In this episode of The B2B Growth Marketer Podcast Kyle Stout, the founder of Elevate & Scale discusses why email marketing should still be a part of your marketing strategy.
With changes in technology, you would think that email would have drastically changed as well, but according to Kyle, it has stayed close to its original roots.
Kyle shares some of his best practices and things to avoid if you’re a small company starting out in email marketing.
Episode Show Notes
If you run a business and haven’t been using email marketing as part of your strategy, now is the time to get started. Especially if you are a small business or self-employed professional. Email is different for each individual or company but it still offers real benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked by any marketer.
Alex Meade, Beacons Point, VP of Sales & Marketing
Alex is the VP of Sales & Marketing at Beacons Point, a leader of HubSpot User Groups, the host of the B2B Growth Marketer Podcast, and a collector of Kurt Vonnegut books and San Diego craft beer.
Kyle Stout, Elevate & Scale, Founder
Kyle is the founder of Elevate & Scale. Elevate & Scale helps e-commerce brands put their sales on autopilot and maximize revenue with email and SMS marketing.
Alex Meade 0:05
Welcome to the b2b growth Marketing podcast. I’m your host Alex. And today I have Kyle stout. He is the founder of elevating scale. And we’re going to talk we’re going to talk email marketing. Kyle. So Kyle, thanks for joining. Thanks for having me. So maybe give everybody like, what, why? Why should we listen to you about email marketing? Like, what’s your, what is your company? And like? What’s your experience with emails?
Kyle Stout 0:30
Okay, yeah, so my company is elevated scale, and we help businesses put their sales on autopilot and maximize revenue through email marketing. So we approach that from two different angles. So the first part would be looking at your sales process and creating automations to optimize your sales process. And then also managing the ongoing email marketing. So what people typically think of as like newsletters and things like that,
Alex Meade 0:57
yeah. So today, we’re gonna kind of talk about the different kind of like aspects of email marketing and, and why people maybe should be paying more attention to it. So maybe first, you know, that our audience is mostly mostly b2b marketers, marketing managers to like marketing leaders. I’m sure everybody has experience with email marketing, but there’s, there’s varying levels of email marketing, and there’s varying how far companies go, you know, it could be Oh, yeah, we send out a newsletter once a month, to we’ve got a 75 email drip when someone fills out a form. So maybe like, in your words, like, why, what is the importance of email as it relates to like, your marketing strategy? Or how does it fit into kind of how marketers should be thinking about it?
Kyle Stout 1:52
Okay, I mean, so, to me, the the same reason that email has always been valuable. But that’s always existed as the fact that you get direct access to your leads, and customers. So you have this direct communication channel, and it’s on a platform that you own. So as we’ve seen, the rise of social media, and a lot of things that are, you know, honestly a lot more exciting than email marketing have, have kind of come and gone. You also see a lot of the downfalls of where, you know, you might end up losing a page that you had built up on a social media platform, or maybe all of the the attention in your industry, you know, rapidly like, over the course of six months or something starts to shift to another social media platform, and they get to start all over again, building your following. Or it could be that you’ve built up a following, and now you have to pay to get access to your following. Those are problems you don’t you don’t have with email. So that’s one of the main reasons beyond that. It’s also just a really cost effective channel. And it tends to be more consistent month to month, which a lot of business owners could benefit, you know, mentally, just to keep your sanity to have something that’s reliable from month to month.
Alex Meade 3:03
Yeah. Yeah, that’s, it’s a good point that you make, that all these other channels, they do come and go, some of them just change over time. So like, social media has been around for a long time, but it’s strategy has changed. And it’s probably gonna continue to change, you know, as updates and to algorithms and all those all those aspects, but email marketing, the principles have kind of stayed the same. It seems like I mean, I think like what you send and how you send it, your message obviously changes. But the, the process doesn’t seem like it’s changed too much in the last couple of years. Is that, is that correct? Does that seem right?
Kyle Stout 3:45
Yeah, I would say, you know, like, like other marketing channels, there’s always new tactical stuff, right? The tactics are changing, the technology evolves, and you new platforms come out with, you know, more better features or new features. But the strategies really pretty much stay the same in terms of, you know, just delivering good content to the right people at the right time.
Alex Meade 4:11
Yeah, so, okay. Like I said, we have we have marketing managers to marketing leaders. We, we probably have some technology, but maybe some manufacturing companies that maybe don’t have as sophisticated email campaigns, they might be the, well we send a newsletter out once a month. And like, Is that is that like, writes like, if you if you had to? If you had advice, or if you were to tell somebody who’s like okay, how do I, how do I think about email marketing more than a monthly newsletter? What would you say to like, get started for them?
Kyle Stout 4:48
Okay, so I mean, for the companies that are doing the monthly newsletter, you’re already in a better spot than the companies who don’t have a list or they’ve built up a list and they’re not emailing them. So I would say You know, don’t feel too bad, but there’s definitely a lot more you can do. And getting back to even what you’re asking originally, as far as, whereas, where email marketing fits in everything Ik, you can use email marketing as part of your customer acquisition. But then the more long term, you know, big picture value of email marketing is going to be in customer retention. So but where are you really going to find the most opportunities, if you haven’t really done much with email marketing yet, is really, you know, with customer acquisition. So first, I would say look at your sales process. So break and actually just take the, you know, dedicate a little time to actually write this out, map out the step by step process that someone takes to become a client or a customer, and look at where the gaps are in between each one of those steps and look at where you could use automated email to have follow up in between those gaps. And that’s where you’re going to get, you know, a lot of immediate ROI because you have people who are actively in your sales process right now. And they’re just, you’re just not getting as good of conversions as you could.
Alex Meade 6:04
Yeah, that’s kind of seems like that low hanging fruit that a lot of companies might have people that have already engaged with something webinar, download, you know, trade show, and you’ve got people that have at least shown interest in something. And so you’re kind of like saying is target those people first with some sort of automated email campaign? That’s bringing them bringing them value, while also moving them understanding the full cycle of how do you get them from interested to customer and fill in the gaps with with automated emails or other, you know, something else? Automated or emails?
Kyle Stout 6:47
Yeah, so I mean, like, a lot of b2b companies will do something where let’s say they have a lead magnet that they that people opt in, they download that. And then maybe they’re trying to get them onto a sales call. And it’s just kind of left it left blank from there. So some people decided to book the sales call, and some people didn’t. But there’s still more you can do from that point on, because then the question is, okay, so how many people showed up to the sales call, so you can have emails, and so you have emails, trying to get them onto the sales call, then once they’ve scheduled one, you can have emails to prepare them for that call? Yeah, then if they don’t show up, you can have follow up for people who don’t show up. And again, you’re gonna have to this takes a little work of talking about their sales team and trying to understand, okay, you know, why are people not showing up? What are their questions, concerns, objections, also, sometimes life happens, and it’s just an accident. And then also, then there’s follow up after the sales call, because a lot of times, it’s kind of like, oh, you know, we got to talk it over, we’ll get back to you. And, you know, maybe you’re doing manual follow up. But it also helps to have some automated follow up just to, you know, remove a little burden on your team. But also, it’s just a lot of times that, that you can deliver good content that just works around the clock for you.
Alex Meade 8:03
Yeah. Yeah, what you’re talking about is almost like marketing ops, like, almost, it’s almost like, you know, like, I think of sales ops, or even like getting into like Reb Ops is, let’s take a step back. What do you in, like, from a from an email perspective? Or like, even just why? Why are people not showing up to meetings that have booked? Okay, maybe they’re not being? Maybe they forget what they’re trying to do? And they just don’t go? How can you remind them, give them prepare them? And then post, you know, post demo, not purchase, or whatever the next step is? So you’re almost looking at it and saying on paper first? Where are we? Where is the process? Where are we dropping? Where people dropping off? And then how do we improve that from a email marketing perspective?
Kyle Stout 8:54
Yeah, exactly. And again, this is just the piece that’s tied to your sales process. So this is not even considering your ongoing email marketing to people who on your list that you’ve just built up.
Alex Meade 9:05
Yeah. So when you if you okay, you have a new project? And, you know, is the first thing you do? Is this, like strategy conversation, reviewing, reviewing gaps, or reviewing what they have? And then kind of starting to make notes of like, how do we improve this? How do we improve that? In what for after, after that conversation, because I think a lot of people go to, I need email nurturing, or automation mixed in and they just go start writing emails, and then kind of get lost of, it’s tough to just create emails without knowing why or where, where does it fit in? So when you have that strategy conversation, what’s your next step? Or like what can people think about? Or like, take the next action?
Kyle Stout 9:53
So so the first place we start is just understanding the overall business. We want to know everything they’re doing with market thing so we can kind of have an idea of how email fits into everything. Also, we just have an idea of like, you know, where are the leads coming from? What kind of leads are they? But really the first step before, like you said, instead of just trying to jump in and writing emails, the first step is, we need to really understand who are their ideal buyers, and what makes them tick. Or else, that’s the only way I mean, look, you know, talented copywriters can write, they’re good at just taking a swing and writing good copy. But you’re going to be way more effective if you really take that extra time upfront to drill down in what’s really driving the buying decision for your ideal clients or ideal buyers. And we do a strategy session on that. So we create a messaging strategy. And if it’s a business that’s more design heavy on the emails, and they’re, you know, they really have, they have a certain colors and fonts and logos that they want implemented. And of course, we’ll we’ll develop a design strategy. So it’s not even before we wouldn’t even write any emails, or try to create any emails until we’ve done all that. And we’ve mapped out the sales process. So now we have an idea of okay, this is the step by step process that people need to get to, we have a pretty good idea of the current situation they’re in whenever they show up and meet this company, we have an idea of who they are, the problems they need, solved, the things that they want, right out of whenever they hire this company, that things that they’re trying to actually achieve. And so now we can look at, if we’re looking at that sales process, we’re thinking, Okay, so at this stage, what’s the concern? What’s going to cause them to drop off? Or, you know, what’s, how can we get them excited to move forward? And it really is, it’s like, we talked about tactical versus strategy. I mean, the tactical of just setting up automation is pretty simple. Where you really get the value is having that great content that actually speaks to those people. So you stand out from the other businesses that they’re shopping that are just sending out generic emails or no emails.
Alex Meade 11:56
Yeah. Yeah, you’re speaking my language. Now. I mean, understanding your customer is, is so crucial in all marketing, says, you know, we’re in, we’re in the content marketing business, which includes emails and all that stuff. And if you don’t have an idea of who your customer is, you can, you know, like you write a good content writer can take their best swing at it. But if you know, like, the more of those details, you can specific, you know, spelt out those segmented lists, emails, get more specific, get more as you I mean, you know, all this to get better opens, get better, click-throughs get better, you know, end results. Do you guys, if a client doesn’t know that, would you? If a client doesn’t have that information? Do you guys do that work to provide that? Or is that something that? It seems like it’s a requirement for it to be successful? Do you ever do you ever get to a situation where they don’t know that? And you’re doing it for them?
Kyle Stout 13:02
Yeah, it’s it’s definitely a requirement. So that’s one of the first things we’re asking about, you know, once we know that we’re going to work together. I’m always asking if they have put together those kinds of strategy docs, or they have any assets in place. You know, maybe they’ve worked with, you know, an agency in the past has helped them develop buyer personas, or maybe they just are kind of like, yeah, you know, I used to be in this industry, or I am my ideal customer. Like, we need something. But if they don’t have anything, we take them through our own process, where it’s just, you know, it’s basically just a call where we’re working through it, you know, similar to the way you would develop buyer personas. Yeah, so we always have to start with that. Because without that, it’s, I mean, again, yeah, you can put together good emails, but yeah, it’s kind of like, you know, whenever you see good marketing, whatever the best brands that market to you, and they really speak to you, it’s like, yeah, it just makes a big difference. You It’s kind of like, you sort of justifying in your mind, it’s you just decided immediately I’m buying and like now I’m yeah, I’m looking for the justification, because they’ve, they’ve spoken to me so well, like Yeah, okay, I know, I’m buying now.
Alex Meade 14:13
Yeah, the best automated emails, I feel like are the ones that so as a marketer, I know they’re automated, but it doesn’t feel like an automated, it doesn’t speak like an automated email. And I think that’s like when you know, you’ve hit your sweet spot for for email. And is like knowing your audience on such a deep level. Having good copy. And in like having those segmented lists, you know, that speaks exactly to who I am. And like why and so there’s a lot of things that need to happen to get to that point. Which will, you know, isn’t this point of today’s podcast? I’m sure we could get into it. But yeah, it always comes back to that. And I think you’re totally you’re totally right. That if they don’t have it, that’s something they have to have So this is your so all those listeners is your site, if you don’t have buyer personas, you haven’t done this research. No matter what you’re trying to do do that first. You can head over on our website, we’ve got all types, all kinds of resources for that. But that’s certainly something you you should really step on before you achieve these. Okay, I want to I want to change, change paces here a little bit. So you’ve been involved with email for a long time. You know, from very, you started as a freelance copywriter. So you’ve clearly done copy, you’ve done internet, you’ve done all this, like, email stuff, you guys are in it every day? Where’s the email going? Like? What is the, if we’re in email? 3.0? What’s email? 4.0? Like, what? What is the next thing people should be thinking about? When when implementing?
Kyle Stout 15:51
Okay, so this is this is interesting. Because email, if you look at internet marketing, I mean, emails been around since the very beginning, pretty much. So it’s, it’s really stood the test of time. So far, granted, we’re not talking about a lot of time compared to traditional advertising. I think that there are two potential paths we go down. But I think that where we get to is the same. So right now we’re seeing is these technology companies are kind of going to war for market share of our homes, and of our attention, right, like like Apple and, and Facebook, and Amazon, they all want to be that ecosystem that owns everything. And we’re starting to see now where they’re starting to restrict certain things in the name of privacy for their users. So like, that’s a big problem for that paid media folks are dealing with right now. On the email side, we’re starting to get that where we’re open rates aren’t aren’t as accurate as they used to be because of the iOS updates. So on one hand, or sorry, on one path, I think we could get to where we actually lose a lot of our metrics, where our metrics are just no longer trustworthy. And users end up having a lot more privacy, then on the another path, because if you really look at the way technology is developing with with all the new marketing tools, even despite what’s happening, with people getting a little bit more privacy in certain areas, they’re losing way more privacy and other areas. And honestly, we have so much more power to track people’s behavior online than we ever did before. And the level of personalization, especially when you think about AI. I think that the another potential path is that we see hyper-personalization with technology where we know so much about them. And we can even leverage AI to create emails that are no longer personalized to the level of buyer persona work but personalized to you. And yeah, like specific things about you. But what I say here about the the outcome being the same is that whichever path we take, the pressure is going to come down to content has to be better, it’s going to come down to the same thing we always say, which is content is king. And it’s really going to be it’s kind of like with paid media right now you’re seeing that a lot of these metrics get taken away. And there’s more pressure on the content side than ever before, which in the end helps us all because that’s what media is it’s content. And we all just want good content. That’s why we subscribe to someone’s email list. That’s why we watch someone’s show on YouTube. We all just want good content. And I think there’s going to be more pressure to not be relying on tactical stuff as much, and to actually deliver really great email content that people want.
Alex Meade 18:41
Yeah. Yeah. I think, yeah, I think you’re, I think you’re right, I think it’s, it’s gonna get and you’re already seeing that, you know, like you could use, you could send, you know, like, you know, Best Buy, or Dick’s or whoever, like these big brands are sending What, like four or five emails a day to some people. And, you know, like, I’m sure they get a lot of unsubscribes, but they also get orders, but at the same time value is going to be coming more and more of like the that’s the currency is are you providing value to your customers? Is it content they want? And is it something they’re actually going to, like, read or take action on? Otherwise, you’re, you’re gonna get unsubscribes you’re gonna get, you know, lost in the shuffle or you’re just starting to get sent that content?
Kyle Stout 19:37
Yeah. See, that’s such a great point you bring up because this is something that people, a lot of times small business owners will look at these big companies like a Best Buy, or an Old Navy are these companies that really hammer their lists with email marketing. And they look at that as they think, well, these companies are so successful, you know, surely they’re working like they they have have the resources to hire the best marketers in the world, like you think this has got to be the best strategy ever. Yeah, but small businesses don’t have the ability to market and do things the way they do. So they can afford to burn out their list and have massive unsubscribes because of the acquisition of new people coming into their list, because they’re just, these are, you know, massive mainstream brands that are advertising and every channel available across the world, right. So it’s like, they’re playing a very, very different game. And they don’t care. They just, from my perspective, they just don’t care as much about the individuals on their list. They’re just maximizing what they can get, you know, despite the quality, and, you know, we might see some of these big household name brands go away, because people prefer brands that are more personalized. They like it whenever they, you know, you see all these influencer brands popping up people want to work with people, and they want the content to speak to them. And yeah, I really think one thing that small business owners have to keep in mind is to, is to not let these big brands, whenever they see them doing that kind of stuff, not let that influence what they do, because as small business owners, we’re just playing a different, we’re playing in a whole different league than they are.
Alex Meade 21:20
Yeah, millions of people on the list versus hundreds of people on a list. And, you know, I had a guest on the other day, and he was kind of talking about like it was about podcasting and how like the, the the game is changing in like, thinking about marketing as a whole. And I think this relates is almost tracking, you can’t track it, but thinking of it is positive interactions with your brand. And the more negatives you have. So if you’re a small business, and you send three emails a day, negative response, that like people are going to associate these negative responses and lose trust or or like that value to your brand. And so maybe they don’t unsubscribe, unsubscribe right away. But the next time that you have an ad or an email that’s actually valuable, they might not open it, because it’s like, oh, it’s, they’re just sending me spam again. And so I think it’s like, very relevant for small businesses, for b2b, you want to reduce those negative impacts. Because when even three years down the road, that that person’s association is like, Oh, they spam me until I unsubscribed. And I think you’re kind of like hitting on that too. For small businesses need to be more selective and valuable. With the list that they have
Kyle Stout 22:44
to there’s again, such a great point, because that’s something I’m always telling people, companies that we’re working with, whenever they’ll ask because one thing is we don’t like to, unless it’s unless it’s, you know, a big sale, or a big product launch or something where everyone on the list wants to know, we typically don’t email one minute, whenever we send out broadcast campaign emails, we don’t email the entire list, we like to use segmentation. And we’re more selective about who gets which email, for that exact reason. Because what happens is, if you My thinking is that just from my own behavior, but also just watching the metrics over time of, you know, so many different email lists is that people reach a point where they even if they don’t unsubscribe, they’ve made the decision in their mind that, like you said, this, I’m never really rewarded. This company constantly spamming me with email, I’m never really rewarded by it. So I’m just going to ignore them. And you know, how there’s like, there’s a guarantee you have lists you’re subscribed to right now that you archive their emails every time but you haven’t unsubscribed yet. And you probably will. Or maybe you won’t, but you’re, but because you’re archiving them every time. What’s going to happen whenever they sent something that you actually wanted, but you just won’t know, because you already decided that those like, I’m done with these emails, and that’s what happens to people. So it’s like you have to, you have to protect your list for the long term value. So that because a lot of people aren’t going to buy every time but they’re not going to buy right now. But they will buy and they could potentially be really great customers. So you want whenever the thing shows up, that would have been perfect for them. You want them to be there ready to receive it?
Alex Meade 24:22
Yeah, I agree. 100% our services, you know, a lot of people need what we do. A lot of people do what you do, but it’s it’s all about timing and when they think they need it, and that’s when, you know, their ears might perk up if they hear a specific term, and it was just discussing their leadership team. And now it’s something that’s relevant and it wasn’t a year ago. It wasn’t six months ago, but now it is. And you know, that’s a lot about what marketing is, is being in the right place at the right time, but also keeping them engaged and not finishing them off with them. With like bad emails or bad content, because it is the fastest way to to lose somebody’s you send something that’s just bad and not relevant. Not helpful. And kind of like that spam, sales pitch type email. There’s a place for all those, but maybe not all the time.
Kyle Stout 25:18
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing, you know, people want to know when you have a big sale. Yeah. So yeah, of course, like, don’t I’m not definitely not saying don’t take advantage of those kind of opportunities and not to hop on, you know, if it’s relevant for your business hop on Black Friday, promotions and other holiday things. Right. So the thing is, is that you want those people to be there when you have that big sale. So you have sales?
Alex Meade 25:46
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Kyle, this has been great. I love talking about email. I could, I could probably talk for another hour on different strategies and techniques. But you know, we are out of time. So what I want to do, where can people connect with you? Where should people find you? Where can they learn more about you and elevate and scale?
Kyle Stout 26:06
Okay, yeah. So if you want to get more information, and you’d like to maybe hop on a call and and see if we might be a good fit to work together, then just go to elevate and scale.com. And you can find all the information you need there.
Alex Meade 26:19
Awesome. Well, thank you, Kyle. We’ll have to we’ll have to get you back on and do kind of like email marketing point. Part two.
Kyle Stout 26:28
Yeah, I’d love to do it. Thanks for having me. All right. Thanks, guys. Thank you.