With 19 years of experience in e-mail marketing and 10 years as an email marketing consultant, Kath Pay is recognized as one of the UK’s leading email marketing experts and conversions specialist and also honored with the award World’s Top 50 Email Marketing Influencers. As Founder of Holistic Email Marketing, she devotes her time to developing customer-centric journeys using a holistic, multi-channel approach. I met Kath at Digitalium 2018 and had an interesting discussion about e-mail marketing’s opportunities, but also about the mistakes some marketers do.
interview by Romanita Oprea
What do you believe to be the global benchmarks for e-commerce in 2018?
The best benchmarks are yours. Benchmark what you are doing and then set up to do even better! Because that is the biggest indicator and the biggest designator for success. There are a lot of brands or marketers out there who pick themselves up a little too hard because they don’t come up with the standard. I think you shouldn’t care about the regular benchmarks, you are competing against yourself. That is what really matters.
You have to trust yourself and try to improve, continuously.
What do you believe to be the drivers for e-mail marketing in the next years?
I think that introducing more complete and accurate measuring of success, so analytics. We’ve been focused on the top of the funnel –engagement metrics such as open clicks, because that is what our immerse provider gives us and they are the easiest ones to access. They are good gage, a good thing for benchmarks, but they are not going to tell you the real story. You need to go all the way through the funnel, all the way through the journey and start looking for more meaningful ones.
And even go beyond that and start looking at things like customer life-time value, because e-mail is such a powerful retention tool and it will be the one most of the times driving the customer back to the website, time and time again. If that’s the case then, let’s start looking at how e-mail actually does affect and improve and increase your customer life-time value. This is something that I think is usually overlooked in the e-mail marketing.
What about chatbots? Do you believe in their importance of generating leads?
They are still yet to be proven. One of my clients used them to great success. They have certain limitations, but I think that as long as you’ve done your homework, you’ve tested out, you’ve put everything in place, you thought of every single scenario, they can be incredibly effective.
But don’t believe that you can use them for everything, because there isn’t a “one fit all use case for the chatbots”.
So you believe that everything should be customized?
E-mail marketers tend to be under-budgeted and under-resourced that they are perpetually looking for silver bullets. And that is why they tend to latch on to best practices. And some of those best practices are old, therefore they aren’t usable anymore, some are labeled “trends” because everybody is using them and some that are self-serving best practices – some technology provider or somebody that has decided that “this is going to benefit me, so I am going to turn this into a best practice”. When you look at all of that is all a bit scary, but we tend to latch on those silver bullets, these best practices, yet the best results are only going to be is by understanding what you need to be achieving and then go and test it. Never just simply apply some things and go “fingers crossed!” Always test it out and see if it’s going to bring the results you are looking for.
How long will it take a really good testing in your opinion?
Depending on what you are testing and what metrics are you using. But, the way I like to do it is use a hypothesis, every single time. And I can use the same hypothesis 3-7 times, until I’ve actually validated it or not, until I’ve got the evidence. Because you are using only one and testing it multiple times, without burning your list, without giving them the same copy, the same imagery, that can take days or weeks, it depends entirely on you.
But, again, even if we are breaking it down further, if you are a retailer and you want to be basing it on purchases, then you probably just don’t want to be looking at the results or making decisions yet until a day or so afterwards. E-mail tends to be actioned a day or two afterwards.
To be honest, I think that this is one of our problems: we tend to focus on that campaign, we’ll measure and see what the results are, we’ll report them and they we will go to the next one. We do this time and time again. I go into Google analytics with one client and I found out he was still selling from one e-mail that they sent–six weeks later and they stopped tracking it after three days. So, they were under-attributed that particular e-mail got. And then they were sending three e-mails a week –how much revenue have they under-attributed that that e-mail has directly delivered.
What are the main mistakes companies do when it comes to e-mail marketing? And why do they tend to make those mistakes?
They tend to make those mistakes because they arrive to the obvious conclusion: a cinema presentation. I have two example of very obvious things that can be very faulty if you look at the metrics:
Our objective is to gain as much openings as possible. Because we are used to, with everything that we do, as far as digital goes. It’s the impressions, because this is what we are used to from the old advertising. Impressions count. Impressions are what we want. But in fact, we only need to look at the results. Sometimes achieving higher openings is not going to help you achieve increase conversions, because in order to achieve those higher open rates you’ve actually gone very generic. You’ve attracted a whole audience that actually isn’t interested in the product that you are selling. However, if you are going to go more specific and call into that particular product than you won’t get as many opens, but you are more likely to entice, to encourage, to attract the audience that is more likely to click through and convert.
What is the key to a successful YouTube channel, in your opinion?
I think is the same as with everything: you have to be understanding your audience, give them what they want in bytes-size pieces, making it as engaging and simple as possible. Consumers, especially on the web, they don’t have a lengthy attention span and what we deliver it has to be sure, quick, to the point, simplified however you can.
Take away tips from Kath’s speech:
- Do use emotions to get your email recipients’ attention;
- Do write like a journalist: start with the benefit;
- Do stay focused on the objective of your email;
- Do virtually test using AI;
- Do identify your objective and measure accordingly, not just open rates.