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Spray and Pray Email is Dead [Episode 1149]

This week, we have our very own Alastair Woolcock and Howard Brown diving into the recent changes in the realm of email communication, sparked by Yahoo and Google. Their discussion centered on the significant implications these alterations hold for go-to-market strategies worldwide, highlighting the role of email as a platform for personalized communication, shifting away from the outdated “spray and pray” method and leveraging AI-driven tools to ensure relevance and value in customer interactions. Tune in to hear these leaders discuss the necessity for companies to adapt their outreach strategies to align with these changes and how AI can help.


Podcast Transcript:




Welcome back everybody to this week’s podcast episode for sales strategy and enabling. I’m Alastair Woolcock, Chief Strategy Revenue Officer. Join me by my co -host, founder and CEO Howard Brown, the pioneer and recognized authority in all things revenue science, and behavioral change.






Howard, how are you feeling today? I’m feeling great, excited to be here again with you Alastair. You know, it’s been a little bit since you and I got together Howard and today is just us and we want to dive into a topic that is kind of drifted quickly in and out of the news but is really important to most people on their go-to-market efforts and that’s email.






Now, I’m not the most excitable person when it comes to email. I find it largely annoying but apparently I’m not the only person because as we have now seen with the changes announced by Yahoo, Google and many other big email providers, there they’ve launched a new error of how we’re going to have to reshape communication.






And in just to give the quick insights to everybody, the announcements and changes they’ve done is going to impact all bulk sending email worldwide. It’s going to create tighter domain authentication, simplified on subscription processes and really looking at making sure you’re very much compliant with any spam rates that are going.


1:38 – 2:10




Now, in a world Howard where frankly, spray and pray marketing and sales has been the go -to mantra in email for several years now, these rules endeavor to change that. What have you read? What are you thinking? And let’s dive into that a little bit for our audience here today on How do we help people get around and understand what’s happening with these rule changes with email? Yeah, well, I think first of all, nobody’s gonna get around it, right?






We all have to comply with the rule changes and let me be the one to say thank goodness. It is about time. The spray and pray methodology where you’re just going to send out a message to as many people as possible, hoping that you are able to snag somebody who’s interested in your wares.


Those days are gone. People are too busy. They’re too distracted by too much and the idea of just having tons of spam in our inbox is a waste of productivity and time for everybody. As you know, today’s buyers, they’re focused on what they need. If you’re not adding value to them through every form of communication, you’re just going to be blocked. You’re not going to have another at bad. I think we’ve always focused at revenue .io on adding value.






Our tools, we’re focused on how to better communicate with one another, how to make sure sales reps were helpers. We’re helping people make purchase decisions. We’re helping people better communicate with their customers. It was never about simply spamming everybody, creating lists, allowing your reps to simply email out to a bulk list in hopes of targeting somebody. It’s always been about creating very focused targeted campaigns that go after the ICPs and the personas and get them engaged.






Remember, a lot of times, engaging means somebody’s already on your website. They’ve already shown intent. That’s when email and these forms of communication are the most important and the most valid.


When I think about the changes that Gmail and Yahoo and some of the others are making, good. It goes back to, it’s time for this to be done. All of these engagement platforms that essentially were creating the spam was giving essentially all the businesses that were using those tools, poor domain scores, and poor branding.






When I see a message come in and I get spammed over and over, I block them. The chances of me buying something from a service or product that’s spamming me is almost none. That’s my quick and probably a lengthy take on it.


I’m doubling down on your thankfulness, Howard, in that I have for a long time felt that email is a, what we’re saying is, spray and pray tool as opposed to what it should be, which it should be a medium to share rich digital content, complex ideas that require me to synthesize and read through, and not another email that is getting me a breakup email because I because man, I, all those breakup emails I’ve broken up with apparently a lot of people, but jokes aside on this, right, it has real ramifications.






So just through the audience knows this rule change applies to anybody that is effectively sending over 5,000 emails a day, which you know that may sound like a lot on the top, but you think that when people are downloading using content targeting data to the tune of 10s, 200, 1000 a month.


It doesn’t take much to get to sending 20, 30, 50, 100 , 1000 emails a day. Most companies are going to be impacted by these changes. It’s required some specific rates as well. When we calculated this out, it was looking that you have to be below a 0.3% threshold in terms of monitoring your complaint rates associated with all this stuff as well.






If you’re still going to send out, you need to know what’s happening and where it’s going, who’s not liking what you’re sending on top of this. CIOs are something that I’ve really decided, I think internally. CIOs who we don’t deal with as much, but certainly going to have a front seat on this, creating corporate policies in their companies that are going to be affecting their go -to -market teams that say, we are no longer going to bulk send email.






I think that in itself, when I think of the land state of revenue technologies and engagement technologies, you nailed it. They’ve relied upon this idea of what we just send these sequences and hit everybody and see what happens. Whereas now, you’re really going to need very advanced analytics, you absolutely need to have good authentication. Really, the emphasis is going to be back on the personalization and do you actually at least have a modicum of an idea of who you’re going to reach out to.






Because if I’ve taken the amount that you can send and cut it down exponentially, isn’t that sending going to be really critical going forwards? It doesn’t have to be a lot better than it’s ever been before. As I said, no more breakup emails to try to guilt me into responding. At the end of the day, I think it’s going to require every company to think about their outreach strategy because current outreach strategies are not going to work anymore.






What does that mean? So when you think about Revenue.io and our partnership with Dun and Bradstreet, for example, it’s all about finding the right contact at the right company and using our AI to recommend who you should be reaching out to and what message, using things like our generative email to help write advanced copy and make those suggestions as to what is important that your prospect or customer would want to actually engage in.


Again, I’m really excited about all the opportunity for generative, but most importantly, how do I craft email that’s going to add value to my prospect or customer? What do I need to be specifically addressing?






And that’s we’re using generative to find out more about your prospect to understand. their writing styles to understand what’s important to them. What are they creating content around? What business problems are they trying to solve?


So it goes back to quality over quantity. And you want to have tools today that improve your effectiveness and your productivity, but highly focused on creating messaging both in how you communicate verbally, as well as your written ability to really connect to with your buyers and customers.






If you’re not focused on better connection, if you’re not focused on more value, you’re just going to be left behind. So I urge all CIOs, all heads of marketing and sales to really look at the tools that they’re using, because if there are not built in purpose driven applications to essentially make certain that reps are just doing the spray and pray, you’re going to get yourself in trouble.


And when your domain gets blocked, that’s a serious curse, because it’s not just getting blocked from bulk email. It’s your ability to communicate with your customers as well. So it’s something we all need to take very seriously.






So I love this. I want to be careful how it is. Some things here I’m super excited about that we’ve brought to market and we we built. And normally we don’t like to go too much down into what we’ve done on this particular podcast and things like that. But I’m going to make a bit of an exception today, because what you’re queuing in on, if I put my old gardener hat on, there’s lots of vendors out there that say, Hey, here’s how you’re going to write the perfect email.






Here’s if you’re talking to this person, here’s like a thing you want to say and stuff you want to pick up on. But when I think of what we’ve done and you had this epiphany of how do I actually take the conversation? How do I take the engagement? I use generative AI and I actually. really build hyper-personalized, and not just hyper-personalized, but here’s the role. Personalize on literally the conversation that’s being had.






How do I take that and automatically write and build rich context-specific advice coming out of it? And look, I’m a convert of this. And audience, look, even internally, my use case, what Howard’s alluding to here, I can now take any conversation that’s had with any customer, instantly see what has occurred in a summarized brief way. I can see exactly what the reps are sending back out, the emails they’re there that all correlate to exactly what the actions, the topics, the personas, all of those things. That’s meaningful email. That’s personalized email.






Like I even read these things. I hate email with a capital H. I know I hate many things. This is pretty cool now. I got this is nice simplified. This works is on point, but it all started with the conversation and the engagement, not some mythical template of what’s going to work better in some way.






You know, you we’re working with our R&D team, literally getting that we’ve got it to markets being wildly successful over summer into full time of winter now for us. But you know, where does this go next?


Look, it’s it’s an exciting time. It’s an incredible time to be in sales tech and more tech in in anything that touches the customers. And as as we all know, generative AI is a game changer. Our ability now to understand context, understand what people are saying, what they’re not saying, to be able to dissect a conversation to make certain that the reps, whether they’re emailing or having a phone conversation or a zoom meeting are addressing the concerns that their buyers and prospects have.






Because there’s a lot of times people ask you questions and you don’t answer the question. I’m probably doing it right now on the podcast, right? It’s super easy to do that because you sort of go down a track. And sometimes you get lost and the beauty is, I feel like all of these new tools are essentially giving us guardrails to be better communicators. And that’s what we really need, right? At the end of the day, your buyers are looking for help.






They’re looking for solutions. And they have a lot of questions. They have a lot of challenges at their business. And your role as a sales rep is to help address them is to help a bright paint a brighter future for them.


And so think about today, our ability to understand what someone is doing on your website, the intent they’re showing. showing in your products or in your services, the intent they may be showing through their own search online, and then being able to listen to their conversations, understand the questions that they’re asking and maybe those things they’re not asking, and then crafting an email to address both the concerns that they brought up as well as trends and benchmarks that you understand about their industry, that is a value add and that’s where I see this going.






So I have a question then with that in mind, because you bring up that you’ve brought this up twice now, I think it’s a really interesting use case, right? It’s hyper personalized, really good focus, your insight around the industry, domain, all of those things. The mantra is often being especially on inbound, right? Inbound activity and to an extent outbound sales. A lot of sequencing across all the vendors starts with email. Should engagement start with email going forward?


Like if I have now drastically limited at bats, like our strong guard rails as a CIO being put in place, do why is this a renaissance of actually phone calls coming back of actually people reaching via text about other areas?






Yes, so you’re asking the guy who has billions of recorded conversations that have dissected communication through verbal communication. Look, I think that the honest answer is it depends. It very much depends. And what I would say is, if you have trouble reaching someone through a phone call, is it right? They don’t pick up the phone or you can’t navigate a phone tree or they have a gatekeeper you can’t get through.






But you have somebody who’s clearly been to your website, maybe even been on your pricing page. That is a person that’s clearly interested in the product or service you provide. Email may be the perfect vehicle to reach out to that person saying, hey, saw you were on our website, checked out our pricing page, downloaded our security document, looked at our implementation guide. You clearly have some interest. If I can be helpful, here’s my phone number, here’s my calendar. So that is a different sort of email than some sequence that’s not very targeted, not very specific and certainly doesn’t address the fact that they’re interested in what it is that you provide.






So I think historically people have just, again, spray and pray, hit as many people as possible. That’s gone. Don’t get me wrong, that is gone, but is email as a first, as a first, vehicle for reaching some people.


I think the jury’s still out on that. I’m a huge advocate of conversations, of meetings, of live chats, on websites, of SMS. I’m a huge champion of, listen, wherever a customer is interested in talking to you, whatever that vehicle, whatever that channel, we need to be available and we need to be available to address their needs in the moment.






So I agree, Howard. You know my position on this. I’m a big believer in whenever you can have a more personalizing, intimate conversation, regardless of channel you should. Like it’s very simple. That’s where relationships are built.


And I know in go-to-market and sales in particular or in customer success, but definitely sales has been a relationship. Sales is kind of a bad cliche. to it because we associate it with the whining, dining, golf, game, sales rep types, right? When the reality is, you know, a relationship that is built upon the importance of the genuine and authentic care, dare I say, empathy around your business, your problems, you know, that’s where the business workers work.






This is where generative coupled with the understanding of how to apply empathy, I think is really important, right? Is a rep anymore the expert on every industry? You probably don’t need to be an expert on every industry. But you should be using targeting activation data and other things like that. You mentioned Dun & Bradstreet or Bombora, or these other, you know, providers. And how is that being action to provide you an insight before you hit send?






And hopefully is tying into if your CIO is progressive, a tool that is self -generated, the email based on that context. And then you’re taking the time to make sure it’s personalized. Instead of pushing the big green button that says, here’s your five step sequence. This is going to ping Howard and Alistair today on why your technology is so great because I went to your website. Am I capturing that right?


I think you’re capturing it perfectly. And it’s the combination of AI and human intelligence and context. And again, keeping that core theme of how can I be helpful to my buyer? How can I add value? Yes, yes, yes. And so February 1st is coming quickly. It is. We’re sitting here just before the holidays, assuming the podcast gets out before the holidays here. And February 1st is right here. around the corner. You need a plan, you need a strategy, and you need to make sure that your sales reps and your marketing team are not going to harm your domain. I urge you again, be careful.






If your domain is harmed, it’s not just going to impact your ability to send marketing email. It’s going to impact your ability to communicate with your customers today. Get on it quickly. 1 ,000%. I’m going to say this is largely sales and marketers listening to us.


Be proactive. Sit down with your CIO ASAP before the holidays. Your CIO last thing that you need is a quick policy put out from that side of the company, and you’re not lined up correctly on the causation that you just outlined, Howard. Go understand SPF and DKIM processes with the domain authentication. Go look at how you’re building on subscription processes, monitoring complaints, and absolutely getting a personalized approach going.






And I think that’s where generative comes in in a big, big way. So Howard, I didn’t actually think we’d be able to cover a full podcast on email. There you go. One of my least favorite topics. We managed to get it all. Listen, as we come to a close, I love my trivia, so I’m going to use the trivia guide today if you’re up for it. I’m always up for trivia. You’re always up for trivia. Okay, good. Well, this is actually…I was quite excited about this particular question. An audience joined along and see if you can guess here. So Howard, I’m going to give you four choices to this question, all right? And it’s email related to keep our theme going here today.






So when you think about this, I want to talk about who pioneered email. So who sent the first email and what was the message about? Who said the first email and what was the message about, all right? I know, no, no asking any systems as I go here. All right, so number one,

A) Was it Vidsurf for testing networks protocols?

B) Was it Tim Berters Lee, who is announcing the World Wide Web?

C) Was it Ray Tomlinson with a test message like Q -W -E -R -T -Y -U -I -O -P, the Qwerty?

or D) Mark Anderson introducing them as a browser?





I’m going to have to go with Ray just because that whole acronym you gave and I know how much you love acronyms, but I’m definitely not sure. You guessed well. Yes. See, it is. The first email ever sent in the message was from Ray Tomlinson and it was the Q -W -E -R -T -Y -U -I -O -P. Qwerty one, Qwerty is also used today in authentication still to this day.


He is credited with sending it in 1971. I was believed to be the Qwerty message just the first email. There you go, from 2023 to 1971. Do you think Ray had any idea how many spam emails were going to be sent back in 1971?






If he did, would he actually have invented email? If you think about the productivity pillar that is an email, certainly it’s done some amazing things. Boy, I don’t think Ray himself had any idea the amount of processing and spam and carbon admission and gosh knows what else came out of that email.




Would you say 1971? At the same token, I’d like to think the race in there going, but you know what? Despite all of the noise and ineffectiveness, well, we all got that first thing, you’ve got mail and how cool it was when we’re like, man, I can send a photo to my aging parents or I can use it as a collaborative meaningful tool.






I hope he takes some pride in that side and not the break up emails of bad sequencing. Absolutely. Thanks, Alastair. Great to see our thanks everyone. We’ll see you next time. And please remember to like and subscribe to the podcast sales strategy and enablement and do send your questions to Howard and I both online and via our phone number, we’ll do our best to get to them on a future episode. Thanks everyone. Have a wonderful week. Bye.