Lisa Jeffries: “Email Has Been One of the Sharpest Tools in Our Shed”

Author: Corina Leslie

December 4, 2019

What are some of the best ways to market your business online? Also, what does it take for an organization to be successful at email marketing? These are just two of the topics I invited Lisa Jeffries to talk about in this new #ZeroBounceInterview. Lisa — who has 15 years of experience in the industry and runs her own marketing agency (Raleighwood Media Group) — gave us some great answers.

What are the most surprising changes you’ve seen in marketing over the past 10 years?

How some things that were old and out of style are en vogue again.

For example, many marketers moved away from print and mail in the digital era. But now the mailbox is experiencing a renaissance thanks to cost effective programs like USPS Every Door Direct Mail, as marketers are looking to again diversify as digital reaches its peak CPC.

For restaurant clients, we’re seeing positive ROI on investment in mailing special offers to nearby residents.

What do you wish you’d known when you started your own company?

How much online training there is available out there!

For instance, I would often struggle with the learning curve with software like Adobe Illustrator and spend much longer immersed in challenging projects because I wasn’t using the tool to its greatest capability.

Early on, I often didn’t think about searching YouTube for a tutorial or looking up a detailed step-by-step description of how to do what I was aiming for.

What a time saver it is when some dear soul has already put into motion the exact solution you’re looking for!

Your company provides so many services, from email to social media and influencer marketing, to branding and PR. What have you found to be the most effective form of promotion? 

There’s definitely not a silver bullet solution in marketing. I believe the best plan for most clients is a healthy mix.

We don’t do email marketing because we prefer email marketing, we do it because it’s the preferred communication channel for some of our audience.

Also, we don’t do social media because it’s our favorite, we do it because some members of our audience spend most of the digital time on Instagram. And so on and so on.

When did you first recognize that email was such a powerful marketing tool?

It’s been one of the sharpest tools in our shed over the course of my entire career and it still continues to be that way.

Every few months or so, a piece of thought leadership pops up saying that “email is dead” or that the millennial consumer can’t be reached that way. The very next day we’ll have a client campaign with its highest open rate of the year.

At the end of the day, email is still one of our most prolific channels of communication and a large portion of consumers have woven it into their daily lives.

Unlike social media, we don’t have to pay a premium with “boosted posts” to get in front of our email audience, we just have to do our best to avoid the spam folder.

What do you think it takes for an organization or brand to be successful at email marketing?

Having a strategy for who, what, when, where, and why — and possibly most importantly — having the right email marketing platform/provider in place.

You can’t just “set it and forget it” and hope to see consistently high open and click metrics.

Instead, you constantly need to be sloughing off inactive subscribers, recruiting new subscribers, analyzing best times of day and days of week to send, and personalizing and segmenting our way to success.

And it’s very difficult to do any of that without the right technology provider in place. The wrong provider can swing delivery rate by an unhealthy percentage or take hours of your time to create segments that should be a “one click” functionality.

email tips

Do you think email validation has the awareness it deserves in the email marketing space?

I think we’re just now scratching the surface.

For the longest time, marketers have been concerned with vanity metrics: list size and open rate.

We’re now starting to evolve to a savvy enough community to understand that purging off low-quality subscribers (for example, those who have never opened an email since opting in), helps improve some of those vanity metrics, like open rate.

From your observations, what are companies mostly struggling with when it comes to email marketing? 

Because there have been so many industries to do email marketing poorly (I’m looking at you, national retailers who email daily and sometimes multiple times per day!), it’s tougher to compel people to opt in now. Their inboxes are already full.

There are also a lot of DIY small businesses out there who commit a lot of simple mistakes because they just don’t know any better… For example:

  • weak or missing subject lines
  • not linking content to appropriate assets
  • or not providing a monitored email address that readers can easily reply to.

The DIYer doesn’t tend to stay in the know on best practices, which is where a firm like ours comes into play.

We are regularly deep diving into reports published by major email marketing software companies, reading up on subject line performance, and monitoring design capabilities with responsive design in mind.

What about digital marketing as a whole? What’s a weak spot for them?

Because this is such a fast-moving industry, it’s incredibly difficult to stay on the leading side of “best practices” and technology.

We’ve gone from tables, to limited inline HTML and CSS, to fully responsive email design in less than a decade. And that’s just email, which is still limited in scope thanks to Office and Outlook still dominating the daytime work email reader format.

Those challenges are amplified when we look at web and social content quickly changing day by day, as well.

Just this week I was reading a piece on “Kill the PDF” which challenges us to think beyond this dated format, as well, in favor of dynamic, mobile-first content. Which, as you know, will require a new paid subscription and a new learning curve. 😉

If you could recommend only 3 digital marketing strategies for 2019, what would they be?

Monitor, Analyze, and Refine.

What doesn’t get monitored doesn’t get managed. What doesn’t get analyzed doesn’t improved upon. And what doesn’t get refined doesn’t last over time.

validate email list

Who is Lisa Jeffries?

Lisa Jeffries has been a marketer since 2005, helping small businesses and startups thrive. Her experience revolves around new media and experiential marketing for retail, hospitality and service-based companies. In 2008, Jeffries founder her own firm, called Raleighwood Media Group.