Q&A with Ryan Phelan, Marketing Chief / Fractional CMO at Origin Email

Q&A with Ryan Phelan
Ryan Phelan, Marketing Chief / Fractional CMO at Origin Email has nearly two decades of global online marketing experience focusing on driving GTM strategies for high growth SaaS software and Fortune 250 companies. Ryan is a respected thought leader and nationally distinguished speaker with a history of experience from Adestra, Acxiom, BlueHornet, Sears Holdings, Hewlett-Packard (Global), Skype, First National Bank of Omaha, and U.S. Bank and others. In 2013 he was named one of the top 30 strategists in online marketing and is the Chairman Emeritus of the EEC Advisory Board.  

MEDIA 7: With two decades of global online and email marketing experience, how do you see the online marketing landscape evolving as we tread through uncertain times?

RYAN PHELAN:
What powers marketing best is that it's predictable and influenced by data. That has changed.
Here’s what’s coming in the next 12 months: At every level, from B2B to B2C, you have to throw your marketing plans out the window. These uncertain times not only detail the unpredictability of commerce but also highlight consumer unpredictability. Companies must start weekly strategy sessions that rely on following the news, statistics and customer sentiment. Start war rooms – virtual or not – that look at how to speak to different parts of the country.

These war rooms look at each channel to ensure that the message is consistent and ties into the socioeconomic channels in cities and states across the country. We also need to look at new ways of communicating with customers. Communications have to focus on the emotive and empathetic part of marketing instead of "Buy this." This is a challenge because it requires non-traditional, non-predictable thinking. It requires a strategic approach, which most marketers aren't used to taking. I've written often about the need to set down a strategy first and then figure out the tactics later. This need is more present and more fluid today than ever before. What's your strategy for this week? For next week?

That fluidity in the strategy-making process is going to be a challenge for most marketers. You can see this today in the absence of advertising from Fortune 100 companies. Rightly so, many have pulled back on ads to rethink their strategy. Finally, systems like CRMs  are not designed to rapidly react to events or predict what will happen. All that investment we put into our systems to help us plan our marketing will now have to pivot. We will be reworking technology to fit in with a narrative that is not planned far in advance but created weekly. These uncertain times have created chaos and is testing the resolve and creativity of marketers across the spectrum.


"B2B companies should adopt ABM technology to level up their communications and react quickly."

M7: What according to you are some of the most innovative go-to-market strategies that today’s high-growth tech companies should be using?

RP:
The most common strategies in B2B revolve around marketing automation, account-based marketing and search engine optimization. Most companies that invested heavily in marketing automation have a lot of programs running but ignore most of them. They send massive amounts of communications, but they aren't in touch. I review their technology to help them recognize intent signals like number of web visitors, time spent on site or on specific pages and what pages they visit. I also audit programs and match them up with qualitative data sets that indicate whether they're sending the right messages at the right times in the right channels.

Then there are companies with a few automation programs. They're focused on just the basics of communications and automation. They need to re-optimize existing programs and invest quickly in new programs that recognize intent. Account-based marketing is a game changer and is true marketing at its best. ABM has two definitions. One is on the sales side, where ABM takes a group of accounts and tries to influence them with personalized, ungated content. On the marketing side, ABM is used to drive traffic, to recognize intent and to reverse-influence users. The marketing side recognizes that people are coming to the property and reverse-engineers content that drives higher intent. Both use ungated content. ABM uses buyer intent that indicates "I'm going to check you out before I want to talk to you." These customers want to learn more before they'll take a phone all or walk through yet another demo.

B2B companies should adopt ABM technology to level up their communications and react quickly. SEO is something B2B marketers should get up to speed on. CEOs hate to spend money on natural search, and that's a mistake. Companies that focus on boosting natural or organic search are finding their investments are paying off, and it complements their paid-search strategy. I advise companies using both paid and natural search to hire an expert to do the work. SEO is not something you can teach yourself and master in six months.

M7: What are some of the common mistakes that modern marketers make in running their digital marketing campaigns? What are the strategies you would recommend to minimize or eliminate those errors?

RP:
The biggest mistake is that email marketers favor tactics over strategy. They don't look at why someone reads their emails instead of how they read them or how to send to them. From promotional to triggered emails, from welcome messages to cart abandonment, any kind of email message you can think needs to have a strategy, a "why" behind it. Entrepreneurs who say they don't have time to map out email strategy are missing the boat, and I question their leadership abilities. You don't have to plan out a strategy a year in advance, or even a month. Maybe you plan on Friday for the week ahead. You don't have to map out each point in your strategy either. But you do have to have at least the broad outline.

I'm a big believer in planning a strategy retreat, where you and your team take yourselves out of the day-to-day rat race and plan strategy for the coming year. Even a half-day can work if you can keep the focus strictly on strategic planning – the "why" of what you want to do. Most importantly, you need to get everybody on board with it, first in the conversations and then in the planning and execution. Things are different this year – the strategy you might have planned out so carefully has just blown up – but you can always get the gang back together to come up with new strategies.


"The true sign of an insider is giving back to your industry community without pitching your company or self-aggrandizing. That might mean you join an organization and help others learn and do their jobs better."

M7: From your experience, what are technology companies not doing enough for customer activation?

RP:
Recognition of intent. I don't think a lot of SaaS companies are looking for those signals the way they should. What are companies doing to look at pages on-site that indicate high intent? How do you recognize those signals so you can act on them, whether through your marketing automation, sales, email or phone calls?

We aren't thinking about intent on a scale to match the need. A lot of companies go through an exercise where they point-score their prospects. You have to start thinking about what combination of behaviors recognize intent. Consumers, whether in B2B or B2C, give off signals that they're interested. Companies can recognize and react appropriately. Not every action means you should pick up the phone and call them. Recognizing intent signals means you know what you need to do next to move that person down the spectrum so they become a lead or request information or indicate you can call or email them or contact them in some way.

M7: How important is channel integration for the success of a marketing campaign? What are the most essential components of a perfectly orchestrated campaign?

RP:
I have never seen a perfectly orchestrated campaign.
What we have instead is coordinated channel distribution. This means I have an idea, and I spread it out evenly across my channels. We see this in big-box communications at Christmas. The retailer will have a theme, and you see that theme in every email, tweet and social media post. That's just a coordinated campaign. A truly orchestrated channel integration means I come up with a strategy and a sub-strategy for each channel that respects the purpose and capability of that channel.

I would ask: How can email support my theme? Then, integrate these actions and insights to other channels. For channel propensity, I've done studies where we looked at consumer cohorts and what the primary method for communications should be. Sometimes it's email. Sometimes it's social. Other times it's direct mail. A truly orchestrated campaign looks at integration of data not just across channels but also customer propensity. That's why I say I haven't seen truly orchestrated campaigns. It takes a lot of work to get to that Nirvana, but you can get there through small steps if you use incremental innovation, which builds on one small improvement at a time. It won't happen overnight, but you can orchestrate over time and gather learnings along the way.


"It takes a lot of work to get to Nirvana, but you can get there through small steps if you use incremental innovation, which builds on one small improvement at a time."

M7: You have a regular article on Marketing Land. Could you tell us about your library of thought leadership blogs, white papers and presentations?

RP:
I focus on two audiences with my Marketing Land content. I try to speak in some articles to people from C-level executives on down to the specialists working on the front lines. What I try to do is write on things that matter, things that move the needle for the marketing program. My strategy is to write about things they can put into practice today – a playbook for their marketing programs.
I try to point out what's happening in the world. We're all looking for answers, especially with COVID-19. Nobody knows the right way to move forward. I call on 20 years of experience to suggest things to try, to show where reality and theory get in the way. I try to help save people from the mistakes of the past. I've seen where theory gets in the way of reality. I want to dispel all thoughts of rainbows and unicorns.


M7: What advice would you give to young digital marketers from the point of sharpening their skills as a marketer?

RP:
Whenever I start a session with a new client, I show a slide listing authors that marketers should read consistently. A lot of people write about digital or email marketing, but I think there are about 40 who have a valid voice in our industry, and those 40 are on my list. So, the first thing I suggest is to read and soak up all the knowledge that's out there. The second is to ask questions. It's infuriating to run into marketers who think they know everything. There's no room for cockiness in this career. I have been in email marketing for 20 years, and I learn all the time. I ask the stupid questions. We are always learning.

Next, find a mentor. This is the person you go to with stupid questions and to get career advice. I'm not talking about getting free consulting but talking with someone who can point you toward the best way to go with your career.

Finally, give back. The true sign of an insider is giving back to your industry community without pitching your company or self-aggrandizing. That might mean you join an organization and help others learn and do their jobs better. Write articles. Lead webinar. Answer questions on community forums. Speak at conferences.

The true insiders bend over backwards to help others without directly benefiting themselves.


M7: You love cooking during your free time. What are the cuisines you have tried and would want to try using your culinary skills?

RP:
I have a collection of about 400 recipes. I enjoy all kinds of cooking. I love Italian food. My mother-in-law is Italian and taught me well. I'm known for steaks and have gotten into sous-vide – a method of cooking in which you put food in a vacuum-sealed bag and cook it in a temperature-controlled water bath. I thoroughly enjoy it. It lets me be creative and experimental, and I've got enough equipment to have a product showcase on QVC.

If you want to see my creations, find me on Instagram.
Give me a recipe, and I can riff. But I'd love to learn how to make food on the fly. I'd love to be as good as the guys on Chopped, where you walk into a kitchen and you're told, "Here, you get this and this and this. Now make something."

ABOUT ORIGIN EMAIL

Origin Email Agency is a group of diverse and experienced digital marketers who know that marketing can be tough in the execution but when you step back, truly step back, you can create greatness. 

Most professionals are focused on the tactics when that's generally what we all are good at.  What companies worldwide need is effective strategies to define the "why" first and the "how" second. 

That's where we come in.  Creating mind-blowing, technology agnostic strategies for some of the largest and smallest companies across the globe.

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The Sugar Sell and Sugar Market platform integration centralizes data, segments audiences, and automates responses, significantly enhancing marketing efficiency and improving engagement with international students and alumni. The Swedish Institute saw an increase of over 31 percent in lead volume since implementing SugarCRM and boasts a best-in-class 40-to-50 percent open rate on marketing emails. Sales Excellence Breakthrough Award – J&J Ventures Gaming, LLC, a leader in gaming and amusements and one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., is recognized for implementing Sugar Sell to consolidate customer accounts and interactions into a centralized communication hub across sales, marketing, and account management. Streamlined sales processes have established a new model for sales excellence for the J&J team and its growth in the gaming industry. Service Excellence Breakthrough Award – Super General Company of the Albatha Group in the UAE is recognized for revolutionizing its service operations with Sugar Serve. Working with Sugar partner Ambit Software, Super General successfully implemented a repair and maintenance service platform, including a field management application for efficient case handling and simplified technician dispatching. Due to increased efficiency and workload management, the number of cases per technician has surged by up to 26 percent, alongside a 10 percent increase in first-time fix rates. Other notable achievements include a significant increase in call closure rates and substantial improvements in customer satisfaction scores. Customer of the Year Breakthrough Award (Asia Pacific) – zazen Water, a provider of alkaline water solutions in Australia, is recognized for its use of SugarCRM to support business growth and customer satisfaction. Through strategic integrations, zazen Water automated its business and customer service operations to streamline high-order volume processing. Notably, during its Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2023 campaign, zazen Water managed a significant order peak, accomplishing its same-day dispatch promise, which, prior to automation and integration projects, would have required 16 employees. Customer of the Year Breakthrough Award (EMEA) – FAMO GmbH & Co. KG, a German wholesaler of electrical and plumbing products, is recognized for its collaboration with Sugar partner Insignio to deploy SugarCRM for advanced customer data management and opportunity nurturing, the Sugar mobile app with enterprise resource planning (ERP) data integration for field sales support, and Sugar Market for automated newsletters and targeted communications. Customer of the Year Breakthrough Award (Latin America) – Mac Construtora e Incorporadora (MAC), a leader in construction and development in São Paulo, is recognized for the creative use of SugarCRM in the dynamic real estate market. Technology adoption significantly improved lead management and customer engagement, enhancing marketing approaches and project sales, resulting in a substantial increase in sales, ranging from 50 to 94 percent of its real estate agency. This has led to MAC substantially reducing its dependence on partnering with other real estate agencies. Customer of the Year Breakthrough Award (North America) – Alto-Shaam, providing foodservice equipment solutions to more than 90 countries globally, is recognized for use of SugarCRM to significantly enhance opportunity close rates by 61 percent while achieving up to 600 hours of time savings in marketing and sales efforts to forecast customer needs. The integration of Sugar Sell with Sugar Market has streamlined key processes, improved lead management, and enhanced operational efficiency and global communication. ISV Technology Partnership Breakthrough Award – FSIoffice, a leading independent office supply company, together with sales-i, are recognized for transforming FSIoffice’s CRM strategy from data repository to sales powerhouse, with 40 percent improved sales efficiency. Supported by Sugar partner CRM International, FSIoffice is driving remarkable revenue growth and enhancing customer engagement with Sugar Sell Premier and sales-i for predictive business-to-business sales intelligence. Reseller Technology Partnership Breakthrough Award – The Joint Corp., the nation’s largest provider of chiropractic care through The Joint Chiropractic® network, in partnership with Sugar partner Faye, are recognized for driving significant improvements in healthcare operations after transitioning to SugarCRM and Amazon Web Services, with a 40 percent increase in web transaction speed. This transformation allowed The Joint to focus on integrating AI to elevate SugarCRM from a functional tool to a strategic platform for competitive differentiation in the chiropractic care sector. Judges’ Choice Award – RTCR, the public transit provider in La Rochelle, France, operating under the Yélo brand, is recognized for significantly enhancing customer service with Sugar Serve, with implementation support by Sugar partner Synolia. The deployment has led to a minimum three percent increase in customer satisfaction and streamlined complaint management, saving agents’ time by 50 percent through improved response structuring. “We’re pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 SugarCRM Customer Breakthrough Awards,” said Chris Pennington, Chief Customer Officer, SugarCRM. “These customers and partners are recognized for excellence and innovation in letting Sugar’s AI-driven CRM platform do the work to make the hard things easier for sales, marketing and service professionals, and for driving breakthrough success and exceptional customer experiences.” About SugarCRM SugarCRM is a CRM software that helps marketing, sales, and service teams reach peak efficiency through better automation, data, and intelligence so they can achieve a real-time, reliable view of each customer. Sugar’s platform provides leading technology in the sales automation, marketing automation, and customer service fields with one goal in mind: to make the hard things easier. Thousands of companies in over 120 countries rely on Sugar by letting the platform do the work. Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sugar is backed by Accel-KKR.

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Social Media Advertising

Attain and Experian Collaborate to Help Unlock Cross-Device Outcomes for Advertisers

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

Attain, a leading permissioned commerce data platform that powers real-time purchase measurement and outcome signals for brands, is pleased to announce a strategic collaboration with Experian, the world's leading global information services company. By leveraging Experian's identity graph, this collaboration will unlock cross-device outcomes for advertisers in a cookieless environment. With the growing number of devices and platforms used by consumers, the need for precise audience targeting and refined marketing strategies has become increasingly important. Through this collaboration, Attain will integrate the Experian identity graph into its system, expanding the reach and addressability of its active user base of more than six million consumers. "We are continuously impressed by the caliber of Attain's customer base and our ability to fortify it with additional identity markers," said Greg Koerner, Vice President of Digital Advertising Sales, at Experian. "By harnessing the power of Attain's extensive outcome data and the Experian identity graph, we can easily offer marketers new avenues for reaching their target audience across multiple devices and channels." This integration will enable Attain to seamlessly connect with consumers across multiple devices, including mobile and CTV (connected television), offering innovative solutions to advertisers in an ever-changing digital landscape. With over 126M households, 250M individuals, nearly 500M MAIDs (mobile ad IDs), and 200M CTV IDs in Experian's identity graph, this integration will unlock vast opportunities for marketers to reach their target audience and measure campaign performance accurately. It will also allow Attain to align advertiser data and showcase significant correlations across various media channels, making their marketing tools more powerful than ever. "We're taking a major leap forward in enhancing our advertising capabilities by incorporating Experian identity graph into the Attain platform," Brian Mandelbaum, CEO of Attain, said. "With this integration, we can seamlessly align advertiser data and demonstrate outcomes' true impact and correlation across different media channels. This not only provides our customers with a more comprehensive view, but it also enhances the effectiveness of their advertising strategies." This collaboration will enable Attain to offer advertisers a more holistic reporting approach and provide them with a more comprehensive understanding of cross-device outcomes. Those utilizing the Experian identity graph through Attain's services can resolve to a single consumer profile, combining IPs and Universal IDs with CTV IDs and MAIDs. About Attain Attain's mission is to empower marketers to drive better outcomes by providing access to first-party permissioned commerce data. Powered by a portfolio of apps, retail loyalty account linking, receipt capture, and survey results, Attain is uniquely positioned to provide deeper insights into how, what, when and where consumers spend their money. For more information on Attain, visit attaindata.io. About Experian Experian is the world's leading global information services company. During life's big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals take financial control and access financial services, businesses make smarter decisions and thrive, lenders lend more responsibly, and organizations prevent identity fraud and crime. We have 22,000 people operating across 32 countries, and every day, we're investing in new technologies, talented people, and innovation to help all our clients maximize every opportunity. With corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, we are listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and are a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Learn more at www.experianplc.com or visit our global content hub at our global news blog for the latest news and insights from the Group.

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Ad Tech and Martech, Advertiser Platforms

Jasper Expands by Acquiring Image Platform Clipdrop from Stability AI

PR Newswire | February 23, 2024

Jasper, one of the world's biggest generative AI app companies, has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Clipdrop, an AI image creation and editing platform, from Stability AI. This acquisition signifies a significant step forward in Jasper's capacity to deliver the most comprehensive, multimodal copilot for enterprise marketing teams. Clipdrop is an image creation and editing platform used by millions of creative designers and brands worldwide. Founded in 2020 by Google alumni Cyril Diagne, Damien Henry, and Jonathan Blanchet, Clipdrop enables users to edit existing images, create new ones, and develop an expansive number of variations in size, detail, and style. For marketers and brand leaders, this technology can be a catalyst for accelerating their ad strategies and developing on-brand creative. "Marketing is visual," said Timothy Young, CEO of Jasper. "The addition of Clipdrop to Jasper will advance our vision to be the most comprehensive end-to-end marketing copilot in the industry, powering all the formats, channels, and functions enterprise marketing teams need. A copilot this robust will enable the enterprises we serve to go beyond simple AI prompts to achieve more personalized marketing, better informed automation, and improved optimization across their entire strategy." The Clipdrop team will join Jasper effective immediately and continue to lead research and innovation on multimodality in Jasper from their headquarters in Paris, which has become a hub of AI innovation in Europe. With this acquisition, Jasper expands its footprint to Europe and plans to continue to invest there from both a talent and customer acquisition standpoint. The company is eager to contribute to Paris's vibrant AI community. "Jasper has been a valued partner, leveraging Stability AI models for many years," said Emad Mostaque, CEO of Stability AI. "We're thrilled to see Clipdrop expand their offering by joining forces with Jasper. We will continue to partner with Clipdrop on research and deliver our cutting-edge models to their platform." "We are excited about what Clipdrop technology can do inside Jasper's copilot for marketing teams," said Damien Henry, Clipdrop co-founder. "There are natural synergies between the two companies and a clear focus on creating the best multimodal platform for marketers. We can't wait to get started." In addition to leading further development of AI-assisted image creation and editing, Damien Henry will play a larger leadership role in research and innovation for the entire Jasper product. The acquisition of Clipdrop closed on February 20, 2024. Business customers will be able to access it through the Jasper API immediately, over time the functionality will be more deeply integrated into the copilot. Individuals can still purchase Clipdrop as a standalone product via Clipdrop.co

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