Amanda Abbitt, Sales Support Manager for EMEA at Crossware
Did you know that (despite popular opinion) research by Forbes has found email to still be a more effective tool than social media for attracting customers online?
Emails may be considered old fashioned, but in reality, they’re still the most widely used and successful marketing channel. Competing with social media channels like Twitter and Instagram has led to regular updates making the humble email an increasingly effective marketing tool. Email marketing today recognizes the value of building your brand – emails should share your company branding, look consistent, be personalized, and display equally well on every device (mobile especially, since everyone is checking their inboxes on their phone).
At the Engage event that took place in Rotterdam on May 2018, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Abbitt, Sales Support Manager for EMEA at Crossware, an international leader in company email signature management. Crossware’s flagship product, Crossware Mail Signature, gives users complete control over their company email signatures. They can easily design an attractive and professional email signature and ensure that these are included on every email leaving their company, even those sent from mobile devices.
In our interview, Amanda shares her own strategy on managing the ever increasing number of emails piling into your inbox (though she still admits that a zero inbox is a utopia we may never achieve). Amanda also discussed common email issues and how Crossware Solutions can help to solve these, and finally how to improve corporate emails in a world of increasing competition for attention in an inbox.
Q: Can you tell me something about your company?
A: Crossware’s journey began in Denmark with an email signature tool for the IBM Domino platform and other services offered for IBM products. Our founders relocated to New Zealand in 1999 forming a skilled, global team with a passion for email signatures. As the market changed, there became a clear need for a tool to create beautiful, standardized email signatures for Microsoft products – first Exchange, and later, Office 365. We have now been serving our global customers for almost 20 years from our headquarters in New Zealand.
Q: How big is the company more or less?
A: Our team is relatively small but distributed globally. Our development and accounts teams are based in our headquarters in NZ, but we have global offices based in the UK and USA where we look after European and Americas sales and support.
Q: So basically you have different departments spread all over the world.
A: Yes, indeed.
Q: And do you manage all this?
A: It works well. For example, we might receive a support question in the UK. If our support is not available at that time, it will be transferred to the New Zealand support team. There is complete continuity with no waiting time. Everything is done immediately. We make great use of the technologies that we sell. Using Notes and Domino allows us to understand our customer’s requirements and challenges better as well as providing a great place for customer records and things like that. And of course lots and lots of emails.
Q: So emails are a big issue for you…
A: I think emails are something huge for every business, I mean they are not going away…there are some areas where it works really well, like ask me a quick question, quick answer. But for most of the cases, this is not enough…so if I get an email from a customer or partner, it does not work like this, because before answering I need to make sure of my answer and that it is stored, so that we can refere to that later…so the very simple way that you can get your email response back into the customer relationship management system is absolutely key…if it is complex or difficult, I just would not do it…so it has to be simple.
Q: And how do you manage all these emails piling up day per day?
A: The trick is not to make them pile up…so generally if it comes from a customer and it requires a response it goes directly into our CRM system. My background is in teaching people how to make effective use of their email. One of the things I used to say is that when you get an email, you need to read, reply or delete, as soon as you can.
The principle is if it is coming into my inbox, there is a reason. I try hard to have a fairly empty inbox. An empty inbox is not realistic, but fairly empty yes, we can do that. And generally, the problem is “my mail box is full, I do not know what is important, I cannot work out what I have to do next…”.
Solving this problem is not just about managing your inbox, but also about managing the expectations about how people behave with their emails. If you put me on CC, then there must be a reason, if there is no reason, do not put me as CC just because you are covering your back, that is not appropriate. And if you want me to do something for you, do not put me in the CC field, put me in the TO field, because TO implies an action, the CC means “I am keeping you informed about this”. And again if you put in BCC, blind copy, why are you doing it? Is there any specific reason you are correctly hiding a person’s email address?
Making sure that if people send you emails in an inappropriate way, you engender your culture within the business to say thanks, but no thanks. It is perfectly polite and professional to say to people “You put me as CC, but I just do not need to know this”. And they might not know that you don’t need to know because maybe your job has moved on and nobody told them, so they think you are still involved in that project. So managing emails is two things: using the tools and having the right culture around emails.
Q: And in your experience with managing emails and teaching others to do so, have you ever experienced reluctance?
A: Yes, and the behavior with emails and mindset should be encouraged by management. For example, in one organization when you attended the training you got a voucher to use in the café and the right to take half a day from your calendar to try out what you learned. So, people do it in different ways, but it is a combination of technology and culture.
Q: And going back to Crossware, can you tell me something more about what you do, which products does Crossware offer?
A: Crossware Mail Signature is our flagship solution – it addresses five particular challenges that businesses face.
- The first is how you support and enhance your brand in a very noisy world. Everybody is shouting about their brand, logo, colors…and typically what we notice is that companies spend a lot of money in having their website and social media right and then emails go out with “sent from an iPhone” at the bottom of them…this is not professional. One of the drivers to get Crossware Mail Signature is often the marketing and branding within the business because they need to make sure that the correct brand is present and consistent in every channel: emails, social media, website.
- The second issue is about compliance in terms of legal requirements: in Germany you must have the names of the owners of the business at the bottom of the emails, in the UK you have the registration number of the company at the bottom of your email, in Denmark it’s different again, so in different parts of the world the rules are different. So, in multinational companies how do you manage that? And this is one of the other reasons people use something like Crossware Mail Signature because we can say: “Ok, for the UK this is what you need to have at the end of your email, while this is what you need for Germany…” offices and so on.
- The next issue is that typically an email between two people implies a level of trust in the relationship already. So every email is an opportunity for a better marketing and advertising and with Crossware what shows up can be very tailored and targeted.
- And in a world where so many emails are sent from mobile devices, you have to update your signature email to fit mobile devices, but some people do and some don’t. So, the idea is that you have a consistent branding email signature no matter for which devices, iPhone, Android, whatever.
- And the last thing is about centralizing all this. Let your users do what they do best. Engineers, marketers, accountants, IT people, they are not email signature specialist. So centralized control is important. So with Crossware whether you are using IBM Notes and Domino, Microsoft Office 365, Exchange (on-premises or cloud), you can have a signature on every email that leaves the business.
Q: And how important it is for customers to have the possibility to personalize the email signature?
A: Well it is very, very important. They need a solution that can make it look exactly how they want it to look, which is something Crossware Mail Signature can do, because it is so flexible. And also because emails are not going away. Despite the rise of social media, email is still the most effective form of communication and will continue to be so for a long time. So, let’s make sure our emails are consistent and we send out the correct messages we want to convey. This is an added value nowadays!
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