Episode 255 Featuring Alex Bond

Interactive Email Marketing with Aquibur Rahman

Interactive Email Marketing with Aquibur Rahman

Aquibur Rahman is the Founder and CEO of Mailmodo, an email marketing solution that enables users to send app-like interactive emails. Aquibur has over seven years of experience in marketing and growing brands. He's also helped many B2C and B2B brands, including early-stage tech startups, to fast-track growth using agile and data-driven marketing processes. When Google released AMP emails, Aquibur saw great potential in it for reinventing email marketing. This led him to start Mailmodo to help businesses get better ROI from email marketing.

On this episode, Aquibur and I discuss the impact on interactive emails, what makes a great subject line, how he gamified email marketing, and much more.


What is Mailmodo

Aquibur Rahman: We are a software product, Mailmodo. We are an email marketing software for marketers to add interactive components like forms, quizzes, polls, et cetera, within the email itself. So that users can take action within the inbox without going to a. website or landing page. 

So traditionally as a user you get an email, you have to first open it, then read it, then click on a link, go to a website, maybe log in there to complete any action. Now with mail model emails, you can do all those actions like filling a survey form or responding to a feedback form or playing a quiz or a game all within the email itself. 

Alex Bond: That's amazing. And you touched on something that I, that I had kind of slated later in the interview, but you mentioned games in the email. And so with MailModo, you've implemented a way to gamify email marketing as well. Can you kind of explain that to me and our audience a little bit? 

Aquibur Rahman: Yeah. Gamification is always a marketer's favorite tactics, right? And people see a lot of engagement with gamification. We realize that traditionally the emails have been really boring. It is just text, images, or link. All you can do is click on the link, right? 

But if you add certain gamification element, like for example, we do a spin the wheel, we do polls, quizzes, or even dice throw, et cetera, it get curiosity among the user and they want to see what is happening behind the, that wheel, right? And then they engage more and more. 

So one, it helps in more engagement and in turn, it helps in more revenue for the brand, but it also helps in more overall improvement and deliverability and your reputation with the email client. So email clients check your engagement level or user's engagement level for your domain to understand whether to put your email in the inbox or different folders or in spams.

And with more engagement means that your users are liking your emails. They put, give you more and more preference that helps you cross all the matrices that matters for more more email marketers. 

Interactive vs. Non-Interactive Emails

Alex Bond: The word that I kind of hear you revolving around is interactivity. And I think, or engagement that's the other word that I really hear. And so I'm extremely curious what the success rate of these interactive emails versus non interactive emails? What's the success rate? 

Aquibur Rahman: Yeah, it depends on different use cases and also how you define success, whether click is a success, whether it's an open ended success or whether revenue success for you.

I can give you a certain example and certain use cases where we have seen. Much better results with interactive forms within email. So, for example, there was a brand which did NPS surveys within the email. Traditionally they had use to put a link to a web form and we replace the email with a email form where people can respond to the NPS rating within the email itself.

And if they say that if they used to give rating below 6. the, there was a next question. Hey, what can we improve? What can we do better to make your rating attend? Their response rate increased by 257 percent just because we eliminated certain steps from email to their web form. So that was one example.

There was another lead gen form and there we saw 80 percent increase in conversion because people can fill their lead in the email form itself then and there without going to a Landing page. So in different cases, the results can vary. And what we do is we put a benchmark compared to a normal email like that. This usually send. 

Defining Success: Key Metrics to Measure and Optimize Brand Performance

Alex Bond: And so what, in your opinion, we were mentioning and talking about it depends on what our measure of success is, right? Do you have a specific measure of success that you recommend when you're working with brands? 

I mean, is it a conversion that turns into a sale? Is it an open? Because you know, on your website, there's a lot of talk about just opening an email is considered a success and it is, but I'm curious Aquib what your recommended metric of successes. 

Aquibur Rahman: Yeah, so in most cases, I would not recommend missing success on open or even click. I would measure success on basis of conversion. So the conversion can mean anything for your brand. 

So for example, somebody who is sending an NPS survey, number of people who are responding to the survey or giving you feedback is success. So that is a conversion. If you're an e commerce brand and the only thing that matters for you is the revenue, then probably the revenue or number of sales is success.

Let's say, if for a SaaS company and the only thing that matters to you is people booking a meeting with your salesperson, that could mean a success for you. So the success would differ from company to company, but at the end, it should be one business goal, a conversion, and not an open, not a click.

Maximizing the Impact of Email Marketing: Effective Strategies for Business Success

Alex Bond: So what are some other ways that businesses can improve their results from email marketing? 

Aquibur Rahman: So email marketing is a very good channel for retention and nurturing. It is not the best channel for acquisition. For acquisition, you have ads, SEO, sales, etc. But email is a good channel for nurturing.

So let's say you're doing a lot of content marketing, and you're bringing top of the funnel users, and you're engaging them in different ways, and you have their email IDs. You should use email as a channel to build relationships with them, build trust with them, and nurture them, make them to like your brand, as well as be on top of their mind so that when they need.

The problem your product or when they need to solve the problem that your product is solving, your brand should come on top of their mind. Let's say about take an example of SAS product and let's say, let's take an example of MailModo itself, right? 

So Mailmodo customers are email marketers and we created a lot of different types of content for email marketers through which we do get their email IDs, but not all of them are going to buy Mailmodo today.

So if I just send them email, Hey, please buy my product. This is the best email marketing software in the world. Nobody is going to care about that. But if I continuously engage with them and nurture them helping them understand what email marketing is or how they can improve their results from email marketing, et cetera, they will realize that, hey, Mailmodo is a very helpful brand.

Mailmodo helps me even though I'm not a customer, right? When they need to switch their tool from something else, they would consider mailmode on top of their list. Mailmodo is a brilliant way to nurture, educate, and engage your users.

Mailmodo vs. its competitors

Aquibur Rahman: So yeah, so like you rightly pointed out, we compare with MailChimp, Klaviyo, like Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and likes of these email marketing tools. We realized that most of these tools just focus on simplifying email sending. They have a traditional editor, which has not changed for a decade, which is very clumsy. 

You can do only limited amount of things in email, and then you send. Your emails to your users, but the new brands, new startups and companies who are growing, they want to engage their users more. They want to do different things with their email. 

And that's why we focus a lot on improving the email creation, both for the end user to make them make it easier for them and as well as for the marketer themselves to make it easier for them to create these emails. So traditionally the emails which took almost a week on any other tool, they can create those emails in a matter of minutes on Mailmodo.

Apart from that, we have enriched the whole campaign sending and campaign workflow management on our platform with educative instructions across the platform to avoid any kind of mistakes. So what we realized that most marketers are not expert in sending emails, they make a mistake. We can make their emails land into spam or blocked by the email clients, etc.

So we want them at each and every step as well as guide them, make their emails perform better. Apart from that, we also realize that support has been missing from most of other email marketing tools. The only thing that you can do is like go on their website, buy and do everything yourself. 

So we help our customers educate them and onboard them in a manner that they get successful over a period of time and they don't get stuck in their journey and they, or they don't get, they should get enough results from it.

And the last part is that we also realize that in a difficult markets like today's pricing is very important and that's why we slashed our pricing this month and it has become probably one of the most affordable email marketing solutions out there while providing the best ROI possible. So, if you compare the prices with MailChimp or Klaviyo, anything like that, our prices are much better than them while providing better ROI and ease of doing email marketing.

Understanding Email Deliverability and Avoiding the Spam Folder

Alex Bond: And you mentioned something in there that I'm extremely curious about and that is specifically what are some of those things that put my email's in a spam folder and I've talked to the few people about this and it feels like it changes like email to email or company to company or send address to send address. And I'm curious what your thoughts on that are. 

Aquibur Rahman: Yeah, there's plenty of factors on which different email clients judge an email, whether to put it in a box or the junk of the user. However, one simple principle is make your emails for the user, make it valuable for the user. So I classify all those factors in three buckets.

Number one is your historical user engagement. So whenever you are sending emails to users, your users can either open it, read it, engage with it, or they can just stick ahead. I have been getting this email so many times, just click on it, delete it, or just put mark it as a spam or put it in a junk folder.

So there are positive interaction and there are negative interaction. Your goal should be to increase those positive interaction. Why? Because email clients work for their users, not for. Your brand, right? They want the best experience for the so they keep tracking how different users are behaving with a brand's email.

If they're more positive engagement, they think that okay, this brand has been sending good emails. Let's put them into primary folder. However, if they see that a lot of users are giving negative engagement, that means that this brand is not good. Let's put their email in the spam folder. So, your historical engagement with the user matters a lot.

Second factor is your content of the email itself. Let's say if your email is very conversational in nature and it feels like it is something going to be like a friend to friend email. Email threads are smart enough today to understand that and put your emails in primary folder. However, if it has something like, hey, this is a 50 percent discount offer, I will delete today, exclamation mark.

So many times it is by now. It's probably going to be a spam or at least. promotion. So the content matters a lot. And third is your whole domain reputation or IP reputation, etc. It basically tells the email client how trustworthy the sender is. So there are certain authentication parameters as well called DKIM, SPF, and DMARC.

Those are technical terms, but easily available on Google to understand. So these parameters basically tells that the sender is the actually the sender of this email and not a phishing email or not a somebody is trying to get your information. 

These authentication as well as your domain reputation and IP reputation tells the email plan that This is a good sender or this is a bad sender and they put the good sender in the inbox of the user and they put the bad sender in the spam folder.

So basically the crux of it is that you need to understand how email clients work. Email clients want the best experience for their users. And if you bring the best experience for the users, your emails will land into primary or folders of the email client. But if your emails are not meant for the best interest of the users, your emails will go into spam. That is how I think about it. 

The Art of Email Subject Lines: Unleashing the Power of AI-Generated Openers for Maximum Impact

Alex Bond: One of the other things that I saw on your company website is that MailModo is able to generate email subject lines instantly using artificial intelligence, which I don't think is something that I've seen. I've seen copy for a website or maybe even kind of the copy for an email, but not really the subject lines. And I think that's pretty interesting. First off, how important is the subject line in the email process? 

Aquibur Rahman: Yeah, so I would say subject line is one of the most important factor to make sure that your emails get read. So no matter how beautiful your email is or how beautiful, how engaging the conversation is, if people are not opening our emails, it is not being read, right?

Or it is not being used or communicated to the user. Even if your emails line into the primary folder, the user, the user can choose to ignore your emails or just read your subject and delete it. Right. Many of the times that happened, you and I would be doing the same as well. 

So subject line is important to make people read your email and then only they would take any action or do any conversion activity or engagement activity. So what we have started doing with AI is that we are giving multiple options.

One is that with the content of the email itself, we will generate subject lines and we generate multiple subject lines for you so that you can choose and even do AB testing and all to see what works for you and what doesn't work for you. 

You can also give additional instructions, like let's say that you want to define the tone of your subject line or define the character length of the subject line, etc. to give you more recommendation generated by AI. With that we also show what kind of different subject lines work. Or don't work by showing the different types of historical open rates for your brand as well. 

So we do all of that to help you make better decisions around your subject. So everybody is doing AI today and a lot of products are bringing AI features in their product. And we thought that this could be the most low hanging fruit for our product, for our users to try. So, but we are not stopping there. 

We are next to bringing the AI element in the content creation as well, which is going to go live next week again, then in a few weeks time, what we're going to do is you just put your website and we will generate the whole email sequences.

For you with your brand, your logo, your color, et cetera. So you don't have to do much on Mailmodo. Just you can start with just your domain and all your emails and sequences will be created automatically. 

The Future of Email Marketing: Anticipating Industry Transformations in the Next Decades

Alex Bond: I'm curious Aquib, what your opinion on email marketing as a whole, what the future of that industry is looking like? Well, let's say 5, 10, 15 years from now, where do you see that changing a little bit?

Aquibur Rahman: In past email marketing has not changed a lot, actually. It has been one of the most affordable channels to engage your audience, and it is probably going to be like that in the near future as well, because it is the only channel where you keep your captive audience. In any other channel, like let's say Facebook, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.

Those audience are not yours. Let's say you have been posting on Facebook earlier when Facebook started, everybody used to see your post, but now hardly even 1 percent used to see your post, right? 

So these other channels can own those users and they can change their algorithms anytime. But your email audience who have given you the consent to send them emails, They are your own subscriber, you can engage with them, work with them, and promote your product to them in the way you want.

The other difference in email and any other channel, even let's say the new channels that are coming like SMS and WhatsApp, they are too costly to even communicate anything to. Your users email is not costly at all. It is probably the cheapest channel and the ROI is the highest among all channels. I don't see any competition coming to email in that way.

People have to keep using email, both from a user point of view and from brands point of view, because this is the only way you can communicate to your users effectively as well as affordably. 

Alex Bond: And I've noticed just at large, not a lot of change. In the use of email, the main reason I say that is because anytime I've ever signed up for anything, whether it is a website or a brand or, you know, some sort of online community, you have to verify your email address. It's not verify your cell phone number. It's not verify, you know, a block chain. I don't I don't know. It's still the same as it was 15 years ago. 

And that's verify your email address because that's the way that we're going to contact you. And is that because it's cheaper than sending text messages or phone calls, or is it because that feels too invasive? I mean, why has email continued to pretty much dominate the space for, you know, 15 years now? 

Aquibur Rahman: I think there are plenty of factors. One, it is a standard practice. And let's say a new brand, a new company comes and they don't want to change it. They don't want to like, well, when everybody is communicating over email, they don't want to communicate or let's say SMS or blockchain. Probably some people will read those messages, but not everybody will read those messages. 

So one is the standard in the industry itself. And it is very hard to change. Any kind of behavior that is already been made among the masses. Second is that email is universally applicable. Like everybody has email, like everybody who has phone, a smartphone, they need to have email.

Everybody who has an on internet, they have to have email. So it is like an identity. that you have on internet and that makes it easier for any brands to communicate. Third is of course our phones like phone number or sms or whatsapp except are very personal spaces. We want only our friends to communicate over there.

We don't want companies to start sending me, hey, buy this this is Halloween on my SMS on my WhatsApp. So I think there are multiple factors which is causing in this to continue being being the default channel for all brands to communicate with their user. 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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