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Splat Chat Episode 02: Set Yourself Up for Marketing Automation Success

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What does marketing automation success look like? To find out, we spoke with two women who have plenty of experience developing automated email campaigns.

In Episode 02 of Splat Chat, I interviewed Brooke Bartos who is the Senior Marketing Operations Manager at the B2B agency, Walker Sands, and Intuit‘s Marketing Automation Manager, Jessica Schlacter.

Among the many things you’ll learn about marketing automation success … You need to get comfortable with a little failure too (and have a sense of humor about it all).

You’ll also hear about the kinds of metrics Brooke and Jessica look at when they’re measuring the success of marketing automation, including the nurture campaigns they build for brands and clients. We’ll even talk about whether there’s still room for “batch-and-blast” email marketing in your strategy.

Plus, find out where to get a great cup of coffee the next time you’re in Flint, Michigan, or Oakland, California.

Watch the full episode below and be sure to check out the show notes at the end of the transcript for more info!

Monica:

Welcome to the second episode of Splat Chat. My name is Monica Hoyer and I am the Director of Marketing at Email on Acid. I’m here today with Jessica Schlacter, is that?

Jessica:

Schlacter like doctor

Monica:

Schlacter. Okay. She is the Marketing Automation Manager at Intuit. And also with me today is Brooke Bartos the Senior Manager of Marketing Operations at Walker Sands. Thank you both for joining me today. I appreciate your time. Let’s get started with a lightning round of questions and I’ll turn to you first, Jessica, since you’re on my left text or talk

Jessica:

Talk, I think it’s super important, especially now that we’ve all been inside and social distancing to have that extra layer of communication with our friends. So I do it anytime I’m running an errand, I’m in my car. I’ll just call a friend and say hi. And it just, it’s a really great connecting point.

Monica:

So even like for five minutes, even if you’re just like hopping from store to store that’s, that’s great. Yeah, love it. And Brooke, what about you?

Brooke:

I’m a texter, I’m the mom of a toddler. A lot of my friends are also parents. And so sometimes it can be really hard to eke out even those five minutes, even in the car. So, our easiest way to keep in touch is just a quick, “Hey, how you doing, how you holding up?” You know, we might try to book time that we can, we can get together, but it takes a little bit more coordination typically than just, you know, jumping in the car and making a phone call. So I tend to be a serial texter as a result.

Monica:

Well, I like both perspectives on that. Okay, Brooke, what about you? Coffee or tea?

Brooke:

I am a coffee person. Coffee has been getting me through the COVID situation. I actually have a local roastery from my hometown near Flint, Michigan called Fireside Coffee that makes wonderful small-batch roasts. So I order from them regularly and have it delivered here at the house. And there’s always a very large typically like a Yeti style mug floating around here, somewhere full of coffee.

Monica:

Nice. And Jessica, what about you?

Jessica:

I will also go coffee. I really got into making pour-over during the pandemic, just having that little extra time you know, in the morning, boil water, you know, grind my own beans. And I purchased from another local coffee roastery. They’re known as Red Bay Coffee out of Oakland, California. And they’re black-owned and they just produce the most delicious tasting brew I’ve had in a long time.

Monica:

Well, both of you, since you’re talking about small coffee roasteries, why don’t you make sure to follow up with me and send me those so that we can post them on our blog when we have this live as well. Great. And Jessica, what about, what are you currently reading or listening to?

Jessica:

So I’m still reading this book about the Great Migration that was published a couple of years ago. And I’m totally blanking on the name right now. Yes, it is “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Thank you. So I am reading “The Warmth of Other Suns.” . It’s an excellent book about the African American, that migration, particularly post-slavery in that Jim Crow era as they moved from the South and getting out of the experience of the South and sharecropping into the Northern cities and what that was like,or them to make those moves and make those decisions and change their lives and the lives of their families.

Monica:

And Brook what about you?

Brooke:

So I’m actually kind of on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been exploring a little bit in Clubhouse was able to get an invite over there. And so it’s been really interesting for me to go in and actually listen to some of the conversations being had in there, what people are doing, how they’re innovating around all of the transitions that have been happening with organizations as primarily a result of COVID, but as people are now dispersed, and they’re no longer working in office settings and how that changes some of the technology that we use. There’s also a lot of, a lot that I’m getting out of the conversations that I think I was missing from, you know, just networking at conferences or events where you just sit and pick each other’s brains. And I’ve, I’ve found the opportunity to connect with some really cool people through that that I think has been really interesting. And I’ll be curious to see how that progresses.

Monica:

Yeah. I’m watching that as well. And I think it’s going to be interesting to see how, what ends up netting out from Clubhouse. All right. Well, let’s jump into some of our more in-depth and email-specific questions next. So we all know the terms, batch-and-blast, but email’s come a long way since those terms were used or started. Do you think that an e-blast has a place in 2021? And if so, when is the right time to use this strategy? Jessica let’s let’s turn to you first on that one.

Jessica:

Sure. I mean, I think there is a place for, you know, these large audience sends. I know the term blast makes a lot of eyeball twitches in the email marketing community. It has a really negative connotation. But sometimes there is an opportunity where you need to send something to your entire database and it needs to go out all at once. There may still be some sort of localization to it, but you’re looking to make sure you’re getting the same message out everywhere. When I was working at ThousandEyes, there would be a large-scale network outage and it would pull down something on a national or a global level and really affect lots and lots and lots of people. So we would do what a lot of people would consider a batch-and-blast and tell people, Hey, this happened, here’s how our solution sees what’s going on. And here’s what we learned from it. And, you know, and there may not be a resolution sometimes it’s out of your hands, but, you know, follow along with us as we do an analysis and we would set that up to go to over a hundred thousand people, like the majority of our database. So I do think there is a place for it still.

Monica:

Awesome. And Brooke, what about you?

Brooke:

Yeah, I would agree with that. You know, for me, I tend to stick to the term batch just because blast does have that sort of visceral cringe that comes with it. But when you have these batched communications that need to go out, I, I often look at what is the purpose of them? If it is something that’s, that’s operational, we do need to have that in front of everybody. We need to get that out. Typically, they seem to be often on a shorter timeline when those come up, but sometimes they’re, they are pre-planned communications. You know, I’ve worked in databases that are a million-plus up to, you know, 3 million-plus in a database. So that’s a pretty big send. And so I often do have to split mine up just because of volume.

Brooke:

But, there is certainly room for that. And I think what’s important is to make sure that when you do have those situations, that there’s still a purpose behind it, that you’re not just sending to take up space in someone’s inbox. One of the biggest things, when you get that email address is that’s a privilege. Somebody has given you a piece of personal contact information, and we need to remember to treat that with respect. So abusing that privilege by batch, after batch, after batch of irrelevant communications, you really then at that point are a spammer. You know, so understanding the use, the reason why, and, and making sure that that’s relevant and important is the key to making sure that batch has continued to have a place in email marketing.

Monica:

Yeah, I think that we all experienced something last year and almost a year ago that required a blast email with coronavirus shutting a lot of businesses down and needing to make sure that people knew that we’re still continuing business as usual or things have changed slightly. This is how we’re going to be doing business going forward. So I agree with both of you on that. So next question, we’ll start off with Brooke marketing automation incorporates nurture strategies and sending that right message at the right time to the right audience. What tips do you have to share with the audience today on how to do that successfully?

Brooke:

Yeah, I think the biggest thing, when you start to think about your nurture strategy before you can even begin to fill in the pieces of content and you know, what that journey might look like is to consider what your end goal for that nurture is, is that, you know, a, a conversion to a demo is that attending an event is that, you know, what, what that end result for your audience. And it’s not going to be the same for every audience or every business model. Once, you know what that looks like. You can start to define these success measures, and then you can begin to fill in the content along the way that tells the story.

Each piece that you add should add value to that journey. Nurture is about building trust. It’s about providing information and establishing that relationship. It’s not about continuing to badger somebody with the exact same message that, that doesn’t add anything to their relationship. So if you know what your goals are, you know who your audience is, the picture starts to form right away from that. And then you can layer in those middle pieces.

Monica:

I totally agree with that. And then Jessica, what about you?

Jessica:

Yeah, I mean, to kind of build on what Brooke said which I do agree with is it’s also really thinking about your audience. I mean, I know you touched on it briefly. But having that why of, okay, what’s the point of this nurture cadence is so critical, but who should receive it is also equally important because a nurture shouldn’t necessarily go to everybody. Or if you want to have nurture cadences and nurture automation within your marketing strategy, your email marketing strategy you want to think about who are you touching when and what pieces of their persona or their demographics or firmographics, or eventheir behavior within your email marketing, you know, automations as of so far triggers off these nurture campaigns and where are they within your marketing funnel may determine what kind of nurture stream they get.

So I also think thinking a lot about the who, and that will also start to speak to the how and the, when to get you to the why.

Monica:

Yeah. And we’ve also talked about understanding and ensuring that those nurture streams are part of a larger ecosystem. So, you know, you may have someone enter in a specific nurture stream, but then move over to another one. And so really understanding that, that each of these nurture streams doesn’t operate in a silo, you know, they all have to be interconnected and make sure that that thread of your brand voice and the journey that they’re taking is consistent and is relatable and understandable through the entire process.

Jessica:

Oh, I was going to say, I think it’s also being mindful of these audiences likely aren’t also just receiving nurtures. They may be receiving other marketing content from your automation engine and thinking through how do you prioritize those messages based on the other sends that may be going out to these audiences.

Monica:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s not just email marketing. It’s what’s happening on the website. What’s happening in PR what’s happening on social, the whole what’s sales, doing all of that. It’s taking everybody into consideration. So Jessica, let’s start with you then on buy-in from leadership teams to make automations a bigger focus. Have you needed to get buy-in? Does Intuit actually see the value there? What’s that process look like?

Jessica:

Intuit really does see the value of marketing automations. We’re a relatively Intuit is a large organization and we’re a relatively large team that’s able to build and execute on various automations through various channels as well. So we do email automates. We also do push automation. So people can fall into a first-time use cadence or an onboarding cadence and have that experience based on their behaviors within a new product. There’s definitely a large appetite to continue to automate at Intuit. It’s been a priority for them for a long time.

They understand that, for the small, medium businesses email is still one of the most valuable channels for them to use in order to talk to their customers. So we’re really fortunate in that sense. And we’re constantly thinking about how do we iterate on what we have, how do we make sure we’re documenting how we automate, how we test? What the results are and having that in a place where people can access it so that we can continue to build upon the work that we’re doing and that people aren’t having to start from scratch every single time that they’ve got information they can use based on prior tests or prior automation an just keep building better email.

Monica:

Yep. Great. Jessica, what about you? Or, sorry, Brooke.

Brooke:

For me, my role, I’m actually in a consulting type role. So we’re an agency and I deal with clients that are B2B tech from late-stage startups, all the way to global enterprise. And with that comes a huge maturity curve in, in their tech, in their email communications and what they have at play. And so oftentimes it may be, you know, an organization has a marketing automation platform that’s either under utilized or just not functioning well over years of abuse, perhaps. Sometimes it’s organizations that are really getting these things up and running for the first time. But one thing that we always like to take a look at is, is especially, you know, we touched on nurture just a few minutes ago. That’s a huge piece. And if you look at your, especially your lead generation efforts, if you have leads coming in from the website or you’re using LinkedIn lead gen forms, and then nothing ever happens to these people, you’re just putting the onus on them to continue to go out and look for more information and reach out.

You may be missing an opportunity to take advantage of that interest and add to that relationship. And so a lot of times, you may be optimizing on something that’s already there, it may be doing something new for the first time. But I always like to reserve a sample set, a date. 10%, if we can as a control group, it was something that we were really big on at my previous organization when I was in-house. And then you can actually compare the value that email and lead nurturing may have on a relationship. When you look at what is the propensity to buy, what is the dollar amount? What ultimately is the customer lifetime value of those people who have been touched by marketing and nurtured by email communications versus those who were just sort of left to go whatever the previous route was.

And it can be really impactful to actually see those numbers and see those results, and then be able to take that back to leadership, because that’s ultimately what starts to get more and more buy-in for email, when you can actually show like, Hey, we didn’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on this fancy tool that just doesn’t do anything for the business. We’re actually using it to, to get those right messages out, to get them to the right people and to actually help drive revenue for this business.

Monica:

Right. Fantastic. Thank you both for talking through that we’re going to shift gears a little bit and talk about data, which email marketers love talking about data and we like looking at numbers. So Brooke, how are you using metrics to determine future campaigns and creating better experiences for the customers or for your brand’s customers?

Brooke:

So for, for me, you know, a lot of those things that are often referred to as vanity metrics, right? Your opens your clicks, that sort of thing can often be strong indicators or drivers if you’re doing A/B testing, trying to find what’s actually resonating with your audience. Those might not be the numbers that you’re reporting up to the C-suite. They really don’t care how many people open your email this week. But if you have those numbers, you can look at different opportunities to optimize. What call-to-actions are resonating? Especially if you’re making tweaks to your email templates, you’ve got a new layout or you’re testing a new functionality or a new module. Those metrics are going to be important in that optimization by looking at those A/B test results and figuring out, okay, great, this we’re seeing much higher numbers. Let’s take that and then iterate on it.

Or, you know, sometimes there may not be a really clear-cut winner. You might have run something for months and you’ve got some without the type of variants that you need to confidently say a winner one way or the other. So maybe you start to bring in something else and test a different factor and see where you can go. So there’s a lot of different information that, that you can glean from that and use as you continue to update and iterate on the marketing campaigns that you’re putting out.

Monica:

Awesome. Jessica, what about you?

Jessica:

Yeah, I mean, I think we’re doing a lot of work around metrics and we’re fortunate enough to have, you know, tied to a lot of our projects. And so we are able to see that end-to-end conversion. I mean, we’re definitely always looking at, you know, what Brooke referred to us like the vanity metrics of email marketing our opens our clicks our unsubscribes and watching those to ensure that we are staying within or are hitting our benchmarks to make sure that campaigns at least are doing no harm and performing as expected. But we’re also looking at what are more sophisticated ways that we can easily run tests and also measure to those tests and not necessarily have to wait for like an end to end conversion, but provide enough data upfront and building those like foundations of data structures within our email marketing software, so that we can hand off information to like our marketing managers or kind of like our product marketing managers. So they can go back, look at that data, understand really crisply, like who is the audience that received a test so that they can then extrapolate out and look at, okay, did they convert? Did they enter the product? Did they do the behavior we wanted them to?

Monica:

And so it’s really important to collaborate across the business. And I mean, even at Walker Sands Brook, it probably is that information that you relay to the customer, they need to then be able to socialize it. So you need to also educate them on what all these things mean and why this one, this point of data isn’t necessarily the most important. This might be more important.

Brooke:

Exactly.

Monica:

So talk to me about a tip for teams who are looking to take on marketing automation in 2021. And Jessica, we’re going to start with you. What would you give what’s the one thing you would say as a piece of advice for someone who’s looking to just get started this year and in marketing automation.

Jessica:

Wow. Um, Have a good sense of humor? Um no, but I mean, I think you always have to within marketing have a good sense of humor, upbeat, be prepared for things to not go okay. Right. Like be prepared and be okay with it and realize like, you may start an automation, you may take on a new journey. You may launch an automation and it might not perform as you expected and that if you get negative results or no results within your automation, like that’s a learning and that’s okay. And you can build on that. And it’s okay to not fail fast. I think there’s so much within tech around like build quickly and fail fast and move on, like have the patients within your automations. Unless something is a glaringly obvious, like, Ooh, this isn’t working be patient as well. Automations can take time to show you the type of performance that you’re looking to measure too. So I think that’s also a really critical tip. So I guess that’s a two-in-one. Be patient, have a sense of humor, like three on one. Be prepared, Be okay with failure.

Monica:

I love it. Thank you, Brooke. What about you?

Brooke:

I mean, I definitely agree with that. Some of my biggest lessons were from some of my best failures. I think for me though, you know, any, any organization that’s really taking on marketing automation, make sure that you invest in the people that are behind it. These are very, very expensive platforms. These are not just shiny toys. And just because it says marketing automation, it does not automate itself. There’s a person behind there, and that person needs to have the skills to be enabled to, to run that effectively and efficiently for you to be able to see the kind of results that you’re looking for. And if you don’t have that, in-house, there are agencies that do that too, and that’s okay. Vut making sure that you’re also investing in what’s behind the scenes to make that platform work.

Jessica:

Oh, and also real quick having buy-in from top to bottom, like if, if you don’t have senior support around taking on marketing automation, it will be a painful and difficult and potentially unsuccessful journey. So yes, you need the people who are the experts and that can get the education they need in order to execute, but you also have to have leadership support and buy-in about marketing automation in order to really succeed.

Monica:

Totally agree. Awesome. Well, thank you both so much for your time and we’re going to go through closing comments. I will start with Brooke first. Any final thoughts that you want to share with our audience? Anything you want to talk to us about for Walker Sands?

Brooke:

Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for having us. This was a ton of fun. You know, as I mentioned, Walker Sands, we’re a digital marketing and PR agency in Chicago. So, we do have a lot of fun in the B2B tech space on the personal side, check me out at Adobe Summit. That will be a free event in April, that’s April 27th and 28th. I’ll be presenting on the differences between centralized and decentralized marketing ops teams, along with my friend, Christina Zuniga of Databricks.

Monica:

Awesome. We’ll look forward to it. And Jessica, what about you?

Jessica:

So Intuit obviously does a series of financial management tools from QuickBooks for small-medium businesses to TurboTax, which I think everybody is patiently using or trying to get through as we’re flying through tax time, to Mint, which is a personal money management software. Additionally on the side, on March 5th for the San Francisco urban services YMCA, which I am a board member of, we’re getting ready to do Pour Your Support, which is our annual fundraiser to help support the agency, which has 13 sites across San Francisco serving thousands of the most underserved within our community. So if you’re looking for something fun to do on March 5th, if you want to sit on your couch with me with a bottle of wine and enjoy our programming check out Pour Your Support for Urban Services YMCA, San Francisco.

Monica:

Awesome. Wonderful. Thank you. And thank you to our audience for watching today’s episode of splat chat. Also a big thank you to both Jessica and Brooke for taking the time to talk to me today. I always love talking about email and marketing automation is such a huge part of that. If you’re looking for more email marketing insights, head on over to emailonacid.com. Check out our blog for articles, infographics, and more, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see what’s next on our next episode, Email on Acid is an email readiness platform for email teams of all sizes. We’re on a mission to make the complexities of email marketing simpler. With Email on Acid, you get end-to-end content checks, inbox display optimization, deliverability insights, and lots of other amazing features. It’s all designed to give email teams more flexibility and give you confidence when you hit that send button. Try it out with a free seven-day trial or request a custom demo. Head on over to emailonacid.com. And we will see you next time. Thank you again to Jessica and Brooke for joining me today.

Brooke:

Thank you so much, Monica.

Jessica:

Thank you.

Splat Chat Episode 02 Show Notes

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Author: Monica Hoyer

With over 20+ years experience in Email Marketing, Monica has worked at various email service providers and on the brand side. She leads the marketing team at Email on Acid and is well versed in all areas of digital marketing. In her free time, Monica enjoys spending time with her elementary school son and her dog, a beagle rescue.

Author: Monica Hoyer

With over 20+ years experience in Email Marketing, Monica has worked at various email service providers and on the brand side. She leads the marketing team at Email on Acid and is well versed in all areas of digital marketing. In her free time, Monica enjoys spending time with her elementary school son and her dog, a beagle rescue.

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