Weekly Blog Roundup – June 24, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Email Marketing

How Machine Learning Takes Email Marketing to New Heights” – Only Influencers

Insightful, in-depth reporting on how machine learning (slash AI, or Artificial Intelligence) is already helping email marketers do email better. Kath includes three specific examples of companies using machine learning in the Email Marketing industry.

‘Spam King’ Sanford Wallace Sentenced to 2½ Years for Facebook Scheme” – NBC News

“Since 1995 — when he set up a company called Cyber Promotions to flood phones with junk faxes and, later, inboxes with junk email — King has lost numerous judgments in civil cases brought not only by Facebook, but also by the Federal Trade Commission, America On-Line and MySpace.”

Amazing that people waste their time for decades trying to spam others.

DMARC Changes Coming Soon To An Inbox Near You” – MediaPost

“Google and Microsoft will soon be embracing a p=reject DMARC policy, meaning that only Google can send email marketing messages from an @gmail address and only Microsoft can send email marketing messages from its suite of email applications, including Hotmail, outlook, live and MSN email accounts.”

I don’t see this affecting many corporations, as they will already be sending emails from their own domains. Can’t imagine there are too many legitimate marketers sending email from these domains.

Email Open Rates From The Top 5 Industries” – Winning Email

A simple list of the top industry open rates as of January 2016.

Salesforce Pardot

Salesforce Announces General Availability of Pardot Engagement Studio — B2B Marketing Automation Reimagined” – Salesforce Blog

Big update from Salesforce Pardot this week with the release of their Engagement Studio. Unlike their previously released Salesforce Engage that costs $50/user/month, Engagement Studio is a Generally Available release; every customer has access to Engagement Studio. This is a huge win for Pardot customers. I’ve long been a critic of the pricing strategy for Salesforce Engage, but that’s a completely separate topic.

Engagement Studio for Pardot” – Paul B. Fischer

A good write-up and tour of the new Engagement Studio in Pardot. Thanks Paul!

 

Weekly Blog Roundup – June 17, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Marketing (ish?)

Stop arguing about who owns digital. It doesn’t matter in the long run.” – Boagworld

I work in a very traditionally structured organization, where for several years the website design was owned by marketing, and the hosting/tech was owned by IT. I’d say it’s now 97-ish% owned by marketing. This post from Boagworld does a good job of addressing this issue.

Attracting and Retaining Good Digital Staff” – MediaTemple

Another post from Boag, but over at MediaTemple. People who work in Digital are a different breed, aren’t we? Here’s some tips on how to make sure we’re satisfied and productive.

Why Building Your Personal Brand Can be as Simple as Saying ‘Yes’” – Proposify [PODCAST]

I’m still on this personal branding kick while I start building up my blog, focusing on email marketing. So, I’ve been reading a lot on personal branding and what I can do moving forward.

Can we talk about gender diversity at email conferences?” – Only Influencers

A great article about an important topic. I know an incredible amount of women marketers. In fact, the majority of people on our marketing team at GreatAmerica are women. So, where is the same proportion of representation at conferences? I didn’t necessarily notice this at Dreamforce the last two years, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open on Diversity in the future!

Diversity: The Discussion” – Only Influencers

A follow-up discussion on the aforementioned link.

Email UX is Easy. Said No One Ever.

Creating new emails is so easy, isn’t it?

Not!

It’s easy to say that email marketing has become easier over the years, and for the majority of us, email marketing is easier.

I Didn't Choose the Email Marketing Life. It Chose Me.

I was a young, naive, 27-year-old getting my first taste of email marketing with a “wonderful” ESP named Manticore. I would routinely spend days coding and fixing emails. The WYSIWYG editor wouldn’t have been state-of-the-art in 1995. It was a horrible experience.

Needless to say, once I started getting the hang of what it took to create HTML emails, I soon was on the hunt for a new, more user-friendly ESP. And about 18 months after I started, I led the drive and search for a new ESP, which turned into a search for a marketing automation provider as the industry changed. At the end of the day, we ended up with Pardot and haven’t looked back.

Marketing Automation to the rescue!

The difference between Pardot and the previous platform, Manticore, is night and day AND the effect on myself and our company was immediate. My time spent working on individual emails went from 3-4 days to maybe half a day, if not less. Today, I work on an individual email maybe once every 3 months because everything is pretty much on autopilot design- and coding-wise.

(As an aside, this changed me and my job role from that of email/web grunt to email/web strategist, and I now spend most of my time driving our email/web strategy instead of coding. FTW!)

WYSIWYG What?

One of the main criteria we used in our ESP/MA search was “how easy was it to create an email?” We wanted all of our marketing staff to be able to create emails on a regular basis without the need for fixing code on a regular basis. This is one of the main reasons we ended up choosing Pardot. Pardot’s WYSIWYG editor was light years ahead of what we were used to and what we saw among other enterprise-level Marketing Automation providers.

Design in IE MemeChange the Editor

Fast-forward 2-3 years and I realize now how difficult email design remains.

Yes, many tools exist to make design and coding easier. Tools to make troubleshooting easier. Guides on what CSS works in what client.

The million-dollar question remains: Why is it so difficult to create good emails these days?

It’s Outlook’s fault!

We all do this. You can hear me on a regular basis damning Outlook to eternal hell. It’s easy for all of us to blame it on the inbox – the Outlooks, the Gmails, and LotusNotes. But the blame also resides with us, the marketers, the designers, the technologists in charge of email marketing and marketing automation.

“Emails that provide a better user experience should be within reach of most marketers. They should not require any hand coding. All complexity should be hidden behind better, more powerful email creation tools. That’s our job as product people, and we are — at least partially — failing.” – OnlyInfluencers.com

There are plenty of what I call “email nerds.” The people who understand to their core, email is 600px wide, only use tables, Word sucks, inline CSS, and so much more. These are the people who know how to code the exceptions so the email renders correctly in Outlook. But in lots of companies, like mine, there’s only one of you (or me) – if you’re lucky. I think of other marketers in my metro area (roughly 200,000 people or so), and how many use ESPs like Constant Contact. These are the marketers who don’t have the resources, human or capital, to dedicate themselves to crafting hand-coded emails.

How to save the Everyman Marketer?

Where are the options for them? Where are the tools for the Everyman marketer? I’ve tried to make our templates or code-snippets “super simple” for anyone on our team to copy-paste into the email they’re creating. But the options are pretty much limited to creating one-off templates/emails for each email they create – which is tedious and time-consuming – or I create plain text code snippets and save them on our intranet for them to copy. This leaves our marketers open to copying or pasting the code incorrectly, and now the template doesn’t work as intended.

Where’s the drag-drop editor? How can I make that “snippet” process even easier? Even more simple?

Innovation in Email Marketing

Taxi for Email” is a good start in this direction. From what I’ve seen of the latest MailChimp editor, that’s a good start as well. While “Taxi” is something that anyone can use, most other similar tools are proprietary tools stuck within siloed software.

How do we move the email marketing industry forward and spread the knowledge outside of each of our silos? How do we get marketers and our budgets to place the same attention on email marketing that we do on social media? This despite the fact that email continues to be one of THE best ways to connect with customers and prospects.

No Best Solution. Right now.

The above missive isn’t really meant to answer those questions. Not for me, and not for you. We all have our own specific needs and wants, strengths and weaknesses. But we need to come together, as marketers AND consumers (because we are both), and push the marketing industry towards a more user-friendly email design future.

Weekly Blog Roundup – June 10, 2016

There are many articles I read on a daily basis for both work and pleasure. Below are some of the most recent ones I’ve read in the last week, along with some commentary about each article.

Marketing

6 subject line and preheader perfect pairings” – emma

While there are a never-ending amount of articles like these, it’s always fun and interesting to see where subject lines are heading. Emma shares some fun, and entertaining, examples of recent subject lines.

Email trends & innovations we should talk about” – Only Influencers

AMAZING roundup of news and thoughts from the Email Innovations Summit. My favorite? “Beautiful UX in email is still too hard.” Definitely a MUST-READ.

The Wistia Guide to Calls to Action in Video Marketing” – Wistia

Video is more than a pretty moving picture. It’s proven to help move your customers along the sales journey. Make sure you know how to incorporate Calls to Action in your videos with this guide from the video marketing masters Wistia.

What can brands learn from brutalist web design?” – equator

I love simple. Minimalist. I’ve never heard of Brutalist design until I saw the below article from Vox. Once I started looking into as far as web design goes, it definitely tugs at my digital heart.

Brutalist architecture turns ‘ugly’ into a design statement. Here’s what that looks like on the internet.” – Vox

See above. The article that turned me onto Brutalist design.

Professional Development

Shine Theory: Why Powerful Women Make the Greatest Friends” – NYMag, The Cut

Written for women, but good information all around. Don’t be jealous of your successful friends.

5 Unusual Personal Branding Tips” – Inc.

Almost more of a round-up of personal branding tips. Check out the associated links in the article as well for some further reading.

Fun

Netflix Studied Your Binge-Watching Habit. That Didn’t Take Long.” – New York Times

We’ve known for a couple years that Netflix and Amazon are using data to create new shows. This article talks about how we consume those shows. What defines a binge?

The Drive: Numbers don’t lie; new app shows we’re not best drivers” – StarTribune

While I don’t live in Minnesota anymore, I use the app mentioned, EverDrive, to track my driving. It’s automatic, so I don’t have to think about it, and it gamifies safe driving, which is definitely fun!