Q&A with Christopher Marriott, President and Founder at Email Connect LLC

Christopher Marriott, President and Founder at Email Connect LLC, is a recognized expert in the process of connecting leading brands with the right marketing technology partners and platforms. Before founding Email Connect as a consultancy focused exclusively on the ESP/CRM/CDP vendor selection process, Chris served as a tenured executive at Acxiom, leading and building its Global Digital and Email Agency Services team into one of the industry’s top services providers. He is also a regular columnist on email marketing and the RFP process and is an adviser to several emerging marketing technology companies including AudiencePoint and Shotzr.

Content marketing isn’t King- it’s King, Kingdom and Cathedral!



MEDIA 7: How did you come up with the idea of Email Connect LLC?
CHRISTOPHER MARRIOTT:
I spent over 6 years running the global agency services team at Acxiom when it was still a leading ESP (they sold that part of their business to Zeta Global a couple of years ago).  During that time, we probably participated in over ESP 100 RFPs, and I saw how over the years how the decision process was becoming much more complex.  In 2006, ESPs competed primarily on price, and that drove the selection process at the brands.  By 2010, the differences in the platforms were significantly greater than mere price, yet most brands were ill-equipped to sort through those differences.

That’s where I came up with the idea of starting my consultancy designed to help brands in the RFP/vendor selection process, specifically focused on ESPs.  Fortunately, I was correct, brands did need and, more importantly, want help!  Over the years we have averaged between 18-20 billion emails out to bid annually. We’ve worked with some of the biggest names in travel & hospitality, retail, e-commerce, and publishing. All those names you would recognize.

M7: What tools do you use for email marketing and which ones serve as the most effective, given your target customers?
CM: 
Given that we are a B2B company, the majority of our marketing and sales are direct.  I often speak at conferences, and even when I am not a speaker, I attend the major email marketing events.  We do use email to keep in touch with past customers and prospects.  As far as platforms go, I’ve had my eye on Delivra marketing automation and would like to deploy it sooner rather than later. We won’t need to do our RFP!


When you are a small company with big ideas, contributing thought leadership to other industry sites is a great way to expand brand recognition.



M7: What role does content play for email marketing? Which content format performs the best according to you and why?
CM:
For us, content marketing is absolutely critical! I contribute a lot of articles to sites like Email Vendor Selection and the Only Influencers blog, and use these to drive traffic to our web site.  We also provide links to them in our own email campaigns. When you are a small company with big ideas, contributing thought leadership to other industry sites is a great way to expand brand recognition.

I am also the co-host of “Email Geeks at Home Drinking Coffee” (www.emailgeekspodcast.com), a weekly podcast I started with Paul Shriner of AudiencePoint back in April of 2020.  For my purposes, content marketing isn’t King- it’s King, Kingdom and Cathedral!

M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
CM:
I believe we are going to be seeing a seismic shift in how consumers shop even after the lockdowns end across the globe. I call this emerging phenomenon the “Store to Door Theory of Marketing.” It goes like this:
“Once consumers have learned how easy it can be to order a much wider variety of goods and services online for delivery to their door, they will be unlikely to go all the way back to shopping at brick & mortar stores absent a compelling reason to do so.”

If my theory is correct, the implications for retail are enormous. Before COVID-19, most consumers had developed a pattern of behavior where certain items were regularly purchased online for delivery, whereas others were purchased in-store and brought home by the consumer himself. That all changed in the blink of an eye. Stores were ordered closed. People were directed to shelter in place (at home). But people didn’t stop needing things. So lots of things that people were used to buying at the store, everything from coffee filters to shoes to tools, were now ordered online and delivered to the front door, or picked up at curbside. Even houses and condos were not immune from this change. I sold a condo before the buyer had ever set foot in it (not that I delivered it to the front door)!

While implications of this change in buying behavior are huge for retailers and DTC brands, they are also extraordinarily important for email marketing and email marketers. Consumers won't necessarily go back to the same mix of shopping online and offline depending on the item. Habits have been broken, and new ones established. As the old retail experience of shopping in a store morphs into one, that is more of a logistics experience—did you get my order, when will it arrive, is it on the way—the ability to provide timely and ongoing email updates on delivery status will become critical in separating winners and losers. And providing truly relevant “people who bought this also bought this” recommendations in emails might save consumers from the frustration of not having everything he or she needs to use the item originally purchased (a simple example being an HDMI cable to connect a new piece of electronics).


What’s truly effective in generating leads is providing something of value in the email itself to the prospect who is receiving it.



M7: What is your marketing mantra to stand out in an overly saturated MarTech space?
CM:
So many Martech vendors are faceless entities. I think the best move to make is to have a person who is the face of the company, and who contributes to the MarTech community through various forums, as well as speaking at conferences.  This is why content marketing is so important in the MarTech world!  Brands often use emotional shortcuts when determining which vendors to look at, and one of the most frequently used shortcuts is “do I know anyone at that vendor?”.  Knowing the sales team isn’t enough.  It needs to be something that can be considered a thought leader if at all possible.

M7: Your tips on effectively generating leads through email marketing?
CM:
 I am so tired of people saying to be relevant.  That’s been going on for years. Of course, an email pitch needs to be relevant, but it needs to get opened in order to demonstrate its relevancy. What’s truly effective in generating leads is providing something of value in the email itself to the prospect who is receiving it.  And if that thing of value can be communicated in the subject line, you’re much more likely to get opened. 

Now I’ve written that as if it’s an easy thing to do. It’s not.  But, if you can’t come up with a good reason why someone should open your email, then you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t get opened.

Once you get it opened, then communicating your value proposition in as few words as possible is the most effective way to generate leads.  Don’t force your prospect to think!

ABOUT EMAIL CONNECT

Email Connect is the world’s leading authority on the vendor selection process (RFPs) for email and database marketing platforms (ESPs and CDPs).   Clients include Fortune 500 companies in the retail, publishing, insurance and travel & hospitality industries. Representing 18-20 billion emails out to bid every year, Email Connect has unparalleled insight into the pricing models and service quality of the leading enterprise email and multichannel service providers.

Our scorecard-driven methodology ensures an objective and efficient evaluation RFP process where every client stakeholder can participate; every stakeholder can influence the outcome; every stakeholder has a voice. Our services include contract negotiation, platform migration oversight, and ongoing email program optimization with an eye towards maximizing the selected platform’s feature and functionalities.

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Vendavo Drives Strong Growth in 2023 with AI-Powered Product Innovations and Partner Program

PR Newswire | January 12, 2024

Vendavo, the global market leader in B2B pricing, selling and rebate solutions announced a strong 2023 finish today, noting a 12% growth in annual recurring revenue and 43% growth in higher margin recurring services. "As economic uncertainty persisted through 2023, global organizations increased investments in AI-driven technology to drive profitable growth, placing their trust in Vendavo," said Alex Hoff, Chief Product Officer, Vendavo. "While many predict stronger economies in 2024, manufacturers and distributors face a growing demand for agility in pricing, channel incentives, and commercial processes. We take pride in enabling significant revenue and margin growth for our customers." Vendavo's products and services enabled a 1.5% margin increase for customers in 2023 through improved pricing over cost. On average, customers achieved $27 million benefit from price improvement. To offer more features to customers, Vendavo's product investment increased by 21% in 2023. New AI product innovations have set the stage for smarter, more efficient commercial processes for customers. A new AI fueled Price Sensitivity metric was added to Vendavo Deal Price Optimizer, a solution that maximizes revenue and profitability through a better understanding of customers' willingness to pay. AI algorithms allow for more in-depth segmentation and analyses that deliver more precise sales guidance. AI now powers timely pattern detection for Price/Volume/Mix analyses in Vendavo Margin Bridge Analyzer. Ranked a Strong Performer in the 2023 Forrester Wave™ for CPQ, Vendavo Intelligent CPQ now has new pricing capabilities within the solution's agreement's function. Sales teams can incorporate more accurate pricing from the onset for even the most complex quotes. Vendavo Pricepoint, the flagship solution for B2B price management, improved both pricing calculation speed and performance. Vendavo's commitment to growing its partner ecosystem led to a doubling of partner-originated pipeline year over year. Notably, Vendavo's existing partnership with Oracle significantly expanded with the creation of new rebate and channel management incentives and the addition of support staff. In response to increasing market demand for rebate and channel management solutions, and following the 2022 acquisition of Market Medium, Vendavo integrated Rebate & Channel Manager into their suite of growth and profitability products. Many customers now effectively manage their rebate programs with the solution. About Vendavo Vendavo empowers global manufacturers and distributors to accelerate growth and profitability with leading pricing, selling, and rebate management solutions. Companies like Emerson, Medtronic, and GAF rely on Vendavo to manage, optimize, and digitize their end-to-end commercial processes. Vendavo's solutions, team of pricing and selling experts, and proven process accelerates value and outcomes that are not only predictable, but unrivaled. With Vendavo, the world's most ambitious B2B organizations can develop dynamic customer insights and execute optimal pricing strategies that maximize margin, boost sales effectiveness, and improve the customer experience.

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Channel Partnerships

Ingram Micro Empowers Channel Partners to Innovate, Grow and Create More Value with AWS

Ingram Micro | December 12, 2023

Ingram Micro is enabling thousands of channel partners worldwide to do more with more as a Premier Amazon Web Services (AWS) Consulting Partner and an award-winning Geo and Global AWS Distributor Partner of the Year recipient. Demonstrating its deep and wide technical knowledge and professional services expertise, Ingram Micro has been honored by AWS with two high profile wins – 2023 Global Distributor Partner of the Year and North America Distributor Partner of the Year. Both awards recognize Ingram Micro for playing a key role in helping channel partners worldwide accelerate success and move businesses to AWS through all phases of complex migration projects, including discovery, planning, migration, and operations. The North America honor is a back-to-back win for team Ingram Micro. Announced during AWS re:Invent 2023, the Geo and Global AWS Distributor Partner of the Year Awards shine the spotlight on Ingram Micro’s high-performing team and continued investments in advanced AWS technical talent, professional services and cloud migration competencies. “Through a strategic alliance with AWS, Ingram Micro has played a pivotal role in empowering Keystone Technologies to take the lead in healthcare EHR data solutions,” says Andy Belval, Chief Revenue Officer, Keystone Technologies. “Ingram Micro’s expertise in cloud solutions, coupled with a dedicated relational partner approach, not only enhances their own business value but also significantly contributes to Keystone Technologies’ ability to deliver better outcomes and cost savings for our healthcare customers.” In 2023, Ingram Micro’s AWS business continued to grow with more and more partners leveraging Ingram Micro to progress through their AWS Partner Network (APN) journey. Ingram Micro navigates AWS partners through APN programs while also expanding their services capabilities including assessment, design, deployment, and management of cloud migrations with greater speed. Additional differentiators to Ingram Micro’s success with AWS channel partners include its wide and deep executive relationships, as well as its Center of Excellence, strategic acquisitions of technical talent, and expansion of its Professional Services portfolio as it relates to cloud and migration services. “Ingram Micro’s early adoption of Cloud, understanding of an entrepreneur's needs and focus on the success for us to become one of their largest AWS resellers is what we were looking for in a distribution partner to grow our business and improve our value in the eyes of our customers,” says Dao Jensen, CEO of Oak Rocket. Ingram Micro provides channel partners access to experienced talent and professional services that can help them accelerate the customer cloud adoption journey including the technical personnel, tools, education, technology, and technical support needed to ideate, deploy, and manage AWS solutions. “AWS is a gold mine of opportunity for an MSP yet remains a heavy lift for most,” says Duncan Robinson, vice president, growth partnerships, Ingram Micro. “We’re here to help our channel partners optimize their sales cycle and effectively design, deploy, and manage AWS solutions that improve the customer’s experience, performance, reliability, and agility, while reducing the total cost of ownership.” Ingram Micro’s long-standing and successful relationship with AWS includes earning several AWS Competency and AWS Service Delivery designations in recent years, including being the first global distributor to earn the AWS Migration Competency and more recently being awarded the AWS Data & Analytics Competency. Other designations include the AWS Cloud Management Tools (CMT) Competency, the AWS DevOps Consulting Competency, and the AWS Config Service Delivery designation. “The experience that Mxmart has had working with Ingram Micro as a strategic partner of AWS has been fundamental for our growth,” says Dario Gomez, CEO Mxmart Solutions. “The support we’ve received technically, commercially, and via programs has added invaluable strength to our company.” About Ingram Micro Ingram Micro is the business behind the world’s brands with the ability to reach nearly 90 percent of the world’s population. Our diverse solutions portfolio includes advanced and specialty solutions, cloud, mobility, and commercial/consumer technologies, while enabling a global circular economy with full-service IT Asset Disposition and reverse logistics and repair services. Leveraging investments in technical, financial, and marketing resources, Ingram Micro helps customers run their businesses better and grow their technology practices faster. Ingram Micro operates in 59 countries and reaches close to 200 countries. We have approximately 26,000 associates committed to providing our more than 161,000 customers and 1,500 vendor partners worldwide with a superior experience. Our fully digital, AI-driven business platform, known as Ingram Micro Xvantage™, eliminates the friction of doing business in IT and allows our customers to have a more insightful experience both buying and managing technology. We are also fully committed to being a global steward with world-class ESG practices.

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Email Connect is the world’s leading authority on the vendor selection process (RFPs) for email and database marketing platforms (ESPs and CDPs). Clients include Fortune 500 companies in the retail, publishing, insurance and travel & hospitality industries. Representing 18-20 billion emails out to...

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