Q&A: Nick Heys, founder and CEO of EmailVision

Nick Heys, founder and CEO of EmailVision, discusses how email marketing is being used around the globe (the firm has 20 offices worldwide), shares insights into EmailVision’s acquisition of marketing firm smartFOCUS and talks about email as a customer retention channel. Heys has been with EmailVision for more than 12 years.

Direct Marketing News (DMN): What are the cultural differences involved in email marketing around the globe?

Nick Heys (EmailVision): I don’t see any huge differences in each of the countries. There are some subtle differences. In China, Brazil and the U.S., the list sizes are huge. Most marketers worldwide were going through a big faze of acquisition and spending a lot of money on building their lists. But now we are seeing more marketers spending money to build loyalty among these lists and developing customer retention management programs. This is becoming a hot topic worldwide, and even the most unsophisticated markets like China are catching up fast. Even though China has very little offline direct marketing experience, they are very quick to pick up on how to use new technologies and they are beginning to apply targeting and segmentation.

DMN: Are there challenges trying to market to consumers from different cultures?

Heys: The main challenge is from a creative perspective. This includes things like versioning and translation, as well as making sure that you are getting delivered into all of the different inboxes. In the U.S., this is fairly easy. But outside of the U.S., the landscape is very fragmented with many different ISPs, all of whom have their own rules to decide how email gets delivered or not. The ISPs are the gatekeepers and they are the ones who are deciding what gets delivered.

DMN: What trends are you seeing among email marketers around the globe?

Heys: Email marketers have reached the stage where the marketing teams are scared of over mailing and sending offers to the whole list. There is a big global trend right now to send more targeted messages that upsell and cross sell to individual customers based on their behavior. Marketers still want to send that Mother’s Day or Christmas campaign to their entire list, but they are also sending upsell emails personalized to customers. Customer intelligence is very important to be able to do this kind of one-to-one messaging. This is why we acquired smartFOCUS this summer, to help marketers have access to data. It gives them the ability to send complementary email campaigns that generate revenue without fatiguing their list.

DMN: How are other channels influencing email?

Heys: Social marketing and the art of storytelling combined are taking email to a new level. Companies are using social media to generate stories, asking customers to share stories of how they are using their product this weekend, and then repurposing these stories into their email campaigns. This is making email more authentic and generating high response rates.

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