Intro (00:06): You’re listening to the #fortheloveofemails podcast, powered by Netcore, a weekly show dedicated to helping email marketers, marketing enthusiasts, and professionals of all walks engage, grow, and retain customers through reliable, smart, and effective email communication and engagement. Discover actionable ways to increase ROI and deliver value through email innovations, personalisation, optimization, email deliverability, and email campaigns.No fluff tune in to hear best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners master your email communication now.
Tejas Pitkar (00:40):
This is where we discuss some non-obvious email marketing trends that marketers need to watch out for in 2022. Introducing myself first, hi everyone I’m Tejas Pitkar, Senior Product Evangelist at Netcore Cloud, and we have a very special guest joining us today for this year-end discussion all the way from the states in the night; this is Chris Marriott, Founder and President of Email connect, he brings decades of digital marketing and vendor selection experience to help fortune 500 companies connect with the right marketing technology solutions or email as well as multichannel marketing. So I’ll say good evening to you and welcome to the webinar, Chris.
Chris Marriott (01:36):
Really happy to be here and, and delighted to get the invitation Taja and folks we had a pre-meeting 12 hours ago, which was my morning and Tejas’s evening. And as we were signing off, he said, I’ll see you tomorrow. And I said, no, it’s not gonna be tomorrow for me, it’s gonna just be 12 hours from now. So, I know we have people logging in from all over the globe, it’s morning, somewhere it’s evening somewhere so don’t hate me because I’m having a little bit of wine because it is evening here.
Tejas Pitkar (02:12):
That’s perfectly alright Chris, the world is a really big place. <laughs> yeah. It’s a really big pleasure to have you. Now folks when it comes to email marketing, 2021 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, you know, and in the past year, email has taken really great leaps with some interactivity introduced in emails that were AI-powered, intelligent emails that brands started sending out, several of high profile globally companies that we had consultant started using our AI technologies to send emails. There were several high profile ESP, mergers and acquisitions that took place. Gmail, the biggest mailbox provider right now in the world, announced its full support for the BIMI standard. Brands started introducing interactivity as well as using AMP for emails. It’s a gradual increase that we see with brands using those technologies.
Tejas Pitkar (03:10):
And there was also the small matter of apple mail privacy protection that sent shock rates throughout the email industry with the pixel blocking regulations which are slowly going to make open rates obsolete. Or you can say at least right now they’re unreliable. So now we’ll be taking on 2022 in the next year and in this webinar we wish to decode the email marketing patterns that we have seen developing for the next year so that you guys can help stay ahead of the curve and you can anticipate and plan for those changes, which will be coming up. So I’ll be going through some of the five non-obvious email trends that we have in this presentation. And I’ll be going back and forth with Chris about all of them and we’ll be having a conversation about what are his views and thoughts on the same, what are the other trends that he sees developing in the next year so that you can plan your email programs better.
Tejas Pitkar (04:10):
So let’s dig into them. The first trend that we see is that Interactive storytelling and gamification inside your emails are going to matter a lot more than the technologies that are used now. We all know that storytelling is very powerful. Powerful stories are what keep your audience hooked to your emails. I myself read really long emails as well, written by youtube influencers or other email influencers, which are just texty and wordy, but they have a story inside them, they have a narrative, and that’s the reason why I scroll all the way down in order to read them. You get excited when you are reading through a story and don’t wish to leave midway. Now your email should not only be about just your promotions and offers and sales pitches. And that’s what we think that you know, you should be able to communicate via story to your audience.
Tejas Pitkar (05:04):
What makes your brand unique? And that’s gonna be very important next year. Now, the pandemic has already forced brands, and companies to reevaluate their whole marketing strategies since the last two years now and they’re offering solutions to the customers, instead of just pitching sales offers one after the other and sending like five emails in a week, all with the promotion offers, that’s not going to do much for you in the coming year. So as I said, I think you know, I’m subscribed to a lot of good newsletters from influencers who somehow weave their services inside their stories, write long emails. Yes. But really interesting stories may be about life, about the experiences and you know, that’s what companies should follow as well in terms of, you know, communicating more about their mission statement.
Tejas Pitkar (05:58):
and you know, weaving good narratives and stories around the emails in the next year. Now, of course, you can use AMP for emails and technologies like that in order to make it more interactive, like introducing polls, surveys, quizzes, getting your customer reviews inside the inbox, but more often than not, it’s going to be you know, really good content worthy emails that are going to make all difference in the coming year. For example, there was a recent campaign Chris that I saw from Airbnb, which is their “Live There” campaign where they say, don’t go to Paris, don’t take a tour to Paris, live in Paris, which means they want their customers to actually experience the local culture, wherever they go. And it’s not just about taking a trip, it’s about living in that. And I think they have weaved nicely a lot of stories inside the email campaigns regarding just this hashtag of life there.
Tejas Pitkar (06:57):
And I really like that. It’s stories like this, which are going to be super powerful. But Chris coming back to you just in terms of AMP for emails, we recently had some experts in the OI community as well, which wrote on AMP for email saying, you know, maybe it’s fading away. It’s a bit slow in adoption, we don’t see a lot of brands using interactivity in emails. What are your thoughts on it? Do you think it’s gonna take off in 2022, it’s gonna slightly die down?
Chris Marriott (07:28):
No, I actually love this and I think this is a great trend to kick off with because I think, I couldn’t agree with you more that technology is less important than interactive storytelling. You know, a lot of Wizbang technology that gets unveiled and enrolled by the vendors and I work with a lot of vendors, never really even gets leveraged by brands and things like AMP, I think are just late examples of things that are rolling out and, you know, brands are struggling with, and email marketers are struggling with the tech they already have, and maximizing that. But to your point about how storytelling will matter more than tech, you know, a couple of things would say that one is, you know, oftentimes brands, the last thing they blame if their program’s not achieving the goals they’d like to achieve is their creative, is their content.
Chris Marriott (08:24):
And yet sometimes you’re not achieving your goals because you’re creative and your content stinks. And that needs to have as much attention as maximizing the technology. And the other thing that I really like about this one is that you made a great point, is the idea that you need to engage. if every email you send to a customer is a buy now email, they’re quick, they’re over, you know, it won’t take them too long to disengage and start ignoring your email marketing. Yeah. There are some brands that might be appropriate, but for the vast majority of brands, every email shouldn’t be a buy now email. So the trick is how do you engage them in between the purchases in between when you hit them? What kind of content, what kind of context do you give them? What kind of storytelling again, I think with, as you said, I think brands that focus on that are brands that are gonna probably see more success in 2022 than brands that ignore that.
Tejas Pitkar (09:23):
Yeah. So I mean, definitely that conversations have to take proceeding over your conversions. which has been the case throughout the lockdown, but yeah, totally. I think the kind of newsletters that I always engage with are those which make some kind of interactive end to it. For example, maybe a lot of influences use this in the newsletters where they take a poll at the very end of the email and they ask you some question, you either have to reply to it, or you have to go to that poll, take it, and maybe you can get to know the results in the next email. And I think these are some really good techniques that even companies can start using rather than we always get those, you know, a very customary feedback email. So did you like your product? Would you like to let us know how it went and how did you feel about it? But I think these are very like preliminary emails. I think they need to get more creative in terms of getting those reactions from the audience. What do you think about that?
Chris Marriott (10:29):
Yeah. I think most of us, the only time we ever respond to tell us what you think is when we had an awful experience and we wanna complain about it. At least I know that’s what I do, I rarely would respond and say, oh, it was great, so I agree with that. And I think you said conversations, and you know content context and conversations are like the three C’s of, of how you, again, engage in storytelling and dialogue in between those purchases, you know and by context, I mean, you know, how-tos on how to use, how to get the best outta something they just bought or how to, how to use it in ways that they hadn’t even considered before.
Chris Marriott (11:13):
I think context is very important in particular in certain categories. So again, I wanna say technology never made anybody open an email and everybody out there in the AI world’s going, oh we begged to differ our subject line testing is the technology and it’s making people open emails, so, okay. You got me there, but in general, long term, I don’t think that technology has a big an impact on getting emails to read and engage with than it does again, the interactive storytelling and the content of the email.
Tejas Pitkar (11:50):
Right, Definitely storytelling Trumps every time. Now coming to the second trend that we have, and I mean, we recently spoke about the Apple MVP changes that have come out, you know, mail privacy protection has clearly shifted the focus from user privacy, just with your audience, but now, it’s been taken seriously by the mailbox providers as well. And now they’re employing certain regulations to protect their users from needless marketing materials. They need to make their own choices about whether they wish to show their interaction data to the marketers or not. So I feel that marketers in 2022 will have to go above and beyond the basic data privacy laws that have been provided like you have CSL, you have a GDPR, you have TCPA, and of course with CAN-SPAM, but they should also need to start following regional guidelines and laws pertaining to the data.
Tejas Pitkar (12:49):
And I think actively communicating about your data privacy restrictions, your guidelines that you’re following actively with your customers. I think that’s going to inspire a lot of loyalty and security over there from their end like for example, I mean even we do this with a newsletter where you provide a physical mailing address, a contact number of your company below your newsletter. So that even when you’re sending it to your global customers, they have some kind of physical meeting address to attach your company to, and that’s gonna be very important because the customer today I think has become very smart and they can read about apple MVP and its features and the kind of power it gives them. And they can try to make the right decisions on their own. So it’s gonna be very crucial for marketers to consider user privacy and they have to keep it central before making any of the decisions. Chris coming back to you I mean, being in the vendor landscape, do you think that companies are evaluating ESP right now in terms of, okay, what are they doing in terms of apple MVP, what is the kind of interaction data they are collecting and then choosing those ESPs or how’s it going over there
Chris Marriott (14:04):
We take the whole privacy and data security issue extremely seriously when we’re helping our clients who are email marketers and brands evaluate platforms. And we have a lot of requirements pertaining to data security, data access and compliance with, as you said, regional and national privacy laws. So again, I think the onus here is very much on the brand and the ESP they select to ensure privacy because I think it really from a consumer perspective, I honestly and again, there are probably a lot of people are gonna go, oh, that’s not always wrong. Oh, that’s not right. But I think consumers rarely care about data security and privacy until a brand they deal with has a data breach. So the most important thing to buy is everybody out there, email markers and vendors is no data breaches.
Chris Marriott (15:06):
That’s the number one don’t, you know, don’t let any of their data get compromised. And, again, I like your best practice mailing address. I think it’s a good idea, go above and beyond, as you said, is a good idea, but I think privacy is less of a consumer issue particularly around their engagement and activity with email than it is in an issue of vendors needing to be extra vigilant and have the security procedures in place and brands doing the right thing and choosing the right vendors to match their data security needs.
Tejas Pitkar (15:45):
Right. I think recently there was some kind of a legal issue. You know, the subscriber had filed a complaint against a major company that he still received newsletters from them, even though he had unsubscribed. And you know, they still kept on asking them for some kind of promotional materials so that they can opt back into the newsletter program, and I think it’s practices like these, which are very non-ethical and can, and get a company into trouble in the coming year, very easily with very heavy fines.
Chris Marriott (16:18):
Yeah. I mean, right. If you’re a brand, you gotta take an unsubscribe seriously and ideally that person’s in a suppression list instantly, and it’s a universal suppression list and every campaign that goes out checks against that list and they never get one again. And that’s not something to monkey around with, I totally agree there. And you’re right, the fines will go up because, you know, frankly, there are people out there looking for a brand to violate that so they can sue ’em, you know and there are lawyers out there doing that. So they’re looking for opportunities to do this, it’s not Joe consumer, frankly, when these things happen, who just, oh, well unsubscribed and a week later I’m getting an email. No, it’s people that are on the lookout for violations to make a quick buck. And again, that’s why I think vendors and brands need to be on their toes. And strictly, I mean, not only is it the right thing to do to follow all of these rules and regulations and opt-out and forget me and all of that, that’s absolutely the right thing to do. But it’s also the smart fiscally sound thing to do to your point.
Tejas Pitkar (17:23):
Yeah. I mean we all talk about these things, but it’s a fact that even now buying emails is still very common in the industry. And I think it’s, you know, unethical practices like this that can get a company easily into trouble, even though it’s like a small list of 500 users, you send them an email thinking of some kind of a referral program or trying to get them to opt-in actually to your program could be trouble, could be trouble in the next year.
Chris Marriott (17:54):
Yeah. Yeah. Brands. I mean, enterprise brands aren’t gonna do that. Fortune 500, Fortune 1000 are not gonna do that. But you’re right. There are brands that want to grow quickly, and my advice is, you know, put in the hard work to grow your list the right way to your point and it is hard work, but it’s worth it. And, you know, never put anybody. I used to say, I used to work, do a lot of work with a company that was in the email subscriber acquisition business for brands and very legit the way they did it. And you know, I used to tell, you know, my advice to brands was don’t ever put anybody on your email list that you Aren’t a hundred percent sure wants to be there if you follow that simple rule and you’ll never get in trouble, you just make sure that a hundred per cent.
Chris Marriott (18:39):
And what does that mean? Well, that means they actually opted in somewhere and you have a record of that opt-in. And if you have that and they opted in everybody is good, but if you buy a list or you rent a list, you don’t have that. And that’s where again, you get in trouble and if you’re not following these rules that we’re talking about, you eventually, you know, forget the fact that you might get in legal trouble or financial trouble. You’re gonna get blocked eventually and none of your emails gonna get in. And so do the hard work, grow your list the right way, get real Opt-ins, get people who wanna be there. It will pay off over time.
Tejas Pitkar (19:25):
Absolutely. That’s great advice because email is after all a very direct one to one channel and no one will subscribe to a newsletter if they don’t wish to get your content. So. Right.
Chris Marriott (19:35):
And why would you wanna send it to somebody who doesn’t wanna get it? Again as you said earlier, we’re talking about conversations. Well, if you don’t wanna talk to me, we can’t have a conversation, so why waste time?
Tejas Pitkar (19:51):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right. These are some of the things that marketers will have to keep in mind in the next year. Going to the third trend. And this is a big one where I see that you know, I mean, we are all observing right now that the pandemics had a very disruptive effect on customer retention, loyalty and acquisition now customer lifetime value has quickly become a north star metric for someone like a marketer in the eCommerce space in the past two years and in my opinion, retaining high-value customers for the longer term is going to assume a really big paramount role in the coming year where email can play a very major role here in order to retain those customers via your email program. So now recent research by Gartner showed that 39% of global CMOs think that they need to increase the sales of the current products with the existing customers, maybe by cross-selling and by using other marketing channels.
Tejas Pitkar (20:53):
So marketers will care not just about who are the best customers right now, but who will be the most valued customers say, two or five years down the line, for example, if an existing customer is spending say $500 on their eCommerce store, then what is their potential to spend something like a $20,000 in the next two years? You know, they will be evaluating customers based on the average order value and you know, who are those high-value customers and who are the customers that maybe they need to churn out or they’re not providing that kind of value right now. So these are the kind of questions that I think marketers are going to find very interesting to solve in the coming year. And they could use big data and machine learning and AI algorithms for all of these solving these bigger issues. So I mean, in terms of customer loyalty, Chris, you have written a lot on it, you’ve spoken a lot on it. I’m directly quoting you from your own blog, which was loyalty programs are the next secret weapon for email marketers, but as you have said, in an era where I shared earlier, first-party data is rising in importance for marketers. Whereas this is the time for the email marketing team to ask how the loyalty program benefits my email marketing. So what are your thoughts on that?
Chris Marriott (22:16):
Well, you just gave all my thoughts. No, just kidding. This is one of those where I think you and I had, as we talked earlier, there was a lot of overlap. Couldn’t agree more with everything you said, where everything you put here. You know, I have my four things that are trends impacting the vendor landscape. And you have the five that, that we’re talking about now that, that email marketing and, and, and this is one of the big overlaps were, as we talked about where to your point, and I’ve written a lot about it, where I think the importance of that email marketing loyalty marketing is becoming much more closely aligned, or if not, should be much more closely aligned at the enterprise level for the reasons you stated third party data’s going away.
Chris Marriott (22:58):
First-party data and zero party data are growing in importance. And, and I like to say, you know and we talk about the early importance of storytelling and content. So, you know, it’s become a cliche to say content is king. And we’ve all probably heard that statement at one time or another. if that’s true and, and I’m like, it probably is, we, we just said it was important. Then I would say, first and zero party data are king, kingdom and cathedral. They’re that important and growing in importance to brands and, okay, so what does it have to do with loyalty, where do brands get their first and zero party data? From their loyalty programs. That is a single, that is the gold mine of first and zero party data. And that’s why you know, you obviously believe, and I believe as well that not only loyalty and programs are just important on the surface of it because it’s repeat business.
Chris Marriott (23:52):
And of course, you want a loyalty program that people wanna be in versus one that they have to be in. So there’s that at work but for too long email marketers have just been a channel for the loyalty program to deliver its messaging to loyal customers. And I think as you said, as I wrote, it’s time for the email team to say to the loyalty team, what do you get? what kind of data do you got that I’m not using currently to personalize and customize my ongoing campaigns, not just the loyalty email, you know, here’s your monthly points total, but rather what do you have that I can use on an ongoing basis to make my emails more relevant, more engaging to the people that are getting them? And what, you know, from the vendor perspective, what I’m seeing is many enterprise vendors are either acquiring loyalty platforms that they’re integrating into, or they’re building out loyalty capabilities.
Chris Marriott (24:48):
So this is really an area where the vendor landscape, as well as reacting to this trend and saying, we need to, from a platform perspective be able to provide a turnkey solution for our customers who maybe don’t already have a loyalty solution, or potentially don’t even have a loyalty program and If you don’t have a loyalty program, you need to start thinking about that. If you already have an email program, you don’t have a loyalty program, time to give somebody the assignment to start a loyalty program at your organization.
Tejas Pitkar (25:27):
I think loyalty programs provide a better brand experience, and really great customer service to those loyal customers as well. You can also have tailored emails. This is where email marketing comes into play. As you say, you can have those tailored emails to the select segment of customers, who know who are very important for your attention. The high-value customers. They have really high average order values, they have been spending a lot with you for the last two, three years, and you need to keep them. So I think loyalty programs in communicating about them through email is gonna be super important for marketing in the next year to drive the revenue because acquisition has been a bit down, you know, retention has become the new acquisition now.
Chris Marriott (26:12):
Love that, retention is the new acquisition, you’re absolutely right. Nice.
Tejas Pitkar (26:18):
Tejas Pitkar (26:23):
Yeah. it’s been that way, right? since the pandemic has happened, and then you know, acquisitions kind of slowed down. So it’s very important for marketers to gain a 360 degree understanding of, you know, what is going to drive their retention activity and estimate every customer’s value. And that’s where you said, I think you said in the blog as well, that right now there could be two separate teams within the organization. One which is dealing with loyalty programs only, and one, which is your email marketing team. And I think both of them need to come together, at least communicate in order to find out, okay, what’s your database right now talking about this customer, because we are targeting this content to this customer right now, what’s that extra information that you can give us.
Chris Marriott (27:08):
Yeah, if you’re an email marketer and you’ve got a loyalty team, that’s separate from you invite ’em out to pizza, beer and make friends with ’em and start talking to them because, you know, another thing I was thinking about Tejas is, one of the last types of emails on the planet somebody’s going to unsubscribe to is anything to do with the loyalty program that they want to be part of. And so those are very Bulletproof emails, highly engaged, you know, probably the highest engagement rates outside of transactional emails would be emails related to loyalty, and certainly low on subscribe rates. So, again, you know, take your loyalty team either start one and get a lot of credit for saving your company or find out who’s who the movers and shakers are on your loyalty team, on your loyalty team, invite ’em out for pizza, beer, and start making friends with them.
Tejas Pitkar (28:06):
Chris Marriott (28:08):
Who doesn’t like pizza and beer? I mean, come on
Tejas Pitkar (28:10):
<laugh> right, definitely. Now the fourth trend, and this kinda ties in with the last trend that you talked about, zero party data, that’s gonna be the kingdom the next year. So with apple MVP changes, definitely some part of your interaction data is gonna be unreliable now, your subscriber engagement data is not gonna be full proof, I mean, apple MVP effects are going to gradually increase in the next year. It’s not that much right now on that level that we even see at Netcore, maybe 12 to 13% of our opens are coming from proxy apple opens, but it’s going to gradually increase. And when it fully takes off in full steam, that’s when marketers are gonna be in a little bit of fix that, oh, we had a lot of interaction engagement data till now we relied a lot on it, in order to target our customers, to create segmentation, you know, to pitch different or cross-sale products to customers.
Tejas Pitkar (29:08):
Now, we don’t have that anymore. What can we do right now? So with zero party data, it’s just a little bit of an introduction to the audience that what zero party data is, zero party data is the kind of information that you get from your customers, which is shared willingly by them. It’s either your subscription center, your preference center on your website, or it’s some kind of survey or poll that you’ve run through them. And you’re trying to get that information from them. So this is willingly shared by the customers. They’re comfortable sharing this possible information with you. It’s not interaction or engagement data. That is the first-party data that you’re getting. So, you know, marketers continue to have access to such valuable customer data if they evolve their strategies of data collection of the zero party data. So, I mean, of course, as I said, there are several ways to do it, there’s progress and profiling which is gonna be a major part of how marketers are gonna gain access to this data in the coming year. Chris, what do you think about that?
Chris Marriott (30:12):
Yeah. You know, I think you make a good point here that getting zero party data isn’t dependent entirely upon loyalty programs or other ways to get it, or engaging your customers. Again, sometimes, you know, the results are not anywhere near as expected. Again, having people do surveys or quizzes or social media polls, you know, can be a hit or miss proposition in terms of what information they wanna give up. But I think it still is, it’s worth the effort, but I also think, I need to make sure that you have a vendor, if you’re a brand that you are working with a vendor that can store lots of data, can bring data in from a lot of different data sources have, have an unlimited number of attributes that they can store in the database about that customer. So when you’re getting the zero party data, that your ESP is able to personalize using, you know, whatever data is available in that, about that customer in the database. So collecting data that you can’t use is a waste of everybody’s time. And so you really need to make sure that what you are collecting is usable in your email marketing, ideally, and can be stored at the ESP level. So it’s right there available in real-time for marketing campaigns.
Tejas Pitkar (31:36):
I’m just getting some questions right now. I’m gonna take one because this is very relevant to the conversation we are having. One of them says, how can email leverage loyalty programs to collect better zero party subscriber data? Like what kind of data can you actually get from your loyalty programs, in order to use it, to target your customers better?
Chris Marriott (31:56):
I think you need to start with it, it’s a good question, I think the starting point is you need to realize what sort of gaps in the data you have now are? Your loyalty program, I mean, you might look at the data they have and go, oh, aha, here’s something I never even thought about, which would be very valuable, so that could happen. But also you need to think about what kind of things could make your email more personalized, more engaging again, what are your gaps in your knowledge about your audience that potentially could be something that your loyalty programs communications could uncover, because when you’re, you know, there could be, you know, let’s talk about a mileage program. You know, people will go through a lot of hoops to earn miles. And so if you were offering, you know, a loyalty program subscriber, a certain number of miles for answering a few questions they’re going to answer ’em.
Chris Marriott (32:52):
So the rewards that come with loyalty programs, I mean I’ll answer stupid stuff. I mean, I’ve, answered stupid from my pharmacy. I answered a stupid quiz, I gave a ton of information to get some, some more discounts. Yes, I did that. Actually, I did that. So, you know, again, that was because there was a real value exchange and your loyalty program is again where the value lies that can be exchanged. You have very little as an email marketer value that you can exchange, but your loyalty program has lots of it. And so, again, I can’t tell you what you need to know that your loyalty program can help you get, you’re gonna have to determine that, but then you can leverage loyalty, program’s ability to give something of value to get that information from your subscribers.
Tejas Pitkar (33:47):
Right. I think you mentioned an airline rewards program in your writing about loyalty programs. And I think that is very relevant here, but maybe, you know you can get some data from that loyalty program as to which destinations is this customer often traveling to, and then maybe use that to target better leads to them in your email program. I mean, that’s one kind of example that I can think of where, you know, you can actually use email in conjunction with your loyalty program to get better teams.
Chris Marriott (34:21):
It’s interesting there Tejas, I had a client once when I was on the vendor side and they were a hotel company and there’s danger in misinterpreting data and you just gave me a good example of that and here they were looking at where these people book hotels and they were sending them offers for the same location because as they interpreted the data, these people like to vacation in warm weather climates when they dug a little deeper and did some testing, what they learned was they like to golf. And so now they had a whole, they could have a whole different range of destinations to entice them to potentially book, bookings went up. And so in that case, it was a question of why they traveled, not just where they traveled. And that’s, as you’re looking through the data and thinking about what’s usable and how to use it, make sure you ask all of the relevant questions, not just, don’t just stop with one question, where are they going? Okay. That’s, that’s obviously what they like.
Tejas Pitkar (35:32):
Absolutely. I think I just read it on Twitter yesterday, where an email market had posted the tweet that, you know, just, don’t try to get feedback from your customers for the sake of interactivity or getting replies. You need to know what kinda questions you’re asking, what kind of data do you actually wish to receive from those customers? And then only go ahead with taking those surveys or asking those relevant questions and getting some important customer information. So always have that target in mind as to how you’re gonna use this data before asking those questions. And that’s a good point.
Chris Marriott (36:05):
Definitely. Yeah. Cause, you know, so oftentimes you see brands collect all data and data that you don’t use is really just overhead. You’re paying somebody somewhere to store it.
Tejas Pitkar (36:17):
I mean, you’re not getting anything valuable in return
Chris Marriott (36:22):
I mean, we’ve all done it. We’ve all moved. You know well, maybe not all of us, but many if you’ve ever moved from one house to another when you move, you find all these boxes of stuff that you hadn’t, you didn’t ever remember even putting it in a box and putting it where you put it. That’s what companies do with data. They put it in a box and they put it somewhere. And unless you move your database you’re just, again, it’s storing and sitting there and gathering dust and that doesn’t do anybody any good. And, trust me, brand consumers know if you ask me a question and you don’t use that information to make my experience better. I’m never gonna answer another question again. Yeah.
Tejas Pitkar (37:03):
Because there’s no use. Definitely
Chris Marriott (37:05):
Don’t ask any consumer anything about anything that you don’t plan to actually leverage to make their customer experience with your company better?
Tejas Pitkar (37:18):
Right. Absolutely. Now this trend of loyalty programs becoming really hot next year was actually started by Chris back in August.
Chris Marriott (37:31):
I think I was the first one, yeah. Sometimes I get lucky. I get a publisher. I get a date from Jean Jennings who runs all the influencers and I gotta come up with something. And I got lucky. I was the first one to sort of start talking about that, but I won’t be the last and lots of smart people have weighed in on that since then.
Tejas Pitkar (37:50):
Definitely. And I think that definitely gonna become hard for next year, that excellent rate to receive the zero part information. And I hope even marketing can make the best out of it. I mean, you’re gonna require a lot of data analysis in the process. You have to go through all that data that you have received from the loyalty programs, from your feedback, from your surveys, but hope that you can make it and put it to better use. Yeah, that’s the intention of it.
Tejas Pitkar (38:15):
Going to the last trend that we have, which is a bit more obvious, is that marketers are gonna embrace AI and intelligent emails, to elevate the customer experience. Now we know that in 2021 itself, AI technologies and email marketing have really taken off, they have become super sophisticated. Chris, you talked about these new NextGen platforms that have come in who have some kind of AI or intelligent features in them, which is gonna help marketers to target the customers, you know, the right user at the right time with the right content, that’s what you’ll need in the end.
Tejas Pitkar (38:50):
And you know, marketers dependencies on these intelligent technologies are just set to increase in the next year because I mean let’s look at it. If you, if you want to target your customers with different product recommendations, which are very customized to those individuals, you can’t do that manually. There needs to be an automated feature in your sending platform. Some intelligent brain that’s working behind who, you know, gives you all that information on a plate and says, okay, this customer, you need to target this product to them because they have shown an interest or you know, a lot of engagement related to the store. They’ve been shopping this product on your website, or they have viewed this product in your add to cart feature. So maybe this is the right product for them, but to do this for 1 million customers is gonna be really time-consuming for marketers.
Tejas Pitkar (39:44):
And I think that’s where AI comes in and makes it really easy within minutes for you to target them. I mean, there are of course other you know, advantages of, yeah, for example, our study of 50 billion emails 2020 email benchmark reports showed that even deliverability features that we have developed at Netcore, which have AI element in them, they have increased the deliverability of a global client for almost 50%. Now that’s almost 50% extra emails that they’re putting inside the customer’s inbox and they’ll be able to see, and you get conversions from them, you’re getting engagement from them. So that helps a lot. That’s a huge boost for any marketer. I mean, right now, AI can do everything from crafting engaging subject lines for you when it’s based on what kind of keywords have performed better for you in the past, you know, they can personalize content for each individual.
Tejas Pitkar (40:38):
Now you must know that there are separate personalization platforms that have come in, which may be some ESPs have also acquired in order to personalize recommendations to customers, not just on email, but on saying your apps, your website knows all of these things have also come in, but AI is playing hard targeting users with high impact content. So, my question to you, Chris, is where do you see this whole AI in email marketing going to increase next year, where do you see the vendor landscape that are customers evaluating ESPs based on the AI features? Is it a big plus to have right now?
Chris Marriott (41:20):
You know, I think there’s a lot of disillusionment among brands. They’ve been hearing about AI for years and the impact that AI has made up to this point, I think, is extremely limited. And much of the focus has been on your point you know, subject line testing as a primary function of it. I have seen, however, in RFPs we’ve run where AI is becoming much more sophisticated, particularly in the retail eCommerce and retail space where there’s identifying both buying behaviors and propensity to buy the next best item to offer. I think 2022 is gonna be the year where AI finally begins to make its mark and be less of an aspiration and to your point, more of something that marketers embrace. Now it’s not easy because again if you’re gonna be doing these propensity models and, churn models and those types of things, that AI is gonna have to have a lot of information coming you know, there’s a lot of data points that are gonna need to feed the beast.
Chris Marriott (42:30):
It’s not as simple as giving it 10 subject lines to test. So from a standpoint of, you know, this is something that I see particularly brands that are moving from one vendor to another, in that migration process, I see the lever, you know, I predict that the AI will become much you know, if you’ve been with a brand five years and, and it’s entrenched in terms of what’s happening, the possibility that you’ll make all the connections necessary to start leveraging AI. I think it’s kind of limited you get kind of in a routine, but again, I think for brands, think for brands looking at new ESPs, this is gonna become much more part of the evaluation process. And I think for brands that have undergone or are undergoing a migration, setting it up for success with AI in these areas is gonna become a primary objective. So again, yeah, I think 2022 is a year we’ll finally see AI begin to be less of an aspiration or disappointment and become something that is, you know, a powerful new tool for email marketers.
Tejas Pitkar (43:40):
Definitely. And that’s our AI system, Raman, on the screen there in the middle you know, who helps us to structure the data according to propensity models and different buying behaviors and can actually create you know, now AI tools can actually create these predictive segments based on, you know the past interaction could be past buying behaviors you know, a past, even web browsing behaviors, these are the right set of customers that can get this content right
Chris Marriott (44:11):
Now. That’s what I really like about Tejas. That’s one of the areas I think, where I’ve seen AI having real potential is again, creating instead of the, instead of the individual sitting there and creating segments, having the AI create segments. I think there’s a huge, I’m glad you mentioned that. Cause I didn’t, and I should have, but I think that that is a huge opportunity for AI to really, really begin to impact the performance of email campaigns.
Tejas Pitkar (44:43):
Definitely. I mean, if you look at it right now, if you don’t have an AI feature and you’re trying to create a segment for email marketers, it’s going to be about, okay, who has been opening or clicking our emails in the past 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, but what about their propensity to buy something from you? The products that you’re gonna pitch in your email campaign, do you know about them? And can you automate it for millions of customers? I think that’s gonna reduce a lot of workload for marketers because right now on our platform, when I tried to create a newsletter and I wish to know what are the right segments to fit, I already have them, you know, within my fingertips. And I know that these are the right segments and they always provide us with the right engagement and really high click rates.
Tejas Pitkar (45:28):
So I think these are the kind of automated tasks that AI can take away from marketers so that marketers can focus on the big picture stuff, more analytical tasks that they have, and you know, forget about the day to day you know, tasks or even campaigns. And that’s what AI can make really easy for them. So definitely that’s one. Now taking some questions on the side there’s one that we probably touched on during our conversation, but I just wanna bring it up again, is that, should my EESP help me in accessing zero party data, should they be consulting me in getting more access to zero party data from the customers? What do you think?
Chris Marriott (46:14):
You know, it really depends upon the ESP you have, there are certain ESP that consider themselves technology platforms and technology companies, and you’re not gonna get any kinda help from them. There are others that, that consider themselves, you know, services and platforms. And if you’ve got one of those as an ESP, there are probably people there who are thinking about that already, and whether you have yet engaged with them or not they’re there. And I would imagine ready to engage. I know Netcore is people that can, that can do that. So really, it’s a question of who you’re with now. And if you’re thinking about switching, you know, that’s a legitimate thing. You know, people don’t think about those types of services until they need ’em and, and you need to think about those types of things because that’s a strategic engagement you know, its a device in terms of coming from your ESP for your program, and you can’t expect that from a vendor that you didn’t choose for anything other than a technology platform.
Tejas Pitkar (47:14):
Absolutely. Yeah. There’s another question here where it could be a bit unrelated to the trends part, but it’s definitely affecting the trends for the next year, will apple MVP be a huge challenge for marketers to measure the email programs correct in 2022
Chris Marriott (47:36):
I don’t know. What do you think?
Tejas Pitkar (47:39):
I think that there has been an overreliance on the open page anyway till now, and I think marketers have already pivoted to other performance metrics in September since the IOS15 has launched. So I think they will be able to measure the programs more accurately if they depend on another matrix because of apple MVP. So I think in a way Apple MVP was a good thing that happened rather than something like they were saying that the sky is falling or, you know, email is gonna be dead very soon. Yeah.
Chris Marriott (48:14):
Well, what cracks me up and it’s not typical of our industry is, for years people like you and I were saying open rates are a very bad metric to judge a healthier program. Don’t do open rates, do something else, do conversions, do, do revenue per email, do any other thing you know, don’t ignore them suddenly they go away and the same people, not you and I are saying, oh, the sky’s falling. I can’t believe it’s open. We don’t know open rates anymore. You know, I do, you know, am I happy? They’re gone. They’ve gone away. No, I think it stinks. I think it was a metric. It was a vanity metric, but it was a metric and it shouldn’t have been the primary metric, but I do think it stinks. And, you know, I think that Apple did it not to protect consumer privacy. What do they care if you know they opened an email, it’s just, you know, their, their motivations were not concerned for their customer, that’s just their marketing program at work. So, you know, again, I think it’s not gonna kill email. It’s gonna make things a little harder to measure how, you know, how do you know if somebody’s engaged or not because we all talk about engagement and unengaged and inactive customers and that makes that harder, but we’ll figure it out. We always do. Yeah.
Tejas Pitkar (49:40):
Yeah. I think the email industry is definitely, you know, up to the task in evolving.
Chris Marriott (49:47):
Ah, it’s the most innovative platform
Chris Marriott (49:49):
There is no part of the MarTech, a landscape that’s more innovative than email marketing, but not even close and I defy anyone to tell me otherwise
Tejas Pitkar (50:00):
Yeah right. Alright. So that’s a wrap from us in terms of email trends looking at the questions we’re getting those questions now. There’s another one. What are some other email trends besides these that you are observed taking shape for 2022? Can you name one or two trends that you think could happen in the next year?
Chris Marriott (50:25)
The one trend that I had that I talked about in my sort of four vendor landscape trends is what I sense is potentially a change in the guard. And by that, I mean brand marketers and email marketers are much more likely to look at NextGen platforms and Tejas, you referred to them earlier, are much more likely to consider NextGen platforms over what I would call legacy platforms than they have been up until recent years. And this is something that we’ve seen happen before a sort of a change into the guard. It happened back around 2007, 2008. And I sense that happening again now. And, it’s not so much you know, we’re not gonna look at legacy. We’re only gonna look at NextGen or we’re not gonna look at NextGen.
Chris Marriott (51:13):
We’re only gonna look at legacy, but brands making much smarter decisions about, I wanna look at, you know, I’m gonna look at some legacy platforms, but I also wanna look at some NextGen and I wanna compare ’em head to head in my RFP. So again, that’s a trend I see will continue into 2022 and beyond. And we’re also gonna begin to see sort of which, which of the next gems are gonna emerge as the next, you know, big ESPs that one day will be legacy ESPs because they’ve been around for so long because the market can’t support forever the number of new contenders that are and I think it’s wonderful that there are so many ESPs available to choose from today. Versus 10 years ago. I mean, it strikes me how many viable options, if you are an enterprise or Midmark could email or the number of ESPs that could theoretically handle your business has doubled probably in the last 10 years. And I think that’s a great development and that’s part of the reason why it’s the most innovative you know, a part of the MarTech stack. Yeah, so that is another trend that I had that started in 2022.
Tejas Pitkar (52:27):
You still think that pricing is an issue where a marketer is trying to select or a marketing manager or a CMO is trying to evaluate an ESP today because I think that was one of the questions that were raised before you know, on the, OI block thread as well that, you know, pricing was probably the first thing that they had in mind rather than, you know, whether they’re NextGen or their legacy
Chris Marriott (52:50):
The Price is so low. Yeah. Pricing is after, you know, several years of unbelievable price drops around 2012 to 2016. It can’t go much lower. So no pricing is in the work we do with brands in vendor selection pricing is rarely a major factor in the decision. Now that could change, that could change because you know, somebody coming in with, I mean there is still price, you know, that could give, but at this point pricing is, is not a major, everybody’s sort of in the same place.
Tejas Pitkar (53:36):
Okay. Okay. Good to know that. Another question I had about loyalty programs with you when I read your blog there were two types of relationships that you described. One was, you know, all loyalty could be whether you have to stay in a relationship with that brand. Or the second one was you want to stay in a relationship with that brand. So, you know, the question is how can email marketers listening to this conversation right now create a, want to stay relationship through the email programs with their customers
Chris Marriott (54:07):
Good question. And it’s easier for some brands than others. They want to stay in again, they have to stay in is you can easily be flipped. I have to stay in my grocery store loyalty program in order to get the sale items that they have every week. Well, if another grocery store offers a loyalty program that offers even steeper discounts, bang, I’m gone. And so that’s the have to stay in. I have to stay in it to get the discounts, but again, it’s, I’m highly susceptible to a better offer, want to stay in is where there are components of that relationship and again, an airline is a very easy one to use as an example. And I belong to the airlines’ program. I belong to the miles, I can get anywhere and I like the miles and, and that was the foundation of these programs, but it’s levels of service, loyalty programs, and certain categories can give you where I can board early. I don’t have to pay to check a bag. I get a better seat selection. I get all of these things that
Tejas Pitkar (55:12)
Maybe get to try the first class.
Chris Marriott (55:13):
Yeah, exactly. But maybe you guys at Netcore, but it’s you know, again I wanna stay in because I like being treated like I matter, and it’s the element. So I guess that’s really what, what if you can make your customers feel like they matter in whatever category you are in that they matter. And because they matter, you’re gonna make their experience, which is such an overused phrase here, make their experience better. But if you can, you know, my experience is a billion times better on the airline than I’m a loyalty program member of than any other airline and not even close I’m a nobody, kick to the back of the plane on every other airline. So, I mean, there was a huge difference in customer experience between my preferred airline and every other airline on the planet. Now if I had Tejas money and I could be flying first class on Emirates then it would matter, but I’m just, I’m just a simple suburban boy Tejas. And so, you know, I gotta do with coach <laugh>,
Tejas Pitkar (56:24):
I’ve never flown first class, by the way.
Chris Marriott (56:28):
One day, both of us on Emirates, one day, maybe we’ll get to spring for those tickets. <Laugh>
Tejas Pitkar (56:42):
Definitely just one more question regarding interactivity and emails. I mean I’m hearing so much about, oh, interactivity is gonna be the next big thing in 2022 now because of apple MVP. You need to get your customers to reply to your emails. You need to, you know, get some kind of feedback in every one of your emails. What are some you know, or maybe one campaign that you have seen where you actually interacted with that email and you were happy to do so? And what did they do that was a bit different than the other brand emails that you get?
Chris Marriott (57:19):
Nothing. I mean, how hard is it to click on an email and go and click through an email? I’ve never felt AMP was gonna go anywhere. I don’t think it’s gonna go anywhere. I can’t even think of an example where I got an email that was AMP and where I go whoa, and could do something in the email. So at a minimum Gartner has, what they call their hype cycle. And at a minimum, I think amp for email is in what Gartner calls a trough of disillusionment. And I’m not sure it’s ever gonna get out of it. Again, my opinion only, I know other people would feel very differently, but that’s my feeling on it.
Tejas Pitkar (57:56):
But if you are not using AMP, you take away AMP from it. Can you still make your emails interactive? What are some of the ways that you can do it in order to get customers?
Chris Marriott (58:07):
I can click on my email. It’s already interactive. I can click, I can embed video in it if I want, I know everybody says, oh, you can’t embed videos. Isps won’t accept it again? This need to make emails interactive to me is completely unnecessary again. They’re already interactive, because I can click on them and go somewhere. That’s the definition of interactivity. I don’t have to do it within the email, to be interactive.
Tejas Pitkar (58:34):
Definitely. Okay. Well just before we go there’s a short plugin from our end where you know, we have a whole range of events, webinars, and podcasts under the umbrella term of “For the Love of Emails”, it’s really become a huge hashtag now and it’s trending. So here’s a plugin before I leave, our podcast recently won the best email marketing podcast of 2021 by Webbula, the data enrichment company. And it was chosen by a public vote involving thousands of email professionals and podcast listeners. So clearly our podcast is the most loved one right now. I remember there’s an episode where Chris is himself a guest expert and he talks about the steps to choose the right ESP if I’m not wrong. And that’s a really great episode as well. So we always have some amazing email experts on our show.
Tejas Pitkar (59:33):
And the host is of course a deliverability expert, Matthew Vernhout, a very well known figure in the email industry. So you can tune into our podcast on netcorecloud.com/resources/podcast, or you can search for it on an apple as well as Spotify. So go ahead, sign up for the podcast and you’ll receive some amazing insight from experts just like Chris. Well, that’s a wrap from our end. So the audience here, thanks a lot, everyone for patiently listening to us this early morning or the night, wherever you are in the globe right now. Thanks a lot for your thoughts on email trends, 2022, Chris, it was a pleasure having you here. I hope this conversation enables the listeners to have a good look at the email programs and the changes that are coming up so that they can plan better for the next year. Thanks to everyone for joining us.
Tejas Pitkar (60:30):
Good Morning. Good Night and thanks Tejas.
Tejas Pitkar (60:34):
Yeah. Thank you. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. See you, everyone
Chris Marriott (60:38):
True. Happy holidays. That’s right.
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