How Engagio Is Winning With Email

Brandon Redlinger, Director of Growth at Engagio, joins the Content Pros Podcast to share how they have found a winning strategy by embracing the classic content vehicle of email.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

It’s Alive!

Content marketers have a wide variety of content delivery vehicles to choose from these days. With so many options, it’s easy to see why many are leaning towards retiring that old horse known as email.

But is email ready to be put out to pasture?

Brandon makes the case that email is very much alive and well. In many instances, email can be the “it” factor that helps you close a major deal.

But it takes more than transposing a blog post into an email for it to be a successful and revenue-generating campaign. Just like any other campaign, email requires a well thought out foundation of tiered personas that dictate how, when, and what content is delivered to their inboxes.

A properly incorporated email content distribution plan will set your business apart from the rest. By appreciating the power of email and embracing its still-vital place in marketing, you can guarantee a win for both sales and marketing.

In This Episode

  • Why a successful email campaign means keeping sales and marketing on the same page
  • How over-automation leads to a disconnect between brands and their customers
  • Why respecting tiered personas means cutting out the HTML messages beyond a certain level
  • How fewer links to content in emails leads to more engagement

Quotes From This Episode

“First and foremost, sales and marketing have to be aligned on the same page, sending the same messages, communicating in the same ways.” —@brandon_lee_09

In complex B2B sales, sales and marketing are working together the entire way. Click To Tweet

There’s a time and a place for automation. But when you rely too heavily on automation, you are removing the human element of sales, and that’s what actually gets the deal done.” —@brandon_lee_09

“We don’t send any HTML emails to key personas because we want to spend the time crafting a message that is very personal and very relevant. That’s what wins: personal, relevant and timely. ” —@brandon_lee_09

There's a big difference between personalization and customization that a lot of people miss. Click To Tweet

“We want to do as much we can to raise the awareness in the space, and that means giving away a lot of our best content.” —@brandon_lee_09

Email marketing is not dead, it's just changed. Click To Tweet

“As long as you’re sending that personal, relevant content, using the right channel, that’s the winning strategy.” —@brandon_lee_09

Resources

Content Pros Lightning Round

What is your channel for sharing with the world? Where do you let loose? I do tend to, at least these days, share a lot of my thoughts on LinkedIn. Not as a published article, but as an update post.

If you were to compare yourself to a character on Silicon Valley, who is the most kindred spirit for you? I want to say Richard because I used to be that awkward guy in school that didn’t know a girl even liked him until it was too late and I was always on the smarter side of things. I wouldn’t call myself a genius in any way, but I do feel a bond with Richard.

Episode Transcript

Randy: Welcome to another episode of Content Pros. I'm Randy Frisch from Uberflip, as always, I've got Tyler Lessard joining me from Vidyard, and today we are going to talk about a subject that I don't think we talk about that much these days because I think we feel we're over it but let's not be over it, we need to embrace email. Email is not a bad word. People still check their email. I think it's the first thing I personally do in the morning and probably the last thing I do at night, maybe Slack is these days, but still email is how I hear from our customers first and foremost and, also, how I take a look at new solutions that we may need. We've got a great today from a company called Engagio, who's going to join us. Tyler, why don't you tell us a little bit more about what we're going to learn today?
Tyler: Yeah. I couldn't agree more that email has become a bit of an ongoing market hero of the marketing world, and I think it's still very critical to building a brand and to building demand and ultimately growing our presence and mindshare with our customers. Today, we have somebody, I think, in a great position to help us talk about that, it is the Director of Growth at Engagio, Brandon Redlinger. Brandon, welcome to the show. Would you mind just giving us a quick explanation of what the heck a Director of Growth actually does.
Brandon: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, guys. Yeah. I think Director of Growth, a lot of people think of that as black hat, hackey techniques to do anything to get a user to sign up, right? Not quite my vision for it. I like Sean Ellis's definition, and he's the guy who first coined the term, and he recently actually, came out with a book, him and Morgan Brown, Hacking Growth, but it really is more white hat techniques, and it's really anything that you can do to get your company to grow. I know that's a very broad, very vague definition for it, but it really is, how do you provide more value to the customers so that it leads to growth?
Tyler: Do you report into the marketing or sales side of the business, or are you a magical marketer in the middle who has carved your own group?
Brandon: Yeah. That's a great question. Technically, it is marketing, but here at Engagio, our sales and marketing teams are very closely aligned so it's not like I sit on the other side of the office. I sit right next to our sales team as a middle, go-between and talk with them frequently.
Tyler: Awesome. There's a number of things, before we dive specifically into email, why don't you tell us a bit about, as a somebody leading growth across marketing and sales, what are a few of the things that you're thinking about in terms of content or channels? What are the three things that you're most engaged with today as mechanisms to help grow your marketing and sales business?
Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. I think, first and foremost, sales and marketing have to be aligned on the same page, sending the same messages, communicating in the same ways, and I think a lot of people pay lip service to that, a lot of people preach, "Yeah, you need sales and marketing alignment," but I think in practice, it's a lot harder to actually do. We can dive into a little bit more of that, if you want, so, one, sales and marketing alignment, and then, two, how do you orchestrate some of these interactions so that sales and marketing are aligned? How do you get sales and marketing to work together at every stage of the buyer's journey? It's not just marketing generates the lead, passes it over to sales, it's actually, in complex B2B sales, they're working together the entire way. We see things like field marketing coming back pretty strong, getting involved in later stage deals, which I love it. It's absolutely a lot of fun. Then, really just aligning around the account, I guess would be the third thing is, how do we look at everything together as a whole, as an account, rather than just, "Hey, this person clicked on this this many times so I'm going to follow up with that one first"?
Tyler: Yeah. I think there's some really great "what's old is new again", and we're all seeing that with respect to things like field marketing, with really thinking like traditional sales reps with an account mindset, and then things, of course, like email and email marketing and direct communications. I think I read an article by you recently where I think you talked very well about over-automation is causing some challenges and we need to get back to really more direct conversations with our customers. I think it's a topic that's super important and something that we need to come back to when it comes to our email marketing strategy. I think we got to get past how we over-automate email marketing, for both our marketing and our sales reps, and get back to thinking about what do they really want to hear about how do we use this as a medium to educate customers, right?
Brandon: Exactly. Yeah, 100%. I think there's a time and a place for automation. I'm definitely not against automation, but when you rely too heavily on automation, you are removing the human element of sales, and that's actually what gets the deal done. People are really good at building the relationship, adding context and meaning to the message, so if you over-automate everything you're actually removing a lot of that and you're hurting yourself and potentially your brand, your company's brand as well. One of my rants, one of my pet peeves is the experts, they're, quite frankly, wrong these days, to put it bluntly. A study will come out that says, "10 emails. You have to send 10 emails. It takes 10 emails to get a response from someone these days," so then everyone takes that to mean, "I need to send 10 emails to someone," and then they build their campaign around 10 emails, but they run out of things to say after the third email, so then they're just sending emails that say, "Just checking in. Just following up. How are things going?" Which are completely valueless. That only results in that number going up, people respond less frequently, then that number goes up to 11 and then everyone is like, "All right, now I need to send 11 emails," and the cycle continues.
Randy: Brandon, I agree with what you're saying, I think we get stuck into these traps, these formulas, if you will, that we read in a blog post or we hear from our peers and we're like, "We got to do it the same way." I think everyone on your team does such a great job. In many cases, I've reached out to people like John on your team, or Charlie on his team, to say, "Well done on this email," and some of them have come from you too, Brandon. Your entire team is doing a great job. I think you're doing a good job at changing who it comes from. I'm going to ask you a couple of questions just in terms of your feeling, as much as we just said don't copy everyone else, but what is your feeling in terms of whether to send these marketing emails where they come, clearly, from the marketing organization and you can tell the email has a header, that it's some sort of graphic, versus that more clean, text message? What's your formula for when to go with the marketing message versus when to go with the casual note?
Brandon: Yeah. That's a great question. I think there are a few different uses for both an HTML rich email and then a personal one-to-one email, and we look at it ... We call it account entitlement, but, basically, if you're doing ABM the way we do a ABM, I think a lot of people are following it these days, they're taking a tiered approach to ABM, so you have your high-value target accounts, which is that you have a few or a small number of them, say 10 of them, then you have your tier two accounts, which are mediums tier, and then your tier three counts, which is, of course, you have a lot more of them. Some companies have a thousand of them, maybe 500 of them, and then you have everyone else. With our tier one accounts, tier one is our highest value accounts, we actually don't send any HTML emails to key personas at those accounts because we want to spend the time to be crafting a message that is very personal and very relevant. That's what wins, personal, relevant and timely. A CMO of a tier one account will only get one-to-one messages from John, or our CMO, or anyone on our team, but if you move down, we start to add in automation where it makes sense to. Again, we talked about there's a time and a place for automation. Automation is great for doing things like telling you when to send the email, not necessarily telling you what to say, but telling you when to say it and who to send that to, so you can cue that up, get it all ready and then you actually go in and write the email and send it off. Then, some tier three, that's when we'll start to introduce more automation and more customizations. I think maybe there should be a distinction here between personalization and customization. A lot of people think insert first name ... "Hi," insert first name ... I saw company that was on my website ... That is not personalization, that's customization, but personalization is, "Hey, Randy, great speaking with you last week at the conference. Looking forward to the podcast next week," because I can say that to you and not anyone else. That wouldn't make sense. I think there's a big difference between personalization and customization that a lot of people miss and, I think, are hurting them.
Randy: I love that point, Brandon. I think let's just all take that in and the idea that automation is not there to just role an autoplay, it's there to prompt us to take these actions. I think that's a great way to put it. I don't take things personally, but now I'm sitting here trying to figure out if I'm tier one, two or three to you based on the emails I'm getting. Don't worry, I can handle it, but I want to come back though because some of the emails that you do you send to me that are clearly more of a planned sequence, not coming from an individual, maybe there's a name on that email who it's coming from but it's a well marketed email that's clearly been structured almost like a blog post, if you will, and I'm wondering if you can just you describe those a little bit better to our listeners and also let us know how those are working? Because these are meaty emails that you're sending out.
Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, those emails you're talking about, that's our traditional nurture track, and we do also have different types of emails in different communication where you're at in your journey as well, in your customer journey. A lot of stuff that I've put together ... One of my first things when I got to Engagio a year ago, John tasked me with building out our nurture program. If anyone knows John Miller out there, he's known for his clear and complete guides and his meaty blog posts and really ... He's one of the content guys out there and he is all about educating the space, especially the account based marketing space. It's a newer space, and we believe a rising tide lifts all boats. We don't really want to compete with anyone out there, we're more friendly than adversary to anyone, and we want to do as much we can to just raise the awareness in the space. That means giving away a lot of our best content. Sometimes people reading e-books, sometimes they like a blog post, sometimes they actually just like it right in their inbox, so we've taken a lot of the content that we've written and just package it up a little bit differently for email, and then stuck it in an email. It's also, one, respecting the customer and where they're at in their journey, and then, two, also respecting the medium, so I'm going to send something different to someone who we've been talking to for a few months. Also, that blog post is going to look a lot different if it's in an email. So knowing the customer and actually knowing the medium helps a lot there as well.
Randy: That's great. The second part of my question was how is this working, but we'll take a short break here from some of our sponsors so hopefully I'm creating suspense for when people come back again and tell us how those emails with these long meaty blog posts feel are actually doing to push people along your journey. We'll be right back here on Contact Pros. Welcome back to Content Pros. I'm Randy Frisch, and Brandon and I were just chatting about the question of these meaty emails that we send in our nurture. He had explained to us the approach to them, now the question is, is it working? Brandon, tell us how it's doing for you. I assume it's working because I've been getting them.
Brandon: Yeah. Surprisingly, it's actually one of our top performing pieces of content right now. Using the Engagio platform, we're able to look at our program influence, all the programs that we are running, and how it actually influences a deal, and it is always one of my top ones. It gets someone interested, and interested enough to stick around, to not unsubscribe, to keep those emails coming, and then you ... Also, I'll note really quick, those emails you see, the call to action is not "speak with a rep, speak with a rep, speak with a rep," we don't say that until ... I think it's the 8th or 10th email, so we're not selling people hard right off the bat. You don't have to. You probably actually shouldn't. I think for that reason, it's just a hypothesis, but I think for that reason people actually like them and they stick around. Then, come that 8th or 10th email when we say, "Hey, do you want to learn more about Engagio?" They go, "You know what? I actually really do. This sounds really cool." It's actually performing really well for us in the early stages to get the conversation started in the first place.
Randy: Yeah. Actually, I'm looking at one of them now and I don't know if this is intentional or not, but a lot of time we think a blog post, which we compare these to, as having a lot of links within, links to different sources, this one actually only has one call to action, more or less, in the last paragraph. I don't know if that's intentional too, but I think that's an important aspect to get people through that and then perhaps ... It looks like in this one you're actually linking them to more content from there.
Brandon: Yeah. I'm glad you actually caught that. I don't think many people actually catch that, they're like, "Why don't you throw a link to this blog post?" No, we actually want them to stay right here, consume the entire piece before they get distracted because we all know what happens, they click on the blog post and they're on the blog, and then Facebook pops up or something, and then they go down this route and they’re gone.
Tyler: I wanted to ask you, Brandon, I know one of the things that we saw in our own email marketing strategy was a huge boost, not surprisingly, not only in click through, but in actual engagement and follow-up and downstream influence. When we started to create more customized nurture streams, to what you talked about, that were a combination of the personas to some degree, there's only so far you can go, but some persona filtering as well as funnel stage, and that's when we went from effectively one or two email nurture streams to about a dozen different email nurture streams, depending on who you were and where you fit in the funnel. Again, we saw a massive increase ... We were at the point where we were like, "email marketing is dead," and then we actually put the time and effort into do this, which personalized the content, we saw a huge increase and we went, "Nope, email marketing is not dead, it's just changed." It has to be personal relevant to your point. I know we saw that, and it sounds like you've seen the same impact, if that's the case, can you just give the listeners some tips and ideas about how do you go down that path? How do you move from one or two standard email nurtures to things that are more personalized? What you practice, how do you build those out and what are some of those filters that you think are a good starting point to used to define those nurture streams?
Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. Our nurture streams are built on two things mainly, one of them, is, I kind of talked about it earlier, but your account tiers. Again, tier one account ... Just a thumb rule that we live by is tier one accounts, you have in the tens of those, tier two in the hundreds, and tier 3 in the thousands, so you won't have 1,000 tier ones, you can only have so many of them because all of these emails and all of the communication, again, is personalized and it's relevant, but that really doesn't scale, so you can't have more than ... Here at Engagio, we have 12 tier one accounts… you just don't have the time, the energy, the money, the resources to do that.
Tyler: You actually tier that?
Brandon: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Again, by account tier, tier one, tier two, tier three, and then we also actually have none nontarget account so that targets another target, and then key personas. At Engagio we know our five key personas that are involved in the buying process, so we actually break content out specifically for them and then the use cases…
Tyler: It's something we've tried to do as well, and I think it seems to be working but, again, in practice how do you do that? What are the indicators that you use to put somebody into a top of funnel, mid-funnel, bottom funnel, however it is you define it? What are the indicators you use to help define those sorts of rules for nurture?
Brandon: Yeah. That's a great question. I think it starts at the very beginning ... Just, really, you have to align with sales on this. I know a lot of teams ... Marketing says it's this stage, and sales says it's another stage, so before you even ... To implement a lot of the stuff, it really is going back to the drawing board and making sure sales and marketing are on the same page. Again, a lot of teams pay lip service to this, but at the end of the day, you still see marketing just wanting to drive higher volume and sales wanting a higher quality, but at the end of the day, if they're on the same page, they won't be fighting about what stage they're on, they'll be fighting about how can we work together to actually close the deal? Going back to what we were talking about earlier ... Another point actually is, a lot of people have been moving away from email because targeted ads is the new sexy thing or direct mail is the new sexy thing. I was actually having a conversation with the CMO the other day, and they're like, "What's the most effective medium? What's the coolest account-based marketing strategy or marketing campaign that you guys have ever done?" It's not creativity that actually wins, it's personal and relevant. If I send you tickets to a Giants' baseball game or if I send you an email that's really relevant and valuable, which one is going to move the deal forward? It's not the tickets. It's the email that's relevant and valuable to you. The bottom line there is don't just try these different...
Tyler: Email marketing has its play and when it's done in a complementary way to a number of different touch points, but using those mediums for what they're meant to be. I think, back to your earlier point of email, email can be a great way to educate audiences because you it's in their space, it's the area that they're working in throughout the day, and if you hit the message right, it's something that can keep them engaged without distraction once you've got in there. I think it's super interesting. Last question I've got for you is as you look to measure and understand the effectiveness of these campaigns in your email marketing, what are you looking at as a growth leader to figure out what's really working and what's not? Is it you click through and open rates on the email campaigns? Is it engagement levels? Is it how are people interacting post the email? What should marketers be thinking about as they're trying to measure the success and know what's really working for email marketing?
Brandon: Yes. At Engagio, we do have a little bit of an advantage of being able to use our own product and ... The two things that I look at is engagement, how much are our people actually engaging with these? Not just the person, it's actually ... Again, we're looking at the entire account, so if an intern clicks on every email, reads every blog post, attends every webinar, great, but that's not an indication that they're ready to buy. I want to actually know who at that account, so I'm looking at the level, as in title level, of the engagement and how much that they're engaging and then, ultimately, at the end of the day, it's actually impact on revenue. Both of those, we do display in Engagio, so I don't know how people are doing it if they're not using Engagio, but the impact and then the engagement of that content and ... Again, it's not just the ... I know we've been talking a lot about email, and I'm a big fan of email still, but also all the other channels like video, or direct mail, or ads, or any of these other things, a big fan of, and it all should be part of the mix. But as long as you're sending that personal, relevant content, using the right channel, I think that's actually the winning strategy.
Randy: I love everything we're talking about. I've recently said that sometimes when you have a bunch of people and they're all agreeing on the same thing that it's actually not that interesting. Yeah, patting each other's backs, so I'm going to be a bit of a shit-disturber for a second here. Now, very recently, Tyler and I were both in Toronto here, we had my company's conference, the content experience, and Tyler and I were up for dinner with the CMO of Microsoft, and this guy was pretty intense in terms of his belief that email is dead. As he put it, "Email is done. Don't email me. You email me, you're only going to aggravate me." His point was, "I want you engage me in the way that I engage with the world," which he said is social. What's your feeling in terms of this belief? Maybe not today, I think, this gentleman, Greg Con, is very much a visionary, very much looking to the future, where do you see the most natural future of how we're going to have to communicate people, if you were to pick a channel?
Brandon: That's a great question. Jeez ... I do not think email is going away anytime soon. I do think he has a point though in that, yeah, just communicate via the channel that I'm on ... I think most people are still on email ... Man, I ... One of my reps was actually asking me about using social and how much he should be posting content, writing articles, all of that stuff, and I'm all for that as long as it's still doing his job. In the sense that he's not writing just because he has this theory that "I want to get my name out there," or whatever it is, as long as he's establishing himself as a trusted advisor and a trusted leader, then he has some great content to put in front of people, and then maybe that ends up being where this person already is. I think there is no one magic formula. There's no one magic channel. There's no one magic message or anything, but I do think that he has a good point in know your audience, I guess, right?
Randy: Yeah, absolutely. It's a good last questions just to segue into ... We always like to get to know our guess a little bit better, and one of the things I was able to find to you is you express your opinion on platforms like a medium, but what about when you're not talking about work? Because a lot of what you seem to be posting is very much still tied to best practices that you're taking, but what about when you're just letting loose? What is your channel for sharing with the world? Is your Twitter going to end up feeling very corporate as well, but is there a channel out there like Instagram, Snapchat, what have you? Where do you let loose?
Brandon: Where do I let loose? That's a great question. Jeez. I don't think there is necessarily a digital channel where I let loose. I do tend to, at least these days, share a lot of my thoughts on LinkedIn as not a published article, but as an update post. I've had a lot of great conversations with people outside of B2B marketing and ABM just in my LinkedIn feed, that's one place that I've really actually come to like a lot. I've been republishing or just publishing original content on LinkedIn as a published article less frequently and just more having conversations with people. I do really think that was a smart move by LinkedIn, and I will continue to do that.
Randy: Yeah, I agree. I love the conversations that flow when people tag on posts on LinkedIn. I think it's so natural. I'll end on this question, and you opened up the box here taking me to LinkedIn, so I'm on your profile on LinkedIn and your header is fun and cute. It's the background of the opening of Silicon Valley on HBO. If you were to compare yourself to a character on Silicon Valley, who is the most kindred spirit for you?
Brandon: Jeez ... I almost want to say Richard sometimes because I think I used to be, like in school, that awkward guy that didn't know a girl even liked him until it was too late and I always was on the smarter side of things. I wouldn't call myself a genius in any way, but I do feel a bond with Richard. I don't know if that's accurate.
Randy: I'd like to say Gilfoyle. I'd like him to be my kindred spirit but...
Tyler: I don't know there's just something about him and his form of awkwardness that I find just appealing, and I think my wife finds in me as well.
Randy: There you go. Notice how none of us Jared for ourselves. None of us want to be that ...
Brandon: For me, I don't know. It's a good question. I think I'm across, I think I'm organized like that guy, Jared, but I really hope I'm not that anal.
Randy: It's definitely got to be a balance of different personalities, which I think is what makes us love that show so much. Brandon, this has been so much fun. I'll let you give one last plug, we talked so much about your email, if someone actually wants to get your guys' emails, which who has ever said that? But, after this podcast, maybe they do. Where can they go to register?
Brandon: Yeah. Just go to engagio.com, and definitely check out our blog engagio.com/blog where ... I most frequently right there, but feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn as well.
Randy: Fantastic. Brandon, thank you so much for joining us on Content Pros. On behalf of Tyler Vidyard, I'm Randy from Uber Flip, this has been the Content Pros podcast. You can find all of our past episodes at contentprospodcast.com. This part of the Convince & Convert network where there's so much other great content from emails like we talked today to other podcasts and other thought leadership opportunities for you to raise your game. Thank you so much for joining us and tuning.
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