Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Hippos & Attributing Email Revenue

Wednesday, 10. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit
There was one moment this afternoon during Jim Sterne‘s presentation on Measurements & Attribution. Everyone cracked up (and the #eis twitterstream was crackling) when Jim mentioned that one person who blocks email marketing activities: “the Hippo” or “the HIghest Paid Opinion” in the room, by saying things like “Let’s change that image to yellow,” or “My wife doesn’t like that offer.” His solution to these suggestions by hippos: “Great, we’ll test that.”

Oh wait, another point everyone laughed was when he spoke of traditional marketers, and how we were “waiting for them all to die off.” I have to say this conference has a very nice wit about it with talks of twitter=heroin, waiting for a certain breed of colleagues to “die off,” and other things I can’t mention here.

He made a very good point that was repeated by someone in the hallway afterwards, which is: it’s vital to integrate seamlessly across channels because, “… from the customer viewpoint, ‘I’m not thinking what channel it’s on.’”

Oh, and this was lapped up by our eager audience. Email marketing should use comprehensive testing to determine the hearts & minds of the customer, then, “help them [other channels] break through market research money they’re sending by using email as a leading indicator.”

What’s interesting about his presentation, in relation to a later presnetation by Bob Frady of LiveStation. They had very differing views of email revenue stream attribution to the entire marketing effort. Jim stated that it took an entire process, from advertising, PR, operations, etc. down to email and the final sale to create the sale, thus the revenue should be split among it, though he admitted that determining a method of the split and attribution is very difficult. Bob posited that by testing events without doing email support, he could determine a % of lift from email, and attribute that way. He also showed lifetime revenue per opted-in email customer, as a total year revenue number for email. Interesting methods, and both had good justifications.

The Social Semantic Web Session

Wednesday, 10. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit I enjoyed the content of Chris Marriot’s (of Axciom) Social Semantic Web. It was a nice demonstration of an area that we are slowly learning about, and I don’t think it’s presumptuous to say it will be the future of email, and the user’s experience online.

He introduced to us Google’s Social Graph API, the Linking Open Data Project by W3C, and Freebase.

OK, yes, those are a lot of random names that may be coming to you from nowhere. Suffice to say they’re worth a link, and if I tried to summarize what they did I’d be here all day, except to say that they are various systems of open data accessible by APIs and other methods.

The insight into email is that it will make deeper and more comprehensive content, quickly personalized, from a seemingly infinite array of types of interest data, making it a far richer experience for the recipient.

Questions after the session revolved around personal information, and whether the data would be somehow “owned” or copy writ by any individual or organization. Dylan Boyd of eROI mentioned that OpenID was already a way of users managing their own personal information across data resources.

Social Marketing Session: Embracing Your Fans

Tuesday, 09. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit I was really looking forward to the social marketing session, moderated by Loren McDonald of Silverpop and on it: Brian Whalley of Our Stage, Karla Venell of General Mills, and Jay Stevens of MySpace.

Loren made a funny analogy- that marijuana,cocaine, heroin is to LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter. Some of us twittering in the session were a little caught off guard.

Great comment by Jay of MySpace regarding email: “I laugh at people who think email is killing social media, social media needs email now more than ever.

Some practical advice to email marketers- adding chiclets to the bottom of emails to share out the content. Also, you’d think, and what I wrote in MarketingProfs, is to add other methods to subscribe to this kind of content- RSS feeds, mainly.

Great examples of user-generated content, and emails, from Brian of OurStage. In all the social marketing was very focused on email and avenues that existing marketers are using to leverage social marketing. Having said that, I felt that the General Mills examples were pretty mild and confined. They could have done a lot more with their content, which was hinted at a few times by fan pages: the Lucky Charms, “Keep Lucky Charms Alive”:

Facebook | Search: lucky charms.

10,000 members have joined the group to “save Lucky Charms.” That nostalgia and content is so key, and could be leveraged and embraced by corporate General Mills. When they talked about control, and even Karla of General Mills brought up the issue of “What do we do with people using our brand,” it ended up being: embrace it, reward, include, and incorporate those fans that are ambassadors for your brand. Jay of MySpace made the point that it’s not enough to notice who are the mavens and trendsetters for aspects of your brand, but to include them.

GoodMail Releases Video in Email

Tuesday, 09. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit A little nugget was passed to me by Goodmail employee last night, and then revealed in the talk this morning, that video will be available in emails in the next month or so, and for Yahoo and AOL only. The perk on this is that JavaScript will also be available in email, of course if you’re using GoodMail services. Neat.

Lunch Workshop: CMO’s Talk

Monday, 08. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit
Great lunchtime talk hosted by ExactTarget, on “No Executive Left Behind: Ten Things Your C-Suite Must Know About Email NOW,” with four panelists, Jaffe (Join the Conversation), Bloxham (Ball State Univ.), Castellini (CareerBuilder) & Stewart (Exact Target). My favorite session so far, probably, because it was the most honest. Let’s face it, a lot of things have changed since the conference was planned- so it’s hard to have a super relevant talk. The landscape is different, and we’re all heading into the next year with a feeling of “what’s next.” Each session talked about how money is flowing from direct marketing and advertising/pr/media into email. What is the result? “It will be horrible,” says Bloxham. You’ll get more people contending for real estate on your newsletter, more demands to increase frequency, and more people just wanting to be a chef in the kitchen.

They complained about email still being cornered by the email department, instead of being truly integrated with the entire marketing strategy. Joffe had a unique example, how Amex asked him to bid on an ideal trip, and he chose a trip to Paris for $10K. Amex then emailed him later saying “Dear cardmenber, you did not win.” He explained that not only could they have gotten his name right, but told him how much the winning bid was, pitch him on concierge services in Paris, etc. This example spoke to all the speakers who, like Bloxham, said that whoever did that email marketing campaign should not get work in the future (from him).

The best part, by far, was how email is positioned well to understand social marketing, as we already get metrics, ROI, valuation and viral elements. Though, notably, not from the earlier example! Not sure who siad it, but I think it’s great: “email will get social before social gets social.” (small bit of doubt here whether it was “email will get social before social gets email, but it’s much more meaningful the other way.)

Funny moment when the speakers were berating us, “Why are you all email marketers! Why arent’ there any non-email marketers here?” and my neighbor leans over and whispers. “It’s too damn expensive.” The point the speakers were trying to make is that “email is too important to be done by emailers.” Which lead to how a great harmony would be the social marketer and the emailer (as emailers aren’t social animals… what??).

Very good point by Joffe, that email is ubiquitous in organizations and to have an “email department” is largely anachronistic. Everything we do is via email in almost all online services.

This got a lot of buzz on the #eis twitterstream: the common acceptance of the definition of spam as “whatever [the consumer/recipient] doesn’t want.” the folks at my table- Dylan Boyd, Jeff Mills, and DJ Waldow- all nodded knowingly, but some folks on Twitter were shocked. I think that disconnect is the one between, what we have to acknowledge to conform to CAN-SPAM as well as what we truly understand as consumer behaviors. If it’s old, irrelevant, or uninteresting, users call it spam.

Obama Campaign – Stephen Geer Dir. of Email

Monday, 08. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit The first session was Barack Obama campaign, Stephen Geer, director of email and online fundraising. In May 2007 they started and he managed it throughout. The list was an unprecedented part of the campaign.

The new media team & email had 3 goals: 1) message 2) mobilization 3) money

- Strict messaging was important and followed everything B said in press, senior officials said publicly, and short & long term themes set by the team.
- Also used email to *drive* message

In the beginning, March was disappointing, it was the primaries, and they lost, presented numbers with unflinching honesty, went over gains and losses, looked at turnout of key demographic groups. Created a campaign where they told supporters- this is how we measured success, and assured them that we were on the right track. Later, it became a consistent strategy that grew over time, content of “math” email to a script, that the manager recorded on his laptop. Unsophisticated, with basic PowerPoint slides. Recorded messages every few weeks, and they became a touchstone to coordinators. Media just launched on the email, they called it a “strategy update.” It was basically the nuts & bolts of where we are right now. Key to this was that we released it to the email base BEFORE we released it to the press. With 10+ million following, they knew more about what was going on inside, than the press. This was essential to our overall media strategy.

In regards to the relationship between campaign & supporters- we had a 3 word mantra: respect, empower & include. That was the heart of online and offline grassroots mobilization. Pre-primaries, we setup email lists in each state, with public events, ads, and incentives. The list grew of course most with public face-to-face rallies. We also had great responses to simple incentives- free stuff, invite friend, free bumper sticker.

If you signed up for an event, we asked you to volunteer. If you volunteered, we asked you to host phone bank, etc. We had escalating invovlement, metered out and triggered frequency. We offered more responsibility, and active volunteers were connected to local volunteers. We steered them also, to the social networking platform- to create events of their own and recruit friends.

Continued right up to election day- email on that day included not only your message, but the names of 5 likely targeted Obama voters in your neighborhood, to help get out to vote. “Sense of ownership was over the whole process.”


Two numbers you hear a lot from the press: 500M raised online, 3M individual donoers. I can’t talk about segmentation and a/b splitting but the basic philosophy was:

The “non-test”: first had small donor opps, couldn’t do contests, so called them “non-tests,” but also repeated over and over again. By opening up to Barack directly, limited acces to lobbyists and special interests. The mesaging came into play here, replacing power of Washington insiders with ordinary Americans. 8 series done. In the past, you had to raise 150K to meet Barack at a cocktail party. Now, if you gave $5 you could talk to him for 3 hours at dinner.

Similar personal connection. Day after Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech: during her speech she went on an attack against “community organizers.” It played into a narrative they’d been building, as all of their supporters are community organizers too. Empowering regular people to get involved. The insight in the email was to pivot the comment to attack any regular person in the campaign. To fight back, make a small donation- single biggest day of fundraising in history of politics.

Insights from the Question & Answer period:

New media team was relatively small, he took the speechwriting task from them to write the new emails. He basicaly wrote from Barack’s viewpoint.

The segmentation based on common sense things; if you’re part of Democratic Party, who you voted for, registered to vote, historical data, volunteers, move to other states, demographic & commercial data also; behavioral data, how much money they donated, caps on individual donors, where the donor is to that max, hugely indicative of what kind of messaging you would get; the emotional continuum to responsiveness in campaign giving; polistical constituencies groups, know who they are, voter file info & consistent surveys of audience; response rates were pretty high;

They had a metrics-style group he called “general accounting,” that gave them status on where they were on trends, gave ideas for testing, basically like that for 2 years.

In regards to connecting online to offline, sometimes would get feedback from field dept. to new media dept., getting that early on and in touch with professional field officers, and letting them build own organizations in own state- this is all a big part of why the campaign won. How we identified those people when we started in a new state: we went in with an email address list, and some field volunteers had already used online tools to host parties, etc before an office was even created. This is very different from usual phone-tree method. We had a pre-prepared list of volunteers and level of commitment. Nobody else was doing what we were doing.

In regards toa comment on frequency: yes, we sent a ton. But it was largely different for each person, and dependent on what state and level of commitment, dependent on their profile. Largest emails that went out were the fundraising emails. We need donations by this time, etc. Trading off unsubscribes to list growth, it’s easy to balance, determine frequency on how much we need to burn, how how much we earn. In relation to the over-contact by different channels- by phone, email, etc.- he said, “Did you vote? [guy nods] Then we didn’t message you too much.”

We also have self-imposed restrictions: no registered lobbyists, special interests, and scrubbing the list through it; as well as non-nationals, etc.

Email is not subordinate to communications, but they are synced, sees new media leaving and not being a part of the communications deptartment. In traditional campaigns the communications department knows the phone numbers of every journalist at the New York Times, but doesn’t see value in bloggers, online volunteers, etc.

Scott Gudstein is the mobile guy and he ran it, Steven helped with strategy but that’s it. Mostly in that Obama was the first to do it on that scale. “Be the first to know” vp, before – didn’t work djwaldow & chad and I agreed

In regards to texting: Some rural areas did a lot more texting without internet or blackberry, they were a segment that wouldn’t be addressed otherwise, and was part of scaling and the scale they did it #62262 obama in text. did not know that. hmm

Question: with the huge list you have, what is the DNC going to do now?
Stephen: I can’t talk about some things, but sees it as property of Obama the president. Question: who owns these emails? The debate is going on now, even while i’m here.

Question: What did you learn from Howard Dean campaign? Well we’re using Blue State Digital, which is a consulting company created by some people from the Dean days. One thing about 2004 vs. 2008- with YouTube alone, it made such a big difference. So the differences since the last 4 years, it’s been little bit of tech growth, and commitment and buyin, and scalability.

Question: Checking my inbox, I see 327 emails and also from 20 different people?
Steven: Everything in there was tested, there is a relationship from the from address to the sender, can’t speak more to it… split testing on content with from line, and see who responded to it the best, may see a few early mistakes, some tests (outliers in the patterns)”surrogate emails” endorsers on the state level,

Question: what is a lesson learned or misstep, we like to do it differently the next time?

Answer: Buying and building the team. The hardest part is the more succcessful the longer it goes, so if you win the primary, you stay in, and if you win the overall primary, then in the general. it’s hard for a core team of folks who starte din the beginning, to do it another year. thinking of staff structure earlier on, that was a limiting factor, 2 years of not sleeping is a big deal.

Follow EIS on Twitter

Monday, 08. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit For live-blogging, check all of the email marketers using EIS hash tag, “#eis.”
First talk was by the Obama campaign, Stephen Geer, Director of Email, and I have the notes but need to compile it into a post! Great little tidbits:
- Question asked about frequency, and how overbearing it was. Stephen replies: “Did you vote? (guy nods) Then it wasn’t too much.”

Eve of the Summit- What are the hot topics?

Monday, 08. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit
I flew into Park City, Utah, today and took the shuttle up to the lodge. During the flight I thought about what would be the most serious issues for email marketers. Fellow conference-goer and company in the hourlong shuttle ride- Mike Fitzgerald from AdKnowledge- helped me compile this list of current hot topics in email.

- Lowering budgets in other marketing areas means a couple of things: doing more with less, getting more input from other departments (because their budgets have been cut) and being even more accountable for email’s ROI.
- More pressure to come up with clever, unique, funny, and insightful creative to set yourself apart from competition. In the downturn existing creative teams are going to get more pressure to create innovative campaigns.
- Mike pointed out that deliverability is largely a non-issue now, but I added that consumers increasingly perceive permission email as spam.
- Social networking and media is ramping up in popularity but will probably suffer from the downturn, putting more pressure on email as a dependable and traditional revenue stream.
- To keep up the revenue from email, firms will more and more have to integrate transactional and lifecycle emails, which adds more complexity on the back-end.

Like a time capsule, it’ll be neat to check back and see if these really are the topics most folks are concerned with!

RSS for all conferecence posts: MailChimp at Email Summit.

Email Insider Summit Schedule

Monday, 01. December 2008 by Anna Billstrom

MailChimp at Email Insider Summit
The lovely people at MailChimp are sponsoring my trip to MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit next week, in Utah. I’ll be blogging the experience, so check back here for some armchair travel and email marketing conference live-blogging, or subscribe to my RSS feed for this category, “EmailSummit MailChimp.”

Looking over the agenda, I’m excited about a couple of sessions:

  • Obama Campaign Recap! – A reason to get up early despite the time difference: I followed the campaign intently since noticing his team used SEO in simple text messages, back in August, “Email to Text Message: Obama Campaign.
  • The next few sessions seem kind of lite, to me, a user focus group, “Moms on Email” and retail/email marketers round table, hosted by keynote speaker, and RazorFish VP of Email David Baker.
  • The best sessions look to be the next day (well, and I’m tech/social media oriented): “Email as Social Media Tool,” “Cross Channel Measurement,” and “Measuring the Business Impact of Email.” All great tools for dealing with those conversations we all have with IT, execs, and marketing groups.
  • The noon hour roundtables on Tuesday look truly solid (bold ones are of high interest):

    • Deliverability/Pricing
    • Monetization/Publishing
    • Web Analytics/Email
    • Creative Optimization
    • Transactional/Enterprise Messaging
    • ESPs and Tools Selection (Marketers and Agency Execs only)
  • So many times at these conferences the actual meat of the presentation is very different from expectations I get from the agenda, so I may dip in and out of a few to get an idea of what’s good.

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