Lateral Group's Sales Director Adam Mangan with Nadeem of Azam Marketing
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The email marketing industry certainly has more than its fair share of characters, but Adam Mangan, Lateral Group’s Sales Director, has always passed through the bayesian filtering with me. Combining an acute understanding of his realm, an affable disposition and a penchant for honesty which is in short supply among people working in Sales, I look forward to each meeting not as much to discuss the projects we are working on but to spend a pleasant hour or so with somebody who has become a Friend.

Adam has been in the industry for seven and a half years and his roll call of clients ranges from Halifax and RBS to the likes of Clifford Chance, Budget Insurance and eBookers. He writes for publications such as Precision Marketing, in which the following article by him was also published.

Nadeem

Adam Mangan in meeting room at Lateral Group's headquarters in Barbican, London, UK
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Everyone in email marketing is searching for that elusive ‘next big thing’. One thing never changes though – the need to think creatively to stay ahead of the competition. Adam shares his views with readers of Azam Marketing’s blog.

Two weeks a go I was enjoying a cup of coffee in a small cosy café sitting with a friend of mine who works in the TV advertising world. We spent ten minutes discussing her latest project and how it will change her life for the positive when unexpectedly she asked me that question – the question, I get asked at least once a week.

"So, Adam, tell me, what is new in the email world?" Many of you who work within the digital space will understand my way of thinking when presented with this question. I mean it wasn’t long ago that so many people got it wrong and so many people pretended to know why. However it is a question I believe I can answer with honesty, experience and a little creative thinking.
 
Although many ESPs (email solution providers) can often be heard announcing with assurance, ‘ the new email landscape.’ In truth very few people have the ability to really influence market trends. As consumers are given more choice, more channels to market and more influence, marketing has become more action reactive. With online consumer spend doubling from one year to the next; e-tailers are constantly chasing the quick ‘buck’ in a fast growing competitive space. In a way, the reactionary solution has led to a downslide in creative thinking. Yes, email is very much about analytics, patterns, branding, dynamics etc. It is understandable and justified, that companies focus on ROI and ‘one2one’ communication, but too much of this is reactive and not enough proactive. The really smart companies recognise this and are determined to stay ahead of the competition by being proactive and creative with their strategies.
 
Over the last seven years I have attended many seminars, listened to hundreds of experts and taken tons of advice. Also during that time I have helped deliver, design and manage millions of emails for many different clients with many different needs. So what has changed and what can we next expect?
 
ISPs for one have changed their stance. First it was a case of ‘hey look how many emails we helped into inboxes’, then it was ‘hey look how many emails we block’ and now it’s somewhere in-between. The good news is that the major ISPs are now starting to work closer together towards a common goal of information and process share. This should lead to a fairer and more clearly defined reputation model designed to aid reputable ESPs and reduce the impact of spammers. They recognise that ESPs are allies and that they should be able to help us deliver customer messages and not just to stop spammers. Deliverability has become a major issue for ESPs, many of them stating ISP relations as a prime focus for their clients.
 
Functionality and service offerings have moved on hugely over the last few years. Although there are still suppliers focusing on the old areas of ‘subject line testing’, viral marketing, a/b testing, dynamic content, asp or managed, click and open rate, ROI measurement, HTML validation, bounce management, design etc, these are seen as standard offerings, requirements and standard areas of knowledge. The most forward thinking ESPs are offering ‘real’ consultancy, multi channel marketing, advanced analysis, behavioural analysis and marketing, client specific collateral, legal advice, creative thinking and advanced reporting tools.
 
It is also important for ESPs not to move too far away from the basic customer requirements, which still remain as: a good support network, a flexible solution and knowledge share, all at a competitive price.
 
The value add for ESPs has to be something truly compelling, not cosmetic but real, something that puts them a step a head of the competition. For me, with the solution to one side, it has to be the people, the knowledge and their capacity for creative thinking. To really benefit your clients you have to dig deeper, to get to understand there needs, processes, end goal and even the environment they work within. That way you can build an appropriate and long lasting solution for them.
 
The future for email is smarter software, built around dynamic delivery engines that can trigger multiple messages, to multiple destinations, building detailed profiles and recognising future trends. Add to that what will become an Instant Messenger revolution once organisations realise that its better to control than to restrict. There are already organisations securely using Instant Messenger for marketing purposes, which are able to track messages delivered when someone is online. Handset advancement will have a continued impact on email as will SEO and web analytics as they start to fully integrate with data management solutions. For me things are only just starting to become really interesting.
 
Those of us who want to stay ahead and influence the market are already making waves in all the areas mentioned, while still maintaining high standards of support and doing the simple things right. Just add a touch of creative thinking and you can have something truly compelling, something that differentiates you from the competition.
 

Job opportunities: Lateral Group is hiring. Contact Adam Mangan at AMangan [at] lateralgroup.co.uk if you may be interested in working for one of London’s leading digital agencies.