Check Your Email: Matt McGowan on Martech’s Sleeping Giant

Ex-Googler Matt McGowan is president of Adestra, a leading martech company boasting double digit growth for more than a decade. McGowan believes that email as a martech solution has been often overlooked for many reasons, none of which have anything to do with its efficacy and results. We spoke with him about email’s unsung talents and the results that his clients have seen.

Email is often missing when it comes to high-level discussions of marketing strategy in the media. Why is that?

It’s not flashy, and compared to other marketing channels the costs to effectively reach customers and clients are considerably low. Email is the workhorse of the digital space and has been around for as long as the internet. Yet, it’s often overlooked cause it’s “just email”. It’s changing a bit as we have more conversations on the addressability of the consumer (identification) through email addresses and the marketer’s access to data. The other reason is that email is not broken enough. Even when done poorly, it performs higher in terms of ROI than other channels. Whereas in other channels, when you do it wrong, you don’t see the ROI. We should be talking more about email. We should be focusing on the importance of the proactive communicative power of email. We should be talking more about email as a tool to power a company’s retention and loyalty programs.

How do you begin to shift the narrative, since a lot of people seem to think of “spam” when they hear the phrase “email marketing”.

Often these thoughts originate with “I get a lot of emails that don’t resonate with me”. Not much different than “I see a lot of ads that don’t resonate with me.” It’s more a commentary on relevancy. It’s associated with spam merely because it’s email that the consumer does not want until they want it. But it’s their choice to engage, it’s not the email that gets them involved. If we want to change this stereotype, then what we need to do is focus on First-Person Marketing strategies that work to recognize the individual not the audience. Individual engagement is quite powerful and there are platforms out there that facilitate this.

In terms of results, what does email offer and how does it stack up against industry averages?

The DMA, IAB, AAAA, and other associations and regulatory bodies in the industry have for years have claimed that email has the highest ROI. The low-cost, high return marketing channel. What I would rather see is investment and budget allocation that align to the ROI levels. Invest more and make more.

There’s a lot of confusion with reference to data integration and email marketing. Can you run us through a quick primer?

What the marketer wants is access to data. Data that powers better decisions on consumer engagement strategies across the digital spectrum for both retention and acquisition based marketing. This data can be used to better target and appeal to the consumer in a relevant way. Yet, the marketer needs not only the data, but also the resources to do something with the data that is available. This takes a greater focus on strategy and operations. A greater focus on tactics that can empower the data to be used dynamically within the email. With this bridge established, the data integrations that are essential to a relevant conversation can be actualized. There are best-in-class point solutions that allow this to happen because they can “speak” to each other in ways the pre-packaged stacks cannot. Anti-intuitive I know.

What does a CMO need to be aware of in developing an email marketing plan?

That like any channel, it needs to be invested in. That the mere cost of an email is not the end-point. Like any good strategy, complexity is key and email cannot be seen as just a communication medium that is “easy”. Email should be intricate, complex and involve as much effort as we take with other channels. Moreover, the email marketer should not operate in a silo, she should be part of the team, fully integrated with her colleagues. Models and propensity analysis are key to making it work. For the CMO, do the research, invite the ESP into your office, put some working sessions in the calendar. There is a lot to learn and discuss.

What kind of results have you seen with clients who began adopting a more strategic approach to email?

Oddly enough, Adestra has an amazing content library of not only campaigns that had remarkable success, but case studies that show in every vertical, when email is really invested in, the results are astounding. For example, our client, one of the largest and definitely most loved global wine distributors on the planet, implemented a propensity-based email that is constructed based on the individual user’s propensity for selecting certain wines. They achieved a 40% conversion rate. That number is enough to make any CMO blush. It’s these kinds of examples, and many more, that keep us excited about the future of the industry and the power of data.

Learn more about Adestra here.

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