- Email is still one of the most effective marketing tools
- To be more effective with email, segment your data
- Streamline your data – pull your data silos together
Meet Tink Taylor
Tink Taylor is the founder and president of dotmailer and dotDigital Group. He has 20 years experience in the field of digital communications, and has introduced digital marketing to companies large and small. He has been pivotal in the development of digital marketing since the onset, both in the UK and the US. Serving as a key and influential member of the UK Direct Marketing Association, Email Market and Counsel, and also the Internet Advertising Bureau since 2006. Tink has also judge the email, mobile, and agency category at the UK DMA awards for over half a decade.
In 2014, he was elected as the advisory committee member of the board of the US Direct Marketing Association’s email experience counsel. He constantly strives to help individuals, organizations, and the industry as a whole to develop and progress acting as a serial tech advisor and an investor outside of dotMailer. Welcome this afternoon.
Tink: Hi. Nice to be here.
Doug: Well good to have you. Good to catch up. Do you want to fill in the blanks? Is there anything I missed in your bio and your background that you’ve been working on since we last talked?
Tink: That was pretty comprehensive actually. I founded dotMailer, it was back in ’99. We’ve been an email marketing company for all of that period. We actually started initially as a web design development company, but soon moved into the email world as we found many of the companies we built sites for wanted some help with marketing, and email was an obvious way of doing that. We’ve done that for a number of years. As our tool has developed, it’s got richer and broader as time’s gone on, yet we release new software every two weeks and we wrap that up in a quarterly release. As we’ve done that, the product is become much more widely known and used by marketers all over the world.
As you mentioned, I’m in the US now, so we set up our New York operation about three, four years ago. We have people all over the US and more recently we set up people in Sydney and Melbourne, and now we’re moving into Singapore, more so into Asia. Along with spreading out from our home base, which is the UK and heading more so into Europe. It’s an exciting time at dotMailer actually. We’re looking at our world domination and just wait to see, day by day, where we sat down we had a plan many years ago to create some software that was used and known around the world, and we can slowly see the dotMailer tentacles putting its fingers around the world. Yeah, it’s fantastic. Great growth-
Doug: That’s so cool.
Tink: Yeah, lots of excitement, lots of new tech developments as well.
Doug: Do you want to give us a brief overview then of what your platform is for people who don’t know who you are and what you guys do? What services, or what do you provide for mailers, for marketers?
Tink: Sure. We’re a email marketing automation platform, empowering marketers for 17 to 20 years. We classify ourself as best of breed software. We know our strengths lie and where maybe we don’t have capability. We’d like to tie ourselves with various different technology partners that maybe offer something in social, maybe offer something in CRM, etc. That really enables our customers, and our customers are typically midmarket and what does that mean in the US is probably very different to Europe and the UK. Typically I think that the way I determine that is if we’re talking to the proprietor of a business in a pitch situation, it’s probably an SMB. If we’re going for a massive RFP in a procurement team that’s enterprised, if you’re talking to the CMO or marketing director, and some are marketing executives, that’s midmarket for us. That’s where our core strength lies.
As I say, we’ve got customers now in 150 different countries. We’re doing transactional and behavioral data, tying into all of those campaigns as well. We’ve got some pretty great integrations that we’ve built ourselves. Things like Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, but then in the e-commerce space which we’re particularly strong in, in the US is Magento, Shopify, Big Commerce, and WooCommerce. Then we have our rich ecosystem of tech partners, people [inaudible 00:04:33] product recommendations and so on that actually tie into us, creating that best of breed ecosystem.
Doug: In terms of the marketing automation that you offer for clients, for the small medium size businesses this is something they’re going to plug into their website, and they’re going to capture emails at the front end for lead generation, or they’re going to also hook it up with your e-commerce and look after transactional data and move people through a sales funnel. Is that what you’re referring to in terms of sales automation?
Tink: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously we cover both, so if there’s any touchpoint with a client where someone signs up with it, it’s for a newsletter, or to receive anything of that nature, or even make a purchase we can do that nurturing in them with a lot of out integrations tied together with our automations. We can hook into the CRM or the e-commerce platform, and we draw data. All of our integrations are very rich in the data layer, and it’s that data that enables us to power all sorts of automations and things like abandoned cart, abandoned and what have you. The more data we can consume from external sources the better. They help drive those automations.
Doug: As well as segmentation obviously, which seems to be underutilized these days. I’m not sure why, but does.
Tink: Yeah. You’re absolutely correct. Sorry, cutting in there, we recently launched this year’s white paper. We’ve been doing a white paper, or a study for a number of years now, it’s called Hitting the Mark. What we actually do is we sign up to a number of retailers, and we do it in the US and the UK so we can get a comparison of what the two different worlds look like. What we do is we go to a website, we browse, we then come back at a later date, and we might sign up for a newsletter. At a later date, we might sign up by buying something. Then in each period of our activity on the website and interaction with that brand, we would actually stop, and we’ll just see what happens.
Over a period of six months-ish, we record all of the communications we’ve sent, and we can really play what people are doing in terms of segmentation, personalization, and automation. It’s actually quite staggering to see how many people aren’t really making use of the technologies that are widely available to many of these marketers now. I think we have to draw conclusions, why people are doing that, is that technology prohibiting to do that? Maybe, maybe not. Some of them are perhaps more difficult to use, but it’s still possible. Other people, maybe they’re just simply too busy in their world of marketing, maybe they’ve also got to look after social and run events, and what have you. Email becomes a bit of a tick box to them to say, “Well I’ve got to get one out this week.” They’re batching which I think is quite staggering.
We see a lot of that in Asia, but the market may be not quite so mature. It’s very surprising to see it in the UK, and even more surprising I think seeing in the US, which it is quite a mature market for email marketing.
Doug: Yeah, it’s absolutely amazing. I remember years ago, I don’t know if you remember a product called, Email Labs.
Doug: I remember using them and talking to them and going, “Why don’t people personalize and draw in variables like where people are from, and put an image of if they’re in New York, and why don’t they bring …” Still today, here we are, fast forward 15 years or 20 years later, and I’m still getting, “Dear Subscriber.” You have my name, you might want to use it.-
Tink: Yeah, I bet that makes you feel great when you get that doesn’t it? – – – If you were hitting send right now, and you received the email you were about to hit send on, would you be really pleased and feel like you’d been treated like an individual and respected by that brand by the message you’re sending, how tailored is it to me? If the answer to that is no, then you shouldn’t be sending it, and you’ve got some more work to do.
Doug: Absolutely. Beyond that, like you said, it’s really about engagement and if you’re treating your subscribers like you treat your friends, and you’re being respectful, and using appropriate content and appropriate language, they’re obviously going to open your emails and engage with you more.
Tink: Absolutely. Everything is tried and tested, and obviously everything in this industry can be tested. It’s about spending the quality time. I think one of the reasons for doing that, is I think time is actually something that causes a lot of people trouble. We looked a survey by E-Consultancy, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with those guys over here, but they released a white paper about 18 months ago now. They said I think for most marketers, they spent a good part of 80% of their time doing. That’s putting our html together, trying to do their segmentation. They’re actually spending a whole heap of time just getting the stuff out the door, and they’re not really spending the quality time on looking at their analytics, understanding their results, looking at their testing, feeding that back into their overall strategy and plans for the future.
Maybe you can draw conclusions on that. Some people have got some platforms that might be just a bit more clunky, that takes a bit of time. I think the other thing I found also is, talking to other marketers they ask a lot of questions about capabilities of a platform. When in RFP stage, it must be able to do that, must be able to do this, etc. Then they get the tool out of the box as it were, and then they get writers blank. It’s like, “What should I do with it?” We’ve actually worked quite hard to produce simple how-to guides. If you’re in e-commerce for example, we have a fantastic white paper going, “Here are the top 10 automations that everyone does and everyone should do, because all of them make money.” Put those in place, and then once you got those in place, we can then look at your business maybe on a more individual basis, and actually see what other opportunities there are to layer other segments and automations over the top.
Doug: That makes sense. I’ve been guilty of that, where I buy technology I buy more than I need and then I use 10% of the functionality. Recently we’ve made it part of our business plan moving forward that we’re just going to deep dive with the two or three vendors that we really like, and just make sure we’ve got enough expertise to fully use … If we could use 50% or 60% I think we’d be crushing the market, compared to most of the guys out there.
Tink: Absolutely. I often talk about continuous improvement. It’s a great name really, just logging in and looking at a client and saying, “Well how much of the tool set are you actually using? Have you used this? Have you tested it and gotten the most out of it?” Well here’s some other stuff that an ESP or whatever provides, and all those features are there for a reason. They’re there to help and actually help you drive your overall level of engagement, and revenues, and what have you so you should be making use of them. If you don’t understand how to do it, then there’s always helping hand out there to show you the way.
Doug: Based on your view, you’ve got a lot of experience in this space, what do you think the biggest marketing failure or assumptions are that people commonly keep making over and over again in the email and the marketing automation space?
Tink: I think data’s the biggest problem. A lot of people have a lot of legacy systems, and so there’s all sorts of data silos everywhere. To make use of technologies like segmentation and automation, it doesn’t require actually having a view on as much data you can get your hands on to do that most effectively. I think at the moment, there’s always in our industry there’s a shiny new technology that comes along who’s going to solve all of our problems. Everyone at the moment, talking about AI and what have you, and how there’s wonderful case studies where this works for this particular brand really well and the only reason it works for that brand really well is because they’ve got all of their data silos in really good shape. I think that’s kind of where people get let down a bit, and maybe there is a little bit of that in the world of marketing.
When I was at school and I wanted to do marketing type thing, I didn’t really think I’d become a data scientist or maybe I didn’t think I’d be doing all of this analytics and looking at numbers. Perhaps you have a natural tendency as to look at creative a bit more and content to some degree, and shy away … That’s the realm of the techies. Nowadays, there are lots of very technical marketers out here and the ones that are able to pull those things together are the ones that are really showing significant results for their organizations.
Doug: Absolutely. We’re big proponents of test, test, test. We’ve got our baseline, and if we can make some changes or tweaks here and get a few points extra in terms of opens or clicks and conversions, at the end of the day when it gets to the shopping cart it makes a big difference.
Tink: Yeah, absolutely. It’s critical to have a test and strategy. I also think, I have seen examples where people may have over tested and they’re maybe spending a little bit too much time coming up with tests in areas where they know that they’ve already got a good set of test criteria, or content in play, and they should be testing that. Maybe they go a little bit too far, and spending a little bit too much time and effort coming up with options, I don’t know E to L or H, or whatever in the alphabet. Two things, that one is that the content isn’t dramatically different, so therefore you don’t actually learn too much about what was actually making a difference in terms of getting your results. A good solid concise testing strategy as well, what I always recommend.
Doug: I love using the analytics and the tools that you guys provide, because it makes sense for us on the client side. It takes the debate over which content’s better, or what approach is better. It’s like, “Hey just look at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter whether you like the content.” You don’t like the content, this one’s converting better. The software proves it, the deposits in your visa account prove it. I don’t have to be the winner of the content we just want to make sure we have enough options that we have tested and we can get the result the client wants.
Tink: I can say I’ve seen that for ourselves with one of my co-founders. He was a creative and we designed a new website way back when, it was probably 15 plus years ago. He was convinced what he had come up with was great, and we tested a couple scenarios, and we found that the other scenarios outside of what he initially designed were working loads better. We’re real believers, because we’ve seen it ourselves. Sometimes you can’t just assume the knowledge that you have is going to deliver the greatest results. Be prepared to be proven wrong.
Doug: Even with the survey, I was at a marketing event in San Francisco years ago, I think it was MarketingSherpa put it on. They were talking about analytics and testing, and heat maps, and they were using the example of Siemens, the guys who sell all the big x-ray equipment and the fancy equipment for the hospitals. They had gotten a survey of their customers of how would you like our ad to look, and which ads would be most convincing? Then they ran a split test. The feedback they got from the survey was completely wrong. The good looking doctor and the good looking nurse standing beside the machine, out polled what everyone said they wanted to see in an ad. Big surprise.
Tink: Yeah. You will always turn up surprises when you test.
Doug: Looking forward into the future, like you said you travel lots, you see lots of stuff that’s out there as it relates to our industry. What are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months?
Tink: I think again, back to what I said earlier, is the realization now that your data silos are absolutely critical to your business success. We’re seeing a lot of people really pulling their data in shape so they can make sure of the technologies. I think the technologies themselves have got better in enabling data to be transferred from one system to another, so APIs have got a lot better. There’s a lot of talk of marketing clouds at the moment. I’m kind of skeptical of those, and getting quite a bit of feedback as I travel, about some of the really big systems. Again, “I’ve over purchased. I was only using 10% of the email, but now I’ve bought the rest of the cloud, and I’m not using any of that.”
The only bit that really seems integrated when we talk about data is actually the invoice. I think for the big enterprise, that stuff works and works tremendously well and could be really powerful if you’ve got the right team that can leverage it. I think certainly when we move into say more of the area where I work with dotMailer and the midmarket, is certainly expressing caution about what stack you’re going to put together. I think the smart guys are putting some very smart technologies together and building their own internal best of breed. What might be good for them in social or CRM today, might be great, but it might also outgrow it. If they’re prepared to swap it in and out, and I know how to work with the data to enable that, then again they’re seeing some really good successes.
I think the adoption of a data first mentality, I think is really exciting. I think as I said, everyone’s talking about AI. I don’t think at the moment, everyone’s ready for it. Some people will naturally be in better shape and ready for it, but I think as the data sources get better, then I think that’s exciting. It may still be 12, 24 months out before we see real wide scale adoption of that by the masses. I think typically when technology like ourselves and our competitors, we come out with a new tool, we all talk about it for a number of years then the adoption happens down the line.
Doug: Yeah and that’s funny, that’s right. We talk about it, and then couple years before we see stuff to start going to the marketplace, but the reality is the end user, the clients often are four or five years behind when this discussion starts.
Tink: One thing I also explained some of the adoptions, and say we talked about hitting the mark earlier and the lack of the basics of what we were talking about in personalization and segmentation, automation. That stuff’s been around for a long time, and people are still just getting their head around about how to deploy it. I guess, my colleague Skip Fidura that maybe some of the people listening to this will be familiar. He was a thought leader at dotMailer, he’s been in the industry for many years. He talks about Magpie Marketing. Be wary of the technology, well the [more tech 00:19:20] companies, and were very good at marketing and were very good to talk about the new technology.
It’s all bright, new, and shiny, and everyone gravitates towards that and then they’ve got it, and realized they haven’t got their basics in shape yet. Just a word of caution that I suppose. That probably sounds odd coming from a software vendor, because we do it as well. That’s the-
Doug: No it doesn’t actually. No, that’s exactly where I was going with my next question. I was going to ask you, what advice you’d give to our listeners? Because I’m in this space, and I spend a lot of hours online looking at new stuff, and traveling as well. We hear about, “Oh are you doing AI? What about chat bots?” On and on the conversation go, and so what I want to bring back to you is, what advice would you give people that are looking at all these new things? You’re a small to medium size business, you’re looking at getting out of just an email only platform to maybe get into something like your system that’s got some automation and some deeper analytics, but you’re always enticed by what does [Gary V 00:20:24] say about SnapChat? Maybe we should be on SnapChat. What advice do you give to these guys in terms of getting their house in order, to get started?
Tink: If you’re looking at a small business to maybe larger businesses, you’ve got C level executives and then maybe you got a CMO and a whole team of marketers that the advice is probably slightly different of course. If you’re an SME, email still in a digital world … I can’t remember how many reports I’ve seen this for the last 10 plus years, email has always delivered the greatest ROI. Making sure that that is fundamental to all of your marketing efforts. I often say that the email address is your digital key online. You can’t do anything online without an email address. You can’t sign up for social network. You can’t buy anything. You can’t do any online banking and what have you.
Email is a natural key. If you get that right, get that piece right, and get the automation piece right, it’s then easy to then bring in other elements into the marketing. Now, whether that’s doing something in social, getting naturally to gravitate to the email address, but your email address will tie you into your CRM. You could use the engagement and the metrics you’re getting through email to maybe even do something in traditional print marketing. Those that are highly engaged, send them a nice expensive glossy in the post. Those that aren’t engaging at all, perhaps if you tried them on social and they’re still not engaging, perhaps maybe you send them something cheap in the post. You can use it with intelligence, but use the email piece as your digital key. It will give you the guiding light about where you should spend time, effort, and budget in the other channels.
I think if I spun that question on its head and said I’m a C level executive, that’s got to point those guys at the Magpie marketing comment. Just be wary of what’s shiny and new, because quite often it sounds great, you’ll get wined and dined largely for being a C level executive. Everything will sound fantastic. You’ll get the slickest demo. You get the most experienced tech presales guy showing how easy everything is, but then when you go down to maybe your VP in marketing or your CMO or your marketing executive that actually got to use the tools, they’ll find it difficult. My advice to those guys would be, try before you buy. Any vendor or tool should be able to give you access to see, almost do the Pepsi challenge as it were. Pick a couple, and see which one you prefer, which one is better for you, what suits your needs better for today the best, and make sure there’s a bit of room for growth in there at the same time.
Doug: Yeah, totally makes sense. I’m exactly where you are. Start with the basics like you said. I need email to do anything in the world, start there, get that right when that’s performing well. We found from our own experiences that email plays really nice with social. You need to send a welcome message and welcome people into your organization if they’ve signed up and requested information. That’s a great opportunity to say, “Hey, connect with us on social. Here are some other platforms you can find us,” and see great conversion numbers when you do that.
Tink: Absolutely. That comes back to email being the digital key. You mentioned all my DMA work in the US and in the UK, and I think many years ago email as a channel came along and said, “Oh we’re so much better than everything else. You should only do email.” Then as being mobile comes along and said, “That’s going to kill you in email.” If I had a dollar every time someone said email is dead, I’d be a very rich man. Social came along, it was going to do the same thing, but actually, the way you monetize those channels as you say, one feeds the other. Social is a great way of driving traffic to a site, making sure the site converts that into an email. That email you convert it in social, you can then track that through, ultimately through the pipeline into sales. You can put real monetization on that.
I think it does show, we are living in a much more multichannel world, and we can’t do things in isolation. That’s why those data silos are so key to get those linked together. Also, it’s not one channel ahead of the other, apart from when I think we come to email, because that is the natural link. All of the case studies that we try to do on multichannel at the DMA, every single time we try to put one together, it had to have at least three channels to be accepted into the awards process. Every single one of them, bar none, had email in them. Email was at the epicenter with every case study.
Doug: Well and there’s just so much stuff with email right now that I don’t think is being talked about in the business setting. That is uploading your email list to Google, and uploading your email list to Facebook, so to be able to remarket and communicate with your customers and your potential customers in a social platform and a search platform and isolate your conversation only to people that you’ve already had some engagement with, to me that’s just the biggest missed opportunity that I’m actually seeing these current days.
Tink: Spot on. It’s so easy to do, and it’s such a unique identifier of your customers. Where they’re living in the social world, where they’re living broadly online as well, given the right permissions and have you. We have to be very mindful of that, because the laws around data permission are increasingly getting tighter and tighter. You have to make sure that you’re playing within the rules. If you’re doing international, you got to be very aware. The rules up here in Canada are very different than the US, more similar to the UK. If you’re sending into Asia, that’s another different world as well.
Yeah, there are lots of things that you can do. There are loads of things I think that you’re absolutely spot on, people are missing out on some really easy quick wins. Also, I think if you’re doing more international stuff, just being mindful of the regulation.
Doug: Absolutely. Just couple quick questions, and we’ll let you get back on with your day. Who’s one guest that you think we absolutely should have on our podcast?
Tink: In terms of the world of email, probably two people I really get on well with and they’re good friends of mine. They working competitors, but I’m happy to recommend. You’ve got Del Quist, who’s based out of London originally, but I know he’s working in the US through Atlanta. Seen him keynote several times, all over the world. Also, I think Lauren MacDonald who’s [inaudible 00:27:03] now IBM. Someone who’s a very seasoned marketer, and he was doing content marketing I think we call it now or thought leadership is what we called it back in the late ’80s. He’ll probably hate me for saying that. He’s been there, done it, he’s been through every single phase as a marketer, has seen everything, done everything, seen it renamed again and brought to everyone’s attention as a brand new methodology with a nice new shiny name. I know both of those guys very, very well and I think they’re always very willing to share their expertise and findings, and experience.
Doug: Excellent suggestions. Yeah, Lauren I met through email labs a long, long time ago. Maybe he doesn’t want me to bring that up. We’ll move along. What is the best way for people to get a hold of you, find you, find your company, and like you said, if you have access, get a chance to try your software?
Tink: The website’s www.dotmailer.com, and we have a free trial on there. We also have a request a demo, so if you want someone to walk you through the platform, that’s really easy. We love people seeing it actually. I find that when people take a look, I can actually visibly see people’s pain is removed. When I talk about things being difficult and taking time, our ethos in the company’s always been NASA technology, but with a Fisher Price interface. Make the difficult things easy. That’s how you get a hold of us.
If you want to get a hold of me, you can find me on Twitter via my Twitter handler is, TinkTaylor. All over LinkedIn, quite easy to find and search actually, because there’s not many Tink Taylors around. You’ll find me there and Instagram. Feel free to reach out.
Doug: Excellent. What we’ll do is we’ll have these notes transcribed, and we’ll have them up on our website for you listeners to connect the companies that we’ve mentioned, the brands we’ve mentioned will be hyperlinked in there, and we’ll have all of the information for both dotmailer and for Tink there for you to have access to it. Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to connecting in our next episode. Thanks so much Tink.
Tink: No problem. My pleasure.
Resources and Links mentioned in this Episode
Hitting the Mark – White paper
Tink on Twitter – TinkTaylor