Podcast interview with Dela Quist

Dela Quist, Agency Founder, Email Marketing/Messaging Technology Expert, Speaker & Board Advisor

While everyone else is zigging, Dela is zagging in his own unique way.

With his famous hashtag: #DBS, Dela will make you wonder, is it stupid or is it smart?

Dela will share in the podcast an incredible case study on audience management. We also discuss the famous debate: One question is whether (or not) to delete unengaged subscribers (most will say yes). The surprising role of headlines, reach, and frequency will also be discussed, and many other topics. Don’t miss this episode!

Subscribe with your favorite app:

Video from the podcast:

Dela Quist, an email marketing expert, advocates for the value of engaging with inactive subscribers, challenging the common practice of removing them from lists, and emphasizes the importance of understanding list dynamics before implementing best practices, recommending regular communication and strategic email campaigns for better engagement rates.

Main Topics

Advice for beginners and those engaging in email marketing

Recommends starting with basic HTML skills and taking responsibility for faster learning. Suggests MailChimp or similar platforms for new businesses entering the field. Stresses focusing on numbers rather than rates when making decisions about design, deliverability, or conversion rate optimization.

Email Marketing Best Practices

Implementing best practices in email marketing should align with common sense rather than blindly following industry norms. Deliverability is a core strength that enables better results from marketing efforts. Market first using reach and frequency, while deliverability acts as an enabler for successful campaigns.

Audience Management and Customer Lifecycle

Challenges with traditional customer lifecycle models in audience management. Insights from a case study on audience management in a travel company. Dynamic nature of customer personas across different segments in audience management.

AI and its future role in email marketing

AI will start everyone using it, following predictable human behavior. It makes complex jobs easier but may lead to uniformity in strategies. The impact of AI on email marketing is significant, allowing more with fewer resources.

Audience Management

Understanding the different stages of the buying cycle is crucial for audience management. Reaching out to inactive subscribers can be more cost-effective than acquiring new leads. The goal should be to reduce the unengaged file percentage over time.

Advanced email marketing skills overview

Emphasizes the importance of reaching and frequency in email campaigns. Advises beginners to start with email marketing due to its value across digital channels. Highlights the significance of numbers over rates for effective management.

Reengaging Inactive Subscribers

Research findings on the impact of mailing inactive subscribers over time. Return on investment for reengaging inactive subscribers. Recommendations for sending more emails to unengaged subscribers while being smart about it.

Brand Awareness and Reach

Sending emails with high reach and frequency helps in building brand awareness. Repetition through email marketing serves as a reminder of a brand’s existence. Effective subject lines convey powerful propositions, impacting open rates.

Email Marketing Strategies and Best Practices

The importance of the ‘From’ address in email marketing. Dela Quist’s journey into email marketing from publishing and advertising. The value of engaging inactive subscribers through strategic email campaigns.


🔄 Reengage Campaigns 🤖 AI Technology 📬 Deliverability 📝 Subject Lines And Pre Headers 🔍 Brand Awareness 💤 Inactive Subscribers 🎣 Clickbait 👥 Audience Management 👶 Beginner’s Advice 📡 Reach And Frequency 📧 Email Marketing 📁 Inactive File ✉️ Email Deliverability

Questions / Answers

How did you start with email, and why do you still love email after all these years?
Dela Quist started working in publishing, then transitioned to advertising before venturing into internet companies like Excite. com, where he became interested in email marketing due to its potential efficiency. He loves running an agency, nurturing people, and not having to report to anyone but himself.

Can you share your research findings on what email marketers should do with their inactive email list?
Dela Quist conducted a long-term study that showed the value of mailing inactive subscribers over time, challenging the common practice of removing them from lists after a certain period. He emphasized that engaging unresponsive subscribers can lead to significant returns on investment.

Why are you not using the term ‘Reengage campaigns, ‘ and how do you approach reengaging unresponsive subscribers?
According to Dela Quist, every email is an opportunity for reengagement; thus, he views every campaign as a chance to reconnect with recipients rather than isolating specific efforts as ‘reengage campaigns. ‘ He recommends sending more emails strategically while striving for better engagement rates.

How do you perceive the idea of implementing best practices in email marketing?
Implementing best practices without understanding your own list dynamics may not yield optimal results. It’s essential to focus on reaching out effectively before diving into advanced technologies.

Can you give an example of reaching inactive subscribers versus audience acquisition?
Most brands have more qualified, relevant people on their own lists that they don’t mail than they could buy from any source. Reaching out to inactive subscribers within your list can be more valuable and cost-effective compared to acquiring new leads through other channels.

If email marketers want to reach their inactive file, what frequency should they choose?
I would never send anyone less than once a week today; it’s important to maintain regular communication even with inactive subscribers.

Key points and Insights

Recommendations were provided for sending more emails to unengaged subscribers while emphasizing the need for smart approaches focused on improving engagement rather than simply increasing frequency.

Dela Quist challenged traditional customer lifecycle models by demonstrating the dynamic nature of customer personas across different segments within audience management strategies.

Reaching out to inactive subscribers within one’s own list can be more effective and cost-efficient compared to acquiring new leads from external sources.

Building brand awareness through repetition via email marketing serves as a reminder of a brand’s existence, impacting consumer behavior positively over time.

The significance of engaging inactive subscribers through strategic emailing was highlighted based on research findings showing long-term returns on investment.

Email marketers should prioritize market outreach using reach and frequency while leveraging deliverability as an enabler for successful campaigns.

Dela emphasized the value of starting a career in digital marketing through learning basic skills via email campaigns.

The potential impact of AI technology on standardizing strategies in email marketing was discussed extensively.

The importance of focusing on numbers rather than rates when making strategic decisions was highlighted as a key insight.


The minute they move from your unengaged file… they immediately move from low value to extremely high value.

Every ad that goes… is an opportunity… to see.

If your best is one… I’m sure someone can do better than that.

Reaching out to inactive subscribers within your list can be more valuable compared to acquiring new leads.

I would never send anyone less than once a week today; it’s important to maintain regular communication even with inactive subscribers.


Follow Dela Quist on Linkedin

DelaQuist.com (coming soon)

Podcast transcript (AI generated. some typos expected):

Dela Quist: When an email arrives in the inbox in order of preference, the from address is the number one. If it’s from Dell, for example, Dell computers, you’ll see it’s Dell on there. Okay. And if it’s from Gap or Whole Foods you’ll see it there. If it’s from seller I will see your name in there all the time. And it will be there all the time. And what I used to do was show people and I just sort my inbox by who from, and then I’ll show them someone who’s sending weekly or daily and I go. Impression impression impression impression del del del Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella. And then I say, hey, do you know any email marketing consultants who know about deliverability? So yeah, there’s a guy called Sella and I won’t even know. That’s how billboards work, right? That’s how TV commercials work. They’re so clever. Everyone knows this. So that even the the sound, the music from a commercial will trigger you. And you don’t have to be in the room to know it’s this bank or that insurance company.

Sella Yoffe: Hello, and welcome to episode number two of Email Geek’s Show The Podcast, where once a month, the leading email experts share their knowledge about email marketing, email deliverability, and marketing. My name is Sella Yoffe and I’m an email deliverability consultant from Israel, and I’m working with global email senders, start ups and email platforms under email deliverability, email authentication and strategy. And I’m the host of this podcast. My guest today is Dela Quist, agency founder, email marketing and messaging technology expert, speaker and border advisor. In my opinion, Dela quist is one of the smartest people in the industry. It’s great to have you on my podcast Dela.

Dela Quist: I thank you, you’re very kind and I’m very excited to be doing this. I’ve known you now for a while. Not not the sort of 20 plus years that I’ve known some people in this space, but I’ve also always admired your work in the deliverability field, and it’s a pleasure to be connected with you. And it’s a pleasure to do this.

Sella Yoffe: Thank you for the kind words, Dela. You know, to set the scene, I typically open the conversation with two questions. The first one is how did you start with email? As most people say, they fell into it. And the second is why do you still love email after all these years?

Dela Quist: Yeah, I think most people do. It’s not. It’s it’s a long time since email was, uh, sexy, right? Um, I would argue that it’s never been sexy. Um, so you fall into email out of necessity because it’s so efficient. It’s so compelling, it’s so effective that you find yourself just doing it. So, um, my background kind of would lead to understand how I got in to it. I started out in publishing. Mhm. Right. I started in magazines, you know, tech magazines. Uh, computer world, PC world. Remember those kind of magazines? If you’re old enough to do that. Um, and then I went to work for a national newspaper because tech was becoming sexy, and, uh, the PC was beginning to dominate the world. And so the national newspapers, The Times of London, decided they wanted to have a technology section. And I was brought in to help, um, to sell advertising in the technology section. So my clients were effectively the marketers of tech companies who wanted to reach it people and persuade them through an ad in the page to buy the product. Um. And so I was fortunate enough. To. I always had a. Well, you said it before. I wouldn’t say I’m intelligent so much, but I have a slightly differential way of thinking. I go to places that others don’t. As soon as everybody is somewhere, I’m going. I’m not so sure about this. Um. And because certainty the world is not black and white, it’s just grey, okay? And certainty is a dangerous place in my view. So what I noticed was that the magazines that carried the most advertising tended to be the ones that were most read. I won’t go into which was the chicken and which was the egg. But that’s kind of what happened. And what I noticed is that if you are a tech magazine and you have 150,000 programmers reading your magazine, yeah, more people want you than if you’ve got 10,000 programmers reading your magazine. All things being equal, you can play the quantitative argument versus the qualitative the qualitative argument versus the quantitative. But when it comes to reach. More is more. There’s no thinking about it. Um, so I visualised my job as placing, uh, an advertisement on the interface between the programmer and the advertiser. Okay. And that interface was a page. And what brought you to the page was content. A very important point. So if you had good content and you had a big audience, more people would read, more people would see the advertisement and therefore more people would respond to the advertisement. And by. Mhm. So when the internet came about and started happening, I was like, oh my God. The interface has become interactive. Right. And I just was like this is amazing. Yeah. So I was one of the first people to even contemplate from our safety of publishing. We are big guys, you know, we make lots of money, you know, blah blah blah to this new frontier, which was the internet. And one day I had Hunter, who used to work for me, bumped into me, uh, and said, hey, you know, you’re here at the Times Newspapers. Um, and I’ve got this thing, an internet company, it’s called excite, excite.com. Have you heard of them? And I went, yeah, of course I have. And she was like, you’re the first candidate who even knows who they are. And back in the day, excite.com was probably the number three or the four player after um, Microsoft and AOL. Um, Google did not really have a stake in the game at this stage. They hadn’t been invented at this stage. This is about 95, 96 that this happened. So Google was 96, and I moved in about 1995, 96, and I just started working, uh, and I set up an ad sales team again, the same thing. I was selling eyeballs to marketers who wanted to reach eyeballs. The more eyeballs you had, the better you were. Yeah. And I also one of the things that people don’t understand, and when we come to talk about audience management, right, is that in newspapers, everybody wants the first right hand page because you open well, except where you are because you read the other way around. But if if you are Western English writing, you tend to start you move this way. Okay? And as you turn the pages, your eye falls on the right hand side. So everybody wants the first, right? Nobody wants the last left in the book unless you can persuade them that, oh, some people open from the back and they’re doing this. So they put the sports at the back. Right. And, and then everybody wants the first and the last. And so what you begin to do is you create a finance section and then you create a sports section. Then you create a cookery section. And then you created this. So now you have many, many, many first rights. Exactly. And you’re able to sell deeper into the file because every stakeholder wants an easy life and they’re lazy. And they just want to say I’m on the first. Right. Okay. And if it was possible to make a pancake ad where you just peel one off all on the first, right, and nothing in the book, then we’d have done it. But you can’t do that. So that’s kind of, you know, that’s kind of where I was going. Now, the second part of it was that I was invited in a project, uh, excite was one of the first people they used to call them portals in those days to add free email. Hotmail had come and had blown the world away. I think they got sold for 700 million or something like that, or blah blah blah. And everyone’s like, what’s the hotmail? What’s the hotmail? So excite went and did one and that was how I became interested in email. And suddenly I thought to myself, wait, wait, wait. At the moment, we pay folks to drive them to our page so that they’ll read and then they’ll interact. But the thing is, we’re paying $150 CPM to be in a newspaper or magazine or the TV, and then we’re selling two Dela $5 CPMs back in the day. Right? And I thought, this is crazy. So I visualised email as sending your website to the customer. Yeah. And I was really excited. Now, uh, I was also very fortunate that, um, I’d been in the business early enough. So I was vested in selling shares at the top of the market. I was one of very few people to do that. And, um, when the crash happened and they started to rationalise the businesses I took out, I said, listen, hey, I know you’re going to be making people, laying people off. I’ll be first in the line. Now, here’s the truth. Even if you volunteer to be laid off, it’s always painful when they go, yeah, that’s fine. And they accepted it. But in order not to go and work for someone else, I thought I will do something in email and that’s kind of how I found it. Alchemy worx and started working there. Um, and what I found originally is we were going to be selling content. I’ll write the content and create the lovely emails, and then I’ll give it to you and you send it out. And the first customer went, I don’t even know how to do this, I don’t where do I begin? I don’t have a technology to send it. I don’t know how to send it. I don’t know how to create an email. I don’t know how to build an email. I don’t know the strategy. So I suddenly found that actually, bizarrely, even though content is the most important thing in my mind, no one seemed to care about content. I’m picking my words because someone say I care about content, everyone cares about content. But they actually had a bigger problem with deployment and building an HTML rendering and all of those sorts of things. Yeah, and that’s how Alchemy worx came about. Do I love email? No. Do I love newspapers? No. Um, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. I mean, I love my family, you know what I mean? Um, and I loved my job and the job of running an agency. Okay. Because you’re bringing people, you’re nurturing people. And that’s one of the things I’m most proud of is, uh, it’s in the hundreds now of people who have started work for me, many of them straight out of college, who have gone on to do amazing things all over the world and in different things in marketing, sometimes not marketing, sometimes setting up their own business that I enjoyed. I also enjoyed not reporting to anybody. That was probably the best thing is not having to report to anybody except myself and you know, and God, that’s it. I know nobody else but me and go and I that’s who I report to. Um, but I also understood that, you know, email is actually quite a precise pond. It’s quite a small, very well defined pond. Um, and I’m lazy and it’s so much easier to be a medium size fish in a very small pond and look big than it is to be a big fish in the middle of the ocean, right? Because there you have to be really big. So I’m being a little bit self-deprecating, but I just found that, um, uh, it was easy to pick up the knowledge. And once you have the knowledge, you become an expert in the space and your agency one of the first ones, if not the first in the space, it just meant that you just carry on with that. Um, uh, my stubborn. Yes. Because a lot of people who started with email marketing went away from email marketing over the years. Most people do. And that’s another whole story. Yeah. So yeah, that’s basically it. Um, I fell into it, uh, because I knew about it, and I knew about it because I was lucky to just be in the right place at the right time for that to happen. And the rest is just, you know, life.

Sella Yoffe: You are known for challenging the status quo and may not like the idea of best practice. If someone suggests not emailing inactive subscribers or deleting them from email lists, you might respond with your famous hashtag DBS. Don’t be stupid.

Dela Quist: Oh, do be smart.

Sella Yoffe: So can you share your research findings on what email marketers should do with their inactive email list?

Dela Quist: Well, um.

Sella Yoffe: I know it’s a big topic, so it is.

Dela Quist: Um, it is. And I have to think about how I dive into it. And because you started with best practice, right. So that’s a that’s a whole different topic. I would the I think there’s best practice in this common sense. Right. And I tend to phrase best practice with common sense. And other people say, ah, yes. It’s only common sense when you know it’s not common sense if you don’t know. But the thing about common sense is it’s supposed to be something everybody can understand. So I guess I actually remember standing up in a conference. It was a silver pop conference in 2008. Okay. And I like to be amusing when I’m speaking at a conference already and everything like that. And I actually quoted the Monty Python sketch about the dead parrot, and I did. I played the video, which, you know, everyone likes Monty Python. I played the video, everybody was laughing, and I said that you see why these email people? They’re dead. These addresses are dead. You’re an idiot. If you leave, if you mail them, you’re an idiot. And I actually said that in the conference and everybody clapped for me. And not only did they just clap for me, but they they it complete agreement, etc., etc. that yes, these people are dead and we shouldn’t mail them. I even said jokingly, hey, and guess what? If you do that, you improve your open rate because you’re not mailing people who are not responding. And so it’s a cheap way to look good, right?

Sella Yoffe: Yeah it is.

Dela Quist: So I started where everyone else was. What made me change? What made me change was we actually had a client, um, who was a very big UK. TV station with a very large sports network, and they had a list of millions of people who we were helping them with their email marketing and receiving them sending email to. And this client was persistently sending to their inactive file. They refused any advice. We gave them to remove the inactives and I went, you’re idiots. I will prove this to you on my dollar. Okay, so I took their list and I separated it into three buckets. One point in time, bucket number one was has not opened an email for 12 months. Okay. Okay. Bucket number two as has opened an email in 12 months. And bucket number three was empty. Okay? Okay. So what I did was I continued to mail them. So every time someone activated, I moved them from bucket number one to bucket number two. Right. And anyone who came out of bucket number two because they are now 12 months inactive. So some of them were 11 months and 29 days inactive. So every day someone’s moving I put them in the empty bucket I wanted to see. I ran that for four years. Okay. Okay. The client wanted to do it. I wasn’t going to stop them. I just wanted to look. And. Do you know something? They got something like a 2 or 3% open rate from the inactive file every day for the best part of three years. Okay, so I’m talking about people opening an email who have not open for three years. Yeah. And yet three years down the line they open. Now they’re active and they’re in the active bucket. That was the beginning of me trying to understand this. Um, does that mean you can do it forever? No. And what I would say to you is that the economics become less good after about 2 to 3 years. When you get to 3 to 4 years, you get a ratio, which I came up with, which is open to unsubscribed rate if the open to unsubscribe rate. Is heading over 50%. It’s getting to one. That list is very, very, very inefficient because the only people opening are saying, I’ve had enough. Boom, I’m out. You could also argue that it was becoming more dangerous now back in 2009, ten, 11, eight, nine, ten that those days or seven, eight. Nine, ten. Maybe deliverability wasn’t so difficult, but people were making it sound difficult. Maybe deliver a bit. But actually, I think deliverability has always been some people have problems, some people don’t. And if you have people and you start with a clean list and you mail something and the people signed up for your list, you know they’re there. They’re not so aggressive on the spam folder. Um, and maybe back then, the algorithms at the inbox providers were not so good. So that’s kind of where I began. And so actually, I have probably the only and the best study of what Inactives can do and how they can add value over time. And I stopped looking at things like, oh, uh, revenue per thousand emails sent or open rates for those lists. I started saying, how many new people did I activate, right? Reactivate, and how much would it have cost the client to acquire them in another channel? Yeah, and here’s the irony. Many, many, many people will pay Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok large amounts of money to reach someone that they have an email address for. Okay. And the and who they’re refusing to mail. And so we’ll get into it later on. And so the idea that you don’t see the email I will dispute and I’ll come back to in another way. So or my whole thing about Inactives came because I thought the client was stupid. I wanted to prove them wrong, I could not prove them wrong, and no one has ever been able to prove that idea wrong. Unless hashtag do be smart. Hashtag don’t be stupid unless you do something stupid. And my view? And I’ve said this consistently. I’ve said it to you before. Yeah. If you start with a clean list of opted in people properly. Right. And you don’t and you follow best practice, you see you can and best practice in deliverability is what I call common sense DXM, SPF. You know, don’t buy lists. Don’t do you know what I’m saying? That sort of stuff. And you don’t stop mailing someone for a year and then suddenly mail a million of them again. Hashtag DBS. You can mail your inactive file safely because in actual fact is not an inactive file. It’s just a segment of people who respond at a lower rate. But when they respond, they immediately move from low value to extremely high value. Because now we know they’re awake. We know what they did, we know what they clicked on, and all our behavioural stuff and AI stuff and all the smart stuff. It can only work on behaviour you’ve seen. Um, and my favourite thing is you can’t engage someone you stop talking to. Yeah, right. You can’t. I mean, you can’t engage someone you stop talking to and dialogue. And by the way, all kinds of things, Wars happen because people stop talking to each other without dialogue. We are we’re nowhere. And so the point about it is never to stop the dialogue. Right when you start from a safe place, if you didn’t do that and you are like everybody in the industry who has somewhere between. I’m going to be kind. 40% and 70% of their lists have not opened for a year. It’s generally a it’s almost always over 50. 60 is a good marker. So most people have 40% active, 60% inactive regards to recent opens okay. And if you know it, that’s a big chunk of the list. And as a segment it’s actually the most valuable segment. In terms of potential and revenue. It’s also the segment that reduces your acquisition costs because you’re no longer so reliant on acquisition, and you’re not paying for people you already know. And that’s that’s kind of it.

Sella Yoffe: Could you please provide information of the return on investment for that?

Dela Quist: It depends on how you count it. So for example, I have had clients set a rule that says any segment that delivers less than X open rates, we start mailing them. Okay. Because you’re looking at a moment in time and you’re saying this customer wants you’re refusing to count the value that everyone who moves from your unengaged file to engage file changes to. So the minute they move from the unengaged file, let’s say they’re open rate was 1%, okay. And the conversion rate was whatever. As soon as they move, the open rate jumps to 5%, 10%, 15% and the conversion rate goes up. And and you’re mailing them every week, right? So instead of saying, oh, that list isn’t working, you say, I took 1000 people from the list and I moved them to that. I’m sending one email a week, one email a month to. I’ve moved them to a list that I’m sending five emails a week to. Right. And they’re now generating. $10 per thousand people instead of $1 per thousand people. And this is per thousand that I send and I’m sending five times a week. So that’s ten times five times 52 if they stayed in that segment. And when you look at it that way and the numbers, I mean, I can do the numbers and I know them off by heart. But if you do the calculation, you’ll see that the lifetime value, something everyone talks about, doesn’t even understand. Right? The lifetime value of everyone you re-engage is huge. And it creates. Evaluation for your inactive file that’s actually higher than your most active file.

Sella Yoffe: According to the explanation, people on the unengaged list get fewer emails. Do you think that’s what you’d recommend?

Dela Quist: Potentially, yes. Yes, yes. Most people do that you recall. But that’s that’s well. What’s a lower cadence? What’s a higher cadence? Higher.

Sella Yoffe: Right. Let’s say five a week is a.

Dela Quist: Right and lower is what, one a week? Yeah. Okay. Let’s take both of those numbers. Five a week is, most people say, because, oh, I don’t want to do more than five a week, right? Then one week is oh no, no, they don’t really want to and I don’t want to annoy them. Okay. I it’s always oh I don’t want to annoy them. Everyone hates email right. And when I have to do my best to not it’s like every email is a slap in the face. So the fewer slaps I deliver, the better. Now here’s the irony. You slap your more engaged people more than your unengaged people a lot, and you go, oh, that’s good, because they’re engaged. No, no, you’re slapping them, right? You can’t have it both ways. Yeah, email is good or it’s bad. If it’s bad, you’re slapping them. And if it’s good, then you know what? Give them more. That’s the first thing. The second thing would be, I would say if we had two identical marketers selling the same product, all things being equal, right? We create a situation where, all things being equal, two brands are doing exactly the same thing and they both start with one. Okay. Brand. A working with me finds a clever way to make it six for the active brand. B sticks with five. Who’s going to win? I see Brandy? Yeah. Right. Simple. Mhm. Let’s take the one. If I find a smart way of making them tolerate two emails a week rather than one email a week, who’s going to win brand A or brand B brand A. Yeah. So the question isn’t how many is how good can you be. And if your best is one, you’re an idiot. I’m joking. Right. I’m you know, if your best is one. I’m sure someone can do better than that. Okay. And if your best is five, I’m going to try and do better than that. With six. I always use TV commercials because imagine going to a TV conference, right? Of all these executives and advertisers and TV producers and data, the whole gig is selling advertising and sponsorships and all of that sort of stuff, and they turn around and say, you know what? Viewers hate advertising. So I would recommend that you try not to buy very much airtime. Or magazine, you know, something. Instead of buying 12 ads, one a week for three months. Right? Just buying one. Nobody would recommend that because of reach and frequency. So and my favourite one is Geico, because if you’ve been to America, you’ll know Geico the brand. How do I know Geico the brand? Because they’re on TV all the time. How are they on TV all the time? Because they advertise all the time. All the time, all the time. In the UK. Go compare does the same thing. So these are insurance companies that come from nowhere to dominate everyone’s thinking. But their ad didn’t remain the same for ten years. They mix it up, they change it. They have a different one in the holiday season. From here. They make jokes. They’re in Super Bowl. They they talk, they make. They spend millions of dollars on creative to make their incessant advertising acceptable. But with email, no no no no no no no. All you can do is stop emailing. You can’t be clever. You can’t improve it. So I always say sending your email, what you should be doing is constantly striving. Striving. Just send one more. It doesn’t have to be a week. It could be a month, right? It it’s still one more email. And that email has to be clever. So you know and another example I give you is Valentines. Uh, my friend Lauren McDonnell told me this and it was a client of his from back in the day. They sold chocolate. It’s Valentine’s day. Yeah. They set a program to sell in one email an hour for 24 hours on Valentine’s Day leading up to it. Right? It was their best day ever. Did they just take the same email and mail it to everybody 12 times? No. They set up extremely complicated rules. If someone buys do this, if they don’t buy, then do this. If they open three times and don’t do this, do that. Da da da da da da da. That’s what I call being smart. Hashtag do be smart. Yeah. So if I say send more email or mail your inactives do be smart about it. You know, follow common sense, know where you’re coming from, know where you’re going to, and always strive to make it palatable to the people getting it more palatable, not palatable. And the final thing I would say on it is that most people, when they’re testing strategies, subject lines, creative offers, they test it on their most active segment and then roll it out to the inactive segment. Itch. No, no, no, it’s the other way around. You should test that as a real segment in a different way, and then work out what works for them and optimise that. And that’s how you send more email to your inactive safely.

Sella Yoffe: Lots of people suggest doing re-engage campaigns to get unengaged subscribers. Interested? Again, I noticed you are not using the term re-engage campaigns. Why is that?

Dela Quist: Every email is a re-engagement campaign. Every email you send is an opportunity to re-engage. Okay, again, it comes from my publisher. Every ad that goes to someone is an opportunity to see. And this is where I think email marketers have missed a big trick. Everyone else sells opportunities to see. Right? But what Google did when they first came out was made cost per click, right? They made it a click thing. And email marketers are very happy to embrace that. Everywhere I’ll click it proves that it works. No no no no no no, it doesn’t prove anything. What what they started doing after a while is saying, oh, sometimes they have to see the ad five times before they click, or ten times before they click, or 50 times before they click. Right. Mhm. It could be a hundred because they didn’t want jeans for six months. And then one day they want jeans and you’re there and they remember you because they see your ad all the time. Right. It’s the same with insurance. You have to be there all the time because it’s hard to predict exactly when someone’s insurance is going to become valid. Uh, and I probably digress a bit. It’s about opportunities to see and reach and frequency go together. And they work in email just as everything else. There is no bit of marketing where all things being equal, right? One person is better than 50. It isn’t okay.

Sella Yoffe: During our pre call you mentioned that you are doing audience management in Alchemy worx. You are generous enough to share your case study on the podcast. I would like to let our listeners know that we also have a video of the case study. With the slides that you are sharing. I will put the link in the show notes.

Dela Quist: With audience management. You remember I said to you that if you let the stakeholders take their pick, everybody wants the same thing. Yeah, everybody wants the same customers. And the irony is. Almost anyone can predict the most active the people who are going to buy tomorrow, right? Um, and so because of that, every stakeholder wants them and you continue to bombard them. Remember I said, if email’s horrible, why do you send your best customers more and your worst customers less? It should be the other way around. So therefore email has a value. And one of the things that I spoke about is that some of our thinking is driven by this idea of a typical view of customer lifecycle. Mhm. And if you look at customer lifecycle and the slide I’m showing it’s got three curves steep up flattening out flattening out towards the end okay. So everyone accepts the growth of value slows over time okay. And there are three different lines. One curve is the lowest one yellow. Those are your low value customers. The one in the middle is your average customers. And then the red one at the top is your best value. So you can basically see that this is your typical customer life cycle. And so what people do is say, oh yeah, this is my customer. And you know, here’s my value. And I’ve got good value customers and bad value customers. But actually the reality is very different. Okay. And on this what you have here is this is a travel company. And I took 71 months of data. I’m sure you did. Yeah. And you know, that’s one of the reasons why I’m so difficult to argue against because I have the data. Right. And so you can say what you like about my thinking, but you can’t argue with the data. So what you’ll see is that every 12 months there’s a peak. Yeah. Because what we did is we zeroed everybody back to the first email they got. Okay. And then we followed their purchases. So this is if you like, the customer life cycle. And you can see that the curve is going down, down, down. If you flipped it the other way around it would be flattening flattening flattening okay. But you will see that actually people are in and out of activity. So their inactivity once in 12 months a Thanksgiving right. Or the holiday season or their mother’s birthday or for the annual conference, and then they don’t buy anything again. They don’t reserve a hotel. They don’t do anything for a very long time. Yeah. So what I saw was that actually hang on a minute. In effect, if you look at the next slide, no matter how many segments you have, once you cut a segment, every persona will exist in every segment. Yeah, because it’s a dynamic process. People move in and out. So in your inactive, your people who are one day away from being active and in your active, they’re people who are one day away from going into one year without opening, or 30 days or 60 days or whatever you pick. So audience management is understanding that it’s not like we got a good list and the good people we do this and then the bad people, we do this too. It’s actually saying there’s no good, there’s no bad. But people are in different stages of the buying cycle at any given time. It’s not always easy to predict, but one thing I can predict is that some people who are inactive will become active, and some people were active, will become inactive and everything in between. And and you know it. So for those who can’t see it. So I always have a slightly funny picture. So here is somebody going, oh, you know, I’m not interested in Inactives. I don’t mail them after nine months. Right. And then if you look, we only mail active people and they’re like chasing them and harassing them and bullying them and sending abandoned car, abandoned browser this, that and the other, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and doing nothing with the others and that’s just gone. That’s kind of a visual demonstration of what I’m talking about. And there are many ways of calculating what the value is. But at my most conservative, I would say if the representative value for an inactive person is $1, right, the representative value of an re-activated email address is between $2.50 and $7. Right? And so for the cost of sending an email, which is what, $0.50 a thousand, $0.10 a thousand. Let’s be really brutal. $1.50 because, you know, whatever a thousand where a thousand. You tell me a place where you can make a thousand people get something for a fraction of $0.01 using content you already made. I mean, it’s not like you’re making new content. You’ve already got it, you’ve got the offer and everything else. So that’s kind of where it is. And it takes you to rethinking engagement. Um, right. So when you’re um, and this is a slide I share a lot, I can send it to you. And I’d recommend if anyone wants to see it. It’s one of the slides I, my middle daughter, is in email marketing. I’ll give her a plug. She’ll hate me for it. She. She now works for braze. And, um. She worked. She started working in the agency when she was 15. So she knows a lot about email marketing, even though she’s very young and she has, you know, she’s packed ten years of experience into someone else’s for years because she worked through college. But we sat down on a chalkboard to try and make this what happens to people? What can people do if they don’t open the email? Um, and I can tell you they can open later. They can open in a month or a year. The longest I’ve seen, I’ve seen someone who opened an email that sat in their inbox for more than one year. Right. Why did they do that? And maybe because it was something they wanted, or they thought, oh, you know what? When my daughter’s birthday next comes, then I’ll buy this product, right? Yeah. You can visit the website without opening the email. You can visit the store, you can delete, you can call it spam. You can ignore it. Now, the interesting thing about ignoring which a lot of people say, okay, oh, I ignore it. Well, if you if ignoring works, why do billboards exist? Yeah. Why do TV commercials exist? Because everyone says, oh, I ignored TV commercials. No one says I lean in, they go, I ignore it. Now go to the dictionary definition of ignore. It says to wilfully decide to not do something in actual fact, to ignore an email. You’re using your highest cognitive functions because if you ignore an email from your boss, or you didn’t see it, or you ignored an email from your mom saying your aunt is dying, come and visit me. Or you ignore an email, or you don’t pay attention to an email that maybe is a spam or is a virus. So we actually use our highest cognitive functions even to delete, right? To ignore or to ignore. Um. So imagine. How effective that is in TV advertising and billboard advertising and newspaper advertising and everything else. They know that. And it’s called brand building. So again, go back to two brands, A and B. One sends one a month and one sends two a week. And then you did a spontaneous recall test on a customer who got both of them and say, which name a brand that sells jeans, the one they get more of. They will remember almost always. Almost always. Yeah. So that’s kind of what I was thinking. And this goes across by the way, this goes across all channels. Because I’ll give you an example. People who see your email in the inbox didn’t open it. Go somewhere and they click on an affiliate link. And now you’re paying for them again. Right. Or they go to search and they click on paid search and now you’re paying for them again. So these are all things that they can do. And that’s what audience management is about. Audience management is reducing the opportunity of people to go to another channel. But more importantly, what you’re doing and I’m showing two charts here. You start with a big unengaged for 60% of your list. Your goal should be my unengaged file should only be 40% of my list by next year or 50. Maybe go 60, 55, 50, 45 until you can’t do any better, right? And you’ll engage, which is only 40% of your list. You say, I want my engaged file to be 45%, 50%, 60%, 70%. And here’s another thing I noticed that also made me look at audience management. Isn’t it funny how very few people’s engage file grows? It’s always the same. And you know why? It’s because they’re satisfied with the number. And and more importantly. Because they’re not mailing their inactives. When it’s going down, they go to acquisition and they start paying more to to build their engage file. Most of the people in the engage file for a lot of people are newly acquired. Right. Instead of whereas if you took them from your unengaged file and still had the acquisition activity, now you’ve got a big bonus. Now your acquisition activity is complete bonus. It’s not replacing people. That have died or have gone into the unengaged file. And that’s kind of that’s kind of audience management. And just to put it in perspective, we were able to increase clients engage files by this. I have a case study from Global Industrial 70%. We increase their engaged audience by 70% in like nine months. They generated 200% more revenue. I mean, these are all things that I don’t have to tell you. Just common sense should tell you. You don’t need a case study that said, one person did this once to do it. It’s common sense. And here’s this slide. Here is the hashtag do be smart. Don’t be stupid okay. You have to do advanced customer assessment. You’ve got to integrate the existing models that they already have into the process okay. You have to make sure your channels are aligned with each other. You have to do RFM segmentation to in order to do that and ongoing testing. And I forgot you talked about testing. People test all the time. Right. And they say, oh yeah, you got a test. Okay. And I say to them. When was the last time you tested seven emails in a day? Oh, no, you can’t do that. Well, it’s a test, right? It’s a test. Or I say to them, here’s a test. Don’t mail anybody for two weeks. See what happens to all your business. Will they do that? No, no. So testing is something in extremely narrow parameters. And when you come to subject lines, which we may or may not talk about later on, when someone says tests long in most people’s minds, short is 35 characters long as 65 characters, and they test 33, 34, or 6667, they don’t test 250. They don’t test three. They only test three when they make a mistake like oops, right, or out of office or something like that. So that’s the point about it is that we talk about testing, but no, no, no, you can only test in very, very narrow, narrow confines. And that’s why almost everybody ends up with average results, because everyone’s doing the same thing. And people talk about behaviour. Right. But they don’t understand that marketers behaviour is what influences your customer behaviour. And you have to look at yourself as much as, if not more than you look at your customers and you go, oh well, maybe they don’t respond to long subject lines because I never send long subject lines. Yeah, so that’s kind of it. And I’m saying if there’s another slide that’s worth talking about, um, uh, no, I mean, this slide is just about testing. So, um, one of the things is testing in audience management is critical. Okay. The biggest wins come from reaching frequency. Okay, okay. Let’s say you don’t manage your inactives and they’re 70% of your list. Okay? Okay. If you mail them, you’re increasing your reach because instead of 400,000 people, you’re now reaching a million people. Okay. That’s reach frequency. If you’re mailing them once a month and you double it, that’s frequency. Reach and frequency together give you the biggest wins. Then subject lines, notifications, timing of sends, all of those things. That’s another. Those are good to test. And I’ve put a slide together that shows you the relationship between the effort versus the response. And at the bottom with the best response. At the bottom of the funnel is design, but you do that when you’ve optimised everything else. Okay, so if your list, your engage list is 400,000 or 100,000, right? And you design and optimise for 100,000 people, you would have less value than if that was 500,000 engaged people. Okay, so it’s not that it’s not important, it’s just that you save the best for last okay. And you start with the easiest things. And I’m saying that not to upset designers. I’m not there. A lot of designers think I don’t think it matters. That’s not the case at all. I’m just saying in England, there’s an expression. You’re placing the cart in front of the horse. It doesn’t work that way. You know, the horse has to lift and then the cart is behind. And when you optimise the cart, make sure that it’s behind the horse and not in front of the horse. Yeah. And that’s kind of where it is. So. So that’s my, um. That’s my thing. On audience management. I hope that makes sense. And if you could on your site or whatever it is, show people where they can look at some of these slides. It may help them understand what I was saying a little bit better.

Sella Yoffe: You mentioned before that the biggest wins come from research and frequency, and they help with the brand awareness. Could you go into more details?

Dela Quist: I was talking to the, um, the chief executive of the DMA here in the UK. What do they do? And I used to be on the DMA email marketing board and he said, Dela, do you know something? Something you told me about the impressions. Okay. We’ve embraced that. You told you used to call us stupid at the DMA, right? We have now embraced. Opportunities and brand impressions into our reporting and our metrics to better show or to show that it’s actually even the ones where they didn’t pick up the phone and by immediately it had an impact. And if you send a door drop, it makes your commercials work better. And when you do a commercial, it makes your door drop work better. And if your door drop goes in and you send an email saying, did you see it, that works better as well. So again, we talk a lot about things like multichannel marketing and the single customer view, but we don’t even begin to act on it. The final thing you said it’s difficult. No no no no no it’s it’s actually not hard okay. Because all I’m saying is find a way to sensibly begin to increase your reach and frequency. Yeah. That’s actually, you know that I showed you the lifetime cycle. That’s your biggest win. Because that’s what everybody I have never met a client that’s over mailing their customers yet. Never. Never. And here’s how I prove it. Okay, when when you ask someone how many emails do you send a week? They go a lot. A lot. We send too many. Well, how many is that? And they say, oh, we send pick a number five, nine, ten a week. Yeah. Mhm. Okay. I say fine okay. What’s the. How many emails did you send last month? Right? And I say, give me a number, okay? Because I’m trying to find out on average how many emails somebody on the list received. Okay. Average. And they’ll say, oh, we’re sending five a week. So that’s like 20 a month, 2030 a month okay. That’s what they’re sending. They said oh it’s too much. You know we weren’t really worried about that. And I say what’s your list size. They tell me the list size. I said, how many emails did you actually send from your ESP? Tell me how many that was. And then I divide one by the other. Now guess what? On average, what what how many emails the average subscriber on a list gets when I look. Take a guess.

Sella Yoffe: 2 to 3 a week.

Dela Quist: It’s one a month.

Sella Yoffe: One a month? Yes, because of the inactive file?

Dela Quist: No, not just that. Because everyone’s chasing the same active people. Right. So all their algorithms and all their smart shit are chasing the same ten people. That I could tell you about, right? So it’s about reducing the load and reducing the load means actually moving. Don’ts I’m not saying stop the clever stuff. By all means, do that because there’s a lot of learning. But what I’m saying is actually make a metric that says no one on my list should get less than, and have a rule that ensures that everyone on your list gets one a week, whether that’s whether you call that. And by the way, some of the people who don’t get emails are because our rules are so complicated and our segmentation is so complicated that there are cracks in which some very valuable people fall because they weren’t this plus this, minus this, but more importantly, they have a lot of exclusion things. If you got this, I mean, back in the day, I was working with an insurance company and they stopped as soon as I showed them this. They had a rule that says any contact. So if they sent a direct mail piece out, that person couldn’t get email. If they sent an, you know, and the rules were like that. And I think.

Sella Yoffe: Engagements, yes.

Dela Quist: The rules of engagement mean and a very quick, easy way of doing that calculation. And actually people tell me it’s not easy. How big is your list? Most people can’t answer that question. Yeah. Can you believe they cannot tell you how big their list is, right? What do you mean my level list size? I said, well, if you mailed everybody you could, how many would that be? That tells you your list size, right? Okay, then I say I’m going to say a million. Okay. And then I say, how many emails did you send in actual numbers of emails. They’ll say, oh, we send 20in a month, okay. Then I say, fine. How many actual emails were sent in the month? Okay. Then they’ll say something like, oh, uh, 1.5 million or something like that, and you go, okay, the average person on your list gets 1.5 emails. Yeah, exactly. And by the way, somebody some poor person is getting everything, and that person is most likely your CEO, right? Or your CTO or your deliverability guy. And he’s going to say you’re sending too many emails because they didn’t do the simple calculation. Now, all I’m asking is that everyone makes the average two. Or 1 or 1 point 5 or 3. Am I being extreme when I say no? One on your list should get less than three emails a month or 2 or 1. Because I’m not going to stop you sending 22 your most active. I can’t stop you doing that. And no, everyone says that’s a good thing. But I am saying, at the very least, send everyone one email. Because if you don’t, you’re asking for deliverability problems straight away.

Sella Yoffe: You explained earlier that sending emails with a high reach and frequency helps in building brand awareness. Can you elaborate on that?

Dela Quist: I’ll just start with the common sense. I’ve already covered this in the sense that saying if I send you an email, remember, if you if you look at all the research, okay, when an email arrives in the inbox, in order of preference, the from address is the number one. Yeah. Okay. With or without brand in the subject line or whatever it is, just knowing who it’s from is a brand impression.

Sella Yoffe: My name for.

Dela Quist: Example.

Sella Yoffe: From company name, for.

Dela Quist: Example, I’m talking about business marketing for example. So if it’s from if it’s from Dell, for example, Dell computers, you’ll see it’s Dell on there. Okay. Mhm. Um and if it’s from uh Gap or Whole Foods you’ll see it there. If it’s from seller I will see your name in there all the time. And it’ll be there all the time. And what I used to do was show people and I’d just sort my inbox by who from. And then I’ll show them someone who’s sending weekly or daily and I go impression impression impression impression impression impression impression del del del del Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella Sella. And then I say, hey, do you know any email marketing consultants who know about deliverability? Also, yeah, there’s a guy called Sella and I won’t even know. That’s how billboards work, right? That’s how TV commercials work. They’re so clever. Everyone knows this. So that even the the sound, the music from a commercial will trigger you. And you don’t have to be in the room to know it’s this bank or that insurance company or something else. That’s how powerful an impression is. Now add to it the fact that I subscribe to you because I don’t work with people who just randomly email people. So once I’ve subscribed, I’m I’m on your list. Okay. And so you’re just reminding me you’re alive. Okay. And and repetition. It’s so powerful. And that’s why, you know, they have billboards. That’s why. And you can make them funny or not so funny or whatever it is. And you can have a call to action or not have a call to action. But the point is just that little thing tells you Dell or Gap or something else. Now let’s add the subject line, the actual content of the subject line. Yeah, I’m not even going to talk about pre header or anything like that. That’s a people who talk about pre headers. Just want to complicate something simple. And I don’t mean that badly. You have to be really good at the first before you get to the second. It’s the same when I said about design you need to fix your the top of the funnel before you get to the bottom of the funnel. So that’s kind of what it is. So and I’ve actually seen this live in action. Right. I was in a mall in Atlanta, which is where our office was, and I walked into gap, um, and I was standing near the doorway and I saw three generations, uh, a little girl in a pushchair. The grand mom pushing the pushchair and the mom walking beside her. Okay. Okay. And. As she walked in to the store, she said, let’s go into gab. I saw in an email that they’ve got a discount today. Okay. You don’t have to open that email if it says 40% off in-store today, right? So you have two things I’ve signed up for Gallup. They remind me they exist gap gap gap gap. So it’s always in my mind they’re in a friendly place because I subscribed. I subscribe because I like gap. You don’t subscribe to people you hate. You subscribe to brands that you have an affinity with, right? And you don’t have to open them if they’re kind enough to tell you what’s in the email and save you the effort of opening it, because they’re comfortable in their ability that this email will send them to another channel that you’re already doing and you’re paying for, and you’re just reminding them that we exist, blah, blah, blah. If they open the email, great. If they click on the email, great. But we need to find a way of attributing their visit to the store or the fact that they have a propensity. And the other story that I tell, which is around Dell, is because of who I am. I was in a industry. It was actually back in the DMA days, and somebody from a big ISP that was working with Dell, okay, heard me say, out of context, are Dell send me at least 2 or 3 emails a week. Now, this was when three emails a week was a lot. Okay. Not like today. Yeah. And I was making that comment in a good sense, but the person heard it and assumed that I was complaining. And because of the power of my voice, they were afraid that they would get a bad name for spamming people. So they quietly unsubscribed me. Wow. And I didn’t know. And I didn’t really notice because as I say, this is subliminal, right? You wouldn’t notice that a dairy Queen billboard or a First National Bank billboard suddenly was replaced by you wouldn’t notice it, right? And it was the same thing. And you know, something funny? I had bought Dell exclusively. And I was still getting on a lower frequency. HP emails. And you know, I started flirting and looking at prices of HP. I didn’t even realise why. And it was only when I put two and two together that I was able to work out that actually, because I wasn’t driving past the billboard every morning, or the billboard had been replaced with an HP billboard, my my behaviour was changing. I didn’t even know that that that’s what I mean is you have to think bigger then. And you shouldn’t be obsessed with or click by or emails. Good write, not open email bad. It’s not like that. It’s much, much more complicated. And by the way, you apply this to your TV all the time. Your clients are billboards, right? But you don’t. And you apply it to almost everything except email. Um, and that’s one of the funny things. And you know why? It’s because we’ve decided that clicks and opens are the only thing. And unsubscribes the worst thing that could happen to a human being or a brand. Whereas actually I love Unsubscribes because they’re cleaning your list. And if you did, let’s take an example. If you were to take your inactive file and do a Net Promoter score, right. So you take a random sample from your inactive file, who you have mailed for six months, right? And you send them a Net Promoter score and check their Net Promoter Score. Then you slowly and carefully start to mail them. Not to surprise anybody, not to get deliverability problems, but you carefully build up until you’re now sending them one a week, right? Do a Net Promoter score in six months and say what the. And you’ll see it’s gone up. Why? Because you’re just telling them you live, you just reminding them that you exist.

Sella Yoffe: We talked about subject lines. What about the second subject lines, the pre headers.

Dela Quist: With pre headers. There are two things about this that are important to bear in mind. So the first is don’t start with pre headers. If your subject line you don’t understand how your subject lines are okay. It’s not the place to start. The second thing is that. People talk about subject line length or header length. Okay. Yeah. Um, but length in itself is a meaningless concept. Okay. Because. I could, let’s say I speak English and I know your subject lines are in Hebrew. Yeah, right. I get them in Hebrew. Yeah. If short was better than long and I don’t read Hebrew at all, it’s it’s meaningless to me, right? Completely meaningless to me. What you would say is that if I send a 20 character subject line in Hebrew to Dela, he’ll open it. But if I send 120 character subject line to Dela in Hebrew, he won’t open it because it’s too long. That’s just nonsense. Meaning is what it is, and it’s very hard to convey a lot of meaning. In a short space, right? Yeah. And it’s easy to convey a lot of meaning in a long space. Right. So I we come up with the idea of how many propositions are in the subject line. A single proposition, subject line is sale today. Okay. Look how easy that is. Everyone understands it. You can even make it 5,050% sale today. Everybody understands that. That’s short. Okay, so it’s easy to make powerful propositions short because they’re often single propositions. And that’s the thing that everyone’s going for. Now if I said to you make that one proposition 50% sale today, make that 200 characters. It’s a waste of time. You detract from the meaning. And I would actually argue. Then you start saying, oh, should the 50% be at the front or should it be at the back? Actually, it should be the only thing you say because it’s really simple. Yeah. Now, for the sake of argument and I’m going to use B2B and your business because that’s easier. So let’s say you wanted to say in your newsletter you’ve covered news on uh, deliverability. You’re saying new study out that shows that B2B or something something, something. And then another thing and you’ve got three valuable pieces of content in your thing. Yeah. Mhm. Then it’s very hard. In most contexts to make that short. Very hard. And actually, one of the few places you can is in B2B, right. Or in consumer sort of stuff with brand names, because brand tells you a lot. So you could say deals on Nike, Ninja Coke and something else that’s like four words, 20 characters. You conveyed a lot of information, but because you’re taking very powerful, they spend millions of dollars to turn that brand that one word into something meaningful, right? Yeah. So that’s when the pre header comes into place. There’s a bot and that bot is you opt if you want to optimise for open rates shorter is better because you can say less. Mhm. Okay. So for me to know what’s in there I have to open it. That’s why oops works so well. That’s why sorry works so well. That’s why. Amazing. One word works so well but only once maybe twice maybe three times. And then after that it doesn’t work because I have to open it. But your click rate. Will be lower or you’ll click to open rate will be lower because a lot of people who shouldn’t have opened it will open it just to find out. Okay, now you have the sentiment. Oh, they tricked me. I’m not happy about that. And sentiment and annoyance is what makes people hate the spam filter. Not a word in the subject line. So you fooled me into opening it. So. But if you want to optimise for clicks, the longer the better. So you said this week sales on baseball caps, tennis shoes, something and frying pans, right? Then anyone who wants those things will open and anyone who doesn’t want those forces. I don’t need to open this email because that’s four things and I don’t want any of it. So in your subject line, if you put four things in there and I didn’t want to, I just won’t read it. I won’t hate you. I’ll just know that this week it wasn’t for me.

Sella Yoffe: How do you perceive the idea of implementing the best practices in email marketing?

Dela Quist: I’m not saying best practice is not a good idea at all. What I’m saying is that email is no different from broadcast media. And this is what people hate, right? Because oh, blast! Blast broadcast. Oh, this is a bad word. No no no no no, it’s not at all relevance. Oh, you can’t send an irrelevant we only want to send engaging, relevant stuff. So you’re right that this is a complex business. You’re right. There’s a lot of data. But what I find it would be like. Trying to buy the smartest AI technology and the best email marketing technology. Before you have a list and before you even sent an email. I would argue that you’re better off making an email and just a plain text email and mailing it using outlook to start the process going. Do you see what I mean? And then as you get better, improve along the funnel. But again, you know, that doesn’t sell technology and it doesn’t make people look smart or anything like that. So I think sometimes people try and be complicated. So there are two different audiences. Anyone new of course, follow the common sense and all of that sort of stuff. Do follow best practice. Don’t get fired right for trying something before you knew how to walk. Yeah, don’t do that. But by the same token, don’t buy into this idea that email is a unique channel that is so crazy that if you do one mistake, blah blah blah. Yes, you can get blocked. And that’s a terrible thing. But we’ve had this conversation before right? Mhm. Why isn’t the whole world blocked? Even though most people don’t do deliverability, best practice. Why? Because actually, you know what? It’s at the end of the bell curve. Do you see what I mean? The stuff you have to do is way out there. Okay. Or way here. As always. And this is where the do. Be smart. Okay. Don’t just listen to me or anybody and just follow me blindly or then blindly. Don’t do that. Understand? The deliverability is an integral part of the ecosystem. And the article I wrote recently, which you probably saw, is that deliverability is a core strength. Okay. It’s like core strength. Improving your core cannot make a bad tennis player a good player, okay? Because playing tennis is not core strength. Okay. But if you’re a good tennis player and you don’t exercise your core, or you’re an average tennis player and you don’t exercise your core, or you’re a bad tennis player and you don’t exercise your core. The consequences of the injury you get may mean you can’t play tennis for six months. Yeah, right. That’s the way to look at it. Deliverability is a core strength. It’s not it’s not marketing, right. It’s it’s a function of it. And it allows you to get better results from your marketing. But your your impulse and your instinct should be to market first, reach and frequency. And your core strength is the enabler of to play a five set game or play twice a week, or five times a week, or whatever it is without pay.

Sella Yoffe: Earlier you mentioned the inactive file and how people are no longer mailing them due to best practices, instead opting to paid audience acquisition. Can you give an example.

Dela Quist: Let’s say market for a new phone, right in the market for a new phone and you are, say, Samsung, and let’s say your list is in the UK, 300,000 people or 100, 500,000 people. It doesn’t matter the number. Right. That’s it. Okay. Where would you be able to go and advertise or reach with zero wastage? 1000 or 5000 people who are in your niche? Where where can you go? That could deliver you your thousand people. Tell me where you could go. Is there such a place? Not buying less. Say, I was saying. Oh, sell our advertise. Right. I want you to put an advert out or send a direct mail drop. Where would you get a list that’s got more people than you that are qualified? With zero wastage.

Sella Yoffe: You know, maybe, I don’t know, for B2B, maybe.

Dela Quist: You.
Sella Yoffe: Can’t. Maybe just, you know, uh, advertise on LinkedIn, you know?

Dela Quist: Yeah, but how much wastage will you get, right? A lot. This is the point.

Sella Yoffe: It will be so expensive.

Dela Quist: Correct. And it’s the same with the brand. Okay. The only time you’re going to get 1 million people seeing your commercial is if you are on the Super Bowl or the big thing. Right? So almost everybody has more qualified, relevant people on their list that they don’t mail than they could buy from anybody. Yeah. That’s that’s the that’s what it is. So you have to commit to your list. And I said this a lot, especially around, you know, the recession and everything else. Acquisition becomes more expensive. Customers are harder to get. Yeah. And you walk away and put deliverability to one side. Pretend I could do magic, right. And pretend I could get your number one competitor’s list. Mhm. But only the inactive ones. Right. And I got Samsung’s number one competitors inactive people okay. And let’s pretend it was legal and there weren’t any repercussions around it. How much would you pay for your competitors inactive list that they don’t mail to? And how much would Samsung pay for their competitors list that they don’t mail to a lot? So that’s the point about it. Why are they valuable when they’re on Gmail? Why aren’t they on Google? Why are they valuable when you pay for them? Why are they valuable in LinkedIn? But when they’re on your own list and you can reach them for under 1,000th of $0.01, why wouldn’t you do that?

Sella Yoffe: If email marketeers want to reach their inactive file, what frequency should they choose?

Dela Quist: I would never send anyone less than once a week today. Okay. Uh. Ten years ago, I would have said once a month. Yeah, right. Because everyone’s up there gay. Okay. And everyone’s sending more email marketing. But I would say the minimum anybody on your list should get is once a week. Yeah, right. And the other thing I would do is I would make sure that that one thing I send them once a week is considered, has been tested, is evaluated in the same way as your best VIP segment. Right. You think about the creative, you do this, you invest in it because everybody that activates today becomes to today’s inactive is tomorrow’s VIP. It’s as simple as that. And so you have to start treating them like VIPs almost from the beginning thinking through. So I’ll give you an example. Short and long subject lines. Yeah. If you always use short subject lines, people stop seeing it. And when you do a long run, they go, oh, and maybe they’ll open that email because they go, oh, what happened here? Right. So it could be that if you always do short, what you do is put a long run in the inactive and then something and then they come through. But then tag says, oh, these guys actually responded to a longer subject line, right. And you begin to learn and you start adding to the data and da da da da da da. That’s when it starts getting complicated. So you’re right that this is a complex business. You’re right. There’s a lot of data. But what I find it would be like. Trying to buy the smartest AI technology and the best email marketing technology. Before you have a list and before you even sent an email. I would argue that you’re better off making an email and just a plain text email and mailing it using outlook to start the process going. Do you see what I mean? And then as you get better, improve along the funnel. But again, you know, that doesn’t sell technology and it doesn’t make people look smart or anything like that. So I think sometimes people try and be complicated. So there are two different audiences. Anyone new of course, follow the common sense and all of that sort of stuff. Do follow best practice. Don’t get fired right for trying something before you knew how to walk. Yeah, don’t do that. But by the same token, don’t buy into this idea that email is a unique channel that is so crazy that if you do one mistake, blah blah blah, yes, you can get blocked. And that’s a terrible thing. But we’ve had this conversation before right? Mhm. Why isn’t the whole world blocked? Even though most people don’t do deliverability, best practice. Why? Because actually, you know what? It’s at the end of the bell curve. Do you see what I mean? The stuff you have to do is way out there. Okay. Well way here. Mhm. Mhm. And I have a chart uh that looks at the impact of um how much above or below average uh emails are. We looked at billions of emails. So we just looked at billions of emails and we just said what was the average open rate. What’s the average click rate. What’s the app for each individual campaign. And then we rank them around the mean around the zero. Okay. Okay. So. Interestingly, the bell curve for opens is right centred on the zero. Right is boom over there. It’s beautiful bell curve and it’s it’s quite wide okay. Clicks. Shifts this way. So fewer clicks are above average. Okay. And the deliverability spike is not more than 1 or 2% around average. Almost everybody is achieving around their average deliverability. It just means that, you know, you were saying about the way my mom delivered. No, no. Above all. Yeah. Delivery. Delivery rate. Yes. Delivery. Yes. Yes. Your delivery rate is within 1 or 2% of average. Because most people, if they get 2% below average, they do something really quickly. 2% above average is you’re wasting your energy. Do you see what I mean? So most people are achieving average deliverability or delivery rates. And because they’re achieving average delivery rates, it’s not really a problem for them. It just tells me that most people are doing about the right thing. And I was going to use another one of my little stories that I tell. Most human beings ask this question when they they look around at a big bit like London, where the traffic is really bad and they go, oh my God, there’s so many traffic accidents, we have to do something about it. My thing is, I say, why are there so few? Have you seen how people drive with people? With the children screaming in the back? They’re eating, they’re on their phone. They’re doing all of this in actual fact, or even just look at people walking in the street. Why don’t they bump into each other all the time? Right? It’s because actually it doesn’t happen. So that’s what I say about delivering deliverability in the industry is actually you don’t want a problem because when you get a problem, it’s horrible. Yeah. And it’s hard to fix. Right. But most people are kind of okay. And you do have to keep saying no, focus on it, focus it, focus on it because of the consequences. But most people seem to be doing an okay job around deliverability, and the people who don’t are the people who are trying to push too hard, right? And without the right knowledge.

Sella Yoffe: Generative AI has transformed almost every aspect of our digital life, leaving us overwhelmed. Every SaaS product and his dog now attaching AI to their features and functions. What do you think about AI and its future role in email marketing?

Dela Quist: Human beings? We have protection mechanisms right in our brains. They can be fooled, and part of that protection mechanism is to look for familiarity, to look for comfort. Right. Everyone is doing this. It’s okay. It’s safe, right, to look for things. It’s a very deep part of our brain. Change is danger, okay? But we also become blind to things that are there all the time. So they move from our conscious decision to our subconscious decision. And that’s what marketers exploit all the time. You exploit that shift from an active decision to an inactive decision? I’m buying this. Oh, it’s going to be Dell or it’s going to be gap, or it’s going to be this. It’s that’s what marketing is all about, especially on the brand side of things. And one of the things I did notice is that. Deep down, I used clickbait. You heard me saying this the other day. Clickbait. Um, clickbait is an expression. And Chad, who we both know well and like Chad White and very experienced, I said, oh no, we’ve been using clickbait headlines even when people used to write them. But no, the difference is, is that I around search and affiliate programming, took it to another level. Okay. And they made what they used to say in the 70s and 80s in a newspaper headline. It’s a completely different thing. It’s exponentially more clickbaity, in my view, and that algorithms and that I and we have begun or have been for a while rebelling against that. We see it. Okay, so everybody is using AI, why would I do anything different? I will do what all AI does because human beings will behave in a fairly predictable way. There’s this incredible thing about humans. It’s almost impossible to predict what one human will will do, but it’s very easy to predict what a million will do. It’s strange. Yeah, or the majority of a million will do so. And again, that’s what marketing is all about. So I think that I will start everyone using AI. Okay. If we could take the best email. Deployment technology today, the best ESP today and take it back to 2002, right? If we could do that. How much better. How much more money would you make than someone just using an old tool and using their common sense and crunching the numbers? It just makes complex jobs easier, right? And in that sense, it will have a huge impact because we’ll we’ll be able to do more and more and more and more and more with fewer and fewer and fewer people. The bot is we will probably end up all doing about the same thing, because the AI will follow what human beings are doing and they’re all doing the same thing. And the backlash might be when everyone’s doing the same thing. Someone will go, oh, I know what, I’ll just do it myself. And that will be new to the consumers, and the consumers may respond to that. And maybe in 50 years time, the really, really clever thing will be to use a human being and not AI. And I remember, um, I once read a science fiction when I was about 12 years old. So that’s quite a long time ago. And it was it was a very short story about a guy who invented multiplication. A small boy who invented multiplication in the future. And the reason was in the future. Everyone had a calculator. Everyone had a computer, so no one knew how to do metal multiplication. So this kid was on all the TV shows. Look, look, look, he’s invented multiplication. Because you don’t need a computer to do this. You can do it yourself. Isn’t that exciting? So that’s why I say I don’t predict the future. But what I do know is human beings will behave similarly if I seems to be going away. The cell phones and everyone who’s in marketing will go and buy it. And because we all do that, people become a little bit more blind. The early adopters may win. Actually, the two early will fail the in-between. So it’s about getting the right place on the curve. Some people do, some people don’t. Only history knows who was the right person. Who is the wrong person. Yeah. And then at the end of that process, something else will come up. And whatever it is that I can tell you will definitely happen. And an AI is going through the point that I remember Facebook did. So once again, I was very early Facebook adopter because of the space I’m in. I don’t use it. I’ve never used it seriously, but I just signed up straight away. I think it was in 2006. It was just after they opened it to non-university people. Right. And I was I had a Facebook account for two years. Three years. Nothing was going on, right? Nothing was going on. I wasn’t chasing people, they weren’t chasing me, etc., etc. and then suddenly I was getting an invite and then an invite and then an invite and then an invite and an invite. An invite. And I’m going, whoa, this is changing. The other thing that happened was it went by country. So it was the US first, then the UK, and then sort of two years later, I grew up in Ghana, in West Africa. Everybody in Ghana was on Facebook. So I was getting all my school friends and I’m like, oh, okay, this is where it is. So I’m going to tell you a story with love. My wife signed up for ChatGPT based on seeing something on television. So if my wife is signing up and it means that we’ve got to that inflection point that maybe Facebook was when suddenly everyone went in, that’s that tipping point. Um, and, um, to me, it’s still unknown. There’s a lot of hope, there’s a lot of expectation, there’s a lot of investment, there’s a lot riding on it. There’s a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt. If I’m not on this, I’m in big trouble, etc., etc. I’m playing with it. You’re playing with it, you’re playing with AI and all sorts of things. I know you’re playing with it around, uh, graphics and and voice and sound and making things. Your podcast sound better? Yeah, we have to do that because you can do it manually. It’s just difficult and it’s just bringing that to everybody’s hands. But something being in everybody’s hands still means that some people will be better than others, right? And the good stuff will stand out, and we’ll never be able to predict which song is going to get to number one. Right. It’s very hard. There are people who say, oh, I can always tell, but, you know, it’s kind of like that. So how it will manifest itself, I really don’t know. And all I can say is it’s here to stay.

Sella Yoffe: You provided an excellent overview of advanced email marketing skills. Can you share some advice for beginners and those who want to learn or engage in email marketing?

Dela Quist: So there’s never such a thing as a simple answer. I would argue that the only person who’s doing no email marketing is a business that’s just started. Mhm. Right. Most people who are running businesses or who’ve owned a businesses for an amount of time are doing email marketing to a greater or lesser extent. Okay. So there’s a different answer for them than someone who is. Starting a new business. Right. And there’s a different answer from those two, from someone who’s just starting in the industry as a. I just left college. I wanted I want to move into marketing and everything else. Right. So. I’ll start with this college. If you are just moving into email as an individual, it’s one of the best places in digital marketing to start for two reasons. Three reasons. The first reason is that. It uses quite old skill sets, right? So you actually have to learn how to paint before you learn how to use a painting machine, right? Does that make sense? So it develops your base skills in digital marketing. Yeah. And that’s a very powerful thing. So you actually know what’s going on in the HTML because you coded it. Right. You didn’t just. Have something spit out the HTML and then if it’s not correct, you just don’t know how to fix it. Mhm. The second thing is you’re given a tremendous amount of responsibility because you know everybody can’t wait to leave email. Okay. And that responsibility comes means that you actually learn much faster because oh my god if this email doesn’t go out I’m dead. You know what I mean. And you have to carry a lot of responsibility with you which also encourages you to learn. Mhm. Yeah. And the reason I say you should go into it is that learning process will make you valuable to every other digital channel, every other one. They love you if you came out of email. So that’s another reason why people in email are often quite junior. There’s a gap. There’s very few people in the middle. There’s junior people and very senior people like me. And the middle isn’t there because they’re always being poached by the business to move into something that’s more valuable to the business. And I put valuable in air quotes, so it’s a great place to start. It’s also easier because there’s less competition to get there than there is in some of the others, and there’s less requirement to already have experience. Yeah. So that’s there. If you’re a business just starting up, then I’m only going to use MailChimp. But there are plenty of platforms like that. Right. And the reason is everyone knows MailChimp and it’s because MailChimp on TV and yada yada yada, MailChimp the way they are today, because they made it easy for people who were starting a business who weren’t email marketers. They were just people who wanted to send email to send email. And all of those platforms have rules around deliverability and what you can do, and functionality and training sessions and everything else that could take someone who just wants to start a business and goes, I need to send email, okay, and make it so. Mhm. And that’s why the hardest thing in email marketing is actually acquiring your list. Building an organic list. That’s not life. Without the list you can’t email market and and but if you have a list, there are plenty of ways that an absolute beginner can start. And they cannot fail because they won’t be allowed to fail by the platform. The platform won’t allow you to do dumb shit very long, right? They’ll just fire you. So there’s that. Now we come to the final place, which is people who are in email already. It’s an established place and everything else. And what are they looking for? And the thing I would say is definitely, I told you, the top of the funnel is reaching frequency. Are you sending enough to everybody? Right. Don’t look at your most active segment of 5% of your list and and treat them one way, and then take 70% of your list and just not mail them at all. It’s the easiest win. Moving from 0 to 1 a month is a bigger win than improving your conversion rate by 15% at the bottom of the funnel. It’s just a bigger win, right? And if you’re talking top of the funnel, bottom of the funnel, I you know, you can say, oh, no point pouring. Watering at the bucket is leaking. That’s what some people say. So fix the bucket before you start and I’ll go, yeah, but you know something? If you said to me it’s $50,000 to fix the bottom of the bucket, right? And it’s $5,000 to pour more water in the top. Which would you do? Right. That’s that’s the question in terms of impact. And maybe you’ll take a bucket with 2 or 3 holes for $5,000 and pour more water. Then you would fix the hole for $50,000 to, to to to save losing anything. Yeah. So that’s your. Reach and frequency. So reach means mail everybody you can okay. Frequency is find a way to send everybody one more email and I’ll give you an example. Happy birthday email is one more email a year. Who’s going to say that’s a bad thing to do right. Abandoned car. How often do people buy from you? Once. Twice a year, in most cases, maybe once every 2 or 3 years. Five years if it’s a car or whatever it is. Okay. But so abandoned car becomes one email, two emails a year more. Okay. And you can go through all these triggers, browse abandoned, blah, blah, blah. That’s one more email a year more. Each of those is a big win because if it’s Happy birthday everyone on your list every day, 1/365 of your list gets a new email, right? Abandoned car, your most active people. You have a double bite on the conversion, but again, at any given time it’s probably 1 or 2% of your list, but you’re getting something on there so it doesn’t have to be. Just send everybody 50 more emails. No. And if you’re currently sending your inactives safely one email a month, try one email a week. Test into it. Do you see what I mean? Now you’ve got four times the reach.

Sella Yoffe: Mhm. Yeah.

Dela Quist: Well you have four times the frequency and you’ve increased your reach to increase the inactives because you weren’t mailing them before. So all in each one of those is a big number. So I always say look at numbers not rates. If you look at rates you’re hiding something okay. So you know a supermarket will take a profit margin of like 1% and 1% on $6 billion a year is a lot of money okay. They can make that work. Yeah. Another business has to have 60% profit margin because they’ve only got $10,000 in sales and you can’t live off less than a certain amount. So always follow the number, not the rate. And if you’re following the rate, it just means that you’re managing. You’re not only.

Sella Yoffe: Okay, right?

Dela Quist: And you’re presenting, you’re not acting. So when you stand there with your chart that says, I achieved 150%. That’s why I very rarely put case studies in my presentations, because who will not pick one time when they increase their conversion rate by 300%? And by the way, if you do anything by 300%, I know you started with two people.

Sella Yoffe: Yeah.

Dela Quist: Nobody has a million people and increases anything by 300%. It’s just not possible. Otherwise we’d all be billionaires. So follow the number and not the rate. And that’s the advice I’d give to somebody. And that’s how you know how to focus. Okay, so should I do design or deliverability. Right. $10,000. Where is it going to give you the most numbers. Okay. Shall I do send another email or improve my conversion rate. Yeah. Look at the numbers. And that’s kind of what it is. So three different sets of people all starting in email. Does that make sense. Three different pieces of advice. One is just do it. Email is a great place to start. The other one is it’s hard to fail with modern tools. It is it’s hard to fail with modern tools. And the third one is follow the number. Don’t chase rates because chase open rates. You have to send less chase click rates. You have to send less. If you send less, you’ll probably make less money. And those are the three pieces of advice

Dela amazing.

Dela Quist: Thank you.

Sella Yoffe: Thank you very much, Dela.

Scroll to Top