Email Peeps 15: Lauren Meyer
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
It all started one fateful evening in 2006 when my NYC roommate woke me up for dinner. I had fallen asleep studying for my Series 7 license. Again. I realized in that moment that a career in Finance was not for me. So, I swapped the study guides for an account with that monster who helps you find jobs and a few weeks later, I was working for an email company! The rest, as they say, is history.
Cut to 16+ years later, and the summary looks something like this: I’ve traditionally been on the sender’s side…working for ESPs, consulting customers on how to resolve deliverability issues, and sending emails myself as a marketer. The majority of my email career has been very focused on deliverability, compliance and anti-abuse, until about 2 years ago when I joined the team at SocketLabs where my current role is Chief Marketing Officer. As you can imagine, sending cold emails is not part of our marketing strategy.
What’s your favorite deliverability tip?
It’s hard to pick just one when reaching the inbox consistently requires you to do a lot of little things right all at once. But if I had to paint the entire landscape of deliverability with just one color, it would be to build, nurture, and maintain your email list as if it’s a precious little baby (or a puppy, kitty, or…a tiny little guppie, your preference).
Sooo many of the inbox placement issues I’ve dealt with over the years stem from sending email to people you shouldn’t be. Either you didn’t get consent, didn’t get their correct email address, didn’t properly set expectations, or didn’t stop sending to them when you should have. And that caused them to react negatively. For example, marking the email as spam, deleting it without opening it, mentally deciding to never do business with that brand again…you get the picture.
Negative recipient reactions, whether you can measure them or not, are bad for deliverability – and more importantly, bad for your business!
Here are a few things you can do to build and maintain a high-quality email list:
- Set expectations during the signup process. YES, this means you do need to have an opt-in process. Sending to email addresses you purchased or scraped off the internet is not ok simply because it isn’t illegal. Spam complaints are poison for your deliverability and your brand. And mailbox providers don’t care about legality when they’re deciding what reaches the inbox, anyway.
- Ensure only committed subscribers with a valid, confirmed email address are added to your mailing list. Consider a double-optin process (DOI) to accomplish this, but know it’s ok if you’re rocking with a single-optin process (SOI) instead. Just keep a close eye on your analytics to ensure incoming data quality is not an issue.
- Add protection to every subscription form you manage to prevent bot signup abuse. In 2023, there are many options including CAPTCHA, reCAPTCHA and a boat-load of alternatives, so do a little research and find the mechanism that works best for your user experience and tech stack.
- Have a sunset policy, ideally preceded by a re-engagement effort, to ensure only recipients who are engaged with your emails (or your brand) continue receiving emails. The timeline for when you should stop sending to addresses will be different depending on your business model and your goals with email (among other things), but it’s important to have one.
- Test your signup forms and unsubscribe process to ensure both are working as intended, improving the signup experience and helping you keep those pesky spam complaints super low. Did I mention they’re bad for deliverability??
What are your go-to email marketing resources?
We’ve gotta start with other email nerds. There are so many amazing people in this community who’ve taught me and supported me and inspired me over the years. Shout-out to John Stephenson for being the most patient teacher ever. He’s responsible for a lot of my foundational understanding (and love!) of deliverability.
I would also be remiss to not mention Christopher Marriott and Chad S. White. These two always have their finger on the pulse of email, so I read, listen, and watch just about everything they put out there.
If you’re not in the #emailgeeks Slack community, you are seriously missing out.
And there’s always something fun happening at Litmus: I’m a regular consumer of their blog, newsletter and video content. Litmus Live is a great place for practitioners to learn and network with their peers as well.
What’s in your email marketing toolbox?
Surprise, surprise, my toolbox is full of investigatory tools helping email deliverability nerds like myself.
- MacBook Pro
- Second monitor: so essential!
- Uplift Standing desk: changed my life! No seriously, I went from complaining about back and neck pain daily to maybe thinking about having bad posture once a week.
- Shure MV7 external microphone with a RØDE PSA-1 boom arm. Keeps my desk clutter-free, giving my cat (Hamilton) more room to roam.
- Airpod headphones – I typically don’t actually listen to any music…most of the time I get distracted between the time I’ve put them on and when I’ve found a playlist. They still somehow help me focus.
- Notepad and pen. I find the action of physically writing notes down helps with data retention. My memory is terrible when I type out my notes.
- MSFT Teams (begrudgingly)
- Google docs, sheets, slides person for side projects
- Slack, SMS (and EMAIL!) for chatting industry things with email pals
- Notion for project management
- Hubspot for SocketLabs social media management
- Canva for…all kinds of fun things
- Loom for show and tell
- Skitch for quick screen grabs
- GoFullPage for when I want to capture an entire email or webpage
- Navattic for interactive, self-guided tours of our SocketLabs platform
- Mmhmm, a video creation app that makes every presentation more fun
- Tootbox, a private space for keeping track of my little wins and big deals (created by Dylan Smith, an email geek!)
What’s your favorite email campaign of all time? Why?
It’s gotta be that very first version of Spotify Wrapped. I was not yet a customer of theirs back in 2016 when they first started sending summaries of their users’ listening behaviors to them at the end of each year, but I still remember how many of my friends and coworkers could not stop talking about their results. Some were proud to share their super trendy music choices, others horrified to realize their most-played songs were actually Hanson’s “MMMbop” and “Blue” by Eifel 65. Ok, maybe that was just one person (who shall remain nameless).
Many companies have adopted this type of email campaign in years since, but never with the same level of awesomeness and virality as the original.
What’s your favorite email marketing tool, and why?
SocketLabs! I know, that’s super annoying because I work there. 😳 But the reason I work there is because I’m so supportive of our mission. Because I sat in the ESP practitioner’s chair for over a decade: running queries and scripts to monitor email performance, reactively dealing with customer problems and manipulating excel data to find and make sense of issues. And so did my coworkers.
So we created an email platform providing all of the tools we wish we had back then. Tools for customers to send email and monitor performance of hundreds of senders at once. Tools to protect good senders from the bad actions of others. Tools to automate mind-numbingly tedious tasks that previously required escalation or 34 clicks to make one. simple. change. 😒
Tools to identify, understand and explain issues to your customers when there is a problem…before they even notice it. Tools to actually avoid those problems entirely.
I think you get the point. We’ve got email tools for days, and I’m a huge fan. If you’re interested in learning more about what we’ve built, you can take a self-guided platform tour right now.
How do you manage work-life balance?
I don’t. Kidding! Mostly. My email brain never really shuts off, and working from home, there are plenty of moments where I get a flash of an idea and run back to my desk to jot it down. I’ve also been guilty of taking 20-minute lunches at my desk or forgetting to eat until 3pm for years.
But I’ve gotten much better at maintaining a healthy balance since my wife gave birth to our twins a couple years ago.
It was difficult at first because it meant having to set boundaries (and actual working hours), something I had long-since abandoned in favor of perpetually finishing “one more thing…” at the end of the day and still returning to my laptop in the off-hours. It meant saying “no” to more, leaving me feeling like I was letting people down or falling behind.
But then the benefits started kicking in: my sleep is better, my blood pressure is down, I can maintain better focus at home and at work, and my relationship with my wife and kids has never been stronger. Oh, and those email friends? Still just as awesome and supportive as ever.
I’ve still got work to do in this department, but finding joys outside of work — and putting email down for a bit — has been a wholly positive experience for me. I recommend it to anyone who feels like you have to keep burning your candle at both ends to make an impact…you don’t. 💌