Who to Follow: Chad S. White (@chadswhite)
Chad S. White really knows his onions.
Chad is the research director at Litmus, one of the biggest and most recognised brands in the rapidly expanding email SAAS space. He is also an author, former journalist, father, and raw cookie dough eater.
Now in his third year with Litmus, Chad spends his days researching email marketing issues, trends, and tactics—and sharing advice on how marketers can improve their email programs. Chad dispenses this advice through blog posts, webinars, workshops, or other channels.
Key among these “other channels” is Chad’s book Email Marketing Rules, the much-anticipated 3rd Edition of which was released just a few weeks ago.
A well respected and seasoned veteran of the email marketing game, Chad’s journey to the heights of email glory has seen him involved with many of the industry’s biggest names.
After working as a journalist with Dow Jones & Co. and Condé Nast, Chad S. White first dipped his toes into email by founding the Email Retail Blog, where he blogged six days a week for more than 6 years about retail email marketing trends and tactics.
The Email Retail Blog proved to be an effective email industry springboard, and Chad went on to work with Salesforce, ExactTarget, Responsys, Smith-Harmon, the Direct Marketing Association and the Email Experience Council, before finally landing at Litmus.
With bona fides like that, it is little wonder that Chad has been one of our phavourite phollows since our earliest days in the email marketing social media communities.
Proof that emails sent without permission make people want to kill themselves. Save a life. Always practice permission-based email marketing https://t.co/n9k3j6VH8Z
— Chad S. White (@chadswhite) July 17, 2017
Now that we know that Chad’s social accounts are well worth a look, let’s see what else he has to say…
Chad S. White tale of the tape:
Favourite food: Mexican (I grew up in Houston, Texas).
Dream job as a child: Architect.
Last big purchase: A new fence for our house.
Guilty pleasure: Cookie dough.
Pet peeve: The flip-flopping of flip-flops.
An interview with Chad S. White
For those who might not know, what is Litmus, and how does it make life easier for marketers/brands?
Litmus is a web-based software that works with your existing email service provider to give you better visibility into subscriber experience problems—and easily fix them. We’re best known for our email previews, which let you see how your emails render in more than 70 email clients worldwide. But we also offer Spam Testing, which prevents deliverability problems; Builder, which is an HTML editor designed specifically for email; and Email Analytics, which lets you see which email clients your subscribers are using to open your emails, the geolocation of your subscribers, how often your emails are forwarded, and more.
What can you tell us about your book: Email Marketing Rules? Any surprising takeaways?
The new 3rd Edition of Email Marketing Rules has been updated and greatly expanded. Just shy of 500 pages, it has 30 new rules, 7 new chapters, and 26 new charts and illustrations. Like the earlier editions, it helps marketers easily understand the norms and workings of the channel. But the new edition has a much greater focus on providing decision aids, workflow frameworks, and lists of tactics and ideas to consider. So while still beginner-friendly, Email Marketing Rules now has much more to offer experienced email marketers, who can use the book to audit their email programs and identify opportunities for improvement.
What do email marketers need to keep in mind when writing an email subject line?
There are many myths about subject lines, but the biggest is that the goal of a subject line is to generate opens. The real goal is to generate openers who are predisposed to convert. You want the right subscribers to open your emails, not the merely curious. So write subject lines that detail what the email is actually about, and determine the winner of a subject line A/B test by looking at which one drives the most conversions, not opens.
What is the most important metric for measuring the success of an email marketing campaign?
There are so many metrics that email marketers need to keep an eye on, but the most important is email conversions. Are your subscribers taking the action that you’re asking them to take in your emails? That email conversion could be buying something, registering for a webinar, clicking through to a video—whatever you’re asking them to do.
What have been the most exciting developments in email marketing over the past couple of years?
The newest and most exciting email development is interactivity. I like Mark Robbins’ definition, that email interactivity is “an action taken in an email that triggers an event within the same email.” Brands like Neiman Marcus, Horchow, and REI are using interactive hamburger menus in their emails, and Nest, Lego, and others have used interactive email carrousels, for instance.
That’s cool, but what’s truly exciting for me about it is that we’re pulling landing page functionality into the email, which reduces friction and creates better customer experiences. Because of this, email is slowly morphing from just a gateway to a landing page to more of a destination in its own right.
For example, the email we sent announcing the launch of ticket sales for our Litmus Live conferences allowed subscribers to add conference and workshop tickets to their shopping cart inside the email. They only needed to click through to enter their payment information and convert. Security concerns may bog down our ability to complete transactions completely within an email, but I’m optimistic that those issues can be overcome.
The continued rise of marketing automation and personalization is also really exciting, especially considering the growth of Big Data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
What important developments to you see on the industry’s horizon?
Some of the brewing developments that I talk about in the final chapter of Email Marketing Rules include:
– The voice- and gesture-based navigation of inboxes and the audio transcription of emails
– The end of image blocking
– The rise of rich content and interactivity, which will allow people to play videos, browse product assortments, and eventually even make purchases—all without leaving their inboxes
– A big increase in the usage of personalisation, segmentation, and triggered emails thanks to marketers’ ability to tap Big Data, harness cross-channel integration, and leverage sophisticated digital marketing platforms.
What part will AI play in email marketing’s future?
Artificial intelligence and automation will make acting on Big Data much easier and make data-driven marketing much more pervasive. AI will take over some email marketing tasks completely, particularly those that require instant action. Automation will become more fluid and adaptive, shifting from being prescriptive to principle-based sense and respond.
However, in most cases, machine learning will simply provide email marketers with suggestions for triggers, segmentation, offers, copy, subject lines, and more. In most cases, it will still be up to the email marketer to then make the best decisions based on their experience and the information available to them.
Together, automation and AI-powered suggestions will have a significant impact on how email marketers do their jobs in the future, and what those jobs entail.
Final question, for branding’s sake, who is your favourite superhero?
So… all three of my sons have middle names inspired by superheroes. My eldest son’s middle name is Xavier, after Charles Xavier (aka Professor X). My middle son’s is Parker, after Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man). And my youngest son’s is Jordan, after Hal Jordan (aka Green Lantern). Although it was surely not our parents’ intentions, my wife and I have middle names that match up with a high-powered superhero married couple. My wife’s middle name is Jean and mine is Scott, the first names of Jean Grey and Scott Summers (aka Cyclops). The superhero geekiness is strong in my family.