Email replies, Google Ads dynamic exclusion lists: Monday’s daily brief

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Good morning, Marketers, and are you feeling social?

I turned today to the New York Times technology coverage looking for some light relief. Big mistake. In addition to a coalition of consumer and children’s groups begging Mark Zuckerberg not to launch an Instagram for under-13s (what could possibly go wrong there?), I found an article discussing why so many people are so strongly drawn to divisive, angry, confrontational content on platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Said Times technology correspondent Cade Metz, “(I)t’s irresponsible for anyone to say that’s just how some people are. We all have a role to play in not stoking the worst of human nature…” Well let me just be Mr. Irresponsible and say that’s precisely how some people are. I am a scarred veteran of the Internet food forum wars of the 2000s, where users would ignore helpful tips on making mayonnaise in order to wade into endless, furious fights about whether hot dogs are sandwiches, or if restaurants should be allowed to impose dress codes. (I know you have opinions on both those topics, admit it.)

So it’s hardly surprising that discussions of political, social or religious issues become hot zones. What’s a social marketer to do? Try to avoid messaging in the vicinity of such content? Be sure your own brand values are clear? Because you’re not going to give up on social, are you? How do we solve a problem like social media? That’s a question society is eventually going to have to face.

Kim Davis
Editorial Director

How you handle email replies matters for great customer experiences  

In his latest article, digital marketing leader Ryan Phelan challenges marketers to review their practices for handling the “reply-to” emails generated by their campaigns. Many of the emails which arrive in response to campaign messaging will be autoresponses, like undeliverable notifications or out-of-office replies. But some of the emails will have been written in the expectation of being read.

These, of course, probably include unsubscribe requests and other hostile messages. But there might also be positive messages — comments or questions, for example — which deserve a response. This is where reply-to handling comes in. “You might not need to look at 95 out of the 100 email replies that come in after you send a campaign,” writes Phelan. “But those remaining five can be unsubscribe requests or comments. Sometimes people reply with questions about the products in your email or ask for help with issues they’re having with your company. Why? Because they may very well be new to shopping online. This is why you should look at the replies people send you from your email campaigns: it helps you see what’s on your customers’ minds.

Sizable email teams supported by customer service operations should be able to solve the logistics of reviewing large numbers of replies, especially as most will be irrelevant. Smaller teams may not be able to meet the challenge, but should at least review how their email platform is handling the reply-to function. B2B teams are generally handling smaller volumes of email, and those replies should certainly be given personal attention.

Test my theory, marketers. Reply to a bunch of automated or campaign emails in your own inboxes. See what you get back. A personal reply? An autoresponder telling you how to unsubscribe or get a personal reply? Nothing? Pay attention to the customer’s expectations of a personal relationship. Ignoring their replies is ignoring the opportunity for growth.

Read more here.

Gen Z impatient with bad digital experiences

Digital experience platform Sitecore this week released the second in a series of surveys looking at how the current environment is affecting marketers and consumers (you can read about results from the first survey here). Based on a survey of 1,000 Gen Z consumers, Sitecore found significant impatience with brands that offered a poor digital experience. 

  • 63% are impatient with slow or poorly functioning websites;
  • 57% are less loyal to brands than before the pandemic;
  • 37% will abandon a purchase or post a negative review if the digital experience is bad.

Fewer than half of those interviewed said they would give retail brands more than two chances before switching to a competitor. On the other hand, 76% expected brands to reward them if they do stay loyal. Finally, a remarkable 83% view online shopping as an experience rather than just a transaction.

Why we care. Gen Z, by most definitions, encompasses people born from 1997 through to around 2012 or 2015. The oldest are in their early 20s. This is a digitally native generation, and thanks to the pandemic they’re now spending almost all their time in a digital world — especially as consumers. The demand for swift engagement, delightful experiences and seamless commerce is only going to grow: and digital disruptors, from Amazon to Uber to Airbnb are setting a high benchmark. None of this is going to change.

Google Ads to roll out dynamic exclusion lists in coming weeks 

In an effort to make it easier for brands to show near unwanted content, Google is rolling out dynamic exclusion lists. Google listened as advertisers provided feedback on how difficult and time-consuming maintaining brand exclusions lists was becoming. So the solution is a dynamic option that makes sure these lists stay up to date. 

Before this update, the “advertiser controls” options in Google Ads allowed search marketers to exclude certain websites, content types, and entire topics from campaigns. However, in the current form, many advertisers — and especially smaller businesses — were unable to keep up.

With the new solution, “advertisers and agencies can create their own exclusion lists or use lists from trusted third parties, such as brand safety organizations and industry groups, which can be updated seamlessly,” tweeted Ginny Marvin, ads product liaison.

Why we care. As content across the internet shifts and evolves, it’s critical that advertisers keep up with any exclusions they need to ensure their brands don’t show near content that doesn’t match their message. Dynamic exclusion lists can make it easier for your brand to do just that while requiring less of the advertiser’s time and attention ongoing.

Read more here.

Quote of the day

“Marketing teams don’t create demand because their attribution models & KPIs don’t incentivize them to do it. And it’s really that simple. Because creating demand involves using awareness channels — mainly 3rd party content platforms that every B2B buyer uses today — in ways that are difficult to measure with attribution software.” Chris Walker, CEO, Refine Labs

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech Today. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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