Email may be the workhorse of marketing, but it no longer stands alone. And it may not work well even with other channels if certain rules aren’t followed. So said Bob Fabbio, CEO of eRelevance, in a Q&A.
The occasion of our talk was the bold announcement by eRelevance that an integrated multichannel approach can improve reach compared over that of email alone. eRelevance runs campaigns across multiple channels: targeted email, text, targeted social ads, Web, and push notifications, plus conversational experiences on smartphones.
Here are Fabbio’s insights on that, and email marketing in general.
Please explain what eRelevance is trying to do.
We built a service that leverages proprietary technology to reach existing customers with multi-cycle, multichannel marketing. Ultimately, the reach is profoundly better than anything out there because of an integrated approach.
That’s a big claim. Are you saying that email no longer works by itself?
Email is a single channel — the net is only so wide.
Gartner research shows that if you leverage multichannel with four or five channels, it will outperform a single or dual channel by 300% or 3X. And eRelevance data supports that.
So what are the limitations of a single channel like email?
Let’s say doctors are blasting patients once a month with email specials. It starts to look like spam, and that pushes people away. In a single channel, even if you’re getting 20% open rates, that means 80% of your base isn’t seeing what you’re promoting.
How does a multichannel approach help that?
We use advanced analytics to figure out who the target audiences ought to be, and we digitally surround them with targeted email, targeted social, targeted Web, targeted text and two conversational channels -- one on mobile app and one that works over straight SMS -- chatbot, if you will. Also, we have a warehouse of consumer engagement data and campaign execution data.
But surely you must also help email marketers on the tactical level. What do you see them doing wrong?
A big one is that they’re not following marketing best practices. They’re using email software tools, but the tools don’t enforce any best practices, so it’s anarchy. We see horrifically long, image-heavy emails with lots and lots of topics that go out once a month to the customer base. It’s hard for your demand gen to be effective when you do that.
What do you recommend?
First, pick one thing to promote, not 45. Second, have a good economic offer that drives people to take action. See what’s performing well across the country -- don’t guess what the offer would be.
You have to hone in on groups of customers and communicate in a relevant way about things that matter to them.Often, they don’t target groups of people: It takes too much time, and it’s too hard using the existing tools.
Say you’re targeting all women ages 40 to 60 who have concerns about wrinkles on their face and have consumed other dermal filler products. You don’t want to include a 20-year-old girl who has had a mole removed: dermal fillers are irrelevant to her.
How do you find new customers in an audience like that?
We’re not trying to help businesses find new customers. We’re taking existing customers, nurturing them and increasing their lifetime value.
It sounds like you’d have to be an enterprise company to use your services.
On the contrary, we figured out how to bring that down to small businesses in a way they can consume it at a price point they can afford. As we say, eRelevance makes sophisticated marketing simple.
How do you handle multichannel attribution?
We’ve built a platform from the ground up, and we can attribute everything in the cycle and in the campaign. We run about four cycles per campaign per month.
What is your attribution telling you?
That the conversational channels are blowing away all other digital channels in term of conversion rate and leads. When someone engages in bidirectional action, they’re truly interested in the topic.
How does email stand up?
The conversational channels are outperforming the traditional digital channels, including email.