if even with respect togender, you approach it as a diet. So, for you know this customer, it makessense that about ninety percent of their content comes from the women'spart of their catalogue, but by sprinkling in ten percent of thecontent as men's content at the right...

...time of year. In the right, when theright great piece of content comes along, you can do much better atkeeping the conversation interesting and monetize that customer to a greaterextent, so by investing in that infrastructure get to fleet to be inthe place where you can have a more engaged in personalized conversationwith the customer. One of the things I did want to ask you is in terms of thecurrent landscape amid ovid nineteen, so as consumers are not going tophysical stores as often a lot of retailers are pounding away on email todrive sales and in boxes are being overwhelmed, there seems to be thisrising tide lifts all ships, phenomena happening. So a lot of retails areseeing high re commerce sales, but hopefully, as we battle coved,effectively and consumers, sort of kind of return to normal buying activity,what happens to email, marketing and and how do thestronger brands? Who can leverage email, outflank, the competition? I thinkthere are a couple of things that are important from that perspective, so oneof them is what we talked about in terms of building and INFARCTI. Youknow maybe you're doing it now for the purpose of reducing costs and automatica lot of your email campaign execution in the in the hopes of putting aninfrastructure in place that will allow you to create dynamic emails that areone to one personalized at the scale of a Gabrel being where they are fivemillion different version. We talked about that. You can win this ovidexperience, partly by reducing costs through automation, but that automationcan put you in a position where you can send millions of different versions ofthe email. So that's the first thing and then I think the second thing isrecognizing that you are acquiring a lot of customers, and you know yourability to win. This circumstance will...

...hinge upon whether or not you're ableto continue the relationship with that customer, and so you know, when youonly have one piece of transactional data from that customer. It's going tobe awfully tempting to continuously reinforce that one category thatthey've purchased from you as opposed to a balance, diet that kind ofpresents your entire about value proposition. So I think the companiesthat are smart will use that first transaction, and this is what we seefolks, like bloomy nails and front gate, doing where you know they're getting anew customer and they're using that new customer that new relationship as anexample or as an opportunity, sorry to tell their story. These are all thegreat things we do at front gate you know, and what which of these are? Youare you interested in now they have a sense of who that person is and whatthat, what kinds of products they're likely to be interested in be based onwhat transaction Datathey have, and then that starts to build up throughthe interaction with the email channel as they explore the catalogue in adialogue through that email channel. So I think customers are companies thatcan leverage the opportunity to upgrade their infrastructure in order to beready to come out of Ovid, strong and then companies that use those newcustomers that they're acquiring as opportunities to start a conversation,rather than just to reinforce that one part of the catalogue that theypurchased in that first transaction. Well. This has been great insight.James really appreciate it. Thanks for listening to another episode ofmarketing spark, if you enjoyed the conversation, please leave a reviewrate it as well subscribe by I tunes or your favorite podcast APP for shownotes of today's conversation. Visit Mark Evans, dot, ca s, James Glever, ifyou have questions feedback, word like to suggest a guest or you're lookingfor help with me to be marketing, send an email to mark a mark, Evans, DociaTalk to next to.

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