How a Unique Perspective Is a Valuable Asset

L’Oréal USA’s CMO talks about how she applies lessons she learned playing field hockey to marketing one of the world’s top beauty brands and how the company is giving back during the pandemic.
June 28, 2020 2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Gretchen Saegh-Fleming is CMO for L’Oréal USA. For #ThePlaybook, she talks with host David Meltzer about her high school field hockey experiences and how it taught her about the “great unlock” that comes from challenging the status quo.

As a left-hander, Saegh-Fleming was challenged by the unavailability of left-handed field hockey sticks. To play, she was required to learn how to hold the stick with a right-hander’s grip. As this grip did not come naturally, Saegh-Fleming put in additional time and practiced more than her teammates to achieve competency, ultimately rating her abilities as “OK.”

Her breakthrough occurred when she taught herself to play using a reverse grip, holding her right-handed stick in a left-hand grip — or backward. Her unique positioning confounded opponents, helped her team win games, turned her previous vulnerability into strength and taught her that what’s different from the status quo can be a tremendous asset.

Saegh-Fleming suggests recent graduates and job seekers lean into their uniqueness, citing the “Because I’m Worth It” tagline, the creation of a junior female copywriter who worked with mostly men.

Saegh-Fleming also discusses L’Oréal’s addressing of the pandemic and its impacts by mass-producing hand sanitizer and offering support to retail partners and salon owners.

Related: Don’t Believe Your Own Hype

Last Week’s Facebook Outage Proves Why Email Marketing Is Still So Valuable

Ensure your content gets seen — even when social media is going haywire.

March 18, 2019 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Last week saw Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp go down for several hours for millions of users, throwing business owners’ content marketing into limbo — and teens into a near-crisis.

The social media giant Facebook has thrown around impressive growth stats for years, saying, for example, that users still spend an average of 41 minutes a day on the platform. But building your audience on Facebook, Instagram or any private company’s channel can be a double-edged sword when its algorithm gets switched up or its systems go down.

So, whether you’re a coach, service provider, ecommerce business or local brick and mortar, it may be time to reconsider email marketing: It’s one of the best ways to reach customers, build relationships and increase sales, especially if you’re on a budget.

Yet, as a content marketer who spends most of his existence trying to captivate readers’ attention online, I’ve seen far too many general “Thanks For sSubscribing!” autoresponders (emails sent automatically to confirm you’re on the mailing list) flush opportunity down the drain.

Related: 5 Ways To Keep Your Email Marketing Out Of Gmail’s Promotions Tab

So, whether you’re passing along a free lead-magnet, a transaction receipt or just a friendly acknowledgement, the real estate of a thank-you email is far too valuable to ignore. And, as social media platforms continue to ride a rollercoaster of data scandals and meltdowns, savvy email marketing stands tall as one of the most cost-effective content strategies.

Here are five tips to up your game with this tried-and-true approach.

Set readers up to binge.

Many email marketing approaches will drip emails or create a nurture sequence. But in an era of Netflix-like bingeability, some consumers want to binge on you the moment they discover you.

In your autoresponder or first-touch point, direct the reader’s attention to some of your other winning content and you’ll turn seconds of attention into minutes (hopefully longer). When you do this right, your message will be etched into the consumer’s memory and ensure future content consumption.

For instance, you could showcase some of your best work — whether it be your five most popular YouTube videos, or the juiciest podcast interview you’ve ever recorded. Help readers get more by leading with your best work while you still have their interest.

Another option is to direct people to a social platform that you’ll be creating more content on. If your objective is to crush it on a single platform, sell the reader on following you there; if you’re a larger operation with multiple platforms, a suite of social icons will let readers choose the channels to gravitate toward in their free time.

If you’re an ecommerce business, a receipt email can also be a great opportunity to turn one sale into multiple sales by offering a time-sensitive deal or coupon. While brevity can sometimes be better, creativity is king: A study from Return Path, for instance, showed no correlation between subject-line length and open rate, meaning emails are opened through headline quality alone.

Assert your authority early on.

Email marketing behemoth Mailchimp sees an average open rate of almost 21 percent across its 16 million users’ accounts. The exception is your autoresponder email, which commands a blistering 50 percent to 90 percent open rate, making this strategy incredibly valuable real estate.

We know that consumers have to know, like and trust us before they’ll buy. So, use your welcome email to show off any credibility markers (including press mentions, appearances and awards) to affirm that you are the indisputable, best-in-class expert or product on the market.

Don’t have credibility markers. Testimonials can be a great substitute. Reach out to past clients or customers and ask for a two-to-three sentence summary of their experience or a video. You’re still in first-impression mode, so it’s important to fully leverage your autoresponder real estate.

Related: How To Boost Deliverability and Win At Email Marketing

Optimize For mobile.

Fifty percent of all emails are now opened on a phone, according to Campaign Monitor. And when users browse on their mobile device, reader attention starts dropping off after just eight seconds. Don’t let a slow email upload tank your audience.

Make sure you reduce image size on photos, too. Emails that don’t load properly on mobile are deleted after just three seconds, on average. Aim for an image width no larger than 600 pixels, and test your campaign on both mobile and desktop before pulling the trigger.

Also, break up long paragraphs of text for better aesthetics. A few lines on a desktop computer can end up looking like a block of words on mobile, which makes users tune out. Single-sentence paragraphs are not out of the question. (Just don’t overdo them.)

Re-send campaigns to contacts who didn’t open.

To ratchet up email open rates even higher, consider adding a step in which customers who don’t open what you offer are re-sent the same email but with a different subject line and opening sentences. Noah Kagan, the founder of Sumo, which provides free website tools, has written that he uses this strategy to boost his own open rate and build brand awareness. He said he’s been able to increase his open rates by over 30 percent using this tactic.

Small tweaks in your open rate can ensure your hard-earned subscribers and buyers are intrigued from day one — and engagement is ultimately what leads to more conversation, more sales and more business.

Related: This Is Why Email Marketing Still Outperforms Social Media

Embrace the GIF.

Social media provides major visual stimulation through video, live video and nifty filters.

While videos don’t autoplay in emails, GIFs — short for “graphics interchange format” image files — can provide the motion that keeps our eyeballs glued to our screens. Plus, they keep readers engaged and entertained, which is important. Giphy is a great solution for finding GIFs or making your own.

Again, think about email, not just social media. When your emails delight and engage your audience, you won’t need to fret the next time an algorithm changes or social media goes down for hours on end.

Facebook acquires teen-centric polling app tbh and all its valuable data

People provide tbh with data that Facebook could use to understand and target ads to teens that don’t use its social network.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Facebook continues to grapple with its teen problem.

Four years ago, Facebook’s then-CFO David Ebersman admitted that the social network “did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.” A month later, news broke that the company had tried but failed to buy Snapchat, which was and continues to be exceedingly popular among teens.

Four years later, Facebook is still seeing a decline in usage among teens, according to eMarketer. But now the company has succeeded in buying an app that appeals to — and collects data from — the detached demographic.

Facebook has acquired teen-centric polling app tbh, a company spokesperson confirmed, declining to discuss the purchase price or how Facebook plans to generate revenue from the app.

Launched in August 2017 and only available to iPhone owners in the US, tbh lets people anonymously answer generally positive polls about their friends. The app cross-references the contacts listed on a person’s phone with its user base to see which friends use tbh. Then it asks people about those friends, presenting them with a list of four friends at a time and prompting them to pick which one is “so unique they should be trademarked,” “always zips up the back of my dress” or “gives the best hugs,” among other yearbook-esque superlatives.

“tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together. We’re impressed by the way tbh is doing this by using polling and messaging, and with Facebook’s resources tbh can continue to expand and build positive experiences,” said Facebook’s director of corporate and financial communications, Vanessa Chan, in an emailed statement.

It’s clear why Facebook would want to buy tbh. The company doesn’t want another app ascendant among teens to parlay its popularity into competing with Facebook for advertisers’ budgets, as has happened to some degree with Snapchat. According to a tbh blog post published on Monday to announce the acquisition, “over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages.”

It’s somewhat less clear how Facebook will make back whatever money it has spent on the app. The app could add sponsored polls featuring branded questions like “always hangry and in need of a Snickers,” but that risks turning off people. Since the app locks people out after they’ve gone through a certain number of questions, it could offer people the choice of viewing an ad or otherwise interacting with a brand in order to unlock more questions.

But it’s possible that Facebook doesn’t need to directly reap revenue from tbh, at least not immediately, for the app to prove valuable. Facebook built its business on an ability to suss out people’s connections to friends and family members. That has been fueled by all the data people give Facebook about their relationships, from tagging friends in photos to commenting on family members’ photos to declaring relationship statuses. But the less teens use Facebook, the less relationship data it has about them. That hurts Facebook’s ability to create a network effect with which to keep teens on the social network. This is where tbh could come in.

Tbh provides Facebook with two types of data that could be particularly valuable.

First, when people sign up for tbh, they are asked to give their phone numbers and access to their contact lists. Assuming tbh will pass this data on to Facebook — as Facebook-owned now WhatsApp does — Facebook could use a person’s phone number to see if it is connected to a current or defunct Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and/or WhatsApp account. Even if it’s not, Facebook could use the phone number to see which Facebook users that person may be connected to, since many Facebook users provide the company with access to their contact lists. Facebook could then use these inferred relationships to triangulate a profile of that person based on their friends’ data, such as their interests. And it could use Apple’s and Android’s advertising-specific device IDs to then target that person with ads across the various apps within Facebook’s Audience Network ad network.

Second, when people use tbh, they are asked for data that’s useful in fleshing out a person’s relationships. “Always zips up the back of my dress” may seem like a trivial question, but the answer is an indication of how strong or weak a person’s connections are to the listed friends and can be used to weigh those relationships, which Facebook already does when deciding how to rank posts in people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds.

“Takes every single BuzzFeed quiz” may also seem insignificant, but it signals that the chosen friend is someone who’s interested in BuzzFeed, quizzes and learning about themselves and can be tied to that person’s profile in the same way that Facebook could use tbh to craft a person’s profile and target them with ads on or off Facebook.


About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

Three ways to put your valuable email data to work

From using AI to thinking cross-channel, contributor Eric Stahl shares how you can take advantage of data to step up your email marketing efforts.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Email has been a part of our lives for so long that most of us take it for granted. But take a closer look the next time your inbox pings. Marketers are always at work transforming email in new and interesting ways to engage the consumer.

I was reminded of this on a recent trip to Las Vegas, when I stayed at the Venetian. The morning I left, I received an email saying that all I needed to do to check out was click a button in the email message to initiate the process. I was pleasantly surprised because it was clear that the hotel valued my time by seamlessly integrating the checkout process into the regular flow of my life.

Email is older than social media and messaging apps, but don’t underestimate its power. Eighty percent of marketing leaders cite email marketing as core to their business, according to the 2016 Salesforce State of Marketing Research Report. Good campaigns elevate the experience so that you’re excited at that ding of new mail.

Go beyond simply acquiring email addresses

Email’s barrier to entry is low for consumers, and marketers know that. If someone already trusts a brand, it makes signing up a no-brainer. Just think of how many times you’ve given your email address at the register of a favorite store or online in exchange for an appealing offer.

But as a marketer, how do you handle that first interaction with the customer? You can’t just ask for an email address without giving something of value in return.

What will you give to encourage the customer to share? Companies that do business with other companies often offer white papers and free trials. Brands that deal directly with consumers, on the other hand, entice people with discounts, exclusive offers and membership program rewards.

Early on, marketers should interact with consumers minimally and intelligently by leveraging transactional emails, like shipping confirmations, receipts or appointment reminders. These sorts of messages have much higher open rates than promotional emails and build positive sentiment.

Progressive profiling over the course of subsequent interactions will yield more data, and give a better sense of the customer’s interests and preferences. Depending on what emails are opened, seen and acted upon, marketers will learn how to better personalize content and interact with specific consumers.

As data rolls in and refines consumer profiles, incentives can offer even more information about the customer. It’s an ongoing conversation whereby you get meaningful feedback quickly that you can act on. On the other hand, if you start to boost how many emails you send, and you see unsubscribes suddenly shoot up, you know you’ve hit the limit.

Double down on AI for better results

Companies have come a long way in their ability to engage with customers over email. They’ve gotten incredibly accurate with content and timing. Thanks to artificial intelligence, that accuracy continues to improve. The massive amount of data generated by customer browsing, response times, click-through rates and so on are sorted and filtered by AI software to generate predictive product and content recommendations — and to optimize the customer’s email journey like never before.

For example, sports-merchandise company Fanatics (disclosure: client) uses subscriber data and past purchase behavior to create unique emails for each subscriber. Since they manage most college and professional sports brands, they can leverage tons of data to understand trends.

In another example, furniture retailer Room & Board (disclosure: client) sends out a “complete your room” email, which is similar to an email intended to upsell the customer but is more sensitive to the customer’s buying decisions. By incorporating the customer’s browsing behavior into the message, the customer sees content that’s tailored for him or her — and it works. For Room & Board, targeted recommendations led to a 40 percent rise in the value of web orders and a 60 percent increase in the value of in-store purchases. The use of predictive intelligence to refine campaigns yielded an astounding 2,900 percent ROI in the first year of use alone.

Remember to think cross-channel

An effective email marketing strategy can take time to master, especially in this day and age when personalization can make or break a brand. So how can marketers ensure they’re targeting the right consumers with the right message at the right time? They’ve got to think cross-channel.

Because email generates so much useful data, it can support cross-channel engagement — like in advertising, for example. This can mean pairing emails with focused digital ads to increase visibility and the likelihood that a customer will buy. Or using customer email data to create customer audiences on platforms like Google or Facebook.

In a case study we released with Facebook, an online retailer targeted its customers with email marketing and Facebook ads on their profile pages. Not only did the retailer reach 77 percent more of its audience than with email alone, but those customers who saw the ads and opened the emails were 22 percent more likely to buy.

Cross-channel marketing can also be used to find new customers and win back old ones. Marketers can identify online behaviors of loyal customers in order to target new ones with digital ads across the web. They can also turn to targeted ads to reach unsubscribed users with an incentive to come back.

The number one and most important goal with cross-channel is to reach customers where they are and with content that they care about, which will help drive results and keep customers coming back for more.

While email may seem like old news, that’s far from true. Not only does email continue to drive incredible sales for brands, but it provides invaluable data for marketers to use for better customer engagement, from AI to cross-channel.

For a marketer, an email doesn’t just end at the inbox — it’s the start of a working relationship, and one that we’ll continue to see flourish.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Eric Stahl is senior vice president of product marketing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud, the #1 app for digital marketing, making it possible for marketers to plan, personalize and optimize 1-to-1 customer journeys across multiple channels. Previously Eric was senior director of Force.com Product Marketing at Salesforce, where he was responsible for evangelizing the benefits of cloud computing to Saleforce’s community, as well as the Force.com enterprise cloud computing platform. Prior to joining Salesforce in 2008, Stahl worked in a variety of product, marketing and finance roles at Informix Software and BEA Systems.