Podcast interview with Chad S. White

Chad S. White, head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency, and the author of the best-selling book: “Email Marketing Rules”.

Chad S. White recently released the four editions of the best-selling book “Email Marketing Rules” and nearly 4,000 posts and articles about email and digital marketing. Over the past 17 years, he has served as the lead email marketing researcher at four of the world’s largest email service providers—Oracle, Salesforce, ExactTarget, and Responsys—as well as at Litmus and the Direct Marketing Association.

Chad S.White

Chad is currently the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency, a global full-service marketing and communications agency within Oracle.

A former journalist at Condé Nast and Dow Jones & Co., he has been featured in over 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Recognized as the No. 1 email marketing expert on Twitter, Chad is the ANA’s 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year.

Connect with Chad or follow his work via his blog emailmarketingruls.com

The email marketing channel is always evolving. It has changed tremendously over the past decade and forces have already been unleashed that will drive dramatic changes in the years ahead.

In this first episode of the new Email Geeks Show podcast, host Sella Yoffe and Chad S. White have an extended conversation about those past and future changes, plus a wide range of other topics. Here’s a full rundown of the high points:

in this podcast Chad is talking about:

  • How he got into email marketing
  • His content strategy and how he get ideas for his articles
  • What’s new in the 4th Edition of Email Marketing Rules
  • Why is the 4th Edition in two volumes and who should buy each one
  • Why learning email marketing is a challenge
  • What are the best resources for learning it
  • Why every company is trying to kill email (but can’t)
  • What’s unique about the email marketing channel
  • Proportional responses with automated emails
  • How brands hurt their email programs
  • How to appropriately use ROI measurements
  • The absence of standards in the email marketing industry
  • The future prospects of AMP for Email
  • How inbox market share has become uncomfortably concentrated
  • The prospect for super-apps in the US
  • The impact of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection
  • How concerned marketers should be about Gmail tabs
  • What trends will have the biggest impact on email marketing going forward
  • The usage of AI in email marketing
  • How email marketing impacts customer expectations
  • How marketers should think about deliverability today
  • The five ages of email deliverability, and what the 6th age is likely to be

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Video from the podcast:

Main Topics

Introduction to email marketing and career journey
• Chad White’s background as a journalist and his transition into email marketing.
• His experience in blogging about retail emails and joining the Email Experience Council.
• The constant evolution of email marketing and its appeal to Chad.

Role at Oracle Digital Experience Agency
• Oracle Digital Experience Agency’s focus on global digital marketing, particularly in email, SMS, mobile push, and web work.
• Collaboration with talented individuals specializing in creative, strategy, and deliverability.
• Continuous learning from experts within the agency.

Writing about digital and email marketing
• Chad’s extensive writing experience with over 4000 articles about digital and email marketing.
• Evolution of his blogging strategy from shorter posts to more comprehensive content.
• Content creation driven by client inquiries leading to valuable insights for the community.

Distinctiveness of Email Marketing
• Email is distinct due to its asynchronous and non-interruptive nature, unlike other messaging platforms.
• It allows users to engage with brand messages on-demand, providing flexibility and control over interactions.
• Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different channels is crucial for optimizing message delivery.

Signal Strength in Messaging Platforms
• The importance of signal strength in triggering messages such as cart abandonment or browse abandonment emails.
• Proportional response based on the strength of signals, ensuring appropriate use of interruptive channels like SMS or WhatsApp.
• Emphasizing the need for understanding message expectations and behaviors across various messaging platforms.

Challenges in Email Marketing Programs
• The difficulty in completely halting an email program due to its ability to generate decent ROI even when not optimized effectively.
• Misconceptions about return on investment (ROI) leading to settling for ‘good enough’ results instead of maximizing potential returns.
• An analogy highlighting missed opportunities by focusing solely on high ROI rather than exploring initiatives that could yield lower but cumulative returns.

Lack of adoption of standards in the email industry
• The lack of broader support and critical mass for technologies like AMP for email has led to low adoption rates, making it not viable for marketers.
• Environmental factors such as the pandemic and confusion around the technology have contributed to its poor timing and limited success.
• The potential impact if Apple were to support AMP for email in the US is highlighted, but strong stances around privacy make this unlikely.

Impact of tech giants on email marketing
• Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) feature obscures opens by flooding systems with fake opens, causing challenges for marketers.
• Different approaches by ESPs in handling auto-generated opens from MPP have led to varying open rate reporting methods, impacting retargeting and journey-based strategies.
• Gmail tabs are discussed as a way for consumers to manage their email flows better, with comparisons made between being in the primary tab versus promotions tab.

Geographic differences in email usage
• Variations in the adoption of technologies like AMP for email are observed across different regions such as India where it is doing well due to market shares.
• Differences within digital marketing are noted, including how some regions skipped traditional emails and moved directly to mobile-based messaging apps like SMS.

Impact of Promotions Tab on Email Marketing
• Being in the promotions tab can be beneficial for retailers and ecommerce brands as it is where people go when they are ready to shop.
• Marketers should focus on being where people expect them to be rather than trying attention-grabbing tactics.
• The goal is to prioritize relevance over attention grabbing.

Future Trends Impacting Email Marketing
• Tighter privacy regulations and restrictions, such as the end of third-party cookies, will drive changes in the industry.
• Better omni-channel orchestration is essential for creating a cohesive brand experience across all channels.
• More AI and machine learning will play a significant role in shaping the future of email marketing.

Use of AI in Email Marketing
• Differentiating between machine learning and generative AI is crucial as they serve different purposes.
• Generative AI may not necessarily enhance performance but can provide time-saving benefits like brainstorming ideas.
• Understanding that different types of AI have distinct use cases, constraints, and risks is critical.

Evolution of Deliverability Generations
• The first age was the Wild West with no email rules.
• The second age introduced the report spam button, impacting sender behavior.
• The fifth age faces complexity due to Apple’s impact on engagement visibility.

Future of Deliverability (Sixth Age)
• Anticipates a focus on legal regulations and privacy laws in the US.
• Expects alignment with consumer expectations and GDPR standards.
• Foresees national standardization due to increasing state-level privacy laws.


  • 😊 Customer Experience, 🤖 Ai In Email Marketing, 💰 Roi (Return On Investment), 🎯 Relevance Tactics, 📧 Email Marketing Rules, 🌍 Geographic Differences In Email, 🔒 Mpp (Mail Privacy Protection), 💍 Engagement, 📄 GDPR, 📑 Gmail Tabs, ⚡ Amp For Email, 🔀 Channel Distinctiveness, 🏭 Email Industry, 🚫 Privacy Regulations, ✉️ Deliverability

Questions / Answers

  • How did you get into email?
    Transitioned from journalism after starting a blog focused on retail emails which led him to join the Email Experience Council.
  • What do you do at Oracle Digital Experience Agency?
    Engages in full-service global digital marketing activities with a primary focus on email while collaborating with experts across various specialties.
  • Why should people read your book “Email Marketing Rules”?
    The book offers comprehensive coverage of evolving topics within email marketing through tactical rules (Volume 1) as well as strategic frameworks (Volume 2).
  • What makes email marketing distinct from other channels?
    Email’s asynchronous and non-interruptive nature provides users with control over engagement, making it unique compared to other messaging platforms.
  • Is it considered an abuse to use WhatsApp for sending shopping cart abandonment messages?
    The appropriateness depends on signal strength; stronger signals warrant more interruptive channels like WhatsApp while weaker signals may be suitable for traditional email triggers.
  • What are the common killers encountered in email marketing programs?
    It’s challenging to completely halt an email program due to its ability to generate decent ROI even when not optimized effectively; misconceptions about ROI lead many brands into settling for ‘good enough’ results.
  • Why major technology companies aren’t collaborating to establish standards in email?
    There has been a longstanding call for cohesive email code standards similar to web standards set by W3C; lack of compelling reasons hinders the establishment of unified email standards among major technology companies.
  • Can your emails be more open if you land in the primary tab?
    Yes, being in the promotions tab can benefit retailers and ecommerce brands as it’s where people go when they’re ready to shop.
  • What else will impact email marketing apart from external/internal risks?
    Tighter privacy regulations, better omni-channel orchestration, more AI & machine learning, rising consumer expectations are key factors driving future changes.
  • What’s the impact of email on customers’ expectations/experiences?
    Email plays a vital role in customer experience; integrating email interactions into overall customer experiences through omnichannel approaches is crucial.
  • How should senders tackle deliverability issues?
    Sender reputation attached to domains cannot be escaped; positive engagement drives deliverability; understanding that opens are important for mailbox providers like Gmail due to their tracking capabilities.
  • Explain the genesis of your article about deliverability generations and predict the next generation of deliverability.
    The article was inspired by recognizing how much email deliverability has changed over two decades, highlighting five stages or generations, while predicting a future focus on legal regulations and privacy laws in the US.
  • How can people find you online, follow you, and buy your book?
    Chad can be found at emailmarketingrules.com for social links, book purchase options on Amazon, and access to his published content.

Key points & Insights

  • Despite its effectiveness, many brands settle for mediocre performance in their email campaigns due to strong ROI compared to traditional channels like TV or radio ads.
  • Constant learning is essential for marketers entering the field of email marketing due to limited formal education opportunities in this area.
  • Understanding channel distinctiveness is crucial for effective message delivery strategies.
  • Signal strength plays a significant role in determining appropriate messaging platform usage.
  • Misconceptions about return on investment can lead brands into settling for suboptimal performance rather than maximizing potential returns.
  • Collaboration among major technology companies is essential towards establishing unified email code standards akin to web standards set by W3C.
  • Lack of universal standards has hindered widespread adoption of technologies like AMP for Email, impacting its viability among marketers due to low uptake rates.
  • Environmental factors such as the pandemic have contributed to challenges faced by new technologies like AMP for Email, affecting their timing and success.
  • The impact on open rate reporting caused by Apple’s MPP feature has led ESPs to adopt different approaches that can affect retargeting strategies based on open behavior.
  • Relevance over Attention Grabbing: Emphasizing relevance over attention-grabbing tactics is crucial for successful email marketing campaigns.
  • Future Trends: Tighter privacy regulations, better omni-channel orchestration, more AI & machine learning will shape the future landscape of email marketing.
  • Differentiating Types of AI: Understanding differences between machine learning and generative AI helps grasp their distinct use cases and limitations.
  • Email deliverability has evolved through different stages impacted by technological advancements and changing user behaviors.
  • Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has made it challenging for senders to determine subscriber engagement accurately.
  • Anticipation of a sixth age in deliverability focusing on legal regulation alignment with consumer expectations.


  • I think it’s really difficult to kill an [email] program… one of the kind of sad truths about [email]marketing is that you can do [it] not all that well… still generate… decent ROI.
  • The thing that’s super important… is that it’s really on [marketers] constantly be reading… reeducating themselves.
  • Understanding channel differences is really key… you wouldn’t send the same message… you would make sure you understand what are the opportunities.
  • I’m a big fan… proportional response… making sure you’re responding appropriately.
  • You were doing this all wrong… grabbing all low hanging fruit… leaving tons and tons of money.
  • The lack of broader support… makes it worth all the effort.
  • It’s arguably not because uptake is so incredibly low.
  • This gives consumers a way… than going door-to-door knocking.
  • The goal is to prioritize relevance over attention grabbing.
  • Understanding that different types of AI have distinct use cases, constraints, risks.
  • Positive engagement drives deliverability.
  • Engagement is just absolutely critical.
  • The only thing that’s changed is that it’s way harder for senders to understand the engagement of their subscribers.
  • I think that’s going to be the next big innovation in email deliverability regulations – better laws.


  • Chad can be found at emailmarketingrules.com for social links, book purchase options on Amazon, as well as access to his published content.


Chad S. White    00:07

I think it’s really difficult to kill an email. Program i mean, one of the kind of sad truths about email marketing is that you can do email marketing like kind of not all that well and still generate like a decent ROI. It’s sort of sad and it means that a lot of brands like leave a lot of money on the table people settling for good enough, They’re like, oh, that’s good enough especially if they’re comparing it to, you know, their TV or radio ads or other traditional channels the ROI on email, is so strong that a lot of people are like, oh, all right, that’s great. Email’s not on fire email’s doing fantastic so we’ll just turn our attention over to these other channels that are really struggling and let’s invest a lot of money there. That’s the opposite of what I would do.

Sella Yoffe    00:54

Hello and welcome to Episode number one of email geeks dot show, the podcast show where top experts discuss email marketing and deliverability. My name is Sella yoffe. I’m an email deliverability consultant from Israel. My guest today is Chad S. White, the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of email marketing rules, in my opinion, the number one book about email. Marketing the book was recently released in its fourth extended edition. It’s great to have you on the show, Chad.

Chad S. White    01:32

Thanks for having me, Sella. I appreciate it.

Sella Yoffe    01:35

It’s my pleasure. You know, so many email geeks email folks saying that they fell into email. It just happened, so I’m curious to know how did you get into email?

Chad S. White    01:47

Yeah, so you know, i sort of fell in as well, but I did make some very conscious decisions to get into the email marketing space. So I’m a journalist by training and I worked for years for Conde Nast and Dow Jones. And as part of our coverage of retailers where I spent a lot of like my time retail and technology, we signed up for retailers email marketing programs because they would talk about you know, new initiatives for their companies, you know, new web and other types of initiatives and we would use those for leads to then follow up with them. And there’s a turning point for me was that my brother started a blog this was like mid two thousands when blogs were still pretty fraction new and exciting and he started a blog and as a younger competitive brother, I said, well if my brother can start a blog, I can totally start a blog And I thought well what would I blog about and I was like, oh, I already get all of these emails from retailers like, I find that interesting. I’m in my inbox all the time looking at these things. Let me blog about that and so I started the Retail email blog and I tracked over 100 of the top online retailers everyday, pretty much like six days a week i was blogging about what I was seeing in my inbox and doing a lot of sort of quant analysis of how many emails were being sent by brands when they sent them the most popular days and that kind of stuff and I got the attention of some folks in the email marketing community and I got hired by the email Experience Council it was employee number three there is it was just getting started and I’ve never looked back and it’s been the best decision of my life the email marketing community is fantastic. I really love it and I love the fact that email marketing is constantly evolving and changing and adapting. So I’m a I love change, and email marketing has delivered that for me. Always there’s a new story.

Sella Yoffe    04:08

You’re now head of research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. Can you tell us what you’re doing there?

Chad S. White    04:15

Yes, I think we’re a full service global digital marketing agency inside of Oracle. We assist a lot of the biggest brands in the world with their digital marketing programs we do a lot of email marketing it’s probably about 80 % of what we do, but we also do SMS and mobile and push, browser push and mobile push and do a lot of web work as well but certainly email marketing is absolutely our home base and I’m really fortunate to work with some really talented folks and creative and strategy and deliverability and it’s just great i mean, I know a lot, but there I work with some people who like, are truly experts, you know, in their specialty and it’s great to be around them i’m constantly learning new things.

Sella Yoffe    05:12

You have written over 4000 articles about digital and email. Marketing it’s an impressive wrote around. One hundred and fifty articles over the past four years i’m blogging.

Chad S. White    05:25

Yeah, so it really is a ridiculous number of blog posts and you know, I got about like 2,500 of those over eight and a half years of writing the retail email blog where again, I was blogging almost every day and a lot of those blog posts were on the short side. A lot of the blog posts I write now are quite lengthy. So like, my blogging strategy currently is very different than what it was early when, you know, I was writing posts that were, you know, two three hundred words very routinely. I just wrote a blog post, you know, with a lot of other people about generative AI for text that was like two thousand seven hundred Words, which I think a lot of people would say that’s not really a blog post, that’s a white paper. But those are the kinds of deep dives that we now like currently do on topics, especially really complicated topics like generative AI. But, you know, so how do I do it i think, you know, having various strategies over time and trying to make sure you’re matching the contents and the content lengths to like what’s appropriate for that and don’t like artificially try to inflate or cut things off like we just try to write, you know, I try to write as many words as is necessary to explore a topic and you know in terms of like where I get the ideas. Again, I feel like there’s like, you know things are always changing and shifting. And frankly one of the most helpful things that you know, I currently do is i talk to our consultants who are in constant contact with our clients and our clients have questions and if we have more than one of our clients asking about something that we don’t have a point of view on yet, that’s a sign that hey, this is something we should write about. And that’s one of the cool things about my job currently is that it is largely kind of client driven and so we’re able to create content you know and a point of view that we share with our clients and then we repurpose that and share it out to the email marketing community and the digital marketing community. So I have a sort of a dual facing role which is fantastic we’re able to kind of serve both, you know, internal and external audiences.

Sella Yoffe    07:49

You recently released your book email marketing rules in an fourth and extended edition. What are some of the main reasons why people should read it? And I know you’re not biased.

Chad S. White    08:02

Yeah, i’m a little biased there are some other really good books about, you know, email marketing on the market too so mine’s not the only one, but I do think that mine’s the most comprehensive and I think that’s why a lot of people like it i mean it’s now, you know the fourth edition is now in two volumes, which is kind of crazy that it’s in two volumes now, but that’s how much more.

Sella Yoffe    08:28

That’s my next question why two?, you know.

Chad S. White    08:34

Why so many words about email Marketing?. so I mean it’s sort of two things i mean part of it is that and I’ve released now over the last 10 years 4 editions, so it’s almost to the to the month. The fourth edition was 10 years after the first, but the second edition came out like I think it was like 18 months after the first and then the third was like 2 and a half years after the second so it’s been almost six years between the 3rd and the fourth, edition which is more of a normal period of time. But part of the reason is that I’ve been learning more and more. So as much as I love that I am a part of people’s email marketing journeys, everybody is sort of a part of my even marketing journey too like I’m constantly learning more, you know, perfecting the ways of talking about topics and then also is sort of expanding on like, you know, topics that have been around for a while that I just didn’t cover in past editions. But a lot of what’s different between the 3rd and the fourth edition is that there’s also a lot of change. There’s a ton of things that didn’t exist when the 3rd edition was published back in 2017 such as Dark mode didn’t exist, Schema didn’t exist, and for email didn’t, exist beamy didn’t exist mail privacy protection didn’t exist, generative AI didn’t exist. There’s a lot of brand new things that, you know, marketers, you know need to take account of and that’s part of the reason why it’s now quite a bit bigger now. I think the other part of your question is like, why are there 2 why isn’t 1-1 Giant buck? And part of it is just it’s easier to handle to the smaller bugs. That’s part of it. But there is a very logical division between the two so the very the 1st edition of email Marketing Rules was just rules it was 120 rules at that time and that was the entirety of the buck. And volume one of the fourth edition is very much in that vein it’s 184 rules and that’s largely, that’s pretty much it so it’s very focused on the rules and the great thing about dividing it up in that way is that the rules are very tactical. It’s really kind of designed for email marketing specialists folks who are down in the weeds to be able to kind of audit their program and audit their own knowledge and kind of go like topic by topic you know subtopic by subtopic and you know build their knowledge and build their programs like really very tactical drilling down to see all right on welcome emails how can I make my program better oK on email, signups how can I make my program better and like just very specific and one of the cool things about the fourth edition is that volume one, all of the rules now have exercises that go along with each of the rules to help marketers apply the rule to their program. And so it’s, you know, it’s so for instance, here, I mean just share something real quick so rule number one hundred and eleven is pay extra attention to the top portion of your email that appears above the fold and ensure that it’s well branded. And I include a bunch of information about what you should pay attention to, what should kind of be in this space. And I think in just reading the rule, you might think, Oh yeah, we probably, I think we do that. So the exercise is to go and look at your emails, you know, over the past month and really pay attention to each email, like what is appearing before I scroll. And it’s kind of taking that concept and then directly applying it to your program where you can start to see the disconnect. So that’s one of the exciting things about volume one now. So and then volume 2 is much more about sort of frameworks kind of pulling all the rules back together and showing you how they all interconnect around big concepts and big goals. And there are some really great really long checklists like multi page checklists that are about you know, email marketing metrics about automation, all the different kinds of potential triggers that you can have for your program, all the different sort of acquisition sources you can have and what you should be paying attention to regarding each one. So a lot of great detail but it’s at the strategy level. So while volume one is great for like that specialist who’s kind of down in the weeds, volume two is much more for you know hopefully some VPS of marketing, some CMOS like you know folks who often don’t have the like a big picture knowledge of how email marketing works. Volume 2 will give them all of that information that they need and then my hope though is certainly that most people get both volumes so if you are a director of email, marketing if you are a manager of email, marketing if you aspire to be either of those things, if you aspire to be or you’re currently running an email marketing program, you probably makes a ton of sense for you to get both because you need both tactics and the deep dive and you need the strategy and understanding the big picture. So that’s how the two volumes kind of break out.

Sella Yoffe    14:22

Besides reading your book, what expert advice do you have for marketeers who are new to email marketing?

Chad S. White    14:29

Yeah i mean, that’s a major challenge for email marketers because even people who have marketing degrees, they probably weren’t taught maybe anything about email marketing during their time in university which is kind of astounding at this point, considering how long email marketing has been around, The fact that 90 plus % of all businesses use email, marketing but it’s not really taught at university at all, despite the fact that there’s like entire courses on social media marketing in a lot of cases, which I think most of that knowledge is probably obsolete by the time they graduate, since it seems to change so rapidly. So it really is a it’s a challenge. And certainly I hope that folks, you know, use resources like my book i hope that folks go to conferences. There are some online courses that you can take. Certainly there is. One of the things I really love about our community is that there are so many people who willing to share, you know, their knowledge and there’s lots of great blogs out there that folks should be reading. There’s really active communities on Twitter and the email geek slack channel, some really great communities where people are like very open with sharing. So it really is on email marketers to constantly be reading and sort of re educating themselves and certainly my hope, you know my role on this at least with the book is to hopefully give people sort of a new like a solid underpinning of knowledge and to fill some gaps that they might have. But the thing that’s super important to recognize is that you’re you mentioned that we’ve worked with like some of the biggest brands and we do work with some really sophisticated complicated brands. But they’re always hiring new people too that are coming in fresh into to email. Marketing and those people, you know also need to like bring their knowledge up and so there’s always this new audience of new people who are coming in and don’t have great knowledge and they need to learn the basics and understand how this channel is different from other channels and hopefully my book can supply that kind of knowledge.

Sella Yoffe    16:56

Cats are believed to have nine lives. Even marketing appears to have something in common. It seems like there is always a new thing trying to replace or undermine email. Marketing What do you think about this?

Chad S. White    17:11

Someone is always trying to kill email marketing. Yeah, so I mean, email marketing is oh, it’s such a great thing to kick, right like ’cause it’s owned by lots of different companies, not by 1. So you can kick email just as hard as you want. And email doesn’t say you’re wrong, right like, no one is speaking up for email there’s no there’s no voice right so yeah it’s so fun to kick right you you’ve had like you know Facebook Messenger like folks are Facebook saying Facebook Messenger. Oh that’s going to kill email. You know like Google Wave was supposed to kill email and Slack was supposed to kill email. I even heard the one time that RSS was supposed to kill email it i think everyone realizes again how ridiculous these statements are now that it, you know that you’re right, like email like has I think way more than nine lives. And the thing that makes it really powerful is that it’s always adapting it’s not one thing, you know, the email of and the it’s certainly the email of the year two thousand has nothing in common with the, you know, the email marketing of today. You know it’s always, you know, changing in really significant ways back in 2005 there was no mobile email besides blackberry. But there’s no mobile HTML email. And then you know, the iPhone came along and then radically changed, you know, email. Experiences so it’s always adapting i am intensely sceptical of any walled garden that says that they’re going to defeat email. So WhatsApp would be another one of these walled gardens where they control everything. These platforms have demonstrated to be unstable, highly mutable, subject to radical change like again and again, I mean, just look at what’s happening with Twitter right now. You know, anybody who’s in like invested a ton in Twitter is now just wringing their hands big time because they see all of that investment is at risk. So I think everybody has to be super careful anytime. It’s not that they shouldn’t invest in walled gardens, but if you put all your eggs in a basket that you don’t own in any way, that you’ve opened yourself up to tremendous risk so you have to just understand what those risks are. But I’m deeply skeptical of any, you know, private messaging system that’s owned by one company being able to dethrone an email because I feel like that’s the thing that makes email amazing and awesome is that nobody owns it and it’s like this distributed network, you know, this open platform, and that’s what makes it, you know, highly accessible, inexpensive, used almost universally, and you know, the walled gardens can’t touch it like even, you know, like Facebook, you know. And it’s heyday and I know it’s, you know, it’s still really big. But email marketing is still like email is still way bigger than Facebook. So and that’s because it’s just it’s inherently more stable.

Sella Yoffe    20:42

Each channel has its own set of rules, strength, and weaknesses. Why is email considered so distinct and unique?

Chad S. White    20:53

Yeah, every channel has their own strengths and weaknesses, I agree but one of the nice things about email marketing is that it is asynchronous and not highly interruptive in most cases. Which is very different to, say, an SMS or, you know, mobile push or, you know, lots of messaging platforms where they’re automatically pushing, you know, that to your phone and interrupting whatever you’re doing. So i see that as like you know released, you know, I don’t, I don’t know if that doesn’t make it better, it just makes it different, right like it’s not, it’s not email versus anything but that is one of the features of email that certainly accounts for you know the higher messaging volumes and such like, you know, there is a lot of talk about people getting overwhelmed with messages and certainly people talk about getting overwhelmed with email. But most people don’t really subscribe to a lot of brands messages it’s very small like people don’t have, you know, 100 favorite brands they’ve got like 10. And so and the other thing that’s I think is important to understand about emails that a lot of people, when they know they want to engage with a brand, they then go to their inbox and search and they’re like, let me see what, you know, my favorite brand has been talking about let’s see if you know what the discounts are. You know, like they know when they’re in the market so, you know, there’s certainly a lot of people who are, you know, engaging with their inbox, you know, day in and day out and seeing those messages and making decisions about what to engage with and what not to. And but there’s also a ton of people that they sign up for those emails because they love that brand, but they don’t want to see those emails every day and they’re very happy for it to be in their promo tab or some folder that they’ve shunted them into. And when they’re ready to engage with that brand, then they go and they see what’s what are they talking about right now so i kind of like that on demand kind of feature where it’s not in your face constantly, but there there’s tons of reasons, use cases where the more interruptive channels make a ton of sense you know, SMS makes an awful lot of sense for curbside pickup in store pickup. You know technician is about to arrive, your delivery has arrived those kinds of messages where there’s a lot of urgency and you really want to know about them and not miss them. Sms is gold and I would say you know way better than email for those kinds of use cases. So you know, as I think you alluded to like understanding you know the strengths and weaknesses of all the channels and where they shine and where they don’t and what the tolerances are in terms of frequency and expectations around messages is super important and also like understanding message expectations, right, like if you were designing a campaign that you would run across channels, you wouldn’t send the same message to email, to SMS, to social, you wouldn’t do that, right you would you would make sure you understand what are the opportunities, what are the message expectations and behaviours that you can really tap into each of those channels and social. Hopefully you would be trying to engage people in a very different way than you would via email and even SMS. So understanding the differences is really key to being able to optimize that message and that experience across all of your channels.

Sella Yoffe    24:28

Is it considered an abuse of the channel to use WhatsApp for sending shopping cart abandonment messages? What do you think about it?

Chad S. White    24:37

Well, I guess it depends on the signal, right like, I mean, not to not to, like go too deep, but like, I think one of the things I think is really important to understand about triggers is signal strength, especially around something like a cart abandonment or a browse abandonment, right if somebody goes to a website and they’re on a page for two seconds and then they abandoned that page, like, is that worthy of a browse abandonment email? It probably is that’s a really weak signal. But if they were to be on that page for much longer period of time, or if they went to that page and then went back to that page, you know, subsequently and spent some time there, that would be a much stronger signal same thing with a cart abandonment. If I put a 1$ item in my shopping cart, is that worthy of a cart abandonment email? Probably not in my book, depending on again what it is that you sell. Maybe you sell a lot of really inexpensive items and maybe it makes sense, but for most retailers, most e commerce companies, that’s probably not doing it. However, if I were to put a thousand dollars worth of merchandise in my cart and abandoned that, that’s probably not a single card abandonment email. And maybe it would make a lot of sense to use a more interruptive channel like SMS or WhatsApp or some kind of push message versus just sending an email because the stakes are so much higher. You’ve got a lot more revenue at risk so I’m a big fan of like sort of proportional response and understanding what those signals are and, you know, kind of making sure you’re responding appropriately to the signals that you’re getting.

Sella Yoffe    26:24

That remind me as seen from The West Wing, what’s a proportional response? Ok.

Chad S. White    26:33

Absolutely you’re the you’re the chief executive of the email. Channel So use your power responsibly.

Sella Yoffe    26:41

We mentioned email. Killers later in the podcast we will talk about external killers, but I’m interesting to hear about the most common email marketing program killers you’ve encountered.

Chad S. White    26:55

I think it’s really difficult to kill an email program i, mean one of, the you know, kind of sad truths about email marketing is that you can do email marketing like kind of not all that well and still generate like a decent ROI, which, you know, I think it’s sort of sad. And it means that a lot of brands like leave a lot of money on the table because they’re just like, I think there’s a lot of, like people settling for good enough they’re like, oh, that’s good enough especially if they’re comparing it to, you know, their TV or radio ads or other, you know, traditional channels the ROI on email, is so strong that a lot of people are like, oh, all right, that’s great. Email’s not on fire email’s doing fantastic so we’ll just turn our attention over to these other channels that are really struggling and let’s invest a lot of money there. That’s the opposite of what I would do. I do think that’s part of the big part of the reason why email is chronically underfunded is that there’s a lot of like good enough, a lot of people settling. And I also think that also sometimes like people like misunderstand like they misunderstand return on investment. I’ve heard a lot of brands, you know kind of laud that they get like 80 to one return on investment with email i heard one company bragging about how they get like 100 to one return on their investment in their email marketing program. And to me like they were super proud of that. And to me, hearing that, I think, Oh my gosh, you’re doing it totally wrong like it?

Sella Yoffe    28:35

Was one of the ESPs,Yeah?

Chad S. White    28:37

Well though, yeah, there wasn’t one ESP recently talking about like what a high ROI all of their clients get. And so like when I see numbers like that, I think, Oh my goodness, like you were doing this all wrong. You’re stopping way too soon. You’re grabbing all the low hanging fruit and you’re skipping off on your merry way. When you’re just leaving like a tree full of fruit, like you just reach up a little bit higher, you should be doing more work and getting lower returns, right if you’re achieving 100 to one, you know, return on investment on your, you know, marketing program, you need to be looking for more programs, more initiatives that you can do that would get 80 to one sixty to one forty to one, even 20 to like. There’s a ton more things you could be doing that would be, yes, delivering lower returns on your investment, but you would be growing your total return, your absolute return, you’d be growing you’d be making more money, which is the whole point nobody, nobody sets out you know, you want. You want good margins for sure. But most companies like given the chance to have really high rates of return versus really high returns, would choose really high returns. And so I feel like there’s like a little bit of, like, you know, we’ve kind of done our industry a little bit of a disservice on focusing on ROI so much because I think it leads to people stopping way too soon and leaving just tons and tons of money on the table, you know? So lately the analogy I’ve been using is a Vegas, a Vegas analogy like imagine if you go to Vegas and you find a penny slot machine and you put in 100 pennies and it spit out 40$, 80$ whatever, Would you stop? Hey, would you just get up and leave i don’t. I don’t think most people would but that does seem to be what’s happening i would stay there and keep feeding in pennies until my return went way down but if it kept giving me, you know, 40 to one returns on my time sitting there and on my money, like I would stay at the seat but it seems like a lot of brands are getting up from the seat.

Sella Yoffe    31:03

The absence of standards is one of the challenges in email. I’m curious why major technology companies aren’t collaborating to make sense of it.

Chad S. White    31:14

You’re adorable, Sella i mean, having companies come together and talk together and strategize together. Yeah, I know i mean, this is like something that we’ve been calling for forever. I mean, a long time. Like, you know, the fact that email clients all implement Dark mode differently is frustrating the fact that they don’t support the same, like, rendering code base, right they don’t all support CSS interactivity. They don’t all support the same fonts like, you know, for a long time Microsoft didn’t support animated GIFs, which is, I don’t even know what to say about that. Yeah, but yeah, these the standards i mean, there’s been a call for, you know, like the Internet, you know, W3 has very clear web standards and has for a very long time, and there just isn’t anything remotely similar for email, seemingly for no good reason like there’s no there’s no there’s no compelling reason for there not to be more cohesive you know email code standards. I don’t I don’t see the reason i mean if we all agree that the web needs universal standards, why not email but this has been something that, you know we’ve been harping on for a very long time it hasn’t changed and we have now like again like really big disconnects you know, and you see it, you know, with things like schema, you see it but things like CSS based interactivity, Ampere email like you can glimpse really promising functionality that Withers and stays small because of a lack of broader support because it just doesn’t have enough critical mass for marketers, you know, to ask about it i mean they’re literally like at this point none of our clients are talking about AMP for email. Like none of them. And it just because it doesn’t make sense for them because they can’t reach enough of their subscribers to make it worth all the effort.

Sella Yoffe    33:31

One more example of the lack of adoption of standards in the email industry is AMP for email, which promised exciting new features inside the inbox. We will later discuss geographic differences in email. Have you seen some major implementations of AMP for email in the states?

Chad S. White    33:53

It’s super low. It’s like super low. And it’s not really all like, it’s not, it’s not Amp’s fault. There’s been a number of sort of headwinds, including the pandemic, you know, and, you know, the pandemic, the great resignation, you know, the fact that AMP for mobile went away, there’s a lot of confusion about like, oh, is AMP dead and like, all right, what is it? All right is it the mobile AMP or is it AMP for email, like it’s not, the branding is not great also Gmail sort of Google stepped sort of away from AMP for email because they didn’t want it to be a Google thing they wanted it to be an industry standard but when they stepped away, it definitely created a vacuum that didn’t get filled. But I do think that there was sort of environmental, you know, like, you know, again the pandemic, the great resignation people, you know need it to get faster and get leaner, and AMP for email doesn’t help with either of those things because it increases email production time quite a lot. So I think the timing was just unfortunately like really poor. But ignoring all of that, really the thing that has to the only thing that can change, it really is as if Apple were to support AMP for email here in the US, That’s what it would take to change things i don’t Microsoft like they did an experiment with it and then they shut it down. I don’t even think if like if they were to adapt, adopt it, if that would be enough i think you really need Apple to support it before it becomes truly viable here in the US just because they have so much market share. And I don’t see that changing because of, you know, their strong stances around privacy. I think it would be very easy for them to say, hey, look, allowing more functionality in the email opens, up you know, potentially more privacy risk. So I don’t see them doing it, which again, makes me sad because I think and free mail does a lot of really cool stuff that would be exciting for brands. I mean if you look at the data, what it shows you is that people are more inclined, dramatically more inclined to take actions when you pull that. So some of that landing page experience into the email itself so for instance, like i remember, like I remember the first Ampere email experience that I had, It was a product review request from Home Depot. And you know, I got it and it has like, you know the fields right in the email and you can just type right into it. And I swear I didn’t realize that I was still in the email until I hit submit and then it opened up my browser to confirm the submission of the review it was at that point that I actually realized I hadn’t been on the web all that time that I was still in the email. And that was like really amazing because it, you know, one of the things that people don’t understand is that the amount of friction between an email and the landing page is tremendous. They see it as like one click like they’re very dismissive they’ll say like, oh, well, that’s just, that’s just one click. But we see across all Web experiences, adding an additional Click to a process reduces completion, real cuts off journeys prematurely like, you know, you want to limit that. And so time and time again, be it Ant for email or video and email, when you pull content into the email and reduce the number of clicks that it takes to take action, it has tremendous effects. Like, I know that, you know, it’s been a while since I’ve looked at like video and email, like view rates and stuff but the last time I looked at it, emails that we had embedded video in, you know, for clients had like twice or more The uptake of forcing them to click through to a landing page and watch there. Now I think it’s an entirely different argument about whether or not, you know, what’s the value long term of getting people on a landing page sooner to like continue their journey but there’s no doubt that in terms of asking them to do a particular thing, if you can do, whether it’s watching a video, completing a form, you know, browsing a limited selection, whatever if you pull it into the email, people do it at much higher rates like 2X3X.

Sella Yoffe    38:49

You know email is always considered as a distributed and independent channel because it doesn’t belong to any major tech company. But these days, big tech seems to be one of the so-called email killers.

Chad S. White    39:04

And I’ll be honest, I was really kind of shaken by Apple and Mail privacy protection because that does the fact that they were able to have such a big impact all on their own in certain geographic areas really speaks that there has been quite a bit of concentration. You know, AOL and Yahoo have gotten much weaker over the years and you know, Microsoft, you know, has a very strong presence in corporate markets, but Gmail has made a lot of headway there with G Suite. So yeah, i do get concerned that a lot of the infrastructure is now run by Gmail on sort of the back end and Apple on the front end. So it hasn’t come quite concentrated which does alarm me, but at least it’s not owned by one but yes, I think that’s a very valid concern. I think it is becoming a little bit uncomfortably more closed than open. But the fact that you still do have a number of really large players that controls marketplace and I think you’re also your point is really good about understanding your region, the email marketplace definitely. Varies really radically, depending on where you go in the world. The US is very different than say India, where you know, Gmail has a really strong hold and Android devices are used very prevalently. And so you have AMP for email doing really well in India, which is really exciting to see. Like they’re showing us what email could kind of be in a more interactive form, which I find fascinating and exciting and it also makes me sad that we don’t have that ability here in the US because of the market shares. I wish here in the US Ampere email was really a viable approach but it’s arguably not because uptake is so incredibly low, but also you know looking at sort of local differences not only just within email but within digital marketing. You know for instance in China and I know large parts of Africa they sort of skipped email and they went right to mobile. So SMS and an app based messaging are massive. You know in those places like super OPS, very small like those super OPS, right and in China they got the Super apps, you know, which you know now of course there’s some folks here in the US who are who are thinking about making super apps as well i know Elon Musk thinks that somehow he’s going to pull that off i’m deeply skeptical of his ability to succeed. As you know, I recently wrote an only influencer blog post about who I thought were, like, more likely to pull it off. You know, folks like Walmart and I would love to see maybe Amazon take a stab at it. That would be exciting i’d love to see Amazon get into the email space as an email client, as a as a mailbox provider. I think that would make a ton of sense for them so I laid that i laid out my argument there in that box.

Sella Yoffe    42:29

Everything in place, just was it plug the Lego and run it almost.

Chad S. White    42:35

Yeah, I mean and Amazon is a is a technology company, so it would make just a ton of sense for them. So we’ll see. Fingers crossed. I’d love to see that and I’d love you know that would introduce some more competition here in the US in the email marketing landscape so or in the email client you know marketplace, i’d love to see that way. I think that would be healthy for us, but I think it’d also be really exciting for Amazon.

Sella Yoffe    43:01

There are two tech giants in particular that have impacted email. Marketing one is Apple with their MPP main privacy protection and the other one is Google with their Gmail tabs and other rules. Let’s start with Apple and their main privacy protection.

Chad S. White    43:20

Mail Privacy Protection is a privacy feature that was released by Apple, I guess coming September 21 yeah so and now it was reached essentially kind of full adoption like essentially everybody has it on Apple Mail platforms whether it’s mobile, tablet or desktop. It gets like turned on at like 95 % plus, you know, rates like really high. And it does actually, it does a lot of things it blocks forwards, it blocks device information, It obscures the IP location by using relays. But the biggest thing that it does is that it obscures opens. And it does this by essentially opening every email and sort of flooding, you know, email systems with tons and tons of fake opens. And so there are real opens in all of these auto generated opens, but you can’t easily tell which ones are the real ones or which ones are the fake ones, which of course is absolutely by design that is what MPP is trying to do. It’s trying to say hey like you shouldn’t know when somebody opens it so we’re just going to open everything for the most part and make it really hard for you to tell you know which individuals are opening. It’s a huge.

Sella Yoffe    44:52

Project on Apple’s side to do that. It’s a huge and maybe expensive move.

Chad S. White    45:01

Yeah, definitely yeah, definitely increased their costs quite a lot because it they needed a lot more computing power to do all of those opens and load up all of those images which early on they seem to really struggle with, but they seem to be fine with now. So that’s what MPP does, and it causes a lot of problems for email marketers who are largely trying to do the right thing. And so, God, this is such a rabbit hole.

Sella Yoffe    45:36

Yeah, I know no.

Chad S. White    45:37

But your question is your original question was you know about opens and how not all ESPS are kind of being transparent about what’s happening. And you’re absolutely right, some ESPS don’t seem to be mentioning at all like it’s a thing. Some ES PS like Oracle we take out auto opens, we set those aside, you can still get access to them, but we don’t include them in open reporting. And I think I feel great about that decision that’s not the decision that everybody makes, but this is a decision I feel very comfortable with because in like in the average case, 80 % ish of those opens are going to be junk. This is going to be confabulated fake opens by Apple. And I’m not aware of any other data source that a company would look at and say, oh, we know this is 80 % just garbage data, let’s use that. So I feel very comfortable with us removing it. But what that does is that definitely suppresses opens, it lowers that baseline. Now other ESPS have just added in all the auto generated opens and they’ve achieved like a new much higher baseline. I think part of the problem there is that it makes it harder to see fluctuations in the real open behavior because it’s masked by all of all of this data. And then so yet another approach has been to try to adjust open rates by looking at the proportion of auto generated opens that a particular sender is generating and then using that using a little bit of math to kind of back it out and then make assumptions about oh if your open rate among non MPP users is X, let’s scale it up. So for instance I know that MailChimp does this and some other ESPS do it as well they kind of estimate remove all the auto but then they kind of add in a portion based on what the real opens rates are. And so you have comparable numbers, but it’s definitely confusing and your point about doing retargeting based on opens or lack of opens can be problematic today depending on what the ESP is doing and then also journeys that are based on opens, which I know are really popular among a lot of B to B brands, those are also deeply problematic i wrote an article about that for marketing profs a number of months back. And I came up with like, I think it was like 8 different strategies that you could like adopt to kind of get around this problem but like none of them were, you know, they none of them were as good as just, you know, having access to real open so there’s all kinds of concessions that we’re having to make because of MPP.

Sella Yoffe    48:48

As I released this podcast, Gmail along with Yahoo, introduced new guidelines for bulk senders. However, I believe that Gmail tabs have the most significant impact on email. Marketing many people mistake the Promotions tab for the spam folder, trying virus spells and potions to get out of the promo.

Chad S. White    49:10

Tab yeah, i remember writing about tabs, like when it came out and my advice is the same as it was back then. The sky is not falling. You know, this gives consumers a way to manage their email flows better. And I know there was a lot of talk about and even sometimes today we hear folks talking about like, oh, how can I get in the primary tab and way back in 2013 like, I compared the primary tab to being like knocking on someone’s front door, being a door to door salesman versus the promo tab being like the mall. Like, I think most retailers, most e commerce companies today would rather be in the mall than going door to door knocking on people’s hordes and interrupting them. And I think that analogy still holds water today. Can your emails be more open if you land in the primary tab? Absolutely but opens are not the goal, right the goal is to be welcome and to be engaged with. And you can absolutely draw all kinds of negative attention to yourself by going around and knocking on everyone’s door in a neighborhood. That’s generally not the way to be successful. You really want to be where people expect you to be. I think in general marketers, you know, maybe catch a little bit of this from advertisers, they’re like very obsessed about grabbing attention and you’ll often see things about like attention grabbing subject lines and things like that and I don’t think that it’s about attention at all. Because you know with email marketing they’ve already opted in to hear from you, so they’ve already the attention grabbing has already happened and now it’s a question of relevance. It’s all about irrelevance, not attention grabbing tactics it’s a relevance tactics which are different because most of the time when people talk about attention grabbing, they’re talking about stunts, they’re talking about generating curiosity, and those kinds of things don’t always support a respectful, ongoing relationship. So I would tell people not to be concerned about Habs at all. I sometimes hear people suggest that the Promotions tab isn’t the inbox.

Sella Yoffe    51:52

Yeah, it’s the spam folder.

Chad S. White    51:54

Yeah, they think of it as being like the spam folder and it’s not it’s absolutely the inbox, you know and if people you know really love your emails and they don’t want it in their promo tab, they’ll move you into the inbox you don’t, you shouldn’t ask them they’ll just do it on their own. But like people, you know, they want to control their inbox and they want to prioritize and you know, frankly I think most brands, you know if you again are a retailer, an ecommerce brand or whatever, like I think you want to be in that promo tab because that’s where people go when they’re ready to shop and they’re ready to make decisions. I think that’s where you want to be when that happens and like it’ll be on the subscribers time rather than you trying to force the moment and interrupt them and butt in to the conversations that they’re having, you know, in their primary tab. So yeah, that would be my rant about tabs i think it’s like massively overblown.

Sella Yoffe    52:55

We covered external and internal risks or so-called killers for email. Marketing What else will impact email marketing?

Chad S. White    53:04

I mean like in terms of events, I think things like MPP has definitely been a major event that sort of caused like sort of a sea change of thinking. I think the end of third party cookies is sort of a similar technological event that is causing people to really re evaluate how they go to market, how they build relationships, you know how they acquire data, what they do with it. But I think if I, if I look ahead at what’s really going to move the industry in the years ahead, at the end of the second volume of my book, I talk about four things that are really going to drive the future. And here, let me just look at that real quick so the first one is tighter privacy regulations and restrictions. So things like MPP, things like the end of third party cookies, there’s going to be more of that i also think that here in the US, not only a matter of time before can, spam’s going to be replaced by something that resembles a modern privacy and anti spam law. So that I mean we’re so far behind the rest of the modern world at this point with our regulations we’re so out of sync with what consumers expect. It’s, you know, and we have now variety of state laws like, you know, like CCA and California. There’s now a bunch of other states who have assed laws and so at a certain point, there’s going to be so many state level laws that it’s going to be really complicated for companies to be in compliance with all of them ’cause they have all these different stipulations. And so that’s what’s going to drive us towards a new national standard so I’m excited about that because I think Kanspam is just a horrible, horrible law that’s just wildly sets the wrong expectations for how brands should use, you know, marketing and be successful at it. So that’s number one the second one is better Omni channel orchestration. You know, you were hinting at, you know, email with other channels for a long time it seems like we were always talking about email versus social email versus SMS. And I think everybody realizes now that that’s like a total false narrative and that it’s email with SMS email with social email with print email with everything and all of those other channels with email You know, it’s all about creating a cohesive brand experience across all of your channels. You know, that’s what you know, that’s the core of what it is to be an Omni channel company. And so that’s where I feel very strongly we’re all headed. The third thing for the future is more AI and machine learning. And you know I’m I, I’m sort of a near term sceptic around generative AI but a long term optimist so you know, a lot of my current optimism is around machine learning it’s sort of traditional AI data based, not language models, but it’s certainly a lot of cool things you can do with generative AI as well. And then the fourth and final thing you know that is going to drive the future is just ever rising consumer expectations. That has been really the driver for a long time that’s going to continue to be like the North Star for brands is that we’re always chasing rising consumer expectations and we have to keep pursuing that.

Sella Yoffe    56:49

It seems to be that you can’t sell nothing these days without adding AI to the features and functions. I wanted to ask you, what do you think about the use of AI in email marketing?

Chad S. White    57:03

The topic of AI is a little bit confusing right now because I feel like the terminology has become kind of bloated and not used very accurately anymore so like when folks are talking about AI, like my first question is, all right, what are we really talking about here are we talking about machine learning? Are we talking about generative AI or are we talking about AI algorithms, Like what are we talking about because those are all like three really different animals. And when we use a lot of a fair amount of machine learning today and certainly the more advanced programs so you know send time optimization, that’s machine learning and that’s great that’s really solid and there’s no nobody’s arguing that like that is you know doing any harm it only does good so that one’s like really proven out. You know you know traditionally a lot of subject line optimization tools have been machine learning, right those are based on looking at past results, using subject lines with those words for a particular audience and looking at the core. You know, the correlation between, you know, open rates and click rates to help you make choices about what words to make. Now we’re talking about generative AI, which is completely different, has no access to any, you know, past performance it doesn’t understand your audience. It doesn’t have any intelligence that’s related to your brand. And certainly in terms of like voice and tone and things like that, you can train generative AI up on that, but nobody’s talking about like training it up on like performance so it’s not performative. I think that’s the huge thing that really kind of like rocks my world is that we went from talking about machine learning and AI as performance enhancers these are performance drivers, intelligence drivers to now we’re talking about generative AI and we’re not talking about that at all it’s not about performance, it’s about time savings and can we do things faster. And that’s a really different value proposition because now it’s all about like, you know, being more nimble to a certain degree, But, you know, reducing labor costs is what we’re talking about. And that’s just wildly different than like the entire history of how we’ve talked about machine learning and AI in the past, which is all right how can we personalize at scale how can we really use all the information we have at our particular describer to create a really relevant experience to, like demonstrate that we know that person? On a one to one level, Gener AI doesn’t really help with any of that it can, it can do other things. It can give you really great, you know, it’s really super good at, like helping you brainstorm and help like kind of identify maybe you know, topics or phrasings that you hadn’t thought of. But it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to be better it’s just brainstorming. So, you know, I’m kind of a again, I’m a short term skeptic, long term optimist with generative AI. It may even be that like the large language models, the LL, Ms that you know, the chat GPT and Bart are based on, that may not even be the model that you know, long term generative AI runs on it may actually need a completely different model to really be successful at the level that people are kind of predicting so this may actually be premature early Gen. Early Gen right. It’s, you know, it’s part of the journey, right? But yeah, i get a little bit frustrated with all these terms kind of being glommed together is just AI and I’ve seen a number of presentations from really smart people that like switch gears, talking about generative AI and ML and other types of AI applications and not acknowledging that these things are incredibly different from one another and have different constraints, different risks, you know, different technological needs, you know, and have wildly different use cases and they talk about them like just interchangeably, like from bullet point to bullet point. It’s really kind of shocking. I think it’s just critical to understand that these things are wildly different.

Sella Yoffe    01:01:41

What’s the impact of email on customers expectations and experiences?

Chad S. White    01:01:47

You know, marketing definitely has an impact on the customer experience and can be really vital at setting expectations, answering questions before the questions arise and certainly surfacing your brand values and your product and service offerings. So I think email is absolutely a big part of the customer experience i feel like today when we’re talking about customer experience, I’m very happy that we’re talking a lot more about Omni channel because that’s about like you know, it’s great if you treat your email subscribers well within the email, channel that’s super. But being able to tie that behaviour into the rest of the overall customer experience. So having visibility into those email interactions and folding that into the experiences that you have, you know, in stores or in your SMS channel or elsewhere is vital and vice versa, you know, we’re finally getting to that place you know, thanks to things like customer data platforms that we can actually aggregate all of that customer data that’s kind of currently locked in a lot of silos, bring it all together and then make it accessible, you know, clean it up and make it accessible to all the channels in pretty much real time. So that we can finally act like we know, like the right hand knows what the left hand is doing, which I think in a lot of cases isn’t always the case and we see, I think a lot of cases on social media where consumers are really obsessed when we clearly don’t know what’s happening outside of the immediate channel so see folks, you know, very angrily having their flights cancelled and then getting promotional emails from the airline, you know, an hour later and being just incensed and like unsubscribing or marking those emails as spam and retaliation Because you know, there’s this disconnect between what’s going on with the customer and then what’s going on in that Channel that the customer is engaging with. So I think that’s ultimately the goal is to treat customers like customers and not to treat them just like email subscribers or just like SMS subscribers or treat them just like web visitors, but to pull all that together. And there’s just massive opportunities there. And I feel like we’ve been talking about it a lot on the podcast, but it’s, you know, it’s email with all these other channels and all these other channels with email. And the goal is to create that cohesive customer experience across all the channels, regardless of where they choose to engage and when they choose to engage.

Sella Yoffe    01:04:36

I want to talk about deliverability, a topic that is important to me and it’s often overlooked. How do you think that Sanders should tackle this issue?

Chad S. White    01:04:48

So deliverability obviously a huge topic area i think the main thing to recognize today is that one. There’s no escaping a bad sender reputation, you know, it used to be that your sender reputation was attached to your IP address only, and so if you got a bad reputation, shut down an IP address and you could start up a new one and you were kind of starting fresh. But now sender reputations are also attached to your domain, which opens up a lot of things for sure. But the big thing is, it means you can’t run away from a bad reputation because you’re taking your domain with you unless you’re shutting down your company and starting up a whole new brand, you’re taking that bad reputation with you. It also means that affiliates and salespeople, their behaviors can negatively impact and often do negatively impact your sender reputation because of what they are sending, because that behavior impacts your sender reputation attached to your domain. So that’s the big, that’s big thing number one the big thing number two about deliverability is that so much of it is now driven by engagement. You know, it used to be spam complaints, You know, negative reactions were really driving deliverability, driving some reputations, and now it’s really positive interactions. You know this inboxes want to see that your emails aren’t just tolerated but are engaged with. And engagement is just a massive, massive part of most mailbox providers. Spam filtering algorithms certainly at Gmail it’s just enormous. So you want your subscribers to be opening your emails and doing other types of engagement and there it gets a little bit tricky because of MPP because you know, everyone’s talking about how like, oh right, opens aren’t too important anymore. You need really need to focus on clicks but a lot of mailbox writers don’t track clicks like that’s not a part of their algorithm because they see that as ironically a breach of privacy to be tracking what you’re clicking on. So but Gmail can tell every time an email is read and that’s a really important distinction like we use open pixels to see, opens are something that we made-up to approximate what is a read the mailbox server can always see when an email is being read by one of their users. Clicks are a great proxy for all these other behaviours that we can’t see such as starring, foldering, you know, marking unread and all these other positive things that can happen. You know that mailbox writers absolutely pays in to do last I heard Gmail had like hundreds of different factors that they looked at when determining deliverability and we can’t see like the vast, vast, vast majority of those signals so we don’t have a lot of visibility into it And still at this point it’s opens and clicks that are our best field of vision into this really expansive set of metrics and behaviours that mailbox providers use. But engagement is just absolutely critical, which is why, especially for large senders, MPP has been so devastating. It’s because they’re trying to do the right thing they only want to send to people who are engaged and now Apple has made it much more challenging for them to determine who’s actually engaging with their emails and unfortunately, I think in a lot of cases it’s caused senders to send to the P, no, send more emails to people who are less engaged because they just can’t tell. Yeah, which is really unfortunate. I think that that’s the thing for me that’s sort of the most devastating about MPP is that ultimately I feel like it’s harmed the subscriber experience because a lot of people are going to get more emails than they would have gotten otherwise and they’ve made it. It’s made it really challenging for brands to do the right thing and follow the rules that mailbox providers have set up ironically, even Apple, i think the language is it might still be there. Maybe it’s gone now but like right after MPP launched and everyone was like, Oh my gosh, well, how are we supposed to tell when people are opening our emails at that point if you went to like the Apple Mail, you know like Postmaster page, there was stuff saying how like the number one, you know, way that you can get your emails delivered is to make sure your emails are getting engaged with. And that’s still the rule that’s still the rule there. It’s still the rule at Gmail it’s still a rule everywhere that’s still the number one thing you can do it’s just MV has made it really hard for us to then follow the rules that mailbox writers are saying laying out for us.

Sella Yoffe    01:09:59

He recently wrote an article about deliverability generations and you highlighted 5 stages or generations. Can you explain the genesis of the article and what do you think the six or the next generation of deliverability will look like?

Chad S. White    01:10:16

Yeah, so that article actually was inspired by an old article that I wrote i was, I was doing some research and I stumbled across this old article I’d written for media posts that was about the third age of email. Deliverability and on reading, it i was, like oh my gosh, so much has happened since then. Let’s like kind of fill in like the dots that have happened since then so I mean, the general concept is just to recognize how much email deliverability has changed over the last, you know, say 2 decades plus. And so the first age of email deliverability is essentially the Wild West where there were really no rules and like if you had someone’s email address you could email them and they couldn’t stop you, There was really no recourse. So that was the first age, The second age mailbox providers gave us the report spam button and that was super powerful for the first time we could say I don’t like this and I never want to see this again. And so that had a huge impact but you know brands, senders were savvy and they knew that if their spam complaint rate was too high they would get into trouble so what they would do is they would bloat their list with tons of inactive subscribers to lower their complaint rate because it’s a percentage. So you know, very savvy and so of course inbox fighters saw this and they were like that’s not how it’s supposed to work. That’s not the spirit of how this is supposed to go. And so they started adding in engagement based filtering so that was, I think, a really pivotal moment because it meant that senders, the messages that senders sent to people not only had to be sort of tolerated, you know, not hated, but they actually had to be engaged with they have to be that they’ll actually like those emails and interact with them. And so that was a huge, powerful moment that was the start of the whole, you know, quality over quantity kind of philosophy when it comes to building lists. The fourth age was when mailbox providers started attaching sender reputations not just to IP addresses but also to domains. And that was also a really huge moment, because it meant that if you had a bad reputation, you couldn’t just abandoned your IP addresses spin up some new ones and nice and clean and you get to start all over with the same bad behaviour. And so you know now you really have to rehabilitate your bad behaviour because your domain, unless you’re, unless you’re a spammer, really can’t walk away from your domain. So it means you have to really take your center reputation seriously. And then the Fifth Age, It’s what we’re in now is that, folks, I’m barely Apple, but not entirely just Apple is making it harder for senders to see engagement. So it makes it a lot harder for senders to comply with the existing rules, which as near as I can tell, have not changed at all because of Apple. Gmail has not changed their spam filtering algorithms they have not stepped away from using engagement. It’s my understanding that even Apple, which uses engagement based filtering, has not changed its position. Engagement is still really critical to getting emboss placement at Apple. So the only thing that’s changed is that it’s way harder for senders to understand the engagement of their subscribers and do the right thing. And that has precipitated a lot of complexity, frankly on the individual sender level where they have to figure out the sort of new alchemy of understanding, you know, really kind of the percentages, the likelihood that this particular subscriber is engaged with my emails based on, you know, what I can see from inboxes. But also a lots of other behaviour where they’re kind of guesstimating, you know, engagement based on how engaged they are with the brand through other channels and how much they’re purchasing or how often they’re, you know, visiting their website or engaged with their apps so a lot of like, you know, fuzzy lines that are being connected, which again really complicated to work out. So that’s the fifth Age is that, that’s where we’re at right now so but your question was what does the sixth age look like? And there i think the sixth Age really is going to be more on the sort of legal regulation front, privacy, GDPR and especially here in the US you know, GDPR, castle, you know, laws in other industrialized nations are at least way ahead of us here in the US and frankly like those laws are aligned with consumer expectations generally speaking i mean actually, you know, it’s laws always trail, always lag consumer expectations, consumer desires and wants, they always lag so you know the law is not fast, right so it’s just by inherent, it’s inherent existence is that it lags what people actually want. Now here in the US though we’re 20 plus years lagging behind consumer expectations, around privacy, around email permission and on and on and on. That cannot stand indefinitely here in the US, You know, obviously, you know, California’s been leading the way and really pushing for modern privacy standards that are much more in line with GDPR. Not exactly but like, you know, in the ballpark and already multiple other states have passed privacy laws and they’re not. There’s not a huge email component to these laws just yet, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time the more of these state level laws that happen, the more pressure there’s going to be to have a national standard. Because complying with twenty thirty different state laws that are all slightly different is really hard for businesses. And at a certain point, enough businesses complain about how complicated this is. Hey, why don’t we have one national standard? And that’s what’s going to happen it’s just the clock is ticking. So it’s just a matter of time and I think when that happens, we’ll also see movement on email permission as well i think these things will get tied together. And you know, there’s been burbling for a long time about, you know, updating Kanspan, which is just so disastrously out of date. And you know, I like to say that like at this point I think can’t spam does harm because there’s still a lot of businesses that like, you know, Step 1, comply with the law. And if you if that’s where you stop, if you stop at step one, your email program is just going to get totally trashed, you know, because can’t spam sets all the wrong expectations for how to run a successful email marketing program. So I think it does like a huge disservice to businesses that are like, OK, what do we need to what’s the most important thing you know, let’s comply with the law. If you did that, you would just be in dire straits like immediately, which is that’s like that’s so it’s not good expectation saving for businesses for how to behave. So I see that as like a major disservice to businesses i think here in the US we think oh regulation’s bad and so fewer regulations better but I think there are a lot of instances where that’s you know really not the case and I think can’t spam is absolutely one of those now where we could just be setting much better kind of much better floor, much safer floor for businesses to operate on in terms of the running their email marketing program so I think that’s the six stages like much better, you know, expectation setting for businesses, much better regulations and laws that you know again put businesses in a place to succeed and also aligns them with consumers which also helps them succeed so I think that’s going to be the next big innovation in email deliverability regulations, better laws.

Sella Yoffe    01:18:51

Awesome. How can people find you online, follow you and buy your book?

Chad S. White    01:18:57

Absolutely and yeah, please do i hope that folks check out my book and hopefully it’s just what you’re looking for. You can find me at email marketing rules dot com and from there you can find me on social you can find links to purchase email marketing rules on Amazon, and lots of other details, including tons of great content that I’ve been publishing so please do check me out at email dot com.

Sella Yoffe    01:19:25

Amazing thank you so much, Chad.

Chad S. White    01:19:28

Thank you, Sella. Thanks for having me.

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