#28 Mastering the science of email marketing

#28 Mastering the science of email marketing

#28 Mastering the science of email marketing

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek

Andrew is the VP of Customer Engagement at iPost, an advanced Email Service Provider (ESP) built for the Digital Marketer’s growing demands for data and hyper-personalization. Before iPost, Andrew was the Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of Trendline Interactive where he led the email marketing strategy department. He has held client-side positions at Groupon, Sears, and Quest Software, where he was responsible for all aspects of their email marketing program, including strategy, execution, reporting, and analytics.
With over 20 years in the email marketing industry, he is a recognized innovator, thought leader, and advocate for responsible email marketing.
Andrew is an avid blogger, frequent speaker, and contributor to the email community.

In a world full of artificial intelligence, machine learning, conversational chatbots, and the latest cool digital capability, it is easy to feel like email marketing is dead. After all, this channel has been around for so long, what can it possibly have to contribute to the customer experience? Andrew Kordek joins me to discuss email marketing, its increased relevance in consumer communication, and the critical aspects of getting it right. Email marketing is still going strong today and could be the best possible strategy for your business.

email marketing, digital marketing, email, emarketing, email service, marketing campaign
Episode number:
Date Published:
October 29, 2020

KRISTINA PODNAR, HOST: Welcome back to the Power of digital policy podcast. Today's episode features Andrew Kordek, who will help us understand whether email marketing is dying, already dead or just hitting its stride. Andrew, welcome.

ANDREW KORDEK, GUEST: Thanks Kristina. How are you?

KRISTINA: Good. Thanks for being here. You know, I'm so excited. I don't think I've actually talked to somebody who is an email enthusiast along your lines, right? I mean if I can say it, I'm dubbing you Mr. Email marketing. From what I hear, even your car license plate says EMAIL!

ANDREW: So it does. I can't be the getaway car in the State of Illinois because if you see a car come by and it says EMAIL on it, it's likely me.

KRISTINA: All right, so we've got you pegged, but that's okay. You're not doing anything illegal. It's all good. But tell us a little bit about your background. And you know, how did you develop this passion for email to the point where you have license plates that say EMAIL?

ANDREW: Yeah, so I was in software sales too many years ago, and I found out the power of sending emails out to get people to download software. And what was interesting is when people found out the secret sauce, I then became an email marketer, and I started running global email marketing for Quest software back about 21 years ago, and then I sort of evolved my career, but I think as we think about email in general, right? I love the notion of email is like the offensive line of a marketing department; let me explain, let me unpack that for a second. I'm a big football guy. I don't play it, but I like to watch it, and I think about email marketing like an offensive line is; when was the last time you've seen an offensive lineman get up during the Super Bowl and win the MVP. They're typically the people that sit behind the scenes. They're typically the people that do the hardest work. Sometimes the grunt work in order for the offense to score because if you don't have a good offense, guess what happens again? Throw the ball? You can't run it and can't do anything. And so I like the aspect of the sort of sitting in the background, producing results and being really great at what we do and not getting a lot of credit for it. And so I think of it as the offensive line of the marketing department because there are other darlings of marketing departments like branding and social, and as you know, just general advertising and so I love the feeling of not being… I just love the feeling of not taking all the credit all the time, even though I know email can add a significant amount of revenue or influenced revenue or just influence in general for the brands.

KRISTINA: So that's interesting. You're actually touching upon an interesting point, and I've seen a lot of organizations struggling with this issue. A lot of teams aren't centralized within the enterprise when it comes to email campaigns; right, I come into these enterprises where everybody might be focused on different channels, there are usually one or two people within a specific team that's focused on email, and I'm wondering from your perspective, what do you advise organizations do in order to not bombard a consumer with tons of email but rather coordinate touchpoints and, like you said, be these unsung heroes.

ANDREW: That's a that's a great question. And I think it varies from organization to organization. But I think what first of all has to happen is a commitment to the channel. Most often, email marketing is sort of a segue into other parts of the marketing department. So there's quite a bit of turnover in email departments at large organizations, and it's small organizations and what I think about what can they do to not bombard people, I think there has to be a commitment to the channel not just to send an email out to a hundred thousand or a million people, but how can we effectively push our brand out, our brand message, our brand promise and then work with the other channels. We've heard these terms of omnichannel marketing or multi-channel marketing, and there's this notion that everyone should work together and they should, but oftentimes I see in large-scale organizations that there are silos and guess what, we're all going after we all want the same customer. We all want them to do something with our brand, to convert email can be a part of that. The problem is feeling that the organizations that they should have and making that strong commitment rather than just a surface based commitment, and it does take a lot of work to run an email program, contrary to popular belief,  for a  lot of people email is easy, right, when it's not, and there are so many different nuances to it, and if things continue to evolve like they have one fifteen or twenty years, brands need to get more aware that email is getting more complex and into that marketing mix and so they really have to make that commitment.

KRISTINA: So a lot of digital teams get really excited, because if he's talked about millions of people or I guess, now we're closer really to 3 billion email users, I guess 2.8 or 2.9. But let's just round it up, but email users don't equate necessarily to people who want to be targeted by email with marketing. So is email as a channel still relevant? How do you see that in the mix? Is it sort of dying is their trade-off? Is there a very focused need for email? How do we really should be thinking about email?

ANDREW: Well, I've seen studies that say the exact opposite, and I see studies saying that they want to get to know brands or their preferred channel Is that of email in order to be alerted for either your retailer for sales or for picking up different sets of content if you're a publisher, things of that nature. What I think has happened, what I think a lot of people tend to look at is that inbox and that the competition for attention in the inbox is hard, you're competing with my emails from Aunt Mary and Uncle Joe to Facebook notifications to Instagram notifications to your local retailer trying to sell you 10% off of socks. And what happens is that we, as email marketers and tend to sometimes commoditize. Commoditize the email channel in such a way that we feel one-to-many should pay off and what I think what we have to do is we have to take a step back for just a moment. We have to look at how do we do? How do we want our email program to go? We have the power as an email marketer to say I can send one to many right fifty thousand or fifty million. But every time I press that send button, it is a reflection upon my brand; it is a reflection upon what I do, right, and so we have to look at taking a step back at the experience. Not only leading up to sending that first email. But what are the first few weeks that look like in the email program and oftentimes I call it the pre-send experience, oftentimes it's hard. It's hard to get an email address. It's even harder for us to take that person through the experience. Remember, everything today; people love to complain about the bad stuff. People also, sometimes like to talk about the good stuff, but sometimes the bad overshadows the good and so think about your experience when you sign up for an email, that's the single most thing, a single most important thing from signing up and continuously sending emails out to people, you have to have that pre-send experience and make sure it is completely optimizing, always tested for new and exciting things.

KRISTINA: So that's interesting because I had four emails by the time I woke up this morning about the Expensify CEO email around protecting democracy and voting for Biden. I had several folks also reach out yesterday and say, you know, shouldn't there be policies around this? Talk a little bit about how today's kind of political world and even societal issues fit into email marketing. I mean, is there a place for that? You know are folks like, you know the CEO of Expensify or Elon Musk over a Tesla, are these folks actually coordinating with email marketing. Are they sending out messages that are appropriate? How do you see that playing out?

ANDREW: First of all, I did wake up to that same chatter, and I think it's meant as a maybe an Elon Musk is a type of shock and awe where people are going to love or hate that email. I don't think email from a brand that tries to sell expense based services should have a political view, right, I think there's other channels to get that view across. Clearly, you have a captive audience, clearly, he's getting what he wants to get out of it as people talking about it and controversy. Well that affect his business down the road. I'm not really sure. I don't think that there's a place to inject political views or societal views in email. If you are a brand that has really nothing to do with political or societal views, I think one of the things that we tend to we tend to think about as from an email channel is that we've got this huge bullhorn and anybody that we can send an email to, again 500,000 or 5 million people, there's this bullhorn that people will listen and we don't expect anybody to agree or disagree, but then that could potentially issue brain damage. And so I was thinking about the email manager this morning that either sent that email out or there was overridden. I think we've all been there as an email marketer for over 20 years, I know I was asked to send things that I didn't necessarily agree with or knew that it was going to backfire, and I feel for that person if that person was overrun on a decision from a CEO, but I think what we have to understand is that those things carry weight and certainly he's getting what he wants chatter out of it, but I don't think that there's a place for brands to put their political views out in an email and a mass email to probably a global audience which it just doesn't make any sense because people in people in other countries were chatting about it today that they got it. Where was the segmentation in that? Where was the directness? And you know I just don't feel good. There's a place I feel as a better way to do it.

KRISTINA: And so how do organizations actually understand where to draw that line. Some things might be black and white, if I was actually that email manager or somebody has sitting on that team, I would probably be looking at it through my digital policy lens because that's what I do. I'd be thinking like, hey, are we going to get complaints filed with FCC, the FTC consumer protection; not to mention the fact that people are going to probably start canceling subscriptions, right? So there's a lot of considerations beyond, can you just kind of put out an email? But I'm wondering where do you think today's organizations should draw the line because I'm thinking back to this pandemic that we all find ourselves in, and do you remember the very early days where every CEO that's ever existed was emailing each and every one of us saying we find ourselves in unprecedented times, and we're with you, and we get you to the point where I was just like oh my gosh, stop it, so, is that okay to email about like, what is the threshold and is it a matter of first out the door or how do you decide what's appropriate or not when something is happening, and you need to, or you think you need to instantaneously react?

ANDREW:  I always ask my myself before I send an email of any magnitude, whether we're in unprecedented times or here's my political views is, what do I want the person to do with this email, number one, two, what's the reaction that's going to happen a result of this email and third am I clear in my delivery and have I made sure that I am making myself a very even non-judgmental way in my email and that's hard to do because we all want a voice and I think most importantly is, when we start thinking about we all care for you, and we are all find ourselves in these other unprecedented times. I think it brings the notion of really smart people to go. We'll wait a minute. What about impressended times? Did you have my back then? All right, you know what's different now than it wasn't. I mean again that played out so many times an email, and I know if you remember, I'm sure you probably did Kristina, remember what GDPR came out. We got it all get the updates to policy…

KRISTINA: Oh, yeah, hard to forget!

ANDREW: …exactly, was thinking, gosh, do every brandi need to tell me that they updated their privacy policy? Was an opportunity to do that or could they have done it in a more subtle way without a sort of feeling like they have to sent. I think a lot of brends feel like they have to send because they feel that if they don't, they're going to get backlash, but if they do then the what's the greater risk in all of that getting more backlash by sending the email or by not guess what? This comes into the play of testing, user testing segmentation, testing your most engaged audience. Maybe you should test that message to them and see what their reaction is rather than sending out on a large basis, maybe getting a second opinion with some of your internal focus group before you start sending out something saying in these unprecedented times or political view. Part of that has to do with taking a step back, get deep breaths, being logical, and having a methodical way to do things and email rather than just shooting from the hip. A few years ago, a very classic example of a brand sent out an email. It was during a hurricane, and they were having a hurricane sale in New York City with a hurricane hit in New York City. Some people called it to tasteless. Some people call it timely. I called it where who is thinking of doing that, and why would they want to do that? And should they make a joke or a sail out of something that was happening seriously to a large-scale population of the United States? I just think that in these probably these times are everybody's hypersensitive to a lot of different things that are happening. You need to test that message, and that's having a consistent message throughout everything that you said, whether it's a sale or whether it's a political view, and brands need to be aware of that. It's worked out somewhat successfully for a few people, but I think for the majority of the people, it's going to backfire on them.

KRISTINA: I like this idea of testing and really trying to understand what do you want your audience to think, feel, do; somebody actually, not me came up with that concept or always says that to me, I agree that you can't manage and you can't deliver on something that you don't measure, so testing makes sense. But what do you see as some of the metrics, or you know, what do you advise people to consider around email marketing terms of metrics resonance KPIs. Is there a standard set?

ANDREW: There isn't, because they're really is, it does vary by the brand to brand, even that brands who compete against one another. What I was trying to say is there is an economic impact to every type of email test that you do, right? And so the first thing you have to do is you have to be nimble and how you do things. So there's this issue of how do I prioritize? How do I make it fluid? How do I have a decision tree of who is and who's going to be involved in this testing? And then how do I keep I call it a vault. How do I keep a vault of testing and so when I think about KPIs I think it or things that we should be looking for I think about that there are different types of tests, especially in email,  I call him there's test classifications and then there are test types and so a classification would be is are we doing an a/b test? Are we doing what I call a multivariate, hybrid multivariate, or are we doing something really advanced like a design of experiment test, decide on this classification first, right? Once we sit there and say, okay, let's do is, do a very basic A/B test on the messaging, then we need to say are we talking about it from a preset, In other words, is this an experienced test? Is it a pre-open like a subject line if a catchy subject line is going to get your people to open? One of the KPIs is, look, you know against that are we talking about a short or a long subject line? We talked about putting dollars and cents. We're talking about the personalization of your first name Kristina in that email or not. Then we have to sit there and say what's that metric that we are gearing towards? Last time I checked the open rates, don't pay the bills for any organization, so you have to think about what we are aiming towards before we start talking about what those KPIs are. Those KPIs can be a variety of different things and then you start talking about what I call pre-click. Pre-click testing has to do something like personalization in the body copy, calls to action, whether or not the button is blue, the button is green, whether or not the copy inside that button says one thing or another, what about dynamic content, if you're female or if you're a male or are you using imagery that that changes based off of the information that you have and there are other types of testing as well, right? There's post-click, what I mean by that is landing pages. Where are you taking them to? What do you want them to do? How many people abandon that, how many people continue down the past? So I don't think that there's a standard set of metrics. I think people can use what I call vanity metrics starts with the open. If the open rate makes you feel good because you have a high open-rate or a low open-rate that's called a vanity metrics. But ultimately, you have to say to yourself: What do we want them to do? And what is that call to action? And then you build your KPIs as a result of that.

KRISTINA: When the organization should help build a strategy because I'm thinking about several teams that I know of, and I fear that right about now some of the email managers has are about to pop off mostly because they don't think about it from a scientific and analytical perspective that you're describing, which is great. So who should be helping define that strategy? I mean, who should be in the room when you're talking about those marketing campaigns who need to be involved in the KPIs or analytics, whatever those are going to end up being?

ANDREW: Right, I think that boils back to what I started talking about was having a nimbleness mentality, testing can really be blown out across the organization, everyone feels like they have an opinion of how an email should be. In fact, what's interesting is, I remember back in the old days, like 15, 20 years ago, when I sat in a room trying to put together a testing plan, I had people come out of the woodwork to had that I've never met before wanting to do sorts of types of email testing. So the first it starts within the nimbleness sort of way, right? Do you have to say what the prioritization is? It's hard. It's hard to come up with a prioritization. What are some of the people that are that should be involved, long gone are the days where we say, let's get together on monthly testing beating and let's go over all the tests we've done, all the tests that we want to do, that's old school, right? And so you have to be comfortable with it. Then it's decisioning. You have to empower people to make those decisions. It has to be a small group. Maybe you involve people that maybe it's the email program owner. Maybe it's an analyst. Somebody is that can draw analytics and insights from the test that have been previously done and can give you an influence on what to do next. And then maybe it's an agency, right? Maybe it's the agency that you've hired whether there a specific agency for email marketing, whether it's a general agency, whether it's a consultant, or maybe it's your email service provider like a strategist like myself an email service provider, right if they're available and then maybe have one impartial representative, but that group should be small, 3 to 4 people that make decisions based of our previous tests, based of what's happening in the email program and then you can come together with a plan to say what the hypothesis is? What are we trying to prove? What are we going to we're going to be successful at here's our KPIs because we decided on the types of tests. It has to be methodical, but it also has to be quick, and that's to be nimble. Right? We've heard the term agile, right, agile, and I worked in agile environments right sort of like agile email testing, but I like to just refer to it as nimbleness because agile seems to get overused.

KRISTINA: Hell, yeah, absolutely. It feels like omnichannel and agile, right, made for each other. So that's interesting. I'm kind of thinking about, if you have three to four people that are working together than in doing these testing pieces who is sitting at that table or who is helping folks understand things like GDPR you mentioned a moment ago that we use for data protection, for privacy law or CCPA, the California roll, you know, like you said, we went through this 2018 email craziness where everybody got that. Are you still with us? Can we use your email address node? We haven't seen that for CCPA. Next year, we're going to see Brazil joining the 900-plus kind of area of privacy regulations. How do you see that impacting email marketing and who's the right person to seed I guess the entire conversation in the organization around these regulations and the constantly evolving data protection arena?

ANDREW: Kristina, I got a great answer for this because it's a question that I asked when I go into brands, who's that one throat to choke at the end of the day on your email program? If it's the email program owner, and it has to do with their email program GDPR,  CCPA any one of these other state regulations that are coming out that's a part of the email marketing department. Now, they can seek advice from outside counsel, outside consultants, outside agencies. They have to be the one to be the champion, to be the steward because they own the email program. It has to do with their email program. And so that's why I said the email marketer's job role these days is much, much harder than just setting up a creative review, looking at segmentation, looking at specific things, and then sending the email out and reporting back on it. There's so much more that's involved these days, and that's all about empowerment part of an email and making sure that you can work and have that commitment to email. If you've empowered your email marketing owner that throat to choke at the other end to tell you this is your program to run and they can bring in counsel from the outside, that's how it has to center because they understand the email program, and nobody's making, no one's helping them. No one's telling them what to do. They can facilitate that conversation internally.

KRISTINA: I love this idea of having the person who is the owner of the email marketing program be the steward or I work with perhaps a broader kind of digital policy steward who's really paying attention to this, but ultimately having that business area be able to decide not just, do I need to pay attention to GDPR, CCPA or Nevada or anything else out there, but what is the opportunity versus the risk and then make a calculated decision versus acting from a place of fear, which I think is the case with so many folks today.

ANDREW: And it's part because they're being run in many different directions, right? There's a lot of stress and pressure, especially in today's time that we are in the right going into Q4. Sometimes Q4 makes or breaks your year, and sometimes it makes or breaks your company. So there's a lot of things that are happening and planning. It is really hard to do if you're running around trying to fix things with the fire hose. It's really hard to think about. How does, how do what's our GDPR strategy right going in, several years ago, what's our GDPR strategy, it's hard, and I get that, and that's where you have to hire somebody who has a very clear understanding from an email marketing perspective. Not just from the creative and pressing a button and knowing how to do specific things. But at a programmatic level, they can speak to executives, or legal counsel or own the agency or the ESP relationships. That's an important part. Especially if you again, you want and are committed to the channel, you has to be committed to the channel.

KRISTINA:  So I actually asked CMO, that's a colleague of mine sort of what question would they ask you if they really were in a position to have a chat with you. And what was interesting is, I heard this individual say that the organization and the brand are really pushing towards zero and first-party data and they're struggling with it and they're wondering how do you see the email marketing landscape changing as a result of that? Like what advice are you giving folks right now, CMOs or even email marketing owners, what should they be trying to do if anything?

ANDREW: So I'm assuming you're talking about the use of data, right, and the use of it, so I call it, is everyone has data. Everyone may not have the right data; everyone may misuse the data. Everyone may have the appearance of misusing the data. I think if we take a look back at the last several years, right and I'm going to speak as an American because I love America, but we really don't sometimes care about our privacy. It's starting to get there, talk to anybody in the EU and they have a whole different aspect about the use of the data that brands have on that, right? But when we hear of Facebook or all these other sets is of organizations that have data breaches even are in our health care system, people sometimes just go. Yeah, and they blow it off and then move on. I mean, it's my data, right but I think when we start thinking about the use of data in an email program, we have to ask ourselves. First of all, how much are we collecting and I would be collecting upfront are we collecting in the after we have pending that data and then how much can we use to push the threshold of becoming more personalized, when we hear the word relevancy and personalization, and everyone has different definitions for those, don't seem all were to ask me around. Hey, how do I use first-party data? I would say use it slowly! Test it to the point where you know with your best customers. When do you feel as if it's too much versus too little? We here a lot of people saying: I want the brand's to know me, right? I want the brands to feel that they're connected to me on an individual basis. So personalization has moved to this term called individualization. And the question is sometimes we have all of this data, and it's in so many different places, and then the rise of CDP's and we've been talking about big data for years. I still think people are confused. I think people are confused as to how they can inject data into the use of email marketing, number one, and what the limit is versus not. People's can define personalization using your first name in the subject line to identifying what your last purchase, used predictive modeling and then be able to target you across the internet about what your next purchase is and then track your whereabouts and do app push messaging to then obviously if you engage with their email sending you down a behavioral journey past, using all the data. Certain customers have certain thresholds, and that's the hard part, and all of this is figuring out what those thresholds are for every segment, whether you've got one or ten segments in your subscriber base or in your customer base, and knowing which ones are freaking them out. And which ones you feel you can play with and so I would say proceed but proceed with caution and proceed with a really solid testing plan around our best to our most customers that perhaps maybe we consider being inactive or dead of that nature.

KRISTINA: Why do you think so many organizations are actually afraid to ask for preferences these days, or even start to tailor personalized or individualize their email campaigns and thinking about how much spam I get and how much of it is highly irrelevant. In fact, anything that starts out with Risnjak, which is the name of my dog, my former dog, anything that that starts out with that automatically gets filtered into the spam folder and I'm thinking about sort of all of these organizations that almost refused to ask me about my preferences versus my local shop, this crazy little shop that was awesome through the pandemic and really helpful to me. They just literally ask me they're like, is there something we can help you with on a regular basis? Like what would make your life easier and they've been great about paying me with things like little reminders of things that I need to do for either family members or you know folks that are involved in my kid's life. If they actually will pick out little gifts that I don't have to think about they'll deliver them. They do all this stuff. It's value-add and I keep thinking to myself like, I want to just open up everything about myself and tell them everything. I don't mind kind of holding back because it's helpful. So why aren't we seeing more organizations do that and say, hey, Andrew, I'm gonna help service you right at the end of the day. I'm going to actually deliver a really great service, even if it's around a product, but why do you think that they're so afraid or are they even afraid to engage in and ask the customer what is it that you really want?

ANDREW:  I think there are multiple ways, but I think if you're talking at scale on a national brand with millions and millions and millions of potential customers as much different when you're talking about a smaller scale where they can add that or pendant into their subscriber base about what your preferences are. I think it goes back to what I talked about the pre-send experience. If you're being asked to give your preferences today on the things that you like and the things that you want. Guess what? A year from now, your preferences might change and so what happens is they ask for a lot of data upfront in preference signers, or do you like this or do you like that and those things invariably change. Now, you said to me earlier that you like to travel and you were on an area you're on an airplane you're missing that well, if you think about filling out a profile for a hotel chain and you're like, well, do you like fluffy pillows do you like hard pillows, do like with the feathers, do you like styrofoam pillows? Maybe that will change over the year. Maybe you have something now you need to use a different type of pillow. But what happens is they capture these preferences upfront and then they do a very mediocre job. And these are most brands do a very mediocre job of actually saying to update your preferences. So think about the emails that are we all look at -  typically when they say to update your preferences Kristina or Andrew, it's at the bottom and 3.5 fonts, next to the unsubscribe, or you click on unsubscribe, and you get to it, and wait, wait stop. You want to receive three fewer emails a month, by the way update your preferences. So they treated as a before thought like getting it upfront, which is great, but then they treated as an afterthought because things change over a period of time, and so I think brands need to become extremely aware of that, especially if you are product and it could be software to the socks, your product has a cyclical change and could change over a period of time. You need to consistently ask for updates, right? Because you have the ability to go into a local lender, and they were able to say, how can we make your life a little bit better? They often don't do that and don't do it on a regular and consistent basis or at least make it easy for you to do it. They typically hide it, and they typically only send surveys out to you when they want information. Oh, and then guess what you ask for information in the name of our use it, right? They never use it because someone wanted that information, so it's sitting there, but it's hard to get up, and so I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer here. What I'm trying to do is to say we all want to get better at terms of personalization. But what we need to do is think about the experience it is to get it, to keep it, maintained it, use it, test it ,and then the ability to be nimble enough to roll with what the customer or what they're telling us. I always use this saying, we, meaning marketers, email marketers and us like are not in charge of our email programs. Our customers are, our subscribers, who tell us whether or not their actions, their behavior, their clicking an opening and engaging and purchasing and downloading and doing whatever, they're giving us signals. We have to take those signals, and we have to use it. We have to use it all the time for those brands that don't use those signals and feel as if they can make predictive choices on that potentially the long tail. The long tail issue would be as it's not an early work out for them in the long run.

KRISTINA: And right now, I'm actually feeling like if we had not ripped out each and every telephone booth off the face of the Earth, you would be probably leaping out with a big Mister mail save the world on your chest. So I'm really delighted by what you're describing and I hope that more brands will actually start to listen because I think that what you're saying makes complete and utter sense not just from a sort of digital operations and marketing perspective, but also from a consumer perspective and so let me kind of switch hats with you and get your perspective on being a consumer. How do you personally manage your inbox and spam because you do this for a living. So what does it look like when you're on the other side of this at home?

ANDREW: Well, first of all, I'm going to be a self-proclaimed email nerd hashtag. I've got about 15 depth separate inboxes. So it really just depends upon which inbox was talking about. I've got an inbox with over a million emails that I track, but I have one that's really only for personal use, and I tend to do a lot of filtering, I tend to be very selective of who I sign up for and who I give my information to. I don't, believe it or not, I don't shop with my phone. I never have, I probably never will but when I think about my inbox, whether it's my work inbox, one of my personal inboxes is one inbox that dumps everything in there, I effectively use filters, and I tried to only focus on one inbox at a time and to fly through messages, but I'm very selective of who I sign up for and who I actually do business with because I just really don't know where my information is going to go and I learned a valuable lesson about 10 years ago. I signed up for an email from a brand, love the brand, was one of the brand advocates would literally run up the hill for them, and then all of a sudden, I got an email from a sub-brand of theirs, and they said, hey because you have shown interest in this brand, we thought you'd make like this and they automatically added me to their daily email list and they didn't ask for permission, didn't have to, but they could they should have right and I thought to myself, you know, that's not the way I want my experience to go with this brand, this initial brand that I was willing to run up the hill for, and it kind of got me thinking about how do I and how should I use my inbox as my personal social security number, because having the amount of inboxes that I have having the amount of email that comes in. I'm very overwhelmed and what we have to understand is, you can have a catchy subject line, you can have a catchy or awesome data policy. You can have personalization to help. But if you if, it's taken a while to get there. It's really hard for you to manage. So my inboxes are managed much differently. I am litmus of an email marketer, so I can't say from an actual consumer how people do their inboxes, but I will tell you this. I love my wife. I've been married to her for 24 years, and I like to observe how she reads emails; and I remember watching her one day on her phone, and she just started swiping left, left left , this she was kind of triaging her emails on her mobile phone. I said, hey, what are you doing? And she's, like, I have this that doesn't interest me. I don't like the subject line. That doesn't interest me. And I said, well, what are you doing? She's like, I'm just deleting them, and I said, well time out, I never never delete anything like an email marketer, but as you walk through a train station or sit in a Starbucks or sit on an airplane and watch people interact with their email. It's fascinating. It's absolutely fascinating to watch the behavior of people and how they treat certain things, and whether or not they're interested in reading that email even at the surface level. And so I manage my inbox much differently than that of my wife, and we all manage our inboxes, but I'm pretty much a similar to most of the listeners here probably have 2 to 3 inboxes that they use for specific purposes. And it's just it's fascinating to me to see, witness, and watch it evolve over and over a period of time.

KRISTINA: So you have different inboxes. It sounds like you also have different personas because I have a tendency to sign up by dogs, my dogs who unfortunately been dead for years and years. I sign them up for emails, and I love it when I start to get mail like classic US Postal mail addressed to the dogs. And so it kind of gives me a way to track and I sort of feel maybe that for all of the spam that I'm getting, I'm also causing brands to spend more on something that nobody's ever going to use because we pretty much toss everything that way. So do you also create these personas or is it just mailbox management?

ANDREW: Sure. Do. I love creating personas, especially if I'm trying to get a clear understanding of does the brand use the data that I give them to their advantage? Especially if I say that I'm a 38-year-old female with $100,000 in disposable income. How many emails do I start to get, and what's the messaging behind it versus if I signed up as a 51 year old male. Hey, what are the differences in messaging? Yeah, I love using personas. I haven't done it in about 6 or 7 months, but I do have quite a few different types of personas out there, and it's fun to see the differences and messaging all those subtle. It's certainly there. But yeah, it seems funny that you sign up with your dog's names, is my must be interesting inbox experience.

KRISTINA:  Well, that brings me full circle then back to kind of the beginning of our conversation which is, if I'm putting my dog's names and by the way, we have email addresses with the dogs names, right? So it's like the full-on experience here that we've created, but if we're doing that and we're making out part of that new really three billion population that uses email, can brands really rely on email data that they have and is email still really relevant you think or will be going forward?

ANDREW: It is relevant. But here's the thing—we as email marketers we as marketers, are in charge of making sure that that experience is the best it could be is if we have not done what we're supposed to do. And people are just opening up inboxes for the sake of opening up an inbox to get a deal or could get something for free or anything then how have we how can we evolve that. It's funny, I've engaged in debates before around his email dying, has it died or whatever. It's never gone away. The problem is that we tend to focus like I called the squirrel syndrome, right? We just dive off in a different direction, ten years ago when I started an email agency, we're like, are you not social taking over emails going away? Well, what happens is that brands tend to dial back their commitment and one channel and put their fourth or commitment and another, and I think what happens is that these things just sort of chugged along, right? And so I think if you're a brand that uses confirmed opt-in or double opt-in as opposed to just automatically signing somebody up from your email list and flooding their email a footing their inbox with emails, you have to again look at the entire picture here; why are people doing what they do. The thing then that also begs the question of data, pending data to that particular email address. What data vendors have on you in terms of that email address. We all have this digital footprint that we have. How can they append make sure that it's you who you are as opposed to you one of your dogs, and then they have to take and be bold enough,  we think that this email address is not a valid email address or has been used before in the past a sign up for all these different programs and you should purge it from your database and maybe get rid of it because we know it's not necessarily engaging and many other brands across the internet and so the use of first-party data the ability to append first-party data is extremely important and then being able to look at that data and say you know, what there, right? Right, we should really sort of purge this email address because we're not going to get anywhere with it. And so they have to be able to say I'm going to get rid of X percentage of my database in order to save money, save time and ultimately make sure that they can dial in their messaging to the people that actually want to receive their email versus signing up for because of an ulterior motive.

KRISTINA:  That's a wonderful note to end on.  Andrew, thank you so much for being with us today. I think you've really enlightened not just my world, but that of our listeners. I really appreciate your time and sharing all of these insights really good stuff to build on, and I look forward to sharing this episode. Can you tell us where people can find more information about you or the things that you’ve written about since you are an avid blogger.

ANDREW: Yes, I am. So you can find me on LinkedIn.com/AndrewKordek. I work for a company called IPost you can send me an email to akordek@IPost.com. I answer and read everything on I'd love to love to hear from you guys, positive or negative. Kristina, thank you so much for your time today. I really do appreciate it. And thank you, everybody who's listening. I appreciate the time you've taken out of your day or night to listen on. I hope you got value. So again, thank you so much.

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