Key's from this episode

  • The importance of having a marketing strategy!
  • Data analysis can provide a lot of answers
  • The myth that sending more emails is going to create an unsubscribe just isn't true
  • To succeed, push yourself out of your comfort zone


Doug:  Well, welcome back to another episode. I am super excited to be talking to Jenna Tiffany. She is the founder and Strategy Director at a digital marketing consulting company called, Let'sTalk Strategy.

Jenna has over 10 years marketing experience in the B2B and the B2C sectors, and experience across a variety of industries on both the client side, as well as the agency side.

She is a current member of the Charter Institute of Marketing, and her expertise ranges in working with both small companies, large brands, to analyze, and develop their key journey and wider digital marketing activities. Jenna creates best-in-class digital marketing strategies and campaigns to deliver ROI both in the UK and internationally.

In addition, Jenna is BPP's freelance marketing tutor. Teaching both marketing principles and CIM certificate in marketing level four. Jenna is also a Communications Ambassador for the CIM in greater London, and the regional board, an elected member of the prestigious DMA email marketing council, and this year's judge at the DMA awards for the best-used search category.

As a proven thought leader, confident public speaker, and publisher, Jenna can be regularly seen sharing her latest trends and key industry topics. When not consulting on business on how to effectively increase their marketing, Jenna is a keen runner with her cocker spaniel Archie, and an avid gluten-free promoter as often seen on the canals of London.

So, welcome to today's show.

Jenna:   Thanks for having me. I'm excited.

Doug:    Well, excited and obviously energetic. I find that fitness for me makes a big difference in how productive I am at work.

Jenna:   Yeah, definitely. Well, when you have a dog to entertain, you need to kinda do that on a regular basis. So, it makes me go out even if it's rain. Rain or shine, I am outside running.

Doug:    There you go. And we share similar weather patterns so, it's not always sunny. So, do you want to fill in the blanks? Was there anything that I missed in your introduction or bio that you'd like you to share?

Jenna:   No, I don't think so. I think maybe just I suppose the key kind of difference in my background is that I have worked for both brands and agency sites. So, I have been that marketer that's had that pressure on them to deliver against the marketing budget for an individual brand.

And then I've also been the agency side that has supported and helped provide consultancy, and training for that in-house marketing team that may be struggling with a certain area, or actually, there's a new technique that they want to learn more of.

So, I have been in that position where sometimes it can be incredibly difficult. Particularly if you've got a channel that's not performing, or you're wanting to create a business case and having to really fight tooth and nail for extra budget.

And so, I can really sympathize with the challenge that a lot of marketers face.

Doug:    Yeah, these days who isn't watching their dollars, and there are so many places you can spend your advertising and marketing dollars. So, with your background, and your vast experience on both sides of the table, is there any specific marketing technique or tactic that you want to share with our listeners that you would say you've had major success with, or a breakthrough?

Jenna:   Yeah. I think the one kinda key area for me, and particularly, and I've been consulting with marketers, whether that's been email marketers, or search marketers has been the importance of data analysis. Now, sometimes it's not looked at as a marketing tactic. It's not looked as a marketing technique. And sometimes, it's just actually looked at this thing over in the corner that this data guy over there does.

But, actually, the data analysis can provide a lot of answers. If you have a challenge within your marketing performance, or you have a particular target audience that you're trying to attract, data can really give you a lot of insight into that.

So, I suppose an example for me would be where I consulted with a large clothing retailer. They had a huge challenge with their email marketing that I'm sure many brands also face in terms of low engagement rates. They're also seeing low click-through rates, they're seeing high unsubscribes, and they came to me saying, “Look, we're doing the same thing we've always done, I don't understand why it's no longer working for our business.”

Email for them was also a core channel in driving revenue like it is for many organizations. So, the pressure was on the team basically to make sure that that channel could perform in the way that it should do. And my gut feel was that actually it was a case of subscribers starting to get switched off by the lack of strategy, and the regular sales messaging that was being sent, and the tactical approach to the email marketing.

What I had a look at in terms of the data analysis, was to analyze the impact that the short-term tactic of let's just get an offer out there, and every day let's send an email, not do any segmentation. Let's just get that out the door knowing that it was going to drive more revenue was actually having a huge impact in terms of engagement on a long-term basis.

So, we looked at the analysis from zero months of being subscribed, up until five years, and in the first year of someone subscribing, by that twelve months had passed, 50% of subscribers had completely disengaged with their email marketing.

Which, for them was a huge amount.

Doug:    Wow.

Jenna:   Yeah, absolutely huge. So, not only did that analysis prove that actually the tactic that they were doing just was no longer working for their business. It definitely needed to get more sophisticated. It also gave them a really strong business case to take to the board, and the shareholders and directors to convince them that, “Look what we're doing just isn't working and we need to create a really segmented, personalized, and targeted approach. Otherwise, we're going to end up with no database.” Basically would have been the end result.

Doug:    Absolutely. Well, there you go, listeners. How many times have we heard this over and over on this show that you're not to blast your list. Segment your data, treat your audience with respect. They don't get up every morning to open your emails for another sales message, you need to engage with them.

So, that's a great point. I see it over and over on my side as well.

Now, in terms of data analysis, is there any low-hanging fruit? When you start with let's say a smaller company, is there data that they should be looking at that they have access to, and they're just simply ignoring? Or they just don't know where to start?

Jenna:   Yeah. That's a great question. Particularly if starting out on the data side of things, I think really the key area to look at is your engagement levels, and to look at that from a segmentation perspective. So, if you have frequent purchases of your organization, whether that's eCommerce or direct sales, have a look at what their engagement is with email marketing or particular channel that you're looking at.

Because it might be that actually they're engaging with you in terms of purchasing, but they're not engaging with you through your digital marketing. There might be something there that's not quite fit.

And, the same if someone is a new subscriber versus somebody who's been subscribed with you for six months or more. What does their engagement start to tell you? And that data will be readily available on the platform that you're sending your email. You won't need to have any integration or anything like that in terms of your CRM.

So, that is really quite a quick, easy access data analysis that I would look at to start with.

Doug:    Well, it's interesting that you mentioned engagement, because one of the first things that we often do when we're managing a client's email on our servers is, we'll immediately segment the openers from the recent campaigns, and send to them first just to simply help deliverability because we know they're more responsive.

So, that's a super simple segmentation and I don't know why more people don't do it.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. And the same with if you've had a list for long period of time, segmenting out the inactive subscribers as well.

And digging deeper into that, but also looking at if they're not engaged with you for over a year, does that mean that they're no longer interested? They could be also reducing your deliverability and your overall email marketing performance results as well.

Doug:    Yeah, totally agree. And, I find on my side, and I don't know what you've found, it's a tough discussion to have with a client and say, “We should remove this data.” Because they think, “Look how big my list is.” Yes, but only 30% of your list ever opens your email. So, you're spending money with your ESP to send the other 70% and get nothing.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. I had to laugh there because that is the vanity list number. That's the number that everybody goes off chasing, and a couple of years ago that was the bane of my lifecycle conversation. I'll be honest.

I pretty much probably had that at least four or five times a week, have thought, “God, there's gotta be more to this. There is more to email than the list number.”

Now, I think we've really turned a corner in email marketing. Actually, it's become a lot more sophisticated and I have less of that conversation. I think still the number one question is, how many emails is the right number of emails to send a week? And if I had a pound for every time I was asked that I'd be a millionaire by now, living in Barbados.

Doug:    Okay, I'm not going to ask you that question then.

Jenna:   Yeah, well I think that's the new one. I think this is the new variation of the vanity list number. And I know there's a lot of email marketers that are frightened about sending more emails, but really the myth that sending more emails is going to create an unsubscribe just isn't true. Unless you are sending really poor email marketing that isn't tailored and segmented like we've mentioned. Then yes, you would see a huge spike in unsubscribes.

But, it goes back to that relevancy piece. If the content's relevant, then why would you not want to receive more of that email? Of course you'd want to receive more of it maybe once every day. And that's how some brands can do that because they're sending really relevant useful, valuable content to their subscribers.

Doug:    Sure. Absolutely. I'm a paid subscriber to a few guys. Frank Kern's Inner Circle, who is a big marketer in the US, and he sends daily emails. Ryan Deiss, and if you look at his program when they're onboarding people, you'll get emails for like seven days in a row. And Ben Settle, who's one of the better-known email copywriters, and he emails his list every day.

So, I think you're right. It really comes down to, are you adding value to my life. When I get up and I see an email from you, am I excited to open it because I know there's going to be something good?

Now, I'm guessing that was your partner Archie that was just chipping in there to say hello.

Jenna:   It was, yeah. He was just saying he concurs I think.

Doug:    So, the other thing that we've done, and I'm not sure what your thoughts are on this, is when clients have had data that's old data, and that's not engaging, we remove it from the primary server. We'll put it onto a secondary server to maybe look at re-engagement program, but also to take advantage of re-marketing. To load that list out into Facebook, into Google, to re-market, to try to re-engage, and get those people to re-subscribe, and get back on the main list.

Jenna:   Yeah. That is definitely a really effective marketing strategy and approach. And I've worked with a number of clients to do exactly that. So, I think sometimes we get a bit obsessed with the channel that maybe we're targeting subscribers or our customers with. And actually, that might not be the right channel for them to actually communicate with you as a brand.

So, yes. Re-targeting them on Facebook, looking at how you could create more engaged audiences doing the same across search, doing the same across all social media platforms, is definitely something that's really effective tactic to do.

I work with a food retailer who did exactly that because they started to see a decline in a particular segment for their email campaigns. But, actually, when they did re-target them on social media, at times that were more convenient, so that they could engage as [inaudible 00:13:19] obviously seeing them in the feed, they got a really huge increase in their performance results across the board.

So, yes. I think it definitely is more about being customer-centric and putting them in the center of your digital marketing campaign strategy.

Doug:    Keeping in mind they're in a different mindset. When you're on social media, I think to myself, I'm less in a business mode. I'm more in a social, relaxed mode. Whereas if I'm sitting looking at my email, I'm thinking business. So, if I can see you on Instagram, or Pinterest, or Snapchat, or pick your favorite social media platform, I'm happy to see and engage with the brands that I like there, as well as be on their email list.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. And that is also a really good point because the content needs to be different across all of those channels. And, I was talking about this to a client the other day. The content that you put on your social media platforms needs to be completely different to what you would put in within your email marketing. Because like you say, there's a very different frame of mind. It's also the same for particularly LinkedIn is a key example for that particularly if you're a business to business organization.

Nobody likes to be sold to, or openly sold to on Linkedin, and it's an immediate switch off. So, if you're messaging is too sales-focused, too heavy in that area, then it will switch off that audience. And it's the same for consumers. It could be within their downtime, and they are on social media to relax, to find out what their friends have been doing. If your brand then pops up and becomes too intrusive within that because of the content that you've got, then it could also have quite a negative impact.

So, yes. I completely agree. It's much more about creating a conversation on social media, and it's important to tailor the copy accordingly.

Doug:    Yeah. And maybe it's budget, or maybe it's just resources to stretch the limit that people say, “Hey, I created the content once, I'm just going to take the same content, and I'm going to push it on every platform.” Like you said, and not realize that we don't go to Instagram to read really long posts. I might do that on LinkedIn. I go there to look at the pictures.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly.

Doug:    So, different engagement. So, can you share with our listeners, a big assumption that people have? The wrong assumption that may cause them to fail in looking at data and analysis, and what we're talking about today?

Jenna:   Yeah. I think for me the biggest assumption and this kind of dawned on my when I started my marketing career. And I started it with a manufacturing firm. Very strangely to where I am now. But, and then I joined a financial services company. And, when I started marketing, and it's still the same today, for me it was about thinking about the end customer, and the experience that they're going to get through the marketing that you then create.

And I think that was an assumption on my part in thinking that everybody else would be the same and think about it in the way. And not just think that marketing's there to sell a product or a service. Which, of course, there is an essence of that. But, I guess yes, starting out in my career, that was my assumption. And then discovered having worked in the industry, that actually it's a huge amount of pressure and focus put on selling more and more and more. And marketing generally can be quite held responsible for doing that, and when you're working with sales teams as well.

And, my kind of take on that was rather than thinking about the product, and the message that you're trying to say was actually thinking about how you could target, and translate that more to the end customer. So, what benefit is it going to give them? What value is it going to add to their lives and their experience of using your product or services, and what are they going to get out of that?

So for me, I think that was the biggest assumption. And sometimes, as marketers, and business owners, our biggest assumption can be that a consumer really cares about our latest product and service. But actually, sometimes they just don't care at all, unless you make it incredibly clear through your marketing, and effective through your marketing, how it's going enhance their lives if that makes sense. And really how it's going to add that value to their everyday activities.

Doug:    Yeah, it totally makes sense. I'm obviously a critic from looking at other people's ads because I'm on a ton of email lists. I'm sure you are. And I follow a lot of people on social media. And I'm surprised at how many people always send the sales message. Day, after day, after day, after day.

I'm thinking, “When have you added anything that's valuable to my life other than asking for my credit card yet once again? And in your sales message, you haven't offered me any value. You're saying, hey, buy my shiny new thing.”

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

I completely agree and that's the thing I suppose. Us as marketers can be quite critical of ourselves I think. And we can be quite critical of other brands just because we look at it in a very different way to an overly educated consumer from that respect because we've been on both sides. A consumer and a marketer.

But yes, completely I think for me this also goes back to the assumption that everybody would lay out a plan, and create a strategy, and work through that. Rather than it's the here and now, we just need to get something out. And-

Doug:    Yeah, can you send something out right away?

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. And not really think about why do we need to send this out right away? What are we trying to communicate here? What are the key objectives we're trying to achieve? And, I'm a huge advocate of making sure that there's a strategy in place. No matter what channel you're using for your marketing, but also to have that strategy in place so that you actually achieve what you set out to do. Because otherwise how do you know whether or not a campaign has been successful?

Doug:    Well, and I think you even look a little bit maybe beyond that, and say, “What does great look like?” Consumers now really, I think more than ever in any other time in history are in the driver's seat. We have more choices, we can order things online, we can have them shipped and delivered the same day.

So, the old days of, your message had to come from the newspaper, or the radio, and then TV, and those were your only channels, I really don't know how many channels are available to the consumer. I just think that the handful of social media tools that we use, plus email, plus web, they've got a lot of choices. And if you're not serving them, and meeting their needs, whether you agree with how demanding they are, I think you're going to lose.

So, what are you most excited about today, as it relates to marketing, marketing technologies, say over the next six to twelve months for your company, or for your clients?

Jenna:   Yeah. I'm really excited to be in marketing at the moment. I think it's a great time to be a marketer, it's an incredibly exciting time. And for a number of reasons I think with the advances in artificial intelligence, you may see that as a scary thing, but for marketing, I think it's going to be incredibly powerful.

Just within the email space, it's already been incredibly useful to some of the clients I've worked with. Particularly with subject lines. So, getting more artificially intelligent within the subject line space, which, means that you actually get your email content seen. Which, is just an incredibly powerful area.

Other things that I'm really interested in, and just keeping a keen eye on, is virtual reality and augmented reality as well. I think these two areas could really start to enhance the customer experience. And I've already started to experience this myself. I went to Vegas at the backend of last year, and as part of the Cirque Du Soleil promotion, you could actually watch through virtual reality as if you were on stage, watching a Cirque Du Soleil show, a snippet of the one that you could go and pay to go and see the full thing of.

And that was the first time I've ever as a marketer, and a consumer, seen this tech in action in a way that it really conveyed the marketing message. Just incredibly powerful. Being able to rotate your head around, feel like you're actually on the stage. You're actually part of the show itself instead of just being in the audience was incredible. And the queue it generated, and the interest it generated, was particularly powerful for their promotion.

Doug:    That's really cool. That comes back to what we've been talking about, but at another level in terms of user experience. Making it good for the user.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. And I think in terms of technology, technology is advancing at huge, rapid pace. Incredibly quickly. And, there are tools now available for marketers that mean that it not only makes our jobs easier, it also means that we can spend the time, rather than executing the campaign. Actually thinking about the strategy that we were talking about earlier, the planning, doing all that research, and really in integral pieces, and then using the technology to really enhance our jobs, and provide that data back, and be able to enhance that experience for everybody. Not only just for the consumer, but also for the marketer.

And so, for me, I find that incredibly interesting, and an exciting time because it means that we're able to do more, but we're able to do things more sophisticated than we've ever been able to do.

Doug:    When I love all of the new technology, but I kind of have a tongue-and-cheek question to ask you. Then why is it that marketers using email, can't manage to use merge fields with the data they know about me?

Jenna:   Yeah.

Doug:    What about marketing intelligence? [inaudible 00:23:49] my first name on the email, instead of hi.

Jenna:   Yeah, I know. That is the frustrating part, isn't it? I've referred to this in a couple of blog posts as two things. First one it's that we're almost like laggards in the industry, and we kind of have the early adopters, and the innovators, and we're slowly going into that laggard phase at the minute where, the mass amount of marketers begin to realize that blast sending, or they actually get given the opportunity to change from the blast sending approach, to personalized approach. Moving beyond the first name, and actually personalizing based on consumer behavior, and all this really awesome stuff that you can do. And we're on the cusp of that. Becoming mainstream. I'm determined that that will change.

But, the other side of it. And I think actually you've written about this as well, is we've got a huge focus on the shiny shiny, and not enough on the basics of email marketing, and getting the basics right.

And for me, that personalized, just adding the name is a pretty basic fundamental of email marketing, but also the automation stage. And there are so many brands that still aren't automating basic, welcome journey as a starting point. There's a lot of things that brands could be doing that could be automated that will mean that it's not a manual task. It could be personalized straight away. The machine almost does that for you.

You then go in and review that rather than having the headache of sending that email every single week.

Doug:    Absolutely, with the email knowing that the welcome message, the first messages, the most highly-engaged message that your subscriber is likely to ever respond to, take advantage of that and dig deeper, and invite them to join with you on different channels on social media to connect with them.

So, you're right. There are lots of opportunities there.

Looking back in time, and based on what you know now, as a business owner and having both worked on the agency side and the client side, what advice would you give yourself today if you had that opportunity?

Jenna:   It's always hard when you look back on stuff, isn't it?

I think for me, and I feel like I've done this, but maybe there's an opportunity where I could have done more of this, and I have done this a lot. To push myself out of my comfort zone, and to not be frightened of doing so. And I think I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone in many ways throughout my career but probably been quite frightened while doing it. Even though I've done it, and people thought, “My God you're crazy,” I've still persevered with it, but maybe had doubts that actually held me back a little bit because I had that fear eating me away inside.

And I suppose an example I'd give of me doing that was five years ago, I was not a confident speaker. I know a lot of people have a fear of public speaking, standing up in front of a room of audience, and people I've seen freeze on stage. I know how daunting that can be. And when I started I got the opportunity to speak at an event of I think it was about 50 people. And I'd never done public speaking to that scale before. I'd presented to boards and shareholders, and so on of organizations, but never to that level. And I didn't particularly enjoy it, I wanted to get it over with. I obviously prepared as much as I could, but I knew that for me to develop as a professional, and to better for marketing, and be able to communicate to audiences effectively, I needed to push myself to do this. And I need to develop this skill, and I need to come out of my comfort zone.

And, yes. It probably meant that I was ill for a couple of days before. Panicking and stressing, and being a real stress head, but actually, it's all been worth it. And I think that's kind of now become almost my life motto in that it may seem like something that is the scariest thing in the world to do, but actually, nothing is really that scary. And starting with business was a very similar type of conversation with myself.

I left my full-time job. Very secure job. Really enjoyed my job. But, for me, I knew that I needed to take this next step. I always wanted to run my own digital agency, and I was turning 30 this year. And for me, it was a milestone. If I'm going to do it, I need to do it now. Because, otherwise, I just never will. And-

Doug:    That's so cool.

Jenna:   Yeah. Well, it is. And a lot of people wish that they'd done that. And I think that's what pushed me really to do it at the time that I did in February because if I'd sat on it, and thought about it too much, I probably would never have done it.

But, actually, it's been the best thing I've ever done, and I don't regret it one second.

Doug:    Well, good for you. I know when I go to make a decision, a conversation I have with myself is what's the worst case scenario? That's the first question I ask. Then the second question is, I ask how likely is it to happen? And then the third question is, could I live with it if it happened?

And in most cases it's okay, it's not likely to happen, and could I live with the worst? Yeah. Okay, I'll give it a shot. So, off you go.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. I did the same thing just before I started my business. What's the worst that could happen? It doesn't work out. Can I live with not then, running my own business, and going back to a full-time job? Yes, I could.Would that be really difficult if I had to go back to that? No. Not so much. I could have done that quite easily. Now, maybe eight months being my own boss, might be a bit of difference. But-

Doug:    Now you're not employable.

Jenna:   Yeah, exactly. But yeah, I completely agree. I think sometimes you can just sit there and you can dig yourself into a real hole of being too frightened to do things.

And, I think I strive more in pushing myself to do a new challenge to do a new challenge of something I've never done before than I would if I sat back and just was too frightened to try something.

Because, the worst that could happen, you fail at it. And at least you knew that you've tried.

Doug:    But, you tried. Absolutely. And, for me, it's been trying to get over the perfection idea that it needs to be perfect. So, these last couple years I've been going, “I'm just going to put stuff out there even when it's not done.” So, we've been re-building my personal website, and I said to my web guy, “Take it off the development server, just make it live, we'll correct it as we go. We know it's not right, but there would have been a day that I would never have let that thing off the development server until it was 100% right.” And, that's the way it is, so we move along.

Now I know this is always a tough question so, maybe you have two. Who's one guest you think would be ideal for our listeners for me to invite on the podcast?

Jenna:   Yeah, so, the guest I have, I think he's more probably UK than US, but it's Jeremy Waite. So, he's the evangelist at IBM. And, for me, he is an incredibly awesome, and inspiring marketer who has given some of the best talks I've ever seen.

He's just incredibly engaging, but he also just seems to be unlimited amounts of research that you can refer to. No matter how many times I've heard him speak, I follow him on Twitter, he always has some new piece of research. He really is at the cutting edge, and he is heavily involved in IBM's Watson. Which, I see as a huge new area for the technology in terms of the AI space. So, it's quite interesting on a number levels. So, I would definitely highly recommend him.

Doug:    Well, thank you. So, as we're going to wrap up today. What is the best way for people to get ahold of you online?

Jenna:   Yeah, there's several ways. Happy for people to get in touch with me on email. So, that's [email protected]. Or on LinkedIn, Twitter, or through the office number as Let's Talk Strategy on our website.

Doug:    Well, super. It's always interesting when I've had a few other guests on that are in the email space, they give out their email address. And, it just seems like people in the email space aren't afraid to give out their email address. So, we'll make sure that we get your website, your social media links up there, as well as your email in our show notes.

So, make sure that if you're listening to the podcast, you go to our page, take a look at the show notes, all the details will be there, and all of the contact information for Jenna will be there as well. So, I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day. We love you guys in the UK. And, just thanks for joining us.

Jenna:   No problem. Thanks a lot for having me.


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