As soon as you start chatting to Kristin Bengtsson, it’s clear that she loves her job. With big brands and agencies under her belt like IKEA, Telstra, Havas and Ogilvy, Kristin has worked with the best in the industry. Excited about direct marketing since her first gig as an apprentice in London, she now shares her expertise in email and data-driven marketing as an instructor for ADMA IQ’s Email Marketing course and Data-Driven Marketing Essentials Course and Certificate.
You’ve worked with some amazing brands and agencies. What is the most important thing you’ve learned through the years?
Building connections and maintaining relationships with people in the industry is one of the most important things for me. If you’re curious and genuine, and dedicate time and energy to developing and continuing key relationships, doors will open for you – just like they have for me. Just the other day, an old colleague of mine in London reached out and connected me with a new consultancy opportunity here in Sydney!
What drew you to direct marketing?
To be honest, I had no idea what direct marketing was when I first arrived at an agency called Aspen Direct in London back in 1995.
I was studying Art and Design for Advertising in Sweden and got talking to the head of marketing for SAAB automobile and he put me in touch with the client services director of their agency in London. Aspen Direct was one of the first agencies dedicated to direct marketing.
The level of personalisation and persuasive communications tactics even back then fascinated me. You can really put your argument forward and target it at the right receiver in a one-on-one setting. It offers you the space, time and permission to talk to your audience – and it’s incredible what you can do when you get it right.
I was only supposed to stay at Aspen Direct for four months but ended up securing an unreal deal – they paid me to work as an ‘apprentice’ across the different disciplines in the agency during the day, and enrolled me in the Institute of Direct Marketing’s Diploma evening course. I could not believe my luck. After that I was hooked. I’m forever grateful for that start.
Why is email marketing so important today? What gets you excited about it?
Most people in Australia prefer email for permission-based promotional messages. It gives you the unique opportunity to get your offer in front of an individual, not a homogeneous group of potential ‘eyeballs’ in a cluttered digital media environment. So long as you’re respectful, useful and don’t abuse people’s inboxes.
I am excited about the user-friendly and cost effective email and CRM tools that are available to marketers today. Ten years ago, systems were super complicated and everything was outsourced. But now with tech like HubSpot and MailChimp, even small businesses can justify these and learn how to use them quickly. It’s also great to see that more and more organisations are appreciating the value of securing a ‘single customer view’ of the data they collect. Marketers are starting to connect the dots, using insights to treat customers the way they expect to be treated.
What are the key elements of a great email campaign?
It’s about four key things:
- Make it data-driven or if you’re collecting data, use it! Email enables us to see all the ways customers interact with our brand. We must make sure we let their previous behaviours inform our next email communications.
- Make it relevant and personalised. Use the insights about an individual to tailor what you offer. This will not only deliver results, but will also add value to the audience.
- Make it easy to act. When you have your audience’s attention, guide them to the “check out” quickly and smoothly, do not lose their interest – people are impatient and have the attention span of a goldfish. Make CTAs clear and landing pages logical.
- Tone of voice. Make sure you’re consistent in your brand’s tone of voice across all marketing touch points. It’s also important to recognise your relationship with whom you’re talking to. Is it your first communication or your 25th? Tailor your writing to acknowledge the level of intimacy you have with the subscriber – being overly friendly with someone who just joined your list might put them off. Equally, being too formal with a loyal customer might make them feel less valued and recognised.
What is the best/worst email campaign you’ve seen lately?
It’s hard to choose but I love “Who Gives a Crap” emails. They’re consistent in their tone of voice, the design is simple, and they always tap into what’s happening. And they handled the COVID toilet paper crisis really well.
I won’t shame any particular brands here, but I cannot stand when retailers don’t check the email targets’ purchase history before pushing a ‘latest offers’ email to everyone on their database. Especially as I always scan my loyalty card with every purchase so I know they have the information they need to personalise offers. It is such a poor customer experience to receive an email saying that you have just discounted the product I bought from you last month!
We have to ask: How good are you at putting IKEA furniture together? On a scale of ‘2-step assembly’ to ‘putting this kitchen up was a breeze’?
I am awesome with tables and chairs and smaller cabinets, but I don’t have the patience to build a whole kitchen. I had to use an installer for that.
You should see my kids though! They love assembling IKEA furniture; they think it is like LEGO, bless them (they are only 9, so let’s see how long it lasts).