BrightWave and its partners are part of an unprecedented movement where technology, channels and customer relationships converge. That’s why we created The Rising Tide, a monthly series where our partners highlight those platforms and people that are part of our industry’s massive wave of data-driven relationship building tools.
This month’s edition featured Liveclicker and their scalable, real-time personalization technology. We had the opportunity to chat with Maria Braune, Senior Product Strategist at Liveclicker, about her background in email, what brands she loves landing in her inbox, and more.
How and when did you get involved in the email industry? Had you always known you wanted to geek out in the email world?
I had been working in the telecom industry (fun, huh?) for over 10 years and I knew it was time for a change, so I started looking at different startups around Atlanta and came across Salesfusion, a Marketing Automation Platform located in Buckhead.
I interviewed and absolutely loved how the founder of the company was excited about email and how he was seeing all these new trends and strategies evolving that I just had to be a part of it! I had been craving being creative and spontaneous!
So now over 6 years later I get to do the greatest job – I joke and say I get to be the clients’ email program grandma – I play with their ideas and give them suggestions and then I leave and let them actually build them out!
What’s your favorite email related story?
We worked on this amazing campaign idea for one of our tourist attraction clients that involved kinetic design, something that our Professional Services team was just getting their feet wet with. It came out just like the client was imaging and became a standard announcement format for one of their largest events that happens at all of their different parks.
It was so wonderful to see our main contact receive the accolations that she so deserved for envisioning how to use our technology and her idea!
Whose email program do you like landing in your inbox? What about it grabs your attention?
Ulta for sure! I am a bit bias because they are a client of ours, but I love how they highlight how I fare in their loyalty program. There’s nothing like a good walk down memory lane to show me my benefits with their program. They have been taking me down the road of personalization by asking some great polling questions to narrow down what I see in my next email.
Who is your favorite person to follow in our industry?
My history in the email industry really started in the Account Management/Client Success side, so many folks that I follow are heavily vested in that side of the business. With that being said Ariana Hargrave, Director of VIP Services at MailChimp, is someone that I have had the pleasure of spending time with and talking through how she has created this amazing team at MailChimp. She has been able to diversify the client success team as the business grows and changes.
And of course our very own Kenna Hilburn, VP of Account Development, who also has created a strong group of Account Managers here at Liveclicker. She has watched how our industry has changed from where clients are pushing for “how can you make our programs better?” to “how can you make our programs even more innovative?”
What are you and your clients looking for in a strategic email partner?
I think the biggest thing is knowing that our partner is in the trenches with us. They are working to not only help pull an idea over the finish line, but how can we implement that idea in the most efficient way possible. As you know, many email marketers are resource strapped so they rely on us to help with the heavy lifting. It’s as easy as saying “we are in it with you!”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while in the industry? Biggest fail?
When I first started out, I really didn’t take the time to understand all of the different campaign streams – it was still very much a batch and blast type of mentality. I also worked with a lot of B2B clients and to batch and blast was their fortay! I don’t think that when I started I really lead my clients down the right road in what types of triggers/nurtures they should be sending.
Now that I have stepped into working with clients on dynamic personalization, I realize, “Oh wow, I might have lead folks astray!”
Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5 years? 10 years?
I am hoping that we will see more interaction in email being supported by the major email clients. I mean, if Outlook is finally going to support animation, we have hope right?
Gamification with personalization would be so amazing and with the ability to pull in different points of data from the clients marketing stack would certainly create a homerun!
What innovation(s) are you most looking forward to leveraging in the coming year(s)?
Kinetic design for sure! We are seeing clients really respond to our different offerings including product hotspots and interactive tabs that help to create that website feeling in email.
How do you stay up to date on email industry trends, innovations, products, best practices, etc.?
I am signed up for MANY different brands to receive their emails and see what they are doing. This may sound strange, but I look them over and think, “I wonder what it would look like if we did this or that.” My favorites are welcome series campaigns. I’m always looking to see how they are being done.
Also, I’m signed up for several industry newsletters from Marketing Pros/Really Good Emails and Fresh Inbox. Email Monks is also a great brand to follow. Litmus is my go to for industry stats for sure!
What in the email world have you been the most excited about lately?
Integrations — being able to pull in all of the knowledge around that one subscriber and displaying it with the product choices/offers or content around that subscribers past buying or click behavior.
What is the value of companies investing in their email programs?
What we all have to remember is that your subscribers raised their hand and said “hey, I want to be part of your brand”. Don’t take that lightly. It means that you have to do the best to make it worth their while for them to continue to be a part of the brand, so provide the best campaign by bringing relative information + best offers + value rewards for being part of the brand. And don’t forget that you only have about 3-7 seconds to influence them… no pressure at all!
Those with clients that are heavy promo focused are starting to leverage vendors that use AI to determine if you can still have a subscriber convert if you provide them a lower promo or a different offer that won’t hit their bottom line as hard.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t forget the people that you meet on your way up. They can be your most loyal cheerleaders!
What advice would you give to someone starting in the digital/email world right now?
Keep your eyes open and if you have a dream of how you could do a campaign, go for it! You might not be able to do all of what you want the campaign to achieve, but the technology will catch up to you. I have a notebook of ideas, Maria’s book of madness, where I will just write down ideas. Then, when I’m meeting with clients, I pull from that notebook to see what could fit into their needs and wants.
I also listen to my friends when they tell me that they have gotten an email and it made them convert. These are friends that are not in the industry so it’s basically a little research group that I tap into. They tell me what they like and don’t like or what they would love to see when they open their emails.
Last, read, read, read and try to attend as many industry events as you can to get an idea of what other marketers are doing.
What is your favorite email industry event?
Of course I LOVE EiQ! I also really enjoyed going down to Savannah this past year for the EEC event. It had really great sessions, and I feel now after attending a few of their events that there is a sense of community that you can count as your advisors when you need to reach out and ask for suggestions.