The “Black Swan” of Email

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that explains an event that comes as a surprise, has a major impact and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact.

In his book “The Black Swan”, Nassim Nicholas Taleb states that this event can also be relative to knowledge. 

As an example, a turkey gets fed for a thousand straight days, then on the day before Thanksgiving – boom, it is slaughtered. Here’s a diagram from the book that depicts before and after.


(Image Source)

For the butcher, the event is expected, but for the turkey, the nonfeeding is a “Black Swan – an unforeseen event out of nowhere with no way to really predict its outcome (based on the previous behavior/data). 

So let’s imagine the butcher being the ISP (such as Google or Yahoo) and the marketer or business as the turkey. Email deliverability and performance can be all good and smooth sailing, then out of nowhere – you’re in the tanker and messages are hitting the spam folder. 

No more feeling of safety and what worked in the past no longer does… How could this be!?

Similarly, when it comes to email deliverability, the Black Swan event may be:

1) caused by a single event right before the dip in reputation (i.e. new low-quality subscribers added, a technical issue in the setup, emailing to a dormant segment, new email strategy, etc.)


2) your bad sending habits over time caught up with you and that was the day the algorithm decided to penalize you.

The hardest part for us email marketers is figuring out which of the two caused the “doom day”. 

Was it a single event or was it something that was lingering for months?


Open Reach: What is it and Why is it More Insightful Than Open Rate?

How engaged are your email subscribers?

It’s a question that plagues the minds of email marketers all around the nation. 20% opened your email, but did they read it? 5% clicked, but why didn’t they buy? How many clicked accidentally? Also, while we’re at it, how many people just opened your email because they wanted a zeroed-out inbox?

Unfortunately, standard common email metrics simply don’t tell us enough to understand the dynamics of your subscriber engagement specifics.

Most current day email marketers still lean on the reliable, standard metrics – open rates, click rates (CTR), and response rates. These are used universally for a reason, and shouldn’t be ignored.

Still, we can do better, as they simply are not robust enough to delineate engagement specifics that translates to more business.

For instance, open rate reveals almost nothing about how engaged your email subscribers are – actually, it may be somewhat misleading.

Don’t believe me?

That’s okay – let’s talk.

The Problem with Open Rate…

Since the early days of email marketing, open rate has paraded itself as one of the few know-all, end-all metrics to reveal how engaged your subscribers are. Recently, though, some unforgiving problems have come to light with open rate.

Chief among those problems is that open rate doesn’t measure how many specific unique persons opened your emails over a particular period of time, but how many total emails were opened. That might sound like a small, insignificant difference, but it isn’t.

Let me explain.

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4 “M’s” To Upping Your Email Marketing Game (…using the right channels at the right time)

By now, most online businesses are employing some form of email marketing in their overall marketing efforts to brand and promote their business to new and existing customers.

However, businesses are still struggling and failing to unleash the full potential and intrinsic value of an effective email marketing program.

When it comes to email, there are 4 basic areas to focus on that will help you avoid the classic email marketing pitfalls of the “many”.

The following 4 points aim to shed light on how to better use the email channel to grow your business, build relationships with your subscribers and increase conversions.

The tactics below describe the arenas in which email marketers must carefully apply their efforts to determine which forms of communication best serve to connect with the intended target audience (at precisely the right moments in time).

1. Misalignment With a Customer’s Life Cycle

Email marketers must be mindful of the notion of a target audience’s “Life Cycle” (or Customer Journey).

What does this mean? An audience’s life cycle is the precise stage that a current (or potential customer) is or may be at any given instance in their interaction with your business and brand.

For potential customers, this life cycle is undoubtedly different than it is for your existing/repeat customers, as they may still be in the preliminary stages evaluating your company or product among other competitors in the field.

Unlike potential customers, your current customers or purchasers may be awaiting a new offering, an improvement update or even a specific time sensitive offer for repeat a order.

As you can see (with this very simple example), your customers can and will be in different stages and touch points within their individual journey.

The example above also sheds light on the importance of knowing what specific stage that your particular target audience falls into, because this will help avoid the pitfalls of a “one-size-fits-all” approach that is less effective when it comes to email marketing.

Continue reading “4 “M’s” To Upping Your Email Marketing Game (…using the right channels at the right time)”

Segmentation: The Real Talk On Improving Email Deliverability

In a world of ever-improving modules for competitive email marketing, gone are the days of a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach to email campaigns.

No longer can marketers longing for a competitive edge compete with other real players employing a time-warped single email campaign approach without taking heed of targeted audiences.

Improved email marketing results are intentionally crafted by understanding the unique symbiotic relationship that subscriber identities have on segmentation in order to improve email deliverability and overall performance.

What is segmentation?

Segmentation is the splitting of your email list into multiple groups giving you the ability to control which subscribers are receiving a specific content.

Segmentation calls for marketers to really take a closer look at their audience and to break them up into groupings by pinpointing unique commonalities in order to gain better deliverables via customer engagement.

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Customer Engagement as the #1 Challenge for an Email Marketer

Nowadays, it’s no secret that those that can engage their audience will reap the highest rewards.

We hear over and over again that our emails need to be personal, relevant, interesting, value-adding, yada yada…

Is it easy to execute such plan?

Well, not really!! Building a high quality email program can be really hard.

But is it worth the time and effort invested in order to get there?

Absolutely, it is!

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EMAIL DELIVERABILITY CHECKLIST: What Every Email Marketer Should Routinely Examine

Whether it’s financial, fitness, business or nutrition, all of us seek to establish routines robust with goals, checklists and reminders to motivate us on the daily to keep us on track and focused on the task at hand.

I’ve created this post specifically for email marketers as an EMAIL DELIVERABILITY CHECKLIST that every online marketer should routinely review as a reminder of the foundational stepping stones to solid email deliverability.

Before we can understand and can tackle email deliverability, we need to first understand and ask ourselves – “WHO OWNS THE INBOX?”

Is it Senders, Subscribers or Inbox Providers who own the inbox? 

Litmus did a survey recently and asked its community what they thought. Here are the results:

Litmus who-owns-the-email-inbox-chart

I personally think it’s the subscriber who owns the inbox and the minute you forget that is when all your email deliverability nightmares will reign true!

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The Optimum Email Sending Frequency

As a marketer, you want to stay top of the mind of your customers, but how do you do this without pissing them off and overwhelming them with your emails? How do you send the “perfect” number of emails per week, per month, etc.?

I personally don’t believe that there are set rules for this, and rather than asking what is the right sending frequency, you should ask yourself “what is my subscriber’s expectation?” … as well as what my current metrics are telling me?

If your subscriber’s expect the latest news delivered to their inbox, they may be okay with 3-4 (or even more) emails a day or maybe it’s a daily deal site they signed up for and once a day is what they expect.

However, if I am an insurance agent selling annual premiums, do I really need to email my clients on a daily basis?

Maybe yes, maybe no…

Continue reading “The Optimum Email Sending Frequency”

Metrics Every Email Marketer Should Check Regularly

The big question I always hear from email marketers is how to analyze their emails and programs from day to day, week to week or month to month and what metrics should they pay attention to and monitor routinely?

Here are a few metrics that you can’t afford to ignore:

  1. Click To Open Rate (COTR) – There is the obvious click-through-rate that should not be ignored. However, the COTR is a straight-forward and reliable metric metric that provides a quick overview on the email performance and directly ties in to your conversion rates. For example, if the email generated a high open rate but CTOR is low, it may indicate that the message didn’t deliver a value prop and the email content or template may need to be modified to be more relevant to the person.
  2. Open Rates – Any changes in the average open rates can indicate possible list fatigue (or a need to segment your email list). It can also indicate potential delivery issues or maybe the content isn’t relevant or resonating with your audience.
  3. Open Rates By Domain – This metric is an overview of your email’s performance by a specific domain. Let’s say your average open rate is 20%, but for Hotmail it’s only 4%, you can clearly see that there is a deliverability issue with Hotmail that needs to be addressed.
  4. Bounce Rate (Hard & Soft) – Look for any spikes out of the norm that may indicate ISP blocks and IP reputation issues.
  5. Revenue Per Email – How much money was made from an email can also be an important metric to track. You may have a large email list (and continue to acquire new email addresses), but if you’re acquisition costs are out weighing your profits generated, there are bigger problems because you’re in the red and losing money.
  6. Unsubscribe Trends – You want to keep a close eye on this to make sure that unsubscribe levels stay consistent. A rise in the unsubscribe rate can mean the loss of interest in your content by your subscribers or maybe you’re sending too many emails – too frequently.
  7. List Growth – The number of new signups within a period and the rate at which your list is growing. This metric can also provide you insight into how well you’re converting your traffic into email signups.

Which of these metrics do you find most important? Did I miss any metrics that you check regularly?

A Welcome With 5 Awesome Marketing Engagement Quotes

Hello and welcome to our Blog!

In the blog, I’ll be discussing new and innovative trends and tips for Engagement marketing, Customer Experience and much much more…

For starters, here are 5 great Engagement Marketing quotes:

  1. “The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” — John Russell
  2. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie
  3. “If there’s one reason we have done better than of our peers in the Internet space over the last six years, it is because we have focused like a laser on customer experience, and that really does matter, I think, in any business. It certainly matters online, where word of mouth is so very, very powerful.” — Jeff Bezos
  4. “To succeed in business you need to be original, but you also need to understand what your customers want.” — Richard Branson
  5. “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.” — Steve Jobs

P.S. I’d love to hear from you so don’t hesitate to leave a comment.