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The Connected Web

Phil Wainewright

Getting the Best Out of Digital Marketing

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Listen to my interview with Scott Dorsey, CEO of ExactTarget, an on-demand email and 1-to-1 marketing provider that's just landed a $70 million venture capital funding round.

In this podcast, learn what organizations are doing to make sure their digital marketing reaches subscribers in the most effective way, and find out why investment continues to flow into providers like ExactTarget.

Listen to or download the 8:14 minute podcast below:



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---Transcript---

PW: Well, Scott, the advent of email and the web has really changed the way that businesses reach out to prospects and customers. Although I think even now — and we're more than ten years into the web being used for commercial purposes — but most companies I think still don't really understand how to get the best out of digital marketing tools. So what I wanted just to kick off with was, to ask you what you find are the top tips you find yourself most often repeating when you're talking to customers.

SD: It's my pleasure. I share that same view, Phil. In fact, this week is historic in a sense, in that Seth Godin actually published the book Permission Marketing ten years ago on May 6. And that really is what created and invented this whole notion of permission-based email marketing. So even though that we're ten years into the industry, there's still a tremendous amount of potential for marketers to get more out of their digital marketing efforts.

So, as we think about email — just starting with that focus — the real theme and powerful use-case that we're seeing, where organizations take this to a high level, is all about leveraging data. So it's about pulling in data from multiple sources — be it CRM, web analytics, point-of-sale systems, e-commerce — getting to know the subscriber, building as much information as they can about that subscriber, and then making sure they're generating data-driven communications, so that subscribers are getting content that's highly personalized and highly relevant.

All of us have a lot of marketing messaging coming at us on a daily basis, and the need for relevancy is higher today than ever before. But most marketers and marketing organizations still have upside and still have room for improvement by really, really leveraging data.

And then, the other piece is really taking a look at all touch-points of communication, across every form of email — every class of email communication, including a lot of triggered and transactional and confirmation emails. And then also looking at new technologies like SMS, voice, landing pages, social networking — and making sure they have that common view of the subscriber, and all those communications are being orchestrated in a way that looks at the customer first and looks at all those different touch points in a holistic way.

Right. Okay, so we're not just talking about blasting out an email to all-and-sundry every week or two, but to actually send out more tailored messages that are based on the knowledge that you have of those individual customers. And doing it at more timely occasions, rather than just on a regular schedule, for example.

That's absolutely right. Email marketing has been so effective that it actually is a little bit of a blessing and a curse. So, many organizations have been able to send the same message to everyone and still be effective. But today's subscriber is far more discerning and the future of email marketing is a much, much higher degree of relevance.

And in fact, we launched a website — and something that really has turned into a complete organizational philosophy — called "Subscribers Rule!" So if any of your listeners go to subscribersrule.com, [they can] look at a lot of really, really excellent insight, and video, and creative content. But the whole notion of Subscribers Rule! is helping organizations and marketers think of the subscriber first, and really letting the subscriber dictate how they're going to be communicated with.

So our mantra for a long time has been sending the right message to the right person at the right time. And now, with the new technologies — like plug-ins to social networks, and SMS, and voice — the right medium is the fourth piece. So right message, to the right person, at the right time, through the right medium — and put the subscriber in charge. Let them really dictate to the organization what they want to receive, when they want to receive it, and in what digital format. And if marketers do that, they'll see far, far better results. We have lots of very, very compelling case studies and staggering ROI numbers from organizations that are thinking very holistically about these digital communications and letting the subscriber dictate the rules.

So when you say letting the subscriber dictate the rules, you're talking about giving them a self-service console where they can make choices about what sort of communications they get, and when they get them — that kind of thing?

That's absolutely right. We call those profile centers, where the subscriber can select — and be very specific, quite frankly, on — the type of communications they want to receive, the type of content they want to receive, what frequency they want to receive it, and even right down to date, time, and digital medium.

So think of a home improvement retailer, for example, that wants to get their message out to many, many subscribers. Subscribers can tell that home retailer when they want to receive the content. Some might prefer to receive it Saturday morning, when they start thinking about weekend projects. Others might want to receive it on Tuesday evening. Some might prefer a message via SMS, others might prefer an email newsletter. So it's really putting that subscriber in charge and letting them be very specific about what they want to receive and how they want to interact with the marketer.

And how important is it to tie the email messaging in with the other things that the organization is doing in relation to customers?

Extremely important. Extremely important. We've long believed that our software tools are far more powerful when integrated into CRM platforms. And in fact, we have productized integrations with Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM Dynamics. Same being true for the web analytics space: we have partnerships with Omniture and Webtrends, and a variety of others.

And we really help organizations aggregate data — really be an aggregation point for the marketers — they can pull data in on their customers, they can understand web browsing activity, can understand purchase activity, and bring it all together. And then in many ways, our email platform makes that data actionable, it kind of brings it to life. It's one thing to collect data on your customers, it's a whole 'nother thing to use it in powerful ways that drive behavior and provide better value to the ultimate customer.

So I mentioned at the beginning of the call that you just closed a $70 million funding round, which is a huge round for a software business, or a SaaS business. Why is it that you and your investors apparently see so much growth potential in this area? Is there still a lot of opportunity that's untapped at the moment for email marketing?

There really is. There really is — across many aspects of the industry. So over the history of ExactTarget, we've always had a history and a reputation for building very sophisticated tools that are easy-to-use, and driving a lot of innovation in the market, but there's a whole lot more potential. So — to some of our earlier comments — most organizations are executing their email and digital marketing at a level that's good, but there's a lot of upside to get better. A lot of upside to get better across every form of communication, be it order confirmation, or transactional emails, or the more marketing- and promotion-oriented. That's one piece of it.

All of our growth as a company over the last seven or eight years — growing to a company with north of 400 employees today — has been very focused on the US market and very focused on just organic growth. We've yet to do an acquisition. So the capital really gives us immediate funding to start building out our international footprint, selectively look at acquisitions that can broaden our technology platform, and then just put a whole lot more muscle and resources behind software development innovation to help our clients be more successful. We have many, many clients that are using our software all around the world and the international piece is very important — they're very eager for us to open direct offices to better support their marketers abroad and really tie these communication strategies together in a very global way.

2 Comments

All of us have a lot of marketing messaging coming at us on a daily basis, and the need for relevancy is higher today than ever before.

There really is — across many aspects of the industry. So over the history of ExactTarget, we've always had a history and a reputation for building very sophisticated tools that are easy-to-use, and driving a lot of innovation in the market, but there's a whole lot more potential. So — to some of our earlier comments — most organizations are executing their email and digital marketing at a level that's good, but there's a lot of upside to get better. A lot of upside to get better across every form of communication,Thanks for your information, i have read it, very good?

Phil Wainewright blogs about how businesses are using the Web to get better plugged into today's fast-moving, digital economy.

Phil Wainewright

Phil Wainewright specializes in on-demand services View more

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