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Interview with Tim Watson from Zettasphere

Category : Email Marketing

With an objective to provide email marketers more information and opinions from best email thought leaders, Monks initiate a new “Expert Opinion” concept where our team would interview a thought leader every month and bring to you our interview discussion and excerpts.

Monks kick start this amazing concept by interviewing Tim Watson – one of the leading Email Consultants about his views on email strategy, contact strategy, design & copywriting trends and so much more.

Below is the download of Tim’s thoughts and responses to our questions:

EmailMonks: What according to you Tim is a good email marketing strategy for the new age email marketers and how do you think it will evolve 5 years down in 2020?

Tim: A lot has been talked about one to one marketing and automation. Behavioral based targeting and real time recommended content is a major growth area for good reasons.

Over the next years we’ll see more emails aligned tightly to the customer, what they are doing and showing interest in. Preference centers have been a hit and miss affair and the time has come to leave them behind.

A big challenge for automation is content serving. In many cases micro-segments can now be generated but without technology that supports serving relevant content at scale these micro-segments are useless. Many solutions are solving this for straight product information, much like Amazon recommended for you. We’ll see more developments in this area and for richer types of content too.

That said, despite this behavior based intelligent marketing, the email broadcast will not disappear. That’s due to the limitation of automation. So in five years’ time expect to see traditional broadcast emails still being used with time and context relevant emails layered in.

EmailMonks: Which are the new trends in email design and copywriting so to stand out effectively in the crowded inbox?

Tim: A return to simplicity and clarity. In part this trend has been brought about by increased mobile viewing and consumer info-snacking habits, whereby you have to get a message across in just seconds.

So the trend is to drop all the extra furniture in desktop emails and keep to the core message. Sometimes a non-graphical email can outperform a fancy looking one.

Also with increased frequency of communication, it no longer necessary to say everything in one message. In fact its best to spread it out. With subscribers that click, clicking on typically 1.5 links it means very often once they’ve clicked they don’t come back to the message.

EmailMonks: While determining a contact strategy, how to go about defining right time, day and frequency of sending out emails?

Tim: Those two points of right time/day vs send frequency are chalk and cheese.

Time of day is relatively unimportant and the analysis of best time is invariably wrong for reasons explained in this recent article, best time of day ultimate answer; whereas the send frequency has a huge impact on revenue performance. Marketing is all about getting your message in front of someone, across all channels, as often as you possibly can, which means deciding email frequency is really important. Why would a marketer wish to talk less to someone? Only if you’re being a bore and turning your customers off.

If you’ve got boring messages, sending them less often doesn’t make them more interesting! It just means you might not be enough of a pest for someone to tell you to go away. Doesn’t sound like a winning strategy does it?

EmailMonks: Which are the key steps marketers should take for increasing their inbox placement rate and not just the deliverability?

Tim: Inbox placement is heavily driven by data quality, which makes data source and email address capture practice the most important element of your strategy to reach the inbox.

Very often I’m asked questions such as if I put ‘free’ in the subject line will my emails go to junk? With the expectation that a single item can make the difference. That’s not how it works; it’s the sum of everything you’re doing that impacts inbox placement. Avoiding free and other reportedly spammy words is one of the 7 email subject line myths.

The ISP inbox placement algorithms are becoming more and more personalized. So that someone who is engaged with you gets your emails whereas someone who has become tired of your messages may not. Long term this means the best strategy to good inbox placement is to provide interesting, relevant and desired content at a personal level.

EmailMonks: What are the best practices marketers should follow while implementing a 360 degree marketing automation (including their emails)?

Tim: The biggest thing is to start the move to automation for the right reasons and with the correct expectations.

Automation is too often bought on the basis it saves time and magically delivers a better strategy.

Automation is just a tool; it automates sending emails not creating an email strategy. To make automation work effectively needs more upfront planning, more data and more integration. This means there is a higher investment then simply creating a few broadcast emails. Automation is not for the lazy or those with little resource and time for email.

Automation used properly should allow you to talk more often to your customers, because your messages are more relevant. It’s highly unlikely automation will deliver business results if the intention is to use automation to send less.

Finally don’t switch to a strategy of only automated emails; you’ll miss out on generating demand for your products, due to the limitations of email automation.

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Tim Watson
Over 10 years total focus on email marketing, an email consultant to brands with permission email volumes ranging from 500K to 25 million emails/month. He helps brands by identifying and prioritising improvements in email marketing activity. Covering all elements of email from defining holistic contact strategies, robust optimisation processes, creating effective messaging through to measurement and evaluation. Using an analytical approach, he lets the metrics support decisions rather than making choices based on unsubstantiated belief. An experienced educator of everything email, working with associations such as the DMA and IDM, as well as speaking internationally at conferences and listed internationally one of the top email marketing influencers.
Tim Watson

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