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EP #22 Digital marketing and strategy and how email fits into that mix.

About this Podcast

How significant is email marketing in the age of social media? In today’s episode of the #ForTheLoveOfEmails podcast, we welcome Taina Suomela, Principal Consultant and Founder of Leslieville Digital, with our host Matthew Vernhout to speak about the importance of email marketing in this ever-changing digital age.

Taina has spent the better part of the last two decades working for digital agencies before taking the plunge and starting her very own consulting firm last fall. Small and medium-sized companies, as well as nonprofits, benefit from her company’s digital marketing expertise. Understanding the best approach for your company at the right time is the secret to a successful digital strategy, and that’s what we’ll go over in today’s podcast. Taina talks about how – ‘The details lie in the data’.  She sheds light on how she educates her small/medium business clients by creating a foundation after analyzing the fundamentals of content strategy, brand strategy, email best practices, deliverability castle compliance.

Quick snapshot
In this podcast, they discussed
What does it mean to have an engagement if someone comes in and says, "I got this email program and it's failing?”
Roadmap to helping businesses build strategies around email marketing.
Things to consider if you are running on a budget or you are a small business.
Understanding the gap between leveraging email and over-investing in other digital strategies.
How to turn organic traffic into a good email program.
Advice to businesses that are looking at trying to do in-house strategy.
What a year's worth of lockdown has done to businesses and how it has impacted strategy and innovation?
Types of misconceptions and myths when dealing with marketing in a business forum.
What are the core tactics that you should focus on in your email strategy?
Episode Transcripts

Intro/Outro:  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, personalization optimization, email deliverability, and email campaigns.

[00:00:25] No fluff tune in to hear best practices and tactical solutions from the best thought leaders and practitioners master your email communication now.

Matthew Vernhout (00:43): Hello and welcome to another edition for the love of email podcast as always. I’m your host, Matthew Vernhout, vice president, deliverability, Netcore solutions for North America. Today’s episode is brought to you by grademyemail.co Netcore’s newest community-based site offering free tools and advice on configuring your email authentication, including configurations for BIMI, monitoring block list, and validation of your overall email configuration. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Taina Suomela. She’s the principal consultant and founder of Leslieville digital. Taina has spent the better part of the last two decades in the digital agency side and last fall decided to start her own consulting business. The business helps bring digital marketing experience to small and medium-sized businesses and nonprofits. Today, We’re going to take a conversation around digital strategy and marketing and how email fits into that mix. Taina, welcome to the show.

Taina Suomela (01:37): Thanks for having me.

Matthew Vernhout (01:39): So, let’s start. I always like to start this way. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us a little bit about what Leslieville digital does and how you help your clients

Taina Suomela (01:47): For sure. Yeah, I’ve been in the agency business for the better part of the last two decades, starting in the media space and shifting into the email in the last four or five years. And my business now has grown pretty organically and it came out of a need where I came across, smaller, medium businesses that have a need, a strong need for digital marketing support but are locked out of large agency opportunities just due to cost and, and sort of the size of their business. But it’s, they need help in connecting their ecosystem, they need help in making decisions, understanding what they should invest in. And, and it’s really difficult for them to figure out where to start and the learning curve for marketing in general, but digital specifically is pretty steep. It’s a pretty crowded business.

Taina Suomela (02:33): So my sweet spot tends to be those companies that have successful businesses. So, they do what they do very, very well. They’re passionate about what they do. But their businesses are growing. They’re evolving some, during the pandemic have had to pivot into a different kind of business model that necessitates more importance on their website and their digital presence and how they use the internet to market their businesses. So they need to very quickly learn and understand and grow how they, how their footprint on the internet. So that’s where I like to play. And I have fun sitting in a room with them, figuring out how to solve their digital problems.

Matthew Vernhout (03:12): Right now, virtually in a virtual room?

Taina Suomela (03:13): In a virtual room as it, as the case may be. Yes, it is a room.

Matthew Vernhout (03:17): Yeah, definitely. It’s the idea of taking your experience, working with big brands over the last two decades, and applying that logic to sort of help jumpstart those small-medium businesses that really need that expertise because they either can’t afford it in-house with somebody or they can’t afford to go and hire one of the big-time agencies to do it on their behalf.

Taina Suomela (03:39): Yeah. So it’s a lot of fun. I mean, I think I could have been able to work with some great clients so far. I mean, and I’m only a handful of months into this right now, but, it’s been fun. One being able to kind of pick and choose the clients that I want and, and people that are, that, are passionate about their business are excited, have lots of opportunity or nice people to work with people that I want to talk to every day and, really get sort of absorbed into their team to help figure it out, both in developing strategy and then in helping them, level up their skills and training and how to understand, how things need to be connected, how data needs to be dealt with, which initiatives you should invest in, what should you do first? How do you build a roadmap around that? And, and that’s been a lot of fun.

Matthew Vernhout (04:33): So walk me through that, what’s an engagement, if you will look like when someone comes in and says, I got this email program and maybe it’s struggling, right now. What types of things do you start with? And then how do you sort of layout that roadmap for them? , I think this is that piece that a lot of people struggle with, is I have a program, but I just can’t figure out why it’s slugging along or I can’t figure out why or what the next level is. Either cause I don’t have time to do it or I just don’t know what to do.

Taina Suomela (05:02): Yeah. I mean, the task is usually pretty much the same. It’s either, I need more leads. I need more sales things. I try don’t work. Some variation of that ask is usually the starting point and the challenge for them is they know they’ve tried things they’ve invested in tools or software or, something that somebody sold them and they and it didn’t work or it didn’t work as well as they expected, or that’s usually kind of where they ask starts and it starts in a conversation around how to start tying those pieces together, understanding their business, understanding their goals what is it they need to have their business grow and succeed, and then working back from there. I always start with an audit, some, some variation of as a resident under the hood, let me, let me in, let me look at your website, your analytics, your email programs, or social channels, let me into all that stuff.

Taina Suomela (05:54): And do some digging around and see what the current state is. And usually, the answers come from there. And I use that to build a roadmap to say, okay, well, here’s in each of these channels, are the things that I see that are, that, need fixing or updating or we need more strategy around as well as the wins. This is working for you, this is driving, the kind of response that you need or the right kind of audience, and then take all that and roadmap before them and say, well, there’s an order of operations to things you know, you can’t build a massive email strategy if you don’t have the data. So figure out a way to get the data if you can’t get the data.

Taina Suomela (06:33): If your website doesn’t work very well, or if you haven’t built the forms, the information into your website. So there are things that need to happen to enable broader strategies, but, and that’s where I find clients need the most help. , where do I start? What do I do first? And so we can roadmap that out for them. And that might be a six-month or a six-year roadmap. It depends on their resources and their budgets. And, and quite frankly, I’m not fussed either way. We can go fast or we can go slow based on whatever suits their business and what they can afford, but the importance of having that roadmap to say, okay, this is where we’re headed. I’m not sure how long it’ll take us, but we’re going this way, and then make sure that the limited resources and dollars that you have to invest are all focused on that same goal.

Taina Suomela (07:14): So you can create a lot more efficiency when, when everyone’s sort of swims in the same direction, and you’re not wasting a lot of time and energy on things that don’t fit into that roadmap or fit into achieving your goal. And that’s usually where I spend most of my time helping them figure those things out. And then when those decisions are made then doing that kind of teaches Amanda fish. Okay. We’ve decided that it’s important for you, your data, your compliance, you pass compliance in line. We need to audit and figure out what you don’t know about the data collected, and then make sure that we set a program going forward where you’re collecting the information that you need and managing your permission levels and things like that. So there are usually different areas that show up as a sort of on fire and let’s start here cause the most bang for your buck and then growing from there. But that, those are the kinds of things I’m finding that small business owners struggle with because everything sounds like a good idea, but where do you begin?

Matthew Vernhout (08:13): Yeah, I think that I don’t think that’s unique to small businesses either in reality, having been in this space a long time myself. Right. Many people that I know that have worked in strategy, talk about how you only use 50% of the service that you purchased. And it’s because you either don’t understand that second for 2% or you’re over a purchase. You didn’t need it, to begin with, because it’s outside of the needs of your organization. Right now I think that’s very telling in regards to a lot of people will buy into an email service that is way more horse-power than they need at that time. , they grow into it, if you will. Is that something that you see? I sort of across the board when looking at digital strategy, right? Like they’re, they’re not invested enough in ad space, so they’re over-invested in ads and wasting money. I’m just saying what sort of email and how do you course correct some of that.

Taina Suomela (09:11): Yeah. Let’s talk about sort of that order of operations in, in where to invest. Yeah. See that all the time there, they’re investing in paid search, they’re investing in other media they’re buying print ads and something, they’re doing a whole bunch of different things, but at the end of the day their website isn’t working properly or they’re not leveraging email, email is just pushing out offers and doing nothing else, or they’re not managing engagement, their audience, and their response. So there’s almost always some sort of budget shifts. They recommend that you stop doing this right now and focus on this other foundational element that’s important. And usually, I mean, the two consistent things are some website work and getting a better SEO strategy, and figuring out a way to leverage the organic traffic coming through.

Taina Suomela (10:00): And then how do you leverage that traffic into an excellent strong email program as sort of the two kinds of key pillars, and then everything flows from there. Everything becomes a tactical execution of that and your social goes out in the universe as part of that content strategy that drives people in such that they subscribe and you continue to communicate. But without those foundational pieces and you don’t have an email tool that you’re using effectively that fits your needs. So again, if you’ve got the Cadillac, but you just need the small rental car, you don’t need to necessarily go that far. You may maybe take some dollars out of their investment in strategy, invest in other ways. And then grow your way up to that. And, you know, there’s lots of a big fan of free and cheap email tools.

Taina Suomela (10:43): There are lots of them, they’re a great place to start because usually, the biggest heaviest lift is in strategy. How do I, you know, who is my audience? How am I, how am I choosing to speak to them? How am I engaging them? What are they responding to? Most of the free or low-cost email programs will give you that level of data. Once you’ve had that basic level. And then you start thinking about journeys and thinking about triggers and some of these more medium to advanced level functions in an email then the technology can be a barrier. And then you need to think about what you can’t do, but if you don’t know what you want to do, if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t have a good strategy. You’re not going to have any idea what email tool or what technology is necessary to enable that. So I always start with, with a strategic conversation first, what’s the lay of the land where are you today? What’s working. What’s not, what’s the strategy, and then start putting the pieces together.

Matthew Vernhout (11:37): So what type of advice would you give somebody when they’re looking at trying to do an in-house strategy? I mean, all of these things make sense, regardless of business size, right? You tend to work with sort of the SMB space, but, designing a digital strategy, right. It’s maybe slightly simpler, but still has a lot of the same pieces, right? You’re talking SEO, you’re talking email outreach, you’re talking triggered messaging journey, all of those types of things for email, as you go, you may be getting into that social conversation. Are you on Twitter? Are you on Instagram? Where do your clients live? , when you’re starting those conversations, is it just a matter of, do you have everything documented, know where everything lives? Like is that, that initial conversation or where do you start with that?

Taina Suomela (12:29): Well, I mean, I start like I said, from an audit, I look at both, I look at everything that exists. So I look at, I look at the data. Sometimes they know what’s happening, sometimes they don’t, and I’m the one going in and saying, well, here’s what, here’s, what is happening. I’ve looked at your data. I look at that documentation, starting from, brand strategy. And have you thought that through and do who you are? Do who you’re talking to? , have you thought that through, how does that flow into a content strategy? Do you have a content strategy or are you just headed out there talking about yourself as opposed to understanding how to engage your audience and solve their problems and their needs? And then the tactical executions and the structure of the infrastructure, have you put the pieces in place to enable what you want to do?

Taina Suomela (13:12): So, usually, it’s when I start, and I can work in different ways. Sometimes I just do seminars. Like I come in and be like here’s simple, let me, let’s spend two hours together and I will give you, sort of that DIY brand and content marketing framework for you to work through and think through and make sure that everyone kind of understands how the elements of the pieces and sometimes that’s enough and that where that’s all they can afford, but that’s enough to kind of get them thinking about how to build that. And in other cases, it’s more of a call to me when you need a relationship, where, where, when they have questions and want opinions on things, I’ll reach out. And for some of my clients, I sort of; there, I am, fractional CMO where I have a certain amount of time that they can afford a, my time and, and, and we figure out what the priorities are, and I worked through that, and I help with their team not only, executing on work, but also helping them learn and understand and coach and mentor and make sure that they, learn more as they go. And those are the things that are hard to find when you’re a small business because you need 25 different experts or the things that a large agency has access to all these, these specialist scenarios. And I’m certainly more of a generalist than I am a specialist. I know a little bit about a lot of things and then I try to be nice to the people like yourself that know more about those things than I do. So I can make those vocals and ask questions and pull partners. And when I need to, and that’s kind of how, how I’ve been building the business going forward, because I don’t pretend to know everything about every digital tactic, but I’m pretty good at seeing the connections on a sort of a broader strategic level and seeing where, where there’s disconnects or problems where you may have you trying to execute one area, but if you haven’t thought through downstream enough of that, you’re going to have problems, in the end, making decisions and measurements. In other ways, if you haven’t structured the campaigns in the right way. So that’s usually where I said that kind of helping business owners make decisions. I may not be the expert in any one given channel or area. But if I don’t know the answer, I usually know who to call to get it.

Matthew Vernhout (15:16): Is that always useful? I think that’s a key thing for a lot of people too, is to build that network of reliable connections regardless of business size. And I certainly have a similar connection where I reach out to people and ask random questions about things like SEO and that I had very little influence personally. But I know that there are people out there that know more. It’s not been my focus if you will. I’m going to shift gears just a little bit here with my next question. I know it’s where coming up on sort of a year’s worth of lockdown or somewhere virtual lockdown of businesses closed or limited shopping capabilities you know, how has that had an impact on sort of the customers that you’re dealing with and how they’ve changed to innovate and manage in that period?

Taina Suomela (16:08): Yeah, well, it’s been interesting. I mean, certainly, for businesses that are in travel or hospitality, I mean, it’s been pretty devastating. But even for other businesses that, I worked with a lot of clients that are or sort of a B2B services type of business, and, they’re still their business hasn’t been doing well, but they’ve been forced to pivot. So their businesses, in most cases rely on some level of face-to-face interaction with clients and their audience, and their customers. And, and for them to deliver, what it is that they sell. They’ve had to pivot their whole business. So, I think the first part of the pandemic was, the most business we’re pretty invested in going, okay, well, how do we, how do we stay afloat?

Taina Suomela (16:47): How do we continue to create continuity and continue to create value for our customers in an entirely different way? And then we know once they kind of crossed that innovation hurdle now we’ve functioned differently as a business. And then it’s the realization that what, there’s a ton of opportunity here. So as businesses started to open up again, things started to sort of move again, and there was this realization that they suddenly could access other markets. They weren’t bound by geography. They could do different things they did before to compliment their services, which is a really exciting time for a business, but it also then creates that challenge of, okay, now, how owe, how do we evolve? How do we create a bigger digital presence?

Taina Suomela (17:33): Because we’re no longer going into boardrooms and buildings and having conversations, we’re now doing this virtually. We have to look at lead generation a different way, more so through our website, we have to continue to engage our customers, through email and other, other communication channels when, when, they’re face-to-face. And although they had done some of that before, the importance of that has accelerated. And I think that’s really where, somewhat organically, again, I didn’t necessarily set up one day and be like, oh, I’m going to be a small business consultant. But I woke up in the morning and I had an epiphany. it was more organic in that, having conversations with people getting introductions. And he was like, yeah, I really could use help with, X or Y and realizing that they’re not alone.

Taina Suomela (18:17): And there’s a lot of businesses that I’ve talked to that are in a similar boat. Conversely, the marketing space has the people working in it and in many ways have been devastated. Certainly, if you’re a marketer in travel or hospitality, I mean, there there’s enormous amounts of incredibly smart, capable marketers that are unemployed or underemployed and you add that to the number of new parents that have been struggling. I mean, I talked to a lot of other moms who have kids at home that are infants crawling all over them and trying to do their job, which is virtually impossible. And some businesses have been better at accommodating and others haven’t and, it’s creating this, this interesting kind of intersection where there are lots of folks like me who have decided to step out of the standard nine to five type of world that have expertise and time and interest and want to help small businesses and their small business that needs. So, I think there’s an interesting kind of surge of this type of marketing support happening that I’m not sure, I mean, it’s always been there, but I feel like there’s a bit of a shift in that, in the industry where there’s more opportunity for people on sort of the independent consultant type of level and more need from small-medium businesses as well.

Matthew Vernhout (19:41): Great. And I think like you were saying with this change from moving into that physical meetings best to the digital meeting space companies who were traditionally, maybe not a digital-based company, that’s where I think they need help even more. They’re trying to build websites, they’re trying to build e-commerce stores. They’re trying to deal with credit card fraud on their sites. They’re trying to deal with shipping. And then just straight-up communication on top of all of this change and potentially dealing with reduced budgets, right? Those, those become without a strategy. I think you’re right. If you kind of walk in the dark kicking things until you find your way, whereas working with someone who’s a strategist can at least, maybe turn the light on at the end of the room so they can see which way they’re supposed to be headed, whether they pick the short path or the long path to get there. It gives them some direction which they maybe wouldn’t have come to on their own easily.

Taina Suomela (20:49): Yeah. And again, it’s not something you learn overnight. I mean, it’s, you can certainly go and Google answers to everything and that’s all of it is available in the universe. But at the time you don’t always have time to go teach yourself how to effectively market in every digital channel and, and, it’s a hard hurdle to jump over quickly but over time, even at, I mean, anybody can learn it. And if you’ve got a good guy to kind of help you through the conversation and people you trust that are, that are focused on you and your business and agnostic to any solution that’s out there that there’s no ulterior motive to recommend one versus another that’s where I think they can get the most value just by finding somebody you trust, somebody knows that you trust. That’ll give you an honest answer either. Yes, I know. Or no, I don’t, I’ll find you an answer either way and, and help you accelerate that evolution that is necessary for them to continue.

Matthew Vernhout (21:49): Right. And I think from what I’ve experienced with business owners, especially in the SMB space, is they do try to wear many hats all at once and do you sort of become that generalist or find the shortcut that still works? what other types of misconceptions or common myths, if you will, when dealing with marketing and these types of clients, or act business activities what do you stumble across, and the sort of solutions you have or ideas you have to help people address those?

Taina Suomela (22:28): Yeah. I think, one of them, I think the common mistakes is everyone goes into the tactics first. So they’re like how should I, which ad should I buy? What should my email template look like? Like very much in the execution end of that and usually the biggest gaps are higher upstream. So do they have a strong brand strategy? Do they understand their audiences? In most cases, I’ve found that they do have an incredibly strong understanding of the audience. It’s part of the reason they’ve been successful in their business. They’ve just never written it down. So they’ve never actually gone through the exercise of thinking through in the shoes of their customer and what they’re thinking at the different stages of the buying journey and how you think through that and how you use that to create and what I call content with a purpose.

Taina Suomela (23:13): So they’re out there often producing great thought leadership and content and information. But it still tends to be, what they’re thinking about that day, as opposed to thinking about the audience, the problem that the audience has at a certain stage in the buying journey, and then delivering them information at the right time, such that they kind of continue down the buying journey. So it’s like I said, there’s nothing earth-shattering about what I’m doing for any marketer would be like, yeah, that’s content strategy, like you’re right. But, for small business owners or people who haven’t had a lot of time and expertise in marketing, that framework is really important. So as I said, in some cases, they need somebody to walk them through in a series of sessions and, and it’s sort of that typical agency model where they’re like, okay, I want somebody to walk my team through this.

Taina Suomela (24:01): Or at the end of the day, we haven’t helped. But, and in some cases they can’t afford that. And so it’s like, okay, well, here’s the framework. Let me, let me give you the information. Let’s have a couple of conversations along the path, but they do the bulk of the legwork themselves and that’s okay. I mean, that’s how they, that’s what they can afford to do. But I think that pivoting of the mindset and the framework is really important where you start, stop thinking about your website or your channels as a way to communicate things about you. And they’re there actually for offering information to your audience that solves our problems. And that mindset is just a tough one because it’s often not the way that people innately go out and talk about their business, right? But it’s an important shift because once you pivot to that, then you start seeing those returns, and although the free eyeballs and you start getting increased engagement on your email and these things that they’re looking for and that’s usually the biggest shift in mindset. And then the other one is on the technical side. So it’s understanding how to track and measure. And to do that, you need to connect your systems. You need to have good analytics, you need to understand what metrics you’re looking for. You have to tag things. When you go out into university, you can measure them when they come back and build that measurement infrastructure, and have access to dashboards and things. So there’s a lot of great free tools like Google that Google analytics is free.

Taina Suomela (25:23): It’s there for everyone. There are lots of things out there that you don’t have to pay for in the technology. But you have to know how to use it. And you have to know what you’re looking for. So that, that gap in expertise is usually where they’re out there they go in and they’re like, why do I see all this, but how can we know what I should be looking at? Or I don’t know how to get out the information I need to make a decision. So those are usually probably the most impactful areas where I apply. And then various tactical things go in the next.

Matthew Vernhout (25:48): Yeah, I think that’s pretty common. I talked to a lot of marketers too, and they understand email quite well, but they maybe don’t understand deliverability. They may not understand anything on occasion. They may not understand some of the finer tactics to that but if you want to hear about their SEO strategy, they’ll talk to you after three hours, I think there is expertise and misunderstandings. one that I also face quite a bit around is that, Oh, by doing SPF, I get better deliverability by day D Kim, it gets even better by doing D Mark yet again gets better. Right. None of those things individually improve deliverability. What they do is they actually, like you said, get your technology in line, which then forces you to be a better marketer.

Taina Suomela (26:35): Yeah. And eliminates a barrier. I mean, it’s not necessarily going to make your program better, but make sure that it’s not a hindrance and make sure you take away things that could be standing in your way. So yeah, there’s never any one thing there’s always, and that’s why when I go to the audit, I look at it all. I mean, they may come in with an ask, around a social strategy. I’m like, yeah, I want to look at all of it because that’s just the tactical execution. Do you have a content strategy or is everything else working well? And is this the dose or the last piece that you need down? And usually, those conversations go back and say, okay, well, no, they don’t have a strong branch brand strategy, or they haven’t thought through a content strategy.

Taina Suomela (27:11): And it’s that shiny thing that they think that they need. And, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be on social, but how they frame and how they think about that strategy needs to change. And there’s probably some work they need to do, upfront gets to a place where that, that strategy is effective for them. And, and that’s the place where you, like, you need to make those connections. You need to help them see yes, At the end of the day, I understand this is your business goal. And so what you’re trying to achieve, but, to be, have this, get you the results that you want here are the other things that impact that.

Matthew Vernhout (27:43): So you’re saying that I don’t need to be on tik tok, but I do go on email. Is that what you’re saying?

Taina Suomela (27:52): The answer generally speaking has always been on an email. I’ve yet to come to a situation where it was like, forget it, you don’t need email. But yeah, no, and then also, I don’t work with a lot of clients that target young youth so yeah, there’s a place for tik tok, but I mean, if you’re marketing to a B2B audience, that’s in their forties, maybe tik tok would not be my first choice, but I think it all comes down to that strategy. Right? So I’ve been in lots of conversations with, where, we’re talking about content and someone’s like, well, I feel like this feels like it should be Instagram, what do you mean? It feels like Instagram, who’s it for? Who are you talking to? Let’s see what the audience says. Like, that may be the right answer, but, it’s shifting a bit away from that gut feel and going on data, like what, what, that all the data exists to not only understand how to target and where, where are your audiences once who they are, and then to measure it through and see if it works. So, I’ve used this example for years. I’m a very practical marketer in many ways and there’s a reason I don’t work in the creative space, which is a little bit more abstract. And I’m like, eh, whatever red or blue, I don’t care. Let’s test it and see which one works. Like, to me, it’s all in the data and I’ve seen so many campaigns where the ugliest ad wins where you’re like, this will never work. And it does. Um, I, long ago, put aside my judgment on my opinion and rely on data and testing and see what works. See what moves the needle. Um, but more often than not, it surprises you,

Matthew Vernhout (29:34): I would agree with ABT – Always be testing that I’m in the same group as you. I think, there’s a lot of great ideas that exist when it comes to doing things, but every best practice I suppose was made to be broken at some point and constantly needed to be re-evaluated when it comes to your marketing strategy. So working with small businesses, do you find that they tend to be up-to-date on things, or are you doing a lot of, like, education and sort of fundamentals as part of your discovery/audit/strategy?

Taina Suomela (30:21): A lot of fundamentals. I mean, I think, they’re not in a place where they understand the nuances of Salesforce marketing cloud and they’re not that type of market or maybe one day, but not today. Again, it’s more around the fundamentals of content strategy, brand strategy, email best practices, deliverability castle compliance. I mean, these are all things that I would put in that foundational bucket where you need to understand these things to start building on that. So that education component is a big part of the work that I do with virtually everybody. Very rarely do I come across somebody that like yeah, I get all the fundamentals of email. I just need to build a better strategy. It’s usually, well let’s talk about what email’s for and we’ll talk about how that fits in. Let’s talk about what, what you don’t know, and then start building a strategy from there and I work with some incredibly smart, capable business owners. It’s just, they’re not in the business of marketing, they’re in the business of what they do, and they’re experts in that. And they’re passionate about that. So there, they’re fun to work with and they’re exciting businesses and they’re nice, kind people like, I have a good time working with them. Um, but yeah, marketing is a gap or they know they need it and they don’t, they don’t need to be sold on the sort of importance of marketing. They just have a knowledge gap. I need to figure out how to kind of get from.

Matthew Vernhout (31:46): And then what do you see a sort of as if you add like a core, you always say that you just said, email, email, email, email, email sort of should be in every mix but when you talk about email there’s a lot of different things that can go on. Do you have like a core you should be doing these two or three things in email as well, whether that’s, walking programs daily, weekly, monthly mailings, like what types of strategies do you see frequently appearing in these types of conversations or in conversations you’ve had with past clients?

Taina Suomela (32:20): Yeah. I mean, I think there are a handful of things that are kind of always a good idea, the one question that always comes up is around frequency Like, do I need to be mailing daily or weekly or monthly? And, I usually answer that with, how much capacity do you have to build good content? So don’t email for the sake of emailing, because you think you need to send it weekly. If you don’t have the capacity as an organization or the budget to pay for content, or whatever your constraint is to send out something good, then send less don’t spend so little that you find that balance, but if all you can manage as a monthly newsletter, then, okay, let’s start there and let’s start looking at what’s working. What’s not, the biggest gap tends to be around just looking at audiences and engagement and seeing what the data are telling you and using that as a guide to build from, outside of that welcome email. We start with one, preferably a few, think about what that conversation looks like when that first one is that person is first introduced to you. How do you introduce your brand, your value? How do you keep them engaged? How do you tell them what to expect? How do you continue to move them down the buying cycle? So, if nothing else, there’s always sort of, like one and two in a conversation and then the rest get specific to their business. So then it’s around what are those key milestones, in, contracts or renewals, or post-purchase, or, there are lots of things, depending on the nature of your business that is key points in that buying the buyer journey. So start tackling those and thinking about the segmentation of it, are you talking to customers and prospects differently? Those are things that are again, sort of fundamentals of strategy, and are the right place to start. And then if they have an understanding of customers or prospects, that’s a great way to start segmenting and start talking to them in different ways each of those conversations is usually very specific to their business and what makes sense for them.

Matthew Vernhout (34:25): That’s great. Thank you very much for that. So how do our listeners get ahold of you if they want to learn more or, check out, just more about Leslieville digital or yourself?

Taina Suomela (34:39): Probably finding me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest, or you can send me an email at [email protected] I think that’ll be on somewhere around in the podcast notes. So we are there for folks to find that’s probably the easiest way. And again, I’m happy to chat with anybody that has questions and there’s a fit for working together. Great. If not, I can probably find you someone that fits your needs. So more than happy to talk to folks that are struggling in the digital space and just kind of need to figure out where to start.

Matthew Vernhout (35:07): Awesome. Well, thank you very much for your time today. It’s been a pleasure talking with you. We hope that this has helped our listeners gain some clarity on where do you start an email, even if you’re running on a budget or you’re small business things to consider. I always liked that idea of audit, what you’re doing now. So where your deficiencies are or where you’re potentially winning or losing, if you will. So if you have any questions about email in general, when you want to check out net core cloud.com, we’d love to talk to you and teach you more about our email-powered platforms, both for campaigning and API-driven emails. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast at Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher visit Netcore cloud for more information on our past guests and past episodes and everyone stays safe, healthy, and thank you again. Taina for listening for joining us and to our listeners for listening

Taina Suomela (36:06): And thanks for having me.

Matthew Vernhout (36:08): All right.

Intro/outro (36:11): You’ve been listening to for the love of emails, podcast powered by net core, hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player to make sure you never miss an episode to learn more about effective email communications and engagement through AI-powered email solutions, visit netcore.co the only global email engagement leader, delivering marketing ROI and value to 20 plus global unicorns and 5,000 plus brands for over two decades.

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