Company Stuff

New Logo for Email Industries

It’s been nearly a year since we started using a new brand. The reason we decided to use Email Industries was purely practical, I had too many email addresses. Between syncing five accounts and two calendars inefficiency was becoming a problem.

There was a quasi-strategic reason too. Due to our growing number of brands it seemed like a good time to create a unified identity that represented our passion and personality as well as our products.

We’ve kept the Email Industries under wraps until now largely because our first attempt at creating an identity was embarrassing. We turned to Wier / Stewart not only because they’re local (something else we’re passionate about) but they’re crazy talented and have a reputation for challenging clients. Plus I personally wanted to go through a professional branding exercise to answer a few lingering questions, like…

What does a purely creative agency’s discovery process look like?

It was incredibly enlightening. Questions ranged from “What is your brand’s spirit animal?” to “What band best represents your brand?”

They discovered that being in a field where many companies develop their own brand ethos there aren’t a lot of tropes to avoid (e.g. columns in the financial industry) in the email marketing space. But there is a lot of opportunity. Opportunity for personality, ambition and a little irreverence.

We discovered that we want to be known as fun and clever however we’re not whimsical or very Tom Hanks-ish. We’re more aligned with Radiohead than Bon Iver. And we’re certainly darker than most brands, in a good way.

Would a professionally-crafted brand identity have a real impact?

I can’t speak for our clients and partners (we’re having a coming-out party at #SherpaEmail next week) but as for the Email Industries team … we’re super pumped!

Without Further Ado

Here’s the icon, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this little beauty. As you’ll soon see there are a number of elements in the icon, some of which are hidden or obscured while others are quite obvious.

email industries ogo

Anatomy

The pyramid with the all-seeing eye is representative of the email community as well as our future plans. The shield references BlackBox. The pigeon, and the email it grasps, represents email marketing. The steam train style cattle guard represents Industry. The lightning bolts are nods to Indiemark’s logo. Note, there’s one element that’s not mentioned here. Can you spot it? What does it mean?

email_industries_anatomy

Website

At this stage emailindustries.com is a one-page directory of our brands but stay tuned big things are coming.

emailindustries.com

Cards

I’m a fan of die-cut business cards, although I must confess none of us have carried cards in many moons.

email industries business cards

Schwag

Our new identity plays out well online and in print but for me it’s all about having kickass t-shirts and stickers.

 

email_industries_tshirt

email_industries_stickers

 

Speaking of t-shirts and stickers. Who wants one? Hit me up if you’re going to #SherpaEmail.

 

 

Using Print Ads to Drive Email Subscriptions?

email agency advertising

Those of us who work exclusively in the digital world sometimes overlook the potential of print for driving traffic online, especially for organic search hobbyists like me. That was my mindset until I recently experimented with buying print ads to get people to the Indiemark website. I ran an ad in a local, affordable business publication and saw a dramatic increase in both website traffic and email subscriptions.  I’ll admit it: I was surprised.

It’s not usual for offline marketing to direct people online. Radio ads come complete with URLs these days, and what kind of self-respecting business would do a direct mail campaign without including an email address and website? You can also be quite strategic about it, as demonstrated by this Coffee News case study published by MarketingSherpa.com.

But of all the ways to do it, print ads seem to be a good choice, especially for us, and as the numbers below illustrate. Although these numbers are from an article published in 2012, they are still telling:

Research from Jupiter Research that looks at the influence of offline channels on online search found that 67% of online search population is driven to search by offline channels. Of that percentage, 30% come from print ads. Even more impressive is the fact that print advertising topped the list of offline media sources that led to a purchase, with 30% of search users who opened their wallet and bought online coming from a print medium.

We can drive traffic from offline to online in several different ways, but it seems paid print ads are a definite channel to consider. For me, spending the money to buy ads in a print publication in order to get people to my website—well, it seemed counter-intuitive and I wasn’t sure it would work. I got my answer though, and we’re enjoying a healthy bump in subscribers and leads as a result.

Has your business successfully used print advertising to drive leads or email subscriptions? If so, I want to hear about it!

– Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, Formswell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.

The Unforeseen Benefits of a Brand Refresh

New Indiemark Logo

We craft, test and deploy a lot of emails, for our customers and for ourselves. That’s why I’m embarrassed to admit that our brand has sat virtually unchanged for almost four years.

We were not at DEFCON 1 exactly but if not for the growth of BlackBox, a cool abuse-prevention product we sell to ESPs, who knows when we would have gotten around to sprucing up our image. Once we made the decision to create a standalone website for BlackBox We then decided it would be best refresh our website and retool our logo. Heck, we even re-skinned this blog.

It was fairly painful experience but it ultimately became a great opportunity to reflect on our company, what we’ve learned, and how we’ve evolved, which surprisingly provided us with crystal clarity into who we were, where we are going and even how we were going to get there.

Probably the biggest and most intangible benefit of if this exercise is also the hardest to describe; essentially we reconnected with our own brand, we become intimate with it again, maybe even fell in love with it again. Whatever it was it was incredibly valuable. I strongly encourage all entrepreneurs and thinkers to do a deep dive into brand-self-discovery, you will not regret it.

How We Became A Leading Full Service Email Marketing Agency (Despite My Best Efforts)

I never intended for Indiemark to be a “full service email marketing agency”. Nevertheless managed email marketing services, outsourced email marketing, full-serve or whatever you’d like to call it is now a large part of what we do every day, despite my plans.

THE BACKSTORY

I’ve been neck-deep in email marketing since the beginning. Fresh out of college, nearing the end of the dot-com boom, I was hired as a full-time email designer. When the bubble burst I started my first business. I called it an Interactive Agency although for the most part we simply produced promotional emails and corporate websites. The work (and burden of first-time business ownership) was exhausting but it was rewarding in almost every way, except income. A few years later I co-founded a list company which was largely focused on email list management and brokerage; where my income far outweighed most other perks of ownership.

I had spent 10 years immersed in all things email. I had seen it from both sides. Having grown and sold both companies I felt very fortunate and at the same time unfulfilled. You see, I used to be one of those “I’ll do whatever it takes to succeed” types. This personality trait certainly has value in the world of business but it has its dark side too. Suffice it to say that I put revenue and exit strategies ahead of almost everything, including my own health and happiness. I would do it differently next time.

It was the beginning of The Great Recession. Time for me to start a new company; only this time revenue would not be my only driver. Instead this new venture would grow, or die, based on its own merit. I would also put reasonable limits on my expectations to ensure healthy balance in all things and by default the company’s longevity. I just needed to figure out what my new shop was going to offer exactly.

THE PLAN

I knew early that what would become Indiemark would be email-centric but given my directives and timing I felt compelled to own a niche and that niche I decided was going to be Professional Email Marketing Services. To that end, I pledged that I would never sell technology, data or any service that fell outside of my definition of email services. Instead tIndiemark would only provide a tight clustering of offerings like consulting, creative and integrations. You know…projects. I was confident that these mechanisms would ensure that we would the best (if not the only) company in our class.

As it turns out my niche was still very small in 2008. Few companies were seeking dedicated email experts at that time, especially ones that weren’t bolted onto an Email Service Provider. But as the industry and email marketing grew so did Indiemark. Slow but steady. Needed advice on your email contact strategy? Seeking a kick-ass email template? Wanted an integration between your CRM and ESP? Had deliverability issues? We were your guys and we were good.

Sales were good too. Largely, I believe, because we were ESP-agnostic and we never resold anyone’s email deployment solutions which allowed us to make a lot of non-competitive friends, like ESPs, consultants and agencies, most of whom became great partners for us.

We were content with one-off projects and often working behind the scenes. Our reputation was growing, it was simple and pure, and my corporate dream was becoming a reality. Then things started to get complicated.

THE PIVOT

Normally pivots are intentional. Not here. Thanks to our partners we had plenty of repeat business albeit sporadic. So if not for two outside factors I doubt I would have considered skipping down the down the full service path.

  1. The investments we had put into list building and organic SEO began to payoff. The leads rolled and it seemed to happen overnight.
  2. The email marketing industry, which was already killing it, completely blew up. Email was officially crowned as the undisputed leader in marketing ROI. From tools to tactics to teams, almost everybody stepped up their email game and budgets.

This put us in front of a variety of new and motivated prospective clients. And they were all direct clients too, no intermediaries here. But working with direct clients is a mixed bag. On one hand the expectations of direct clients tend to vary dramatically; they may also require more education and handholding. On the other hand their projects are typically larger and often more challenging and way more more fun.

However with increasing frequency our direct clients indicated that they wanted more form us. A lot more. I didn’t see that coming.

Should we take a deeper dive into client engagements? I resisted. “It’s sticky”, I said. I suppose that’s because I wanted to keep things simple but that simplicity was only an illusion.

I ultimately realized that we were already giving our clients a lot love and attention, maybe too much in some cases. I mean even if it was a project and even it was sold through an agency; it’s hard for us to limit our output just because the budget isn’t there. Far too often we were giving our time away, and as a services company, time is all we have. If we were to be successful as a full service email agency things were going to have to change.

THE CHALLENGE

Keep in mind that “full service” means different things to different people. For us, it’s simply an À la carte custom selection of our service offerings which are rolled up into a package of sorts and tied together with the promise of ownership.

For example, to one small brick-and-mortar retailer client we’re the equivalent of a part-time contractor whereby we do absolutely everything related to email marketing but their program is still small therefore the engagement is limited; but she’s come to depend on the revenue we help drive. While for one growing B2B technology company we’re comparable to an in-house team who runs an increasingly sophisticated program; they’re intense and smart. And for one large online retailer we simply augment their in-house team with creative and technical services coupled with a dash of high-level strategy here and there.

Fundamentally the difference between project-based work and a full-service engagement is intimacy. Nearly all of our full service engagements require that we get very close to our client’s marketing programs if not their business as whole.

From our client’s perspective, this mix-and-match, full-service approach almost always yields better results and costs less. However it created new challenges for me and my team. Unlike one-off projects, which are often produced in a vacuum or directed by the client, we now have to take near complete ownership of the success of our client’s long term email program. It’s a huge responsibility and takes a lot of time. We quickly learned that the way approached these full-serve engagements had to change.

THE ANSWER

After a few failed attempts at merely repackaging our offerings we ultimately took a page from the playbooks of our ESP friends, who provide software-as-a-service. In the end we found a way to morph our standalone services into a service-as-a-service model which allows us to be far more efficient and provide the client with predicable billing without a term commitment. Initially our hourly rate took a big hit but due to the improvements in our production, coupled with the previously-unknown joys of recurring revenue, our top and bottom lines were soon happy and healthy but maybe more importantly everyone is currently fulfilled.

It took me a while to come to realization that I didn’t need blinders to stay to the course. I simply listened to our customers and then found a way to give them what they wanted.

This experience has also opened my opens to the concept of Thoughtful Monetization. For example we now sell a data product that helps Email Services Providers to preemptively identify potentially harmful mailers, we call it BlackBox.

And let’s face it; the email marketing space, like many other modern industries, is insanely dynamic. Between the consolidation of many of our reseller partners, the great tech tools that are now available to everyday marketers, and the ever-growing sophistication of the same, I’m not sure we’d still be around if I’d stayed solely focused on projects.

Don’t get me wrong projects and partners are still a very important part of our mix. That’s the nature of the beast and how we prove we’ve got the chops but I’ve learned that just because it’s our main thing it doesn’t have to be our only thing.

About: Scott Hardigree is the Founder of Indiemark and Editor of Email Critic. You can connect him everywhere, here.

Wanted: Kickass Client Management / Campaign Deployment Specialist

You’ll work directly with clients to manage deployment. Includes creating, testing and deploying message as well as analytic review (email creative will be crafted by others).

You must have strong customer service skills, email marketing knowledge, knowledge of multiple ESPs a plus, but not required.

You’ll need to be good at:

  • Managing client relationships
  • Multitasking, organization and time management
  • MS Office: Including Outlook, Word and Excel as well as Basic to advanced HTML Skills
  • Problem solving skills and attention to detail
  • Face-to-face and telephone communications with clients
  • Working in a busy environment (it gets crazy here at times)
  • Report writing & documentation
  • Must be a self-starter (we’re okay with you working remotely)

What you’ll get from us:

  • The opportunity to build your knowledge of email marketing by working for a leading email marketing agency
  • An opportunity to advance within the company
  • The experience of managing email marketing campaigns for SMBs as well as well-known international brands.
  • The benefit of working from home, imagine no commute and saving on gas and time

Interested?

Please submit your resume to cdonald@inboxgroup.com or call 214-530-5972 ext: 705

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What Do You Want From Me?

As Ben Chestnut recently said to me “the email marketing world is maturing; now there are a ton of great email marketing resources floating around the interwebs.”

That got me thinking. Have email marketing best practices, strategies and tactics been thoroughly covered? More simply, is the content we produce here at Indiemark in line with your ever-changing needs? I have no idea.

But what I do know is that it takes me a lot of time to produce a blog post, infographic, webinar or whatever. I also know that you probably receive tons of marketing-related emails everyday, some of which are packed with worthless or irrelevant information. I don’t want to be that guy, ever.

To ensure I invest my time wisely, and avoid wasting any of yours, I distributed this this short survey to our subscribers, fans and followers.

Here are a few of the results:

The content marketing survey was only seven questions but the results will certainly help me to create more of what you really want and less of what has no value to you.

Thanks to all that participated!

Scott Hardigree

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Feeling the Customer Love

For a few years we’ve using “We Love Email” as our tagline, catch phrase, or whatever you’d like to call it. I’ve been told that it’s an effective branding mechanism; I don’t know about that.

But every so often our customers will go out of their way to send us a some extra love. I suppose that’s proof that our “We Love Email” message not only resonates with our customers it’s also in line with what we promise. Thanks to you all, much love!

Justin with Golf Outlet
Mike with Savage Pools
Isabella with Hasbro Deutschland

Into B2B Email Marketing?

Join us for the Progressive B2B Marketing Summit

Thursday, 12/02/10 — 11 to 6 ET (8 to 3 PT)

How you adapt to and harness the opportunities in the changing B2B marketing environment could make all the difference between success and failure. Join Indiemark (at booth #4) and other Focus Experts in this half-day event to make sure you’re ahead of the curve.

It will cover everything from the importance of branding to implementing lead-management strategies and improving sales/marketing alignment. Pre-register here.

Indiemark at Dreamhack 2010

Meli spreads the word at Dreamhack, the World’s largest digital festival.

Email Agency Seeking Design and Coding Jedi

Email Marketing Jedi Wanted
We’re hiring!


You…

– “get it”;
– are crazy smart;
– are a marketer at heart;
– know your way around an ESP;
– use more text than images;
– are great with design;
– code like it’s 1999.

Indiemark…

– “gets it” too;
– is successful, yet happy;
– is email-centric;
– has been in the biz since 1997;
– takes this stuff VERY seriously;
– treats our clients like our mothers;
– has a tradition of Beer Fridays;
– pays well;
– can elevate you to rock star status.

Where…

– Orlando Florida;
Oakland to be exact.

Questions?

– Call or email Scott;
– ping @indiescott;
– unless of course you’re a recruiter.