This week, Julian sits down with Tom Corbett to discuss the recent changes on privacy at Apple and Google. Tom, Senior Deliverability Consultant here at Cheetah Digital, guides us through these privacy changes with the lens of an email marketer. He shares steps marketers can take to adapt and embrace the privacy change, and why marketers should be proactive, forward planners.
Julian: Seeing you mentioned the football inaudible.
Tom: I know. I attempted to. inaudible coming home.
Speaker 3 Announcer: Uncaged Wisdom. Cheetah Digital's Podcast for Modern Marketing.
Julian: Welcome, everybody. This is hopefully a start of a new sub- branch of Uncaged Wisdom, with a regular contributor looking at one of our favorite areas of interest. In this particular spin- off, we're focusing on email performance with our very own Tom Corbett, our Senior Deliverability Consultant at Cheetah Digital. Hello, Tom.
Tom: Hi, Julian. How are you doing?
Julian: It's good to have you back because, obviously, you were the very first guest on the original Uncaged Wisdom, which has gone on from strength to strength. Today, we're actually going to be focusing more on some of the recent privacy changes, which you've no doubt heard on our sister podcast, Thinking Caps. The likes of Apple and the updates they're making to their privacy rules and now iOS and what Google is going to be doing with their Gmail and, of course, cookies. They're sort of kicking that down the road a little bit more. But what we wanted to do is really focus more on some of the practical side of what an email marketer or marketer in general can do here.
Tom: Actually, Julian, and you make a really good point there. The short inaudible punchy discussion is really the reason why I wanted to come back.
Julian: We've got some good content out there, setting up a lot of these subjects, but we want to really double down on providing people with some guidance and some action points that they can take to react to the things that are happening around them.
Tom: Perhaps in the past, being a deliverability specialist, we were guilty of telling people what not to do where, actually, we should to be doing a better job of what you should be doing. It's very easy to get scared, confused, and lost, in this perpetual change that is email.
Julian: Kicking off, we decided let's be as broad as possible and non- controversial. So, Tom, email is dead, long live email. There's a lot of change happening, again, we mentioned at the beginning, with Apple and Google and everyone else. We don't really know what all these rollouts will actually look like. We might do, if someone's listening, do this a few months down the line, but even then the impacts on their business are still going to be discovered. For all of those sitting around in a little bit of a panic right now with the change, and change is coming, where do we start to try to reassure people? Or what's your point from some people who are constantly asking you questions on, what do I do, what angle do I approach? How do I think about all this?
Tom: Email celebrated its 50 years this year. Email hasn't gone anywhere. Email's not dead. We've seen email evolve every decade. We've seen authentication standards. We've seen the rise of batch and blast. We've seen phishing email. Change is a good thing. It's scary, don't get me wrong. I don't like to be told what to do and what changes I need to prepare for, but it should be exciting. And I don't think we should die on that metric hill. I think we're all guilty of relying on a very fictitious open metric. I'm sure many of you listening, in the past have been at email events, conferences, and conversation always turns to, what's your open rate, and everyone's kind of boasting how high it is. But do you really care? Does an open make you money? Does an open actually tell you anything about the individuals you are marketing or communicating with? We don't rely on absolute metrics such as clicks or conversions, and we're not merging data from different data sources together. Data has been siloed into different subsets of email, content management systems, CRM. This is the chance to blend them all together and have a better picture on who your customer is. And the main thing is, don't panic. Yes, this is a new change. No one really knows the true impact of this until it's rolled out. We don't know how many people are going to make that iOS update and in all honesty we're probably not going to see any true metrics from it until Black Friday, probably, which is the worst time of year when we want to see this change. But we can prepare for it.
Julian: Happy birthday, email, you old bastard, 50 years old. That's quite incredible. It's still the channel of choice for business and consumers and customers out there. Nothing's changing that. So if you're listening to this trying to work out, what's the next angle, there really isn't one. Keep doing what you're doing. Keep thinking about email just as hard as you have up to this point. But, as you've stressed, with embracing change and looking for new opportunities it is actually proactively forward planning around the changes in the email space and what that will mean. And we're going to come onto those in greater detail. Focusing in on one of the subjects in this area that we set at the outset. I'm not going to go into too much about what it all means, what Apple in particular are doing with their software updates, their updates to privacy terms and conditions, what they're allowing people to opt- in on, on how that data's shared. Because that's been done well and done better than anything I could do, again, by our sister podcast. And there're other people out there that believe, obviously digital believers are not talking about this, but it's been well covered. With our email marketer hat on sat on our seat, how have you started to get your head around these changes?
Tom: It's a change we should have expected, in all honesty. All of us have the power of hindsight to say we should've seen it coming. What it actually means is, we talk about best practice and compliance with CAN- SPAM, GDPR, you name it, different messaging legislations. And I think, to a point, we as human beings sometimes want to do the bare minimum. So we will do whatever it takes just to get going. And sometimes it's a struggle to push high performance of your marketing strategy or even just life in general. We have our own struggles and challenges. What we can do from this is really take a holistic view. Okay, what are we doing with our marketing strategy right now? Are we just relying on open metrics to make a determination of who we should be sending to and testing? And it's always been an assumption metric. It's not an absolute indication of who is ever really interacting with your email. Great, I read your email, but did I click through, did I actually show interest in that product or that notification you told me about? Typically, we are asking individuals to take action from when we send to them. We talk about it's an opportunity to actually find different metrics to segment, to target by, which are more absolute, that will actually drive better performance for you. As we're going to see, these vanity metrics increase. So, let's say you have a 30% unique open rate, or could it be 50%, you're going to make the assumption, everything's great. And then three months down the line your open rates could tank, because other ISP don't look at opens to determine, are you a good sender? Especially if it's false, then you're going to be having conversations in my team. And it makes it a bit more challenging to rebuild that trust as we can't use a metric that we have heavily relied on to rebuild reputation.
Julian: With Apple making this change and putting privacy at the foremost of importance for everyone, what's next? Will the rest of the industry that we work in follow suit or do similar things? Whatever happens, those email marketers who are listening to this or we work with directly, they're scratching their head and they all would need to be thinking about doing things differently. And that's what we're encouraging. And on that, let's give the people a couple of action points that they should be proactively taking right now. What are a couple of actions they could be doing in terms of looking at their customers or looking at how they measure? You've mentioned a few, but a couple of concrete ones here.
Tom: The first bit would be to do an audit of, how are you talking to your customers. And what I mean by that is, are you just focusing on open rates to determine who you should be sending emails to? I think many marketers are using more metrics than just open, but this is a good time to do an audit. We should be doing it regardless of this. Many people forget to update creatives with their copyright dates and stuff. This should be an annual or quarterly thing, ensuring your segments are still fit for purpose. And from that taking an action plan of, okay, what campaigns are only relying on an open, what other information could we be using, could be used? We've got clicks. Clicks are always a great metric. It's absolute conversion metric. If someone's purchasing, you know they're active with the brand, they're going to keep purchasing from you. But then, leveraging other channels of information and looking at really building trust with that customer or those individuals. The purpose of this is they're being protected because they're getting inundated with phishing, spoofing. We can sometimes over- communicate. So it comes down to that. Take those baby steps on being proactive in considering the actual recipient on, okay, what information do they really want from you? Do I really need to send this information to them?
Julian: Yeah. This is a good point to remind everyone, of course, that, although we're giving you little snippets of action, if you have a question around any of this, please ask us at Cheetah Digital, hopefully we're your provider. Or whoever you are using. There are no stupid questions on all this. There's a lot of change. And there's a lot of new terms and lots of different things for people to get their head around. So, if any of the actions we are suggesting don't make sense, it's important that you ask us or others to elaborate. A good example is segmentation. It's a great word that's thrown out there all the time. But I didn't know what segmentation was in email until someone really helped me through how it's done and how statements are written and how platforms are used to utilize it fully. We have Apple, we just considered, that was protecting privacy, as we set it up, that's their approach here. Looking at Gmail and Google's efforts. We'd almost frame it in the trust environment. It's all about trust. Certainly something you've educated me on about some Gmail and Android updates, that they're Bimmy. And even if we don't jump in straight into that, how do we look at Google's approach, which is definitely taking a slower look around before they will probably follow Apple's lead, but they'll do it in their own way. And they'll do it in their own pace, which is what we've seen with them, obviously, deferring on the third party cookies being pushed back for a couple of years.
Tom: It's almost like Gmail's its own beast of a mailbox provider. We've seen it be a problem provider in the past with getting emails into inbox. Now everyone loves it. We have the never- ending question of, how do I get my emails out of the promotions folder. But as an industry, I think we like the fact that they test stuff. We wish they would sometimes announce some of their releases beforehand. And I don't think you can remember, years back now, that Gmail tried to do the promotions' grid view for email, where your inbox was those little title cards. And that was cool, but no one wanted it. They've taken the other approach about building trust. I'm sure all of us have had emails claiming that we should wire transfer money from our boss' account, the business, to this one individual, or, hey, your bank account's been compromised. Please provide your security question. We live in a day and age of people doing malicious things, trying to take advantage of us. And Google did a beta trial last year for BIMI, which is allowing brands to show that they are trusted and their logo will appear within the Gmail inbox. And it's a great way for recipients to know, hey, this is really Cheetah Digital. This is really Julian. This is really Tom actually emailing you rather than, is this Tom?
Julian: So this brand indicator's for message identification, which I guess is what it stands for and it makes sense, almost like a verification tick for brands?
Tom: Yeah, it's complementing existing authentication standards. We've had SPF and DKIM for a very long time, but they've never truly solved the whole phishing and spoofing situation. We had DMARC be introduced and there are many senders, I'm sure listeners here, who've got DMARC implemented on their sending domain from a marketing standpoint, but from a corporate standpoint, there are many people out there that haven't. It's definitely an authentication standard that we should be having by default. And Bimmy just complements this. You have to have done all the other stages to even be allowed to roll this logo out. It does require you to obviously complete a bit of an audit to make sure you are compliant. And then you have to purchase a certificate to say, hey, we've got all this, we've done everything. Now we're allowed to have our logo up there. But it's nothing new. Gmail have been looking at thousands of different markets to determine, are you a trusted sender? So why shouldn't us as marketers be putting in the effort to actually show our customers, you should trust us? The key part to any relationship is trust, be it your friends in real life, your colleagues. You build rapport, you build trust with them. We should be doing the same when using different communication channels, showing that you are who you really are. You're not pretending to be someone else, I think, is very important these days.
Julian: What we looked at so far with Apple and Gmail and the way that they're approaching trust and privacy, from our perspective, from the brand marketer, you have to react to that. You have to react to those changes and adapt and approach different ways of working to make sure that your business isn't impacted or that you benefit from the changes that happen. And what proactive steps that we can make and they can make to take back control. And this brings us into our third and final subject of this mini session. How can you develop better direct- to- customer relationships, direct- to- consumer relationships, yourselves? How can you make sure that's happened? How can you make sure that you have the information directly from the people that you want to contact so you can make their experience better when they are interacting with your marketing? How do we approach that? What's the proactive step that an email marketer and the team can take to knowing your customer without trying to guess or snoop on them?
Tom: That's a great one. We've talked about doing audits. We talk about developing relationships. We do a lot of inferring things about people but that we don't actually know. This is a good chance to take a look at what data or information you have on individuals and actually build relationships on a value exchange. There are definitely some industries that do it better than others. And there are definitely platforms out there that can really help you achieve. Our own Experiences platform is definitely one way of allowing you to collect zero party data, but you want to be collecting information that's actually going to be useful and actionable for you. Football or soccer is my good example. When you sign up for a certain sports team, there's a lot of value exchange there with welcome programs. You sign up, they'll ask you a survey like, who's your favorite player? Which is key to know, because then you can send the competitions, hey, win so- and- so's signed shirt from the game. They'll provide desktop backgrounds specific to that player or those players. And I think that's a really good way of it. There's no real expense to do that. Those teams have got all the stock photos, the signed signatures. That's a really good little piece of information. You think you're getting something for saying who your favorite player is. Same with, we talked about all the change for Apple and potentially not having visibility into location anymore or hiding email addresses. This is a time to really get the key information. So you can still do location- based content, but actually using information that individuals are really giving you.
Julian: It's a different way of thinking. We've worked with brands that have taken their time, but they're starting to get it. And they're starting to see the value of collecting this information directly because this is the information that go into their personalization efforts, say. This is information that they can act on because they know it's relevant and they know that people will be happy if it was used in a subsequent email or subsequent marketing piece. And there's lots on our website on value exchange and how to collect this and, as you said, the Cheetah Experiences which does that. And there are other similar tools around that aren't ours that do this as well. We've also discussed loyalty programs as well. It's making sure that your loyalty offering, if you have one, that you are asking the questions about what interests your customers. And asking the things that directly impact the work that you do with them, not random stuff that we'll never come across, any reason why you need that information.
Tom: I think the one thing that really sometimes we actually forget about is we're very good at telling people what to do and what they think and sharing information, but actually we should be taking the feedback from customers. Unsubscribe is one thing, complaints are another thing, but when people unsubscribe sometimes you get an unsubscribed survey where people reply through emails. One of the biggest hurdles is when we have a no- reply sending address, it's almost like we don't want a conversation. We don't want to talk to our customers. So any information that you can get back and feedback. You talk about building loyalty and experiences and utilizing preference centers, it's a great way of getting an understanding of, everyone wants different cadences. Everyone wants different types of information. So don't just take your data as, work for it. Getting actual feedback from customers is going to be key as well.
Julian: Action point for anyone out there. What do you know about your customers? What are you basing your decisions on? How well do you know the people in a relevant way? We all like to think we're a bit more sophisticated than we are with our email programs and the messages we're sending, but is it actually based on timely and relevant information that has been provided to you? Because, that's what it should be, that's what we need to be driving through. Because if we're making that the standard through the online experiences we're creating and the messaging we're making, suddenly the people have more trust and they'll be more open to sharing parts that they want. So, that privacy subject we're coming at, keep that in place. But actually there'll be more of a willingness to share, to let brands in on certain areas because they know it benefits everyone. And that's hopefully where it's all heading to, all these updates from the likes of Apple and Google.
Tom: I'm surprised me and you didn't throw in any movie quotes or anything ridiculous in this conversation. I was almost tempted to say, this is like the scene from the Goonies with Mikey saying, this is our time. The key thing is opportunity. We know this. Opportunity drives change. It's about innovation. We can do things better, especially from a deliverability standpoint. I know, personally, I want to do it better. We've gone from telling people what you can't do. Yes, there are things you can't obviously do with sending, but hopefully we can have conversations and actually help move the conversation forward and drive that innovation.