Return Path did its first ever Twitterview (an interview over Twitter) with Simon O’Day, co-founder of eServices, one of our partner email service providers in Australia. Simon was one of the panelists in my session on “Taking Email Global” at the Email Evolution Conference in February. He has so many interesting things to say, that we wanted to explore deeper. We took that exploration to the Twit-o-sphere.
We had a wide-ranging conversation, however, my three top takeaways are:
1. Don’t assume you know the local market even if you know the language.
2. Partner with an ESP that can manage data, character sets and templates.
3. Consider the larger picture, meaning other media, the use of the inbox and mobile devices.
Below are the highlights of our conversation. Share what you think by placing your thoughts in the comments section below. Please do suggest yourself or other people for future Tuesday Twitterviews!
Thanks again to Simon for so generously sharing his insights and ideas.
@StephanieSAM: Hello @simonoz! Thanks for joining the Twitterview. Let’s talk email marketing and the challenges of going global. Tell me about your company eServices. What do you all do? Who do you work with?
@simonoz: We are full service email provider for large corporations in Oz. Have all technology and staff in country.
@simonoz: Clients include all verticals and brands such as Qantas, Vodafone, News Corp and about 40 others. Most of the clients are in region but some like Qantas are global in their communications reach.
@StephanieSAM: Is it easy to make money using email in Australia? Is email welcome among consumers and business professionals?
@simonoz: It’s harder to make money here overall for a few reasons. Mostly the culture here is not direct marketing based or catalogue based.
@StephanieSAM: If it’s not direct marketing based, what is it? More broadcast? Or do you mean not ecommerce?
@simonoz: I mean catalogue culture and all of that. Direct marketing is strong here but just not at same level as US or UK.
@simonoz: Most companies have built up their customer database slowly and protect that relationship. It’s better in the end.
@StephanieSAM: Agree it’s always better to protect your customer data! Glad to hear marketers feel that way.
@simonoz: Email is welcome and used a lot here for marketing and transactional email though so it is a good channel.
@StephanieSAM: Even though we both speak English, how obvious is it that I’m American if I send you the same messages created for US?
@simonoz: As an American I can attest that we are all louder and more direct.
@simonoz: Most importantly the use of English and slang is different so can be painfully obvious message came from outside Oz.
@StephanieSAM: How prevalent are the “global four” ISPs – Yahoo!, MSN/Hotmail, Gmail and AOL? What percent of a client file do they typically make up?
@simonoz: The big ISPs are relevant here and make up a very large part of the total ISP footprint.
@simonoz: In order – the top domains are Hotmail, Yahoo, BigPond, Gmail, iiNet and then a long tail of about 50 ISPs
@StephanieSAM: So the subscriber experience is going to be different, right? Do BigPond and iiNet offer a Report Spam button? Preview panes?
@simonoz: BigPond is critical to all email in Oz and yet they don’t have feedback loops, or reputation based systems.
@StephanieSAM: How do Australians feel about email marketing? Is it welcome?
@simonoz: Email trust is still high here because of the Spam Act and the fact most people use it the correct way vs. hard core spamming.
@StephanieSAM: Are most AUS files permission based?
@simonoz: Permission law here is fairly clear. It is opt in and about consent. Not much wiggle room.
@StephanieSAM: So that is single opt-in?
@simonoz: No law on single or double opt in – just that you cannot send an email to someone without consent or a business relationship.
@simonoz: We do see double opt in but a good program can use single opt in and still protect the customer well.
@StephanieSAM: The link to the Email Marketing/Privacy law in Australia is here.
@StephanieSAM: How do Australians respond to personalized salutation, e.g.: Dear Simon.
@simonoz: Personalisation is a tough one. I think we are getting cynical but in transactional emails like statements it’s fine.
@StephanieSAM: Good distinction on personalization for transaction vs. marketing. It’s only spammy if you don’t know me!
@simonoz: Right on. Clients such as Vodafone and Qantas are doing a great job on trigger and transactional email programs.
@StephanieSAM: What are some other things that marketers in other parts of the globe should know about email marketing to Australians?
@simonoz: I think we all have a problem with sending to other countries – is upsetting to see. We all assume too much.
@simonoz: Email technology does not have to necessarily be in that country but culturally your content should be created there. New Zealand is very different than Oz, as well.
@StephanieSAM: A question from a follower about email and social media in Australia. Is that a big area of focus now? It varies by country, yes?
@simonoz: Facebook and MySpace are huge here – my staff are killing me…always on it!
@StephanieSAM: Certainly a new generation will force brands to change strategies. Will there still be a place for brands in a personal inbox?
@simonoz: We see a good trend in Facebook especially as personal email is going there and traditional inboxes are for business email.
@StephanieSAM: Do marketers view their success – inbox deliverability, response, sign ups – as a shared responsibility, or do they blame you?
@simonoz: HA! The blame game is always around but responsibility is being defined slowly. We still have a blur on deliverability …
@StephanieSAM: I know infrastructure is important, but we believe that the control is all on the marketer’s side. Subscriber experience is key.
@simonoz: But more and more clients understand their role in reputation – so in a few years will be on par with what we see at best in US.
@StephanieSAM: We are getting down to the end of our time. Let’s end with your best advice to companies who want to enter the Australian market.
@simonoz: Best Advice – Realise that customers here may seem culturally similar but respect that they are not …
@simonoz: Research and understand how to communicate to other countries like Oz and don’t assume anything….
@simonoz: Would add on point 2 that the technology is important but the service and people helping are the key.
@StephanieSAM: Good advice for any country! Thank you so much, Simon!
@simonoz: Thanks again – anyone who wants to talk more about Oz and email can reach me at [email protected]