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It’s 11am on a Friday and I’m at my desk. I’m starting to get hungry for lunch and I see a banner ad for dominoes pizza. I shake it off because I want to eat healthy. Then around 4:30 as the day is starting to wrap up I look down at my phone and I see an email from Dominoes. I want to go to the gym so I delete the email. I get halfway through my workout while listening to Pandora I hear a commercial for Dominoes.  I leave the gym around 7:30 and check my phone and there is another email from Dominoes.


To the naked eye this might seem like overkill from dominoes marketing but to a marketer this is perfect. Dominoes had 4 touch points at some of the busy food times of the day. Using multiple channels to reach the customer(s) is the definition of holistic marketing. Holistic marketing has to be more than just using multiple channels to reach the customer.


The reason I use Dominoes pizza as an example is because they know their customers. They market to their customers on the channels they use and at the time they start thinking about making a purchase decision.


In today’s marketing age with all the data marketing departments have, holistic marketing has to be looked at as more than just advertising on multiple channels. Holistic marketing has to be looked at as placing a conversational message on channels that customers will listen to. That channel might be banner ads, email, Pandora, radio, TV, billboards, etc. The phrase “less is more”, needs to always be on the table when thinking about marketing. If advertisements are not placed accurately it could have negative affects on the product, service or brand.


This all comes back to what the 1 thing every marketing department needs in order to be successful at holistic marketing. Knowing the customer. There is no way around it. Knowing what channels the audience is listening to and what channels they trust is what will break through the noise.


Knowing the target audience can give a company the ability to create a more powerful marketing message. Having a more powerful message that breaks through the noise can allow a company to not waste money on channels that are not effective.


Companies need to realize it is not about quantity it is about quality.



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What does it mean to get blacklisted?

Email blacklisting is the compilation of domains and IP addresses that are filtered out of all incoming email.

~ GuavaBox


What does getting blacklisted really mean?

It means that your email is not going to arrive to the person's inbox because where it is coming from has been sending emails to bad email addresses.


How does this happen?

In a nutshell, an email was sent to an email address that belongs to a SPAM trap. SPAM traps own email addresses that are not active, they do not sign up for anything and should not receive any emails. If those email addresses receive emails then it triggers the SPAM trap and the IP address gets dinged. The world of SPAM is very secretive. How the SPAM traps get these email addresses is not completely clear. Some are taken from email addresses that have not been active for X amount of time (The time is unknown) and some are created by the SPAM traps. These email addresses could be a gmail, yahoo, hotmail, aol, or a company email address. The email address is supposed to look like a regular email address so they can not be excluded from sends. The goal of these SPAM traps is to find the people sending SPAM and prevent them from doing it.


Why are you getting blacklisted?

1) The email you sent to was from a purchased list - Never purchase lists. It is much better to send less emails to people who have opted-in than to send no emails at all. If you think quantity trumps quality then it's time to wake up and realize that thinking is a thing of the past. DO. NOT. BUY. EMAIL. ADDRESSES.

"it’s generally a poor practice and it may be detrimental to your deliverability rates and sender reputation"

~Mike Madden, Demand Generation Program Manager at Marketo


2) You have an old list - You have a list of people who may have opted-in in the past or a list of old clients. It is always important to make sure the list you are sending to is as fresh as possible. If the list has been sitting there for 6 months or longer and not been sent to it might be better to run a reengagement campaign and wait on the marketing/sales send.


3) Fake Email Addresses - Whenever someone fills out a form to get a piece of content it is important to remember that just because they enter an email address doesn't mean it is their email address. People can enter fake email addresses just to get through the gate and get the content.


Here's What You Can Do About It:

1) DO NOT PURCHASE LISTS - This seems pretty straight forward. Stop it.


2) Refresh The Database - This tactic should be done even if you don't get blacklisted. By refresh the database I mean make sure that the email addresses you are sending to are active. An active email address is an email address that is opening, clicking, or engaging in some way with your emails. This is why it is important to have a reengagement campaign. This campaign can be as simple as offering a coupon or a piece of content that would be attractive to the recipient. The goal of this email is to have the recipient engage with the email and prove they still want your emails/content. How often do you send this campaign? This all depends on what your data says. In some instances 6 months without an open or click is ideal. In other cases 12 months might be the right answer. It would be worth it to look at your data and see when the engagement drop off is happening. Once you see when it is happening set up a campaign to trigger off to those records.

"The key that holds all of this together is having identity data that’s correct, complete, and current—data that’s authoritative."

~Joe Ariganello


3) Work With Your Email Tool - This one may not apply to everyone but if you use an email service provider (ESP) or a marketing automation tool (MAT) then work with them. You are paying that company to use their tool and if an IP address that they are sending emails from is blacklisted it looks bad on them as well as you. A MAT and ESP's goal is to send successful campaigns and if their IP addresses are marked as blacklisted it will affect them negatively. Don't be afraid to reach out they will most likely help and if they don't start looking for a new one.


4) DO NOT PURCHASE LISTS - Not sure if I mentioned this yet. Stop it.


5) Send Confirmation Emails - If you have forms that are collecting email addresses then this should be part of the flow. This helps prevent people from entering fake email addresses. When someone submits a form include a thank you message on the page and let them know the content they requested will be sent to the email address entered. This will confirm the email address they gave you is real and it could possibly get a tracking cookie onto their browser (If that applies to you).


6) Always Know Where The Email Addresses Came From - This one seems simple but can be challenging. If you ever get blacklisted the first question you will be asked will be "Where did the list you sent to come from?" If you can go back and see where the email addresses came from you stand a better chance of finding the bad email address. If you can not verify where the email addresses came from (Maybe refer back to solutions #1 and #4) then you may have to send a re-opt in email to everyone on the list. This will show the SPAM trap(s) that you are trying to keep a clean database and not spamming people.


There are more reasons why you could get blacklisted and more ways to fix/avoid it, I just wanted to point our a few good ones. The only true way to avoid getting blacklisted is keeping good lists and not buying lists.



Genius is patience

~ Isaac Newton


When it comes to lead nurturing everyone wants to know the magic formula. How many emails do I send before I call the prospect? What is the minimum number of times the prospect needs to touch the website before they are ready to buy? At what point in the sales funnel is the prospect sales ready? How many lead scoring points does the lead need before we can give them a hard sales pitch? These are just a few questions asked when looking to take prospects and nurture them into sales ready leads. Because of these questions and more I wanted to look deeper into the good, the bad and the ugly of lead nurturing.


The Good

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.

~ Forrester Research


Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.

~ The Annuitas Group


I'm a data guy and the data doesn't lie. If lead nurturing didn't work the numbers would show it. Not only are leads that are nurtured more likely to buy but they make larger purchases. I love using the comparison of lead nurturing to popcorn. If you take the popcorn out of the microwave before its ready you might get a few pieces but if you let it stay in longer and take it out at just the right time you can get a bag full of delicious popcorn. Lead nurturing also builds trust with the prospect. If you (the company) only try to sell to the prospect it may lead the prospect thinking they are only a dollar sign and not a valued customer.


The Bad

79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.

~ MarketingSherpa


Just 56% of B2B organizations verify valid business leads before they are passed to Sales.

~ MarketingSherpa


Lead nurturing has been proven to be successful not just once but on multiple occasions. Through experience and case studies the hardest parts of lead nurturing sometimes have nothing to do with the prospects. Sometimes it has to do with getting sales and marketing on the same page. This is not uncommon because integrating sales and marketing has been an issue for many businesses. I went on Amazon and looked up sales and marketing books and got back over 105,000 results, so don't get frustrated if you run into this. The lead nurturing campaign needs to satisfy both parties. It needs to get the prospects ready for sales but at the same time it needs to get the leads ready in a acceptable amount of time. The timing may vary depending on the product or service that is being sold. Getting your company to buy into the idea of lead nurturing and buying into the idea that lead nurturing is not selling are two of the toughest parts of lead nurturing.


The Ugly

61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified.

~ MarketingSherpa


50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy.

~ Gleanster Research


65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing.

~ MarketingSherpa


The great thing about lead nurturing is you don't need marketing automation in order to accomplish it. The ugly part is not a lot of companies realize this and think without a marketing automation tool lead nurturing is not possible. If done right all you need for lead nurturing is a clear understanding of the audience and content that will match their needs. Lead nurturing could even be done with just a Gmail account.



The basic foundation of lead nurturing starts with knowing the audience and knowing what they want. Lead nurturing can't be accomplished if you don't know who you are talking to. This is another reason why it is near impossible to lead nurture to a purchased list (never purchase lists, never). Being able to take prospects from just browsing to a valued customer is a thing of beauty. I do want to point out that lead nurturing is far from easy. You will fail. Things you do will not work and will need to improved. Do not go into lead nurturing thinking the first assets and flows put together will be it and won't need any adjusting. Lead nurturing works, its tough but it works.


The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

~ Bill Gates


According to an infographic created by Impact Brand and Design, marketing automation started in 1992 with a tool called Unica. For more than roughly 25 years marketing automation has been growing and evolving. So it raises the question if marketing automation is right for you and your company. Here are some pros and cons of marketing automation as well as what marketing automation is and is not.


What Is A Marketing Automation Tool

In simple terms a marketing automation tool allows a marketer a way to create a holistic marketing campaign all in one place.


Marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.

~ Hubspot


What Is NOT a Marketing Automation Tool

A marketing automation tool is not just an email tool. So many time people think of marketing automation as a tool that can just schedule emails. While this is true it is so much more than that. It is like saying an iPhone is only used to make phone calls. I truly think once people start looking at marketing automation tools as more of an all-in-one marketing tool and not just an email service provider (ESP) we will really see the tool take off and do amazing things.



Automation - Marketing automation gives a company/marketer the ability to work more efficiently. Most marketing automation tools have the ability to automate a path a lead takes, lead scoring, and create data driven (personalization) pieces of content. Back in 2015 Paychex Sr. Marketing Manager Chris Muller and Paychex Marketing Communications Manager Matt Sitler called a nurture campaign using marketing automation a "choose your own adventure" campaign. This was a perfect way to describe it. What they meant by this was marketing creates all the assets for a nurture campaign and through automation the lead's actions will tell the tool which content to give to them. Reactive content.


It's a choose your own adventure marketing campaign.

~ Chris Muller and Matt Sitler


All-In-One - A marketing automation tool (MAT) allows a marketer/company to have everything in one spot. A MAT can handle all aspects of emails, host landing pages, host microsites, host images and documents, be a database, help with SEO, and can host a range of analytics just to name a few features. At one point in time all these things needed to be done in separate tools which may have caused one or multiple people to learn multiple tools. With marketing automation it is all in one spot saving time and money.

Analytics - According to an article written by Daniel Newman for Forbes, 8 of the 10 things to watch out for in 2017 that will drive marketing are driven by analytics. MATs are still young and with the power it already has to track it is a great sign for the future. Most MATs have the ability to track a lead from the second they hit your website till the second they buy your product. Being able to track the lead from prospect to client and looking for patterns in that data is very powerful, especially when it is all in one place. MATs can track website visits, email opens, clicks and form fill outs just to name a few. With a little development and creativity MATs also have the ability to track even more, including SEO, SEM and GA data points.


Ease Of Use - I have been using MATs and email service providers (ESP) for over 7 years. I have used some tools that are amazing and some that have a lot of room to grow (trying to be nice here). Most of the tools are very easy to use and learn. I have trained college interns, web developers, content creators, and people who are experienced marketing professions who have never used MATs on how to use them and they have all picked it up quickly and used it successfully. Learning how to use the tool is not what makes a MAT great or bad but learning how to use it to best suite the need of your client/business is what makes the tool great. Anyone can learn how to use a MAT but the people using it are what really makes the tool great.



It's Not Magic - A marketing automation tool is just that, a tool. Just like a hammer or ***** driver it is there to help get the job done successfully. If the tool is being used incorrectly then it might not be the right tool for your company/client. Marketing automation tools can not automatically take your campaigns from a dumpster fire to a 5 star resort. Just like with any other tool a MAT helps take what you currently have and use that to try and market to sell your product or service. Don't think just because your company goes out and spends money on a MAT that your marketing will go from zero to hero.

Price - Everything costs money and MATs are no different. There are some really expensive MATs in the industry. But there are also some very affordable ones. The important thing to remember with price is get what you can afford but more importantly get what fits your need(s).


It's Still Young - Even after 25 years marketing automation is still evolving. To think you can purchase a tool and it won't change is ludicrous. The point is to be patient and pick the tool that best fits the needs of what you want to accomplish. Some tools will offer services that you might not need and those could cost extra. Marketo does a great job at always looking to evolve. They have what is called The Marketo Community where customers and customer service and interact. It gives the customer the ability to suggest improvements and Marketo has added things to the tool based on what customers want. The community also allows customers to suggest solutions to issues other customers are having. Other MATs have this as well but I am just a fan of Marketo's community.


Should It Rock Or Should It Roll?

Rock! Marketing automation tools are doing great things and making things easier for marketers. The trick is to find the tool that works for you and use it to the fullest.


Note: I want to point out the products and references I used in this article along with all my articles are used because I want to. I am not getting paid to use any content or talk about any product or service.


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
~ Thomas A. Edison

When people read articles and see reports about a campaign that created a huge uptick in engagement they want to know:

How was it done?

How can it be replicated?

How can it be done for my campaign?

The reports will usually contain what elements the campaign used (email, landing page, direct mail, etc), how long the campaign was active and at the end some kind of visual display of how it performed when it finished. What a report has a hard time showing are the countless attempts that failed and the conversations that occurred after those failures. This post won’t include any stats, graphs, pie charts or data (well maybe a little data). This is about the part of the marketing process that no one talks about but is the most important.

Back in March of 2015 I approached one of the marketing managers and talked about redesigning the quarterly newsletter. This newsletter is sent to list of opted-in recipients whose email has been verified. For being an opted-in list the engagement data was externally low and that got me to wondering what is going on with this.

We sat down and looked at the current newsletter and broke down the redesign into a few steps:

1) Order the elements importance.

Yes, I understand all elements are important but by doing this we were able to cut the fat. You wouldn’t try and sell steak to a vegetarian. Yes, you may sell steak and it could be the best steak in the world but if the person doesn’t eat steak then you are wasting everyone’s time. So maybe bump up your vegetable options to the top of the newsletter.

2) Cut the fat.

By cut the fat I mean get rid of certain things that would not appeal to the audience we were sending to. It also gave us the opportunity to look at the newsletter from the reader’s point of view.

3) Design.

This is the step that could be where most redesigns hit a skid. I could have come up with a design that I loved and the marketing manager could have hated it. The most important thing to remember with a redesign is to not take anything personally. This is a process and should be treated as such. This can be difficult because as the designer I could have put in hours of work to be told “nope”.

4) Communication

The most important step by a country mile. The marketing manager and I went back and forth with redesigns for a few weeks. My job was to take what each of us envisioned and put it into a design. The most important thing that needs to be clear is that this is a redesign and that testing will happen so having different designs and ideas is crucial to success. Communicating why you like something or why you don’t is a conversation that needs to happen. Just saying, “I don’t like it” does no good for anyone.

5) Testing, Testing, Testing

This is a step that will show us if the direction we are going in is the correct one. This step can be frustrating because the hours of work put into this project can result in awful results. Failure cannot be looked at as a step backward. Finding out what does not work is almost more important than knowing what does work.

6) Evolve

WE DID IT! 320% higher engagement (See I included a little bit of data) because of the redesign. The hard work paid off. But we never stopped looking to get better. We let the newsletter run and are monitoring the results and looking to see what is performing and what is not. We are always looking to see how we can improve it. If I was happy with something keeping the same baseline for send after send then I would not be doing the job I am being paid to do. If we don’t look to make it better than a competitor might and we lose that subscriber and possible sale. 

From all the campaigns that I have worked on it's not the images, font, colors or number of assets in the campaign that will make it successful. The things that will make campaigns successful that you will never see in the reports are the steps in takes to create the campaign and the people that work together.


Recently I received an email talking about how good the New England Patriots are and how I should purchase season tickets.



The article contained statistics and numbers about how good Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are. It also talked about the game day experience and what to expect at the game.

Great! I love data and hearing about what I can expect if I go to a game.

It had stats, images, testimonials and everything you could ask for in a great piece of content. But there was one glaring mistake. The content was amazing and if content is king then what could be wrong?

I'm a Buffalo Bills fan.

If anybody knows a Bills fan they can tell you how much we dislike the Patriots, especially Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.


Great content is only great when it's used in the correct way. It's easy to say content is king when the right message is presented to the right people at the right time. But if that same great content is given to the wrong people at the wrong time it can make a company/person look uninformed and unprofessional. When that happens content goes from king to jester.


Content can be the most powerful tool any company has at its disposal when it comes to marketing and sales. But as with any tool it must be used correctly or it is worthless. Any asset that sales and marketing has can be called "king" when used correctly and gets amazing results and content is no different.


Note: I deleted the email and did not buy Patriot tickets #GoBills


According to YouTube's website they have over 1 billion users worldwide. That accounts for almost 1/3 of all people on the internet. Over 1 billion people picking what videos and content they want to consume.

18- To 49-Year-Olds Spent 74% More Time Watching YouTube Videos In 2015
~ MediaKix

While the statistic above might just seem like more people are watching YouTube videos, it goes deeper than that. Why are people watching more online videos? It has to do with content and not just videos. People may go into YouTube and watch one video but they are not. People are watching multiple videos and most the time multiple videos by the same person (or channel). For evidence of this just look at the top YouTube channels:

The top YouTube channel has over 50 million subscribers. I don't want to make this article about YouTube. I want to look into why so many people are watching YouTube, what makes so many people consume content from a particular YouTube channel and what it means for lead nurturing.

Why are so many people watching more YouTube?
This answer is pretty simple. People know what to expect and it is easy to consume. They know if they go to YouTube they will see a video. People are in a hurry today more than ever, so it is much easier to watch a video than to read an article.

Videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text.
~ Psychology Today

What makes so many people consume content from a particular YouTube channel?

The story.

Below is a clip from 2016 YouTuber of the year, Casey Neistat. He is talking about camera equipment and explains that the $5,000 camera is sometimes not as good as the camera on your cell phone. Why? Because whatever piece of equipment helps tell the story the best is the best one to use. The story is king. This goes to content too.






What does all this mean for lead nurturing?
When lead nurturing every marketer wants to imagine a funnel. A lead comes in at the top and go down step by step to the bottom where they are sold. In some circles this happens. Leads follow a pattern of content they are given which leads them to being sold. But for most marketers it is not that easy. In 2014 I attended the Marketo Summit in San Francisco (If you are a Marketo user I highly recommend it) and sat in a session about lead nurturing. The presenter (I forget his name if I find it I'll update this) showed a nice neat funnel on the screen and said "This is the perfect funnel." He then changed the slide to display what could best be described as how a 2 year old would draw of a funnel and he said "Here is the real funnel." It was a picture of a funnel and instead of the line going straight down it goes in all directions and in no order. That stuck with me because of how true it was and still is. In today's lead nurturing world prospects need content whenever and however they want to consume it and marketers need to tell a story. The "on demand" content is what will attract the prospects and provide authenticity to the company. Good content will prove that the company has knowledge about what service/product they are selling. The story will keep the customer coming back. Telling a story with your content will create a relationship with the customer making them feel closer and more comfortable with the company and what they are selling.


Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.



I was recently listening to a podcast called Freakonomics Radio (highly recommended). The episode I was listening to talked about how to become great at anything. The host Stephen Dubner referenced the Malcolm Gladwell's Rule that it takes 10,000 hours to become great at something. Stephen and his guests talked about Gladwell's Rule and talent and the relation between the two.


After listening to the episode a few times 2 things always came to the forefront for me. I realized that in order to be successful or great you need these two things.


The Magic Bullet: Practice

Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule says it takes 10,000 hours of focus and practice in order to become great at something. To put this into perspective it would take about 4.8 years if someone worked 40 hours a week to become great at something. This assumes that for every second someone is working those 40 hours a week they are working at one specific topic or area. A bit unrealistic to think that every second someone is at work for almost 5 years they are heads down working but it gets the point across. It takes a long time.

I partially agree with Gladwell's rule. I don't think a specific number can be put on how much time it takes to be great at something. I do however agree with the premise behind the rule. It takes hours and hours of practice to possibly be great at something. Nothing is guaranteed but without practice it'll be near impossible to achieve.


How The Bullet Is Fired: Environment

The actor Will Smith did an interview on his personal keys to success. In a part of the interview he said "If I get on a treadmill with someone then one of two things is going to happen. The other person is getting off first or I'm gonna die." What Smith is doing is expressing that he will not be outworked. What you might not see is Smith puts himself in a place where people will push him. People that are better than him will force him to push himself and become great. The environment in which someone puts themselves will do 2 things: It will make the person quit or it will push them to be successful. It is always important to remember that the people who are around you pushing you to take that next step are just as important as the practice you put in.




Note: I am aware of the Princeton study that was done that claims to disprove Gladwell's rule. I just wanted to explore the 10,000 hour rule in this article and the underlying meaning behind it.