ELIMINATING GHOST SUBSCRIBERS FROM YOUR EMAIL MARKETING LIST

3 Keys from this episode…

  • Kickbox will determine whether or not an email address is deliverable and works with most major Email service providers
  • The biggest myth to real-time verification is it's going to slow down the process
  • Rich data is available to all businesses today – no matter the size – to help them make data-driven decisions

Click to tweet: How to Kickbox your Data See: http://www.dougmorneau.com/podcasts/eliminating-ghost-subscribers-from-your-email-marketing-list/ 

Doug:  Super excited and stoked to be back today. I've got Jack Wrigley joining me as our guest today. Jack is from Kickbox. He is the Vice President of Business Development, Revenue, and Growth. He is focused on building value at early stage companies and new product categories. He identifies relationships and strategic partners that are key to achieving high growth of value and revenue and I think those are things that all of our listeners are interested in, so welcome to the show today.

Jack Wrigley:  Hey, thanks for having me, Doug. It's great to be here.

Doug:  So, talking a little bit before we got connected here online. You're talking about being an entrepreneur, so is there anything that I missed in your bio, in your background, that you'd like to share with our listeners today?

Jack Wrigley:  I don't think so. I think that pretty much sums it up. I currently, obviously, am in email verification of the email industry, but I've been through a lot of different start-ups and a lot of different opportunities and they're all very beneficial and meaningful in their own way. It's all good.

Doug:  In terms of email verification and what you guys do at Kickbox, do you want to share just a little bit of what that means to listeners who might not be familiar with the technology and the process that you guys use and what you do?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, absolutely. From an email verification perspective, our technology will determine whether or not an email address is deliverable and that's really important for marketers that are sending marketing campaigns, whether it's a newsletter or maybe it's during the heavy holiday sending period where they're trying to sell items to their customers.

Our technology will analyze an email list and verify all of those emails and tell you which ones are deliverable and specifically tell you which ones are not deliverable and ultimately, that allows you as a marketer to pull out the non-deliverable emails, and doing that will save you money, 'cause you're not sending to something that doesn't exist, but by doing that it will also improve your overall email statistics; your open rates, your click-throughs, all of that good stuff. It's really an important step of the process and it's a product that we've been offering now for about two and a half, almost three years, and a lot of people use it around the world.

Doug:  You mentioned that determines the existing list you've got, so I've got a database in whatever CRM I'm using, so I can export that, you guys can clean it and return deliverables. What about, you mentioned APIs, so I'm assuming that you've got the ability to do this in real time as well?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, so that's actually really part of our process. I'll just give you the quick workflow. Typically, people will come to us because they have been potentially stopped from sending by their ESP. Their ESP will direct them over to Kickbox to have us take a look at their list and verify it, at which point then that customer goes back to the ESP and is usually cleared to start sending at that point.

What we offer in that kind of scenario is not only the initial verification of a legacy email database but then we also offer our real-time API to those customers and that allows them to just take a very short snippet of code, embed it wherever they are collecting an email address. It could be a form, it could be a signup, wherever that might be, and when a customer enters in their email address for the very first time, we will verify that background very fast and that way, from the very beginning, when a customer is collecting an email address, they know that it's been verified and it's deliverable and all that.

There's usually a two-step process. They come to us with a fire drill, help us get this fire out and then we kind of help explain how they can maintain really high-quality data from the onset of collecting it through permission-based activities.

Doug:  Well, it's interesting that people wait until there is, like you said, a three-alarm fire and they can no longer deliver to their list opposed to … I think of the other side. I want to be intervening way before then because what I really want to do is have the best sender reputation possible so I get the best open rates. I hadn't even considered that if you get too far down the line, your ESPs will shut your account off.

Jack Wrigley:  Oh, yeah. It happens all the time. Often times, it's not really … I mean, listen, we work with a lot of small mom-and-pop type organizations, we work with some very large enterprise brands that are known worldwide and really sometimes what ends up happening, Doug, is the email database is collected over time and there may be multiple people in the seat that is managing that database over the course of five, six, seven, eight years.

At some point, those older email addresses become very stale and so it's really no … It's not that they're doing anything bad, it's just the nature of collecting email addresses. If you are not sending regularly and sending out on a consistent schedule, then those legacy email addresses can become undeliverable and really force an ESP from sending until you get it cleaned up. So we see it quite often.

Doug:  Well, and I guess that makes sense. I mean, I've worked with clients where we've come in to help them with their marketing overall strategy and we look at their database and look at their sends and their opens and then ask the question, “so what period do you consider people inactive?” And look at the data, make some recommendation for segmentation and then either deleting or removing the people who haven't opened or engaged. They're going, “oh, we can't do that. We've been building this list for years.” It's like, “but they're not opening your email. They're affecting your send rate.”

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, those little-perceived gold nuggets are actually causing them all kinds of issues and heartburn, right?

Doug:  Absolutely. Do you want to share with us a breakthrough or a success or something specific that you did for a client that was a big win for them?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah. I mean, we can certainly … It's funny, because thinking through this, I kind of dug back into history. Not necessarily the immediate here and now, but I will tell you that one of the things that we've done here at Kickbox that is kind of unique in the email verification perspective is we really consider ourselves a white hat provider of services. Meaning that we have very strict terms of service, we will not verify purchase lists, permuted lists, things of that nature, and it's not because we're holier than thou, but it's because we own and operate our own email sending network. We can't really run the risk of putting too much bad data through that network or our network will ultimately be damaged.

Doug:  Sure.

Jack Wrigley:  Through that process … I'm sorry.

Doug:  Sure, absolutely.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, but through that process of developing this beachhead in the email industry, we have now a number of ESPs and I'm not gonna mention names, because it's probably not the most appropriate thing to do, but-

Doug:  Nope.

Jack Wrigley:  we have a number of ESPs who actually leverage our technology as an element of their compliance. ESPs that are onboarding new customers, so often times a customer will move from ESP A over to ESP B and they'll want to move five million email address or 20 million or one million or whatever that number is, right. Well, when they go to the new ESP, there's always a process by which they follow to onboard that new customer and that's usually a slow process where they take a chunk of the email addresses and start sending and they try to get a feel for that data, right, before it gets sent.

Well, by using our service as an element of that compliance, it sort of speeds up the process, because they can take a look at the portion of the list, they can take a look at the entire list, and we can provide them back data on the overall health of that list, which then allows the ESP to potentially onboard that customer faster. We're really excited about that kind of thing happening in the industry because we do want to support the industry as a whole and leveraging our technology to make ESPs better is really, really, from our perspective, awesome.

Doug:  Well, that's really cool, because it obviously makes the transition for the end user, for the client, for the brand that's doing the email over to a new email service provider a lot easier, a lot quicker, and then you've obviously built a reputation that they trust you and the validation of their data to make the transition quicker.

Jack Wrigley:  That's right. Yeah, it's really, really … It's been beneficial. Not only for the ESP, but it's been wonderful for our business and it's just, at the end of the day, it's the right thing to do and we most like that aspect of it.

Doug:  You mentioned ma-and-pa and small business and I wouldn't have thought of that unless you had mentioned it, actually. I would've assumed this was for larger companies. At what point do small businesses engage you guys?

Jack Wrigley:  Oh gosh. Typically, I mean, we have pricing plans for as few as 500 email addresses and that's a whopping five dollars, right. We have a lot of people take advantage of that. I think more and more small business are being educated properly by their ESP. They're being educated properly by the industry. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you have 10 million email addresses or 200. If you're sending to email addresses that are undeliverable, whether that's a portion of 200 or a portion of 10 million, it does impact what you're trying to achieve and that's starting to resonate in the industry.

We see it and we primarily see it, not because we're the big articulators of that, but because we have pricing plans that support a very economical way to verify your data. We see people buy five dollar packages of verification all the time. It's really cool to see.

Doug:  Well, it totally makes sense. Now, in terms of integration, you said it's something you integrate at the backend of your website, so I'm assuming that most small businesses that are not managing their own site who have their web guy make these changes for them?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, it's really easy. All they have to do is navigate to Kickbox, to our website, and on our website is the documentation for the API and it's very intuitive, it's well documented. Lots of people use it. Any web developer should be able to see it, read it, and implement it without any issue.

The best part of it is there's no additional charge to use the API. It's free to use, you just have to buy the credits so that the API will work, right?

Doug:  Sure, yeah.

Jack Wrigley:  And then, certainly we offer support. We'll answer questions if someone runs into any kind of stumbling block in terms of trying to integrate the API, but most don't, but if you do, not a big deal. We're here to help you, so it's pretty straightforward.

Doug:  Well, what I'm seeing more of and I'm not sure what you guys see, so I'll ask you. You being the expert here, is more fake sign ups, and I'm not sure what the purpose is. I understand that there may be an intentional attack on a company or a brand from a competitor, but I'm not sure why there are just fake signups coming through. I see it on our side with our client's data, 'cause I look at the stuff that gets people signed up. I'm going, “how come they're getting so much crap in here? Why are these bots even bothering to sign up?”

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, I mean, I don't know all of the reasons why fake signups occur. I can tell you that a high degree of it is definitely malicious in intent. It's a massive problem. To be very clear, verification does nothing to stop that activity from occurring, however, we do have a product called Recipient Authentication, which will put a stop to that pretty quickly, because Recipient Authentication verifies that the person with the email address is real, that they're the real person that owns the email address. Where verification just tells you whether or not the email is deliverable, so there are some ways to stop that and it is becoming more of a problem and I encourage people to be aware of that and certainly take a look at different types of products, whether it's ours or whomever, take a look at products that can help mitigate that risk.

Doug:  Now, in terms of businesses using your technology and integrating it, what do you find or what do your sales guys find as a common myth with regards to using this service to improve their email marketing?

Jack Wrigley:  That's such a great question. The biggest myth to real-time verification is it's going to slow down the process by which somebody signs up to get my newsletter or signs up for my white paper or it's going to cause an unnecessary amount of friction for the person who just wants to sign up to sign up, right.

We verify in milliseconds and it's typically a user doesn't even know that it's happened because it's so fast. We have a number of case studies on our website, a couple of which speak specifically to the success that companies have implemented the verification API at the point of capture and to the great results, but typically the biggest issue or the biggest concern is, “oh my gosh, it's gonna slow down somebody signing up,” and that's just a complete absolute fallacy.

At least it is with our API. I can't talk to other people's, but I do know that ours is lightning fast and works very, very well. It's really a testament. We have some of the largest worldwide travel sites that use it and the largest dating sites and different massive at scale operations using that real-time API and it doesn't slow down the process at all. That's the biggest myth and it's really a myth.

Doug:  Well, that's interesting. I assume that might be one, would be the time, and the other one be that you have to be a big company, like you said, with millions of addresses, but you've made it clear that somebody with as little as 500 addresses for five dollars could clean up their data, which is really ridiculous when you think about it. You can't buy a cup of coffee or a fancy coffee at Starbucks for five bucks, but you can clean up your data.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, what's really cool about that, too, is if you're small enough enterprise or maybe you're collecting 20, 30, 40, 50 new email addresses a month, you can buy 500 verifications from us for five bucks and that's [inaudible 00:15:33] of-

Doug:  Data.

Jack Wrigley:  … right? With the API, 'cause there isn't any additional charge for the API. It becomes ridiculously inexpensive, but that's a good thing because we want to encourage that best practice in the industry and want to make sure that regardless of the size of the operation or enterprise you can afford to do it and it's a good thing to do.

Doug:  I want to ask a somewhat technical question. I mean, for as a marketing guy, this is what I consider a technical question. I haven't looked at your API so I don't know exactly how it works, but what I do know is I have a lot of clients that use CRM like Infusionsoft or they use click funnel or they use lead pages. I'm assuming that your product will integrate with all of those tools?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, absolutely. Not a problem. And we are currently integrated with 20 different ESP marketing tools right now and that list just continues to grow, but that covers everybody from like [Elloqualm 00:16:32] or [Keddow 00:16:32], MailChimp, Constant Contact, all the usual suspects in the ESP world. But yeah, it integrates typically without any issue.

Doug:  That's really cool.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah.

Doug:  The world keeps changing and technology keeps changing and people are looking for different tools, so I just see the stream of tools coming online, so the fact that you guys can plug into those will make a huge difference and make it more available.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, [crosstalk 00:16:59].

Doug:  Looking at today and your background and what you do in terms of technology, what are you most excited about in the coming months?

Jack Wrigley:  Oh man, I think it's just the opportunity that regardless of the size of your business, and this really speaks to small and medium-sized businesses as well as enterprise, but regardless of the size, the opportunities for real, rich data to be provided back to the business, to help them make data-driven decisions is just phenomenal and it's only going to get better, bigger, and easier to use, in my opinion.

In the early going, you had this … and you still do to some degree, you have this big, massive fire hose of data coming at you, right. Well, people are developing really great products to help take that data and put it into kinda bite-size chunks that are meaningful for whether you're a small business or a large enterprise and give you really different views of how your customers might be interacting, whether it's on your website or how they're interacting with regard to an email you sent, but to me, it's all about the data-driven experience, but making it accessible to as many people as possible, as many businesses as possible, and that's what, to me, is super exciting.

Doug:  I totally agree. I mean, it's [inaudible 00:18:28], I mean, the days when all the online stuff started and big companies were pouring money in. I still remember the ads of IBM building websites and they had the flaming logo and they go, “but did people buy anything?” It's like, “well, no, but it looks cool!”

Jack Wrigley:  That's awesome.

Doug:  And now people, like you said, small business, I'm super stoked about the ability for small business to get in for very little money to create an online business and to start to generate revenue and have access to tools that before you had technical guys building and stuff you could build yourself.

Jack Wrigley:  That's right. It's a phenomenal time and I think that we're just at the tip of the iceberg. I think we'll look back on this in five years and go, “holy crud, I can't believe we've come this far.”

Doug:  Absolutely. I listen to Gary Vaynerchuk saying that he went on his first business trip and left his laptop at home and ran his entire business off his cellphone.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah. Yeah, well I'll give you a funny kind of anecdotal story about that, too. Is my father, who is no longer with us, but he used to sell advertising and this is back in the late 50s, early 60s, right. He sold billboard advertising and prior to his passing 10 years ago, he used to always chuckle about the business I was in and specifically around the technology that was driving it, right.

It wasn't really ad-driven business, it was just technology and he used to love to share stories about man, when he would set his travel agenda to go sell advertising in Montana from his office in Idaho, he would make a phone call, set the appointment, and then just kind of start driving and hope the person is there, right. I mean, it's such a funny thing to think about. Where today, you're texting before the plane takes off, you text when it lands and as you're walking in the door, “are we still on?” I mean, it's such a different time and technology has really enabled a lot of that and it's pretty cool.

Doug:  Well, you also can see if the person really is in their office because you can normally see where they checked in on Facebook.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah! Okay, [inaudible 00:20:31]-

Doug:  No more hiding. It's like, “hey, I'm sick from the office today.” It's like, “Hey, that looks like you on the golf course with your buddy. You just checked in.”

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, so the funny story about that. We have a person that isn't in the office today because she's ill and she really is ill and I jokingly said, “hey, no selfies at Six Flags today.”

Doug:  There you go.

Jack Wrigley:  Don't blow your cover, but …

Doug:  Well, I still am a huge believer that email is the foundation of all your marketing and so regardless of all these new shiny objects that come up, I really think that it starts with having somebody's email address and then everything else builds around that.

Jack Wrigley:  It's so true. It's so true-

Doug:  And-

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah?

Doug:  I don't know if you saw the article this week about Facebook and how many fake accounts that they estimate that they have in the US and the outreach from the advertisers.

Jack Wrigley:  I missed that, but I can imagine it's a fair amount.

Doug:  Well, I think the good news for us and what we're talking about today is that I'm a big fan of using the tools that come out, so the custom audiences that are available for me to load my email database to Facebook and my custom audiences do the same thing with Google. This obviously has a huge impact on making sure that I'm dealing with real people, so if my data has been authenticated and I know my data's deliverable, now I've got the very best quality data possible and if I load that data to Facebook and I advertise, I'm gonna get a better result and I'm assuming that if the Facebook accounts were fake, that the email addresses probably are somewhat fake or don't attach to somebody, I'll have cleaner data and have a less chance or lesser chance of wasting money.

Jack Wrigley:  Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, virtually everything we do today that we all think is hip and cool, whether that's social media, whether it's internet of things, whether it's banking online, it all starts with something very simple and that's an email address. And so, you're exactly right. The more that you can determine the deliverability of that email address and also authenticate that that email address is actually owned by the person that gave it to you, your experience leveraging other platforms like Facebook and Google will absolutely be greater, so couldn't agree more.

Doug:  And for the people who say, “hey, email's dead,” “I'd like to send an Interac transfer to your Instagram account, is that okay?”

Jack Wrigley:     Yeah.

Doug:  Apparently that doesn't work, so they do all actually have email addresses when it comes to down to me sending them an Interac transfer.

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah. No, it's pretty silly and you need an email address to even sign up for Facebook, to begin with.

Doug:  There you go. So let's-

Jack Wrigley:  If it's … Yeah, it's weird, but go ahead.

Doug:  So let's keep moving along. So you have got lots of experience in the marketplace and in this space, who is one guest that you think we absolutely have to have on the podcast?

Jack Wrigley:  Oh, man.

Doug:  I know, I get that from everyone, but it's just, pick one.

Jack Wrigley:  Are you wanting a guest that I think would be awesome that may be unattainable or do you want a guest that you could potentially book and actually have on the show?

Doug:  You decide. I guess there are people that are unattainable, but we're just looking to do the best job that we can, so I'll let you make the decision.

Jack Wrigley:  Actually, one of my favorite people in the email industry is a guy named Ryan Philip. You should definitely invite him to participate in this and if you need an introduction, I'm happy to make that. I think that if you could interview anyone with just an amazingly rich experience in doing game-changing things in life, you would have to interview someone like Richard Branson.

The amount of impact that guy has made in the world, whether it's through entertainment or jets or whatever, is just phenomenally cool and to have an opportunity to speak with him would be special.

Doug:  I actually did have a chance to meet him.

Jack Wrigley:  Oh my gosh! That's awesome.

Doug:  It was so funny, we participated with the Direct Marketing Association, the DMA, in the US for years and we're at an event and he was speaking, so I got there early so I could get up front and I really, I didn't know what to expect from him, 'cause I've seen only what you see on the TV and read in the news and online, and he just delivered this awesome talk and he was so laid back. You could tell he had just taken his brand new shirt out of the package, 'cause it still had the fold marks on it, and he was up on the stage and I knew they were gonna open it for questioning and I thought, “man, when am I ever gonna have a chance to ask this guy a question again?”

If you've been at enough of these events, you know that quite quickly, people sit there for 30 seconds, 'cause everyone's afraid then once someone goes up, everyone rushes. So my funny, weird story was I got up there and I didn't know what to ask him so I said, “hey, really love your talk. Love the fact that to whom much is given, much is expected and we should reinvest and not just build up wealth.” I said, “So I don't really have a question for you other than, hey, can I get my picture taken with you?” And he went, “sure, come on up.” So I got up on the stage and then he realized I was about six inches taller than him, so he got up on a couch and gave me a big hug and I said to the photographer, “just name your price. I'll buy that picture.” So I do have a framed picture of Sir Richard and I at the DMA with … Yeah.

Jack Wrigley:  That's so cool. Yeah, and I bet when he was giving his talk it was just … there was nothing prepared. It's not like he was reading it or … I'm sure it was just him talking about stuff, right?

Doug:  Yeah, and he was just so real, so it was such a cool experience.

Jack Wrigley:  Well, that's terrific. I would love an opportunity to meet him someday, but we'll see. Maybe I will, maybe I won't, but that's a great experience.

Doug:  Well, the only question that ran through my mind after that event was there were 5,000 people in the audience at a direct marketing meeting. How come nobody else thought of that?

Jack Wrigley:   Well, there's Indians and chiefs in this world, man.

Doug:   I guess so.

Jack Wrigley:  Leaders and followers. Well done.

Doug:  Let's wrap up today and let you get back to your work. So why don't you give us the details on where people can find you, whether it's email, your website, your social. How do you want people to reach out and find you?

Jack Wrigley:  Yeah, I think the easiest way is just hit me up on Twitter. I'm a big Twitter fan. My Twitter handle is just JWrigley1, the number one. So it's J-W-R-I-G-L-E-Y and the number one. I love chit-chatting on Twitter. We can always move it to email or a phone call. Happy to chat, happy to help, happy to discuss anything that comes to people's minds.

Doug:  Well, excellent. Hey, thank you for taking time out of your day and sharing with our listeners. I'll make sure that all your information, your contact information, your website, your Twitter handle and everything is up in the show notes when it's published. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Jack Wrigley:  Doug, thanks so much for having me and thanks everybody for listening and have a great weekend.

Doug:  Thanks.

Jack Wrigley:  Thank you.

Doug:  Cheers.

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Jack on Twitter: JWrigley1