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Balancing relevance versus privacy: The state of data in email marketing in 2019

Posted on 05/24/2019 at 1:00 PM

Q & A With Jessica Best – June Luncheon Speaker

On June 5, Jessica Best will join the AMA Iowa Chapter to share her perspective on data and email marketing and how we, as marketers, can become more relevant and leaders in privacy and protection for consumers. To get a glimpse into her journey into the email marketing world, we asked Jessica a few questions before her presentation. 

Can you give me some of your professional background? How did you get to where you are today?

I started out as an elementary education major but then switched and became a Broadcast Journalism major at Mizzou. After college, I learned on that degree as I became a content writer for email and social. At some point in time, I became really interested in digitally-based content writing and was really intrigued by data-driven tactics. I was able to see which blog post got the most views or which emails got the most clicks. That’s where I really started to build the foundational knowledge for data-based marketing. Now, that seems archaic, but the big deal with me was that I loved that was able to use data to drive and inform things.

Before I came to Barkley, I worked for an email platform called emfluence for seven and a half years. Everything that we did there was data-driven — for example, most of our clients’ emails included variable data or some kind of dynamic content, creating email sends based on what someone is interested in. For me, that was the next step in data-driven thinking.

When I came to Barkley I started out as the Director of CRM or database-driven marketing. That position was quickly relaunched and evolved into a broader definition of Data-Driven Marketing of all kinds. The idea with that evolution was that all marketing should not only be data-informed (analytics and metrics optimizations), but also data-driven (meaning data that drives the timing of emails, like automation).

Now, as VP of Data-Driven Marketing, I get to do to anything in data and marketing. This includes partnering with our media team and talking about how we use data to execute programmatic buying, lookalike modeling or other things like that. My eyes always light up when I talk about the ability to make something automated or make it more relevant by incorporating the data element. I love the full channel planning, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for email marketing, where every send can be personalized for everyone on your list.

Why are you so intrigued by email marketing and data?

I have an insatiable desire to have the answer to things. I want to know what someone needs, what they think, how they are feeling and when they need it — and all of that is in the data we collect as smart marketers. I love to be able to “read someone’s mind” and be the most relevant and most useful resource when it hits their inbox, hopefully, right when they need it. I don’t want to be spam. So, I think my love of email comes from the fact I have the power of knowledge.

How has email changed in your time as a marketing professional?

In some ways, it hasn’t changed at all — but the big changes that I have seen are pretty cool, like mobile-optimized email marketing, for example. In today’s best designs, there’s lots of white space with big call-to-action buttons, and everything is optimized for 300-pixel-wide screens. Before 2012, most emails were a compilation of text and links. Now we can send very visual content, with rich images and in some inboxes even a bit of motion.

In the past couple of years, data connections are getting stronger, and social media has turned to video-rich content, so email marketing is trying to play a little bit of catch up. Unlike social media or even websites, email has the challenge of trying to make content work across forty different types of inboxes! Outlook won’t play a video or even an animated GIF, but we can try fun things like those for our Gmail and Apple Readers, as long as we have a graceful option for our Outlook readers to see instead. And usually it’s worth trying: rich media, dynamic content and personalized data have made a significant difference in email marketing.

Your presentation topic is focused on “Balancing Relevance vs. Privacy: The State of Data in Email Marketing in 2019” — what does this mean for marketers and what should they expect?

It’s ever-evolving, to be honest. In 2018, we saw the first implications of GDPR in the EU even though GDPR was passed into law years ago. It took effect on May 25, 2018: I remember that day because I was in Spain teaching a class at the time. When it happened, a fair number of U.S.-based newspapers had to shut down their sites in the EU because they hadn’t been ready to offer an option NOT to track site users’ behavior. During my time in the EU, I saw a bunch of sites requesting for permission to opt-in, while other sites were basically saying “We’re not ready for GDPR yet, come back later.”

At the time for U.S. marketers, GDPR implications didn’t necessarily apply if they didn’t have customers who might be EU citizens. However, just three or four months after the roll-out, California perked up and kind of said, “Yea, we’ll also have one of those.” So, then we started to see the beginnings of the California Consumer Privacy Act. I think we’re closer to see this level of privacy expectation in the U.S. than we hoped as marketers.

Here’s the truth of it though: If you just ask a user, “Do you want this company to have all of this data about you?” They are going to say no, that should be private. If you ask a user, “Do you want me to remember you, your order or your credit card for the next time you buy something?” They’re likely to say yes for convenience. There’s a big difference between people wanting their privacy philosophically, and giving them the choice for how they want their data to be used. Data makes things more relevant and convenient, so as long as you make it their choice -- and make it clear with what you are going to do with that data -- most people will opt for the convenience to give you a little bit of that data as a trade.

In the U.S., we’ve historically been self-regulated. The data industry has always said that as long as we’re responsible with data and provide a benefit to the end-user, we won’t put the handcuffs on you. We’ve been keeping ourselves in check, holding ourselves to a high standard.

Now, we’re probably looking at some legislation in the coming near future — California has already taken the first step. In the U.S., we’ve almost forgotten the data breaches of the last couple of years, because we [American citizens] are still willing to trade data for convenience, entertainment, or use-of-platform. I don’t think we should wait for legislation; marketers need to be the leaders to continue on the path of self-regulation of what we need to do to maintain permission.

What is the primary point of information you’d like to share with folks attending your presentation? Who should attend?

What data versus privacy means for a company is one area that marketers – and frankly accounting and legal teams – of all levels are truly afraid of and unprepared for. If you ask marketing professionals “Are you GDPR compliant today?” About a third still don’t even know what that actually means in practice.

If you’re considering attending, ask yourself how well you feel you have a handle on what privacy expectations are of your consumer today? Do you feel like you know what restrictions are and what the reasonable use of data is? There’s a lot of confusion about what’s legal and illegal under U.S. law — for example, distinguishing what is the law versus what current “best practices” are. A lot of marketers have for years said “I want to collect all the information I can now in the case I need to use it later,” but there’s a fine balance of what you actually need in your marketing database to make your message effective.

>> Want to see Jessica in-person and join the conversation? Sign up for the AMA Iowa June luncheon today here.

Hitting a Home Run with Digital Content: A Look at the Chicago Cubs’ Rise to the Top with Kevin Saghy

Posted on 04/30/2019 at 1:48 PM

Q & A With Kevin Saghy – May Luncheon Speaker

When the opportunity for his dream job opened up with the Chicago Cubs about ten years ago, Kevin Saghy jumped on it. As a fresh marketer at a time when brands were just starting to utilize social media, it was the perfect fit. On Wednesday, May 1st, Kevin Saghy will share his experience while working with the Chicago Cubs – not only on the tactical social media strategy that brought the team’s presence to the top of the league but also the fun, behind-the-scenes work environment with the legendary baseball team. 

Can you give us a preview of your professional background and how you got to your position today?

I came from a marketing communications background and started out at a PR firm, Ketchum, my first three years—financial, corporate, you name it. Several brands we worked on at the time were using social media for the first time such as Kellogg’s and Best Buy.

When the Cubs job came open, I had the experience they were looking for both in traditional PR and social media. Essentially, we launched their presence on social. We had a strategy in place, but we weren’t where we wanted to be as a brand, so we hired a social media agency to look at our strategy and how we could better support the business. Ultimately, that helped us grow from average to number one in the league—which we’ll talk about during my presentation.

After eight great years with the Cubs, I wound up having to juggle the tough schedule with my newborn daughter, which became tough. First and foremost, I needed to be a good dad, so we moved closer to family in Ohio. Now I’m almost a year-and-a-half in as the Senior Director of Social Media for The Ohio State University.

Your presentation topic is titled “Hitting a Home Run with Digital Content: A Look at the Chicago Cubs’ Rise to the Top”. What does this mean for today’s marketers and what should they expect when they attend?

I’ll touch on how to integrate marketing communication efforts to better support their business. A lot of what I worked on [with the Cubs] was specific to social media, but I will talk about how it will expand into other marketing areas that we have to also dedicate time to as marketers. We’ll talk about what that build out looked like at the Cubs and how that helped us build a smarter business.

It’s fun for me to revisit these memories at the Cubs, so we’re going to talk about the “fun stuff” as well. I’m happy to answer questions about working for the team.

What is the primary point of information you’d like to share with folks attending your presentation? Who should attend?

The flexible framework we are going to talk about will be applicable to different industries and business models no matter what the goals. Just because this is focused within sports, doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to other folks in the room. Even at the Cubs, a lot of the goals changed throughout the time working on social media and utilizing this same framework and principles, we were able to keep moving up.

As far as who should attend, this isn’t just for Cubs fans. Anyone within marketing and communications across a wide variety of industries would benefit from hearing about the framework and process we went through. Senior-level folks who are in positions critical to driving change in their organization would truly benefit from these insights, but anyone can learn from a foundational framework such as this.  

How has social media changed in your time in the marketing field?

It has changed in a number of ways, but really, social media drives the news cycle now. It went from this thing that we needed to fight for attention and to prove the work of social media. Now it leads a lot of the communication efforts and it’s how people consume the news and information. Tactically, the platforms have also changed so much. It puts us in the position to learn in real-time to help increase your reach. It’s a challenge, and a fun one if you’re up for it because there is constant change in this space.

About Kevin Saghy

Prior to joining The Ohio State University in his current role as senior director of social media, Kevin worked for eight seasons at the Chicago Cubs, most recently as assistant director of communications. Kevin was responsible for promoting the club’s business
and community initiatives through integrated communications channels, including the overall direction of the team’s social media strategy and reporting. Kevin led cross-functional strategic planning, collaborated with corporate and community partners, and served as a team spokesperson to local and national media.

Under Kevin’s leadership, the Cubs’ social media team was nationally recognized for its compelling content, entertaining voice and focus toward personal engagement, including the most total interactions with fans on Twitter among any Major League Baseball club. In a 2017 social engagement study released by SportsBusiness Journal, the Cubs were recognized as the top-performing baseball team, and the only MLB club ranked among the top 25 global sports organizations. 



You Need to Think About Key Messaging – Here's Why

Posted on 04/16/2019 at 9:37 AM


Key messaging is all about creating a strategy (with an accompanying document) to use as a quick reference guide for communicating about your brand. This is not about creating a catchy tagline or an advertising headline. This is meant to be an overview piece to be used internally and with external partners to help ensure your brand is providing consistent messaging in marketing campaigns and more.


A good key messaging document includes:

  • Positioning statement – Think of this as your brand’s elevator pitch. How do you describe what you do for your customers in two sentences or less?
  • Personality – Try establishing four to five personality traits you’d like your brand to emulate and incorporate those traits throughout the document.
  • Target audience – You don’t have to go into great detail, but provide a general framework of the audience you are trying to connect with. If you want to go above and beyond, you can develop key messaging in conjunction with persona research and create messaging specific to each persona.
  • Differentiators – What makes you different? If your sales team or spokesperson can’t answer this question quickly, they won’t be effective.

The real key? All of this should fit on one standard piece of paper — this should help you stay concise and be direct in your messaging (and make it easy for employees and others to print it off to hang at their desk).


It can be intimidating to just sit down and try to write key messaging, and that isn’t even the best way to do it. Start by spending time talking to others in your organization, including leadership, customer support and sales, to identify what they think makes the company unique. If available, you can also review your organization’s mission and vision, past customer research, as well as reviews and feedback. Starting with research will help your resulting key messaging be effective and, more importantly, accurate to the customer experience.

From there, venture into your target audience and brand personality sections. Once you’ve got alignment on those pieces, the positioning statement, differentiators and any other key messaging can be developed.

>> Download Lessing-Flynn's Key Messaging template to get started!


While Laura Plumb debuted at Lessing-Flynn in 2013 as a public relations intern, she has since evolved into a strategic digital marketer. Using her serene personality Laura tackles countless projects with calm precision. She’s also known for her penchant for discovering new techniques and platforms — you might say she keeps us “in the know.”

Lessing-Flynn was founded in 1907, some eight decades before Al Gore got around to inventing the Internet. But Lessing-Flynn, in the spirit of its brilliant and/or crazy founder, continues to use powerful storytelling and savvy marketing strategies to help bra​​​​​​​nds and entrepreneurs in agriculture, construction, financial, insurance, health servic​​​​​​​es, tech and other industries grow their business.​​​​​​​

Sitting Down With Des Moines By Degrees' Foundation CEO, Emily Westergaard

Posted on 03/08/2019 at 3:34 PM

Iowa AMA is excited to host “Bingo and Beer Benefiting By Degrees” next month at Flix Brewhouse for a night of BINGO and trivia to benefit the By Degrees Foundation. As we get ready for the big event, we wanted to share a little more about this great organization. We sat down with Emily Westergaard, CEO of the By Degrees Foundation, and asked her to share more with our members.

Check out her interview below, and make sure to register to save your seat!

Tell us a little bit about the foundation. How was it formed? How long has it been around? Who does it impact?By Degrees logo

By Degrees was founded in 1990 as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as the Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation,​​​​​​​ and originally operated as an affiliate of the national I Have a Dream network. Our original goal has remained the same after almost three decades: help more Des Moines students graduate from high school and go on to receive postsecondary education.

Since our founding, we have worked to increase high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates in Des Moines’ most underserved communities. We originally operated using a cohort model (used from 1990 to 2018), which identified and supported small groups of students throughout their entire academic careers, providing resources and programming to meet their needs in preparation for the future. We worked with and supported these students throughout high school and then providing them with postsecondary tuition assistance.

Using the original model, we launched three cohort programs of around 45 students at a time:

  • Moulton Elementary 5th graders in 1990
  • Homes of Oakridge 1st graders in 1996
  • King Elementary 1st graders in 2006

In the spring of 2018, our King Elementary cohort of students graduated from high school. Of the students who maintained contact with our program, 95% graduated from high school and 70% began postsecondary journeys in the fall of 2018. Support for our graduated cohort students remains strong, regardless of where they are in their postsecondary and post-graduation journeys.

You were affiliated with the "I Have a Dream Foundation". Why did you choose to become a local organization?

On December 5, 2018, we disaffiliated from the national network. We chose to become a local organization in order to better customize our programing to meet the needs of our students, and create local solutions to fit the central Iowa community. Through the years, our model has expanded from helping 50 students at a time, to whole schools of students, and we’re now able to support over 1,000 students in the Des Moines community. As we add more schools, this continues to grow.

Our new name, By Degrees, reinforces our belief that incremental changes can have a significant long-term impact on a child’s future. Through disaffiliation and this name change, we believe we are better able to serve the Des Moines community as a local and independent nonprofit focused on a future-ready approach to education.

We also love the name, because we recognize the kind of significant, long-term impact for each student that we aim for does not happen suddenly. It happens in hundreds of small increments—or by degrees.

How long have you been with By Degrees? What drew you to the organization?

I joined the organization in 2010, and knew quickly that this role was the perfect fit for me. Every day, I get to use my skills and experience in fundraising, community organizing and nonprofit management, to ensure more kids have life-changing educational opportunities, just like I did. Education is incredibly important to me personally as well as professionally. I was born and raised in Des Moines and graduated from North High School. I attended Grinnell college, which was possible because I had incredible mentors and teachers in middle and high school that helped me navigate the complex path making Grinnell College possible for me.

​​​​​​​What should we watch for in 2019 for By D​​​​​​​egrees?

​​​​​​​We are very excited to begin expansion into North High School, where our kindergarten through 8th graders attend high school, and pursue opportunities to expand into additional elementary schools. We believe breaking down the systemic cycle of poverty is best achieved through business and community partnerships that benefit more students and families, and are focused on affecting change through whole neighborhoods.

How can people support By Degrees?

We strive to make sure donors to By Degrees understand the impact their investments are making. Whether it’s a gift of $20 or $20,000, we want every donor to know how we’re making a difference for the students we serve. Our “Sponsor a Scholar” program (for gifts of at least $1,000), enables donors to make a deeper connection with the students we support. Through the Sponsor a Scholar program, donors will hear from our students regularly, and can participate in events at the school throughout the year. We also host two annual events. Our spring event, called Sweet Dreams, will be on April 30th. More info on events and donation information is available at

What kind of volunteer opportunities are there?

We are currently developing volunteer opportunities and encourage people to reach out to us as interested.

Are there other ways to get involved?

We are always looking for energetic people to join our event committees! We hold two large events throughout the year and love to get more members of the community involved. If you’re passionate about education and enjoy a good party, reach out!

Is there anything else we didn't ask that you'd like to share with our readers?

I’ll leave you with a quick statistic: Research shows that $500 in a college savings account makes a student three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate. This fact led us to develop our unique College Savings Account program, where all students at Findley Elementary have the chance to earn up to $200 per year into their own CSA through meeting personal, academic, and family milestones. We know that $500 (or $2,000 if they stay in our program for all 13 years) won’t pay for all postsecondary costs, but we know it’s enough to start the conversation.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

About Emily: Emily Westergaard is the CEO of the By Degrees Foundation (formerly called the Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation), which works to ensure more kids graduate from high school and pursue education after high school. As the chief professional officer of the organization, Emily has led the development of an innovative new model for program delivery called the Dreamer Academy. Launched in 2014, the Dreamer Academy is the first of its kind in the nation to partner with public schools and create long-term, sustainable, and proactive support for students in under-served neighborhoods, and to pair th​​​​​​​at support with comprehensive financial capacity building and college savings accounts.

Emily has over 15 years of experience fundraising and managing programs within community organizations and higher education institutions. She has a Masters in Public Administration from Drake University, her Bachelor’s in International Development from Grinnell College, and spent her first few years after college as the Research Associate at the Desert Research Foundation in southern Africa. Emily is in the current Leadership Iowa class, a co-chair for Neighbors for Growth, which is working to pass a local option sales tax in Des Moines, and volunteers with United Way, Polk County Early Childhood Iowa and the John Stoddard Cancer Center. She’s also a Girl Scout Troop Leader.

Let's Go Hyper-Digital with IP Targeted Ads

Posted on 02/28/2019 at 4:30 PM

By Keith Snow, President, B2E Data Marketing

As marketers, we’re always in search of the next greatest thing that ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​will maximize sales and in​​​​​​​crease ROI. As an industry, we’ve veered into a space where marketing campaigns are no longer successes or failures based on creative alone; campaigns are won or lost based on data, targeting and technology. Being a data guy, this is exciting! 

Have you heard the term hyper-digital? Hyper-digital is what happens when data and technology are incorporated into online advertising. Gone are the days of spraying online ads all over the internet – they’re not very cost effective, they present attribution issues when calculating ROI, and they are ignored because they are being shown to people who are not your prospects.

IP addresses: everyone with internet has one. Households or businesses, makes no difference really. In the new hyper-digital world, online ads can be served up directly on a computer or device at the address being targeted. Today’s technology has streamlined this tactic and created greater efficiency and accuracy, which means you get more for your money. But buyer beware, not all IP-targeted services are the same! Be careful what you sign up for.

The proof is in the results.

You can scour the internet for examples of the lift seen when IP targeted ads are paired with direct mail campaigns or other targeted campaigns. Outrageous lift can be seen in conversion rates – some sites brag up to 200% lift was seen. In my own experience, we’ve seen a wide range of success, from six to sixty times the result of direct mail alone.

Of course not all IP targeted campaigns can be treated equal. As technology has evolved over time and processes have been improved, there are things to watch out for and things to ensure you do. If your vendor is not up-to-date with the current technology, your results may not be as great as they could be. Here are some key items to watch for.

Match rates matter.

Most databases used today can match around 50 to 75 percent of your list to an IP address. But, what happens after that is the differentiator in programs. A strong IP targeted program will be able to guarantee 95 percent or greater accuracy that it’s the right household being targeted, which is a pretty important piece of the puzzle.

Cookies are old school.

In the early days of targeted ads, cookies were used to track people around the internet. These worked ok when people only used one browser and one device. In today’s multi-device world, targeting with cookies is just going to give you a reporting headache. Ultimately, you won’t be tracking people you’ll be tracking devices and inflating your engagement numbers, leaving it hard for you to prove results. Alternatively, IP-based targeting allows engagement to be counted at the household level, regardless of how many different devices are being used. Another positive for IP-based targeting is that your ads won’t disappear when someone clears their cookies.

Match direct targets whenever possible.

Why spend extra money when you don’t have to? IP-targeted ads are one of the most cost-effective means of advertising online because there is so little waste. Response rates will be higher because your message is being put in front of the right people. Some vendors still utilize and promote something called “cluster targeting.” With cluster targeting, your ad is displayed to a geo-location or area, not a specific 1:1 address. In some scenarios this may make sense to do, for instance if you’re having a grand opening and want to alert the community. But, if you have a specific mailing list to target, IP targeted ads can and should be delivered directly to the IP address you are targeting. That is all that is needed for success.

Report the truth.

Today’s technology should be able to clearly identify for marketers who was matched and who was not. Knowing this helps with reporting, ROI calculations and allows you an opportunity to market to the unmatched in a different way. This is an essential piece needed to know the effectiveness of your campaign and be able to match back to sales. The next time you’re looking to boost results of a current marketing campaign, consider going hyper-digital with it. It’s a cost effective, 1:1 match that will be sure to gain your audience’s attention.

About the author:
With over 30 years of Marketing and Technology experience, Keith develops programs and provides business leadership for data marketing, insights, analytics and strategy for B2E clients. Over his career, he has served in the U.S. Army Reserves, been an Applications Developer, Systems Analyst and Marketing Database Director before starting B2E Data Marketing in 2003.

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