Expert Interview Series: Andy Shore of Benchmark Email On Integrating Email And Text Message Marketing
Andy Shore is the real boy behind Benchmark Email‘s Ask Andy cartoon web series, host of the Heart of Business podcast, blog editor, website copywriter, social media personality and the great smile you remember from that recent trade show, expo or conference.
You first got involved with Benchmark email when you replied to a job listing for half blogging/half social media. What was your background with blogging and social media, before you started with Benchmark? What made you want to go into marketing?
I graduated with a Journalism degree in 2007, when every print publication was either shuttering its doors or at the very least not taking on freelance writers. I started a music blog with a friend (who was also my editor at the Indiana Daily Student) almost by accident. He had landed a job as the editor of College News Magazine and was in awe that he could get media passes for events such as the Final Four. The lineup for Langerado Musical Festival had just been released, complete with Beastie Boys, REM and Phil Lesh & Friends. We got credentials and started the blog just to cover that one festival. Our immersive Gonzo style of reviewing the festival was a hit with the College News audience and my new career was born. I learned social media and other marketing tactics on the fly as a byproduct of starting the blog. When I interviewed with Benchmark in 2010, I was one of the few candidates with professional social media experience and the rest is history.
At the time, blogging and social media marketing were all the rage. While they’re still important, they don’t seem to be as trending as they were a few years ago? Is that true, or are people just not talking about it as much?
People will always be talking about the latest and greatest, especially in an industry that depends on driving traffic and buzz, but I don’t think it’s true. Twitter is where many people get their news nowadays. Everyone has their favorite blogs they read. Just look at the multitude of sites and blogs getting shared on Facebook this election season. We’ve always communicated with one another. Our Director of Marketing, Daniel Miller, likes to say that it started with paintings on cave walls, now it’s Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The medium may change, but social communication will always persist.
Benchmark Email offers a wide range of products and solutions for email marketing. What are some reasons business owners and marketers should be thinking about their email marketing, in conjunction with their other marketing strategies?
Marketing is never an either or answer, but instead all of the above. Your individual marketing channels are strongest when used together. Your subscribers may not be your social followers or blog readers. Provide value and variety on each channel and give customers and leads a reason to follow any and all of them that they prefer.
Email marketing tends to get a much higher click-through than other forms of marketing or advertisement. Why is that, and why is it important?
Email marketing also has the highest expected ROI. There are a couple reasons for this. One is thanks to smartphones. Everyone has their phone on them 24/7. You’re sending directly to their pocket or purse. Most people wake up and the first thing they do is grab their phone. I was once at an email marketing conference, where the speaker asked everyone to raise their hand if the first thing they do every morning is read their emails on the toilet. More than half the room raised their hand! Another reason is how quickly a social media feed cycles through. There may be a lot of noise in the inbox, but all the emails will be there when a subscriber checks their email. On Twitter or Facebook, if your follower isn’t on for a few days or even a few hours, the message may be missed.
The blog ConstantContact posted an article about “How To Use SMS Marketing to Compliment Your Email Marketing Campaigns“. What are some different ways a company can use text message marketing to augment their email marketing campaigns?
There’s a boutique cupcake spot near where I live that does great SMS marketing. Sometimes they have new flavors or specials, like a happy hour, and they send a text. It may be at a time where I wouldn’t check my email, but I see the text. It becomes more of an impulse buy than what an email may achieve. I’ve also seen some restaurants use SMS to get email signups. A restaurant may not want to have a tablet around for patrons to subscribe to an email, but a sign that touts a free dessert or a percentage off the bill for subscribing will usually do the trick.
In that article, they cited a statistic from the company InfoAlert, showing that most text messages are read within three minutes of delivery. What are some marketing situations where that might come in handy?
Like I said before, a happy hour situation is perfect for this. If you get a text as you’re heading out of the office talking about drink or food specials for that day only, you may get on the phone and see who’s down to be a happy hour hero that day. Really any flash sale you may want to run would be perfect for this marketing tactic.
Local marketing is becoming increasingly prevalent, with more and more consumers looking up businesses before making a purchase. How might email and text message marketing be used in tandem to create a rock solid local marketing strategy?
This comes down to list segmentation. If you’re keeping good data on your subscribers, you should be able to locate great local marketing strategies on any platform. I live in LA, so forgive the popup restaurant example I’m about to provide. Say a chef tweets out that they’ve got an exciting new project they’re working on and to subscribe to their email list for more information. They can then get the data they need and text the individuals in the city of their next popup when it opens to get patrons for a cold open before everyone knows about it and there’s a line around the block.
One of the major advantages of SMS marketing is the ability to have a two-way conversation. First of all, what are some of the benefits of having a conversation with a potential customer? Two, what are some ways a marketing team might foster a conversation with their audience?
If you are able to have a conversation with a lead, you can find out the best way to sell to them. It lets you know how you can solve the problem they face.
Most marketing teams see success fostering a conversation simply by asking for feedback. Polls and surveys go a long way to get in the mind of customers and leads.
Can you offer any recommendations on how to build a solid SMS marketing list, similar to an email list? What are some particularly useful uses for that list that marketers might not know about?
The best way to build any list is to demonstrate value. Whether it’s savings, information or anything else, if you give people good enough incentive to subscribe, your list will thrive.
One use we haven’t already discussed is for real-time marketing or last minute needs. When you don’t have the time to write a lot of copy or design an email, SMS marketing can step up to the plate.
One of the most important things about SMS is getting a customer’s consent, prior to usage. Can you offer any recommendation on how to get customers to give their consent for SMS marketing? Secondly, how can this even be an advantage over other forms of interruptive marketing?
Provide value and let potential subscribers know what to expect when they signup and make sure you deliver on that promise. The advantage to SMS is the immediacy of it all. Have a great call to action and watch the ROI explode!
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