Author - Vanessa Griffiths

Welcoming Tania Blake to the Team

Welcoming Tania Blake to the Team

Knak is a company of Marketers who market a marketing product to other Marketers. Naturally, our own marketing needs to be world-class, so when we began looking for a new marketing manager, we knew we needed someone incredible. Fortunately, we met Tania Blake.

Tania impressed us with her attention to detail, her experience marketing for one of the largest developers in Ottawa, and her unique ability to balance “process” with “getting stuff done.”

She comes to us from the Minto Group, where she spent seven years in various marketing and communications positions. In her last couple of years at Minto she worked as brand manager and led their rebrand. She’s also an accomplished photographer, passionate foodie and an all-around great addition to our team.

We’re super excited to welcome Tania, and we’re looking forward to partnering with her to spread the word about Knak.

Prepping for Q4: Finish Strong, Start Fresh

Prepping for Q4

The end of the year is coming, and that means it’s time to start thinking about how to make your next fiscal year a success. Don’t leave the planning for December, when holiday and vacation schedules make communication challenging. Instead, start now. Review this year’s email campaigns, and get a head start on being awesome next year.

Here are some tips to help you determine what worked this year, what can be improved for next year, and where you should be experimenting.

Look at the data:

Review your campaigns for the year and take a hard look at the results.

  • Which campaigns worked?
  • Which didn’t?

Even though you undoubtedly still have campaigns to deploy this year, don’t wait to get started on your attribution reporting. Look at your previous campaigns, find out which elements made a difference, and determine how email impacted your bottom line.

Review your objectives:

Based on the findings from your data, ask:

  • How did email help you achieve your marketing goals this year?
  • In light of your team’s larger goals, what role should email play next year?

You may need to add or reconsider some campaigns to make sure they’re in alignment with your team’s overall objectives. Be willing to evaluate them on a case-by-case basis to make sure they’re still meeting your needs.

Revisit your strategy:

What does your email campaign strategy look like? Planned out for the next 24 months? Not sure what next week looks like? An email campaign/content calendar helps align your campaign strategy with your marketing objectives.

  • Are major campaigns clearly identified?
  • Can your team see what’s coming up in the next week/month/quarter?
  • Does your team have the info they need to meet deadlines without feeling stressed?

Take the time to plan out your campaigns. Use the content calendar as your North Star, and simplify life for your team.

Check your tech:

Remember that shiny new technology you purchased last year? Did it live up to the hype? Year-end is a great time to review your tech stack to see what’s being used, what gaps you need to fill, and what may not be worth the investment.

  • Are you paying for technologies that no longer meet your needs?
  • Are there new platforms or solutions that can help fill the gaps you identified?

Identify these things before the year ends so you can have an optimized tech stack in place before the new year begins.

Budget:

Take a look at the tradeshows, partnerships, and other large marketing investments that impacted your business this year.

  • What was worth doing again?
  • What new initiatives do you want to explore next year?
  • What email campaigns will you need to support those initiatives?

Make space in your budget now for the things that’ll have a positive impact on your business next year.

Email Extras:

What did you add to your emails that improved your click-thru rates?

  • Did GIFs generate more clicks?
  • Did including videos drive engagement?
  • Did dynamic content help your emails stand out?

Don’t guess! Dive into your reporting and find out what email extras are actually boosting engagement and adding to your bottom line.

And then, do your research: review some thought leadership pieces about upcoming email trends. (Hint: Here’s our piece about adding GIFs to your emails to get you started.)

  • What could you see working at your organization?
  • What email experiments do you want to run next year?

Take your ideas to your team. Create a plan to try them out, and build in A/B testing so you’ll know what’s working.

*Did you know: Dynamic content has a major impact on click-to-open rates. A recent survey of thousands of email marketers found that those using dynamic content report CTO rates 56% higher than those who don’t. If you’re not currently using it, it may be time to try it out.

Buy-In:

Before you can implement changes, you need buy-in from your team and key stakeholders. Think through:

  • How will the changes affect your team’s workload?
  • Do these changes conflict with other priorities?
  • Realistically, what does roll-out look like?
  • How will you measure the success of these initiatives?

Take your ideas to your team, and work together to develop a plan. The more you’ve considered ahead of time, the better your chances of getting buy-in.

A strategic Q4 leads to a dynamic Q1

Don’t wait until the end of the year to start reviewing. Invest the time now so you have a thoughtful approach to your next fiscal year in place before the year begins. Make Q1 planning a priority now, and you’ll set your team up for success later.

If you’d like to learn more about how Knak can help you reach your email marketing goals for next year, we’d love to chat. Reach out to nancy@knak.io with any questions.

How Knak Does Email: Using GIFs to Improve Click-Thru Rates

Wish you had a better way to show off your brand’s personality? Tired of relying on plain old words to share your story? Animated GIFs are for you!

The good news is that GIFs are still underused in emails (69% of our survey respondents don’t use them), so including GIFs in your emails are a great way to make them stand out in a crowded inbox.

Best Practices for Including GIFs in Email

  • Pay attention to file size – if it doesn’t load quickly, readers will navigate away before they make it through your email. Crop it, remove some frames, rethink the animation, and then use a GIF compressor if you need to reduce it further.  
  • Consider the display – some email clients (namely Outlook) don’t support GIFs, so make sure any CTA included in your GIF is visible in the first frame.
  • Add thoughtfully – be strategic with your GIFs. Keep them surprising and subtle, and make sure they enhance your content rather than distracting from it. 

Animated Gif

Using GIFs in your emails is an awesome way to showcase your brand personality and make your content more engaging. Try adding a GIF to your next Knak email and see how your audience reacts! If you have any questions about adding GIFs into emails, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Intercom.

Welcoming Christopher Chan

 

Knak has experienced rapid growth in the last few years. We’re taking steps to make sure our growth is sustainable. To that end, we’ve identified a few key roles we need to fill in order to make sure our team is supported, and one of those happens to be an addition to our financial team.

Meet Christopher Chan – Knak’s new Controller.

We first met Chris while he was working for Logan Katz, an Ottawa-based accounting firm that has been helping us with our finances for some time. Chris has a Commerce degree with a specialization in Accounting from the University of Ottawa, and he completed his CPA designation earlier this year.

When he’s not crunching numbers, you’ll most likely find him outdoors: Chris is an avid hiker, rock climber, and white-water kayaker.

We’re glad to have him on the Knak team, and we’re excited about the expertise he has to offer. Welcome, Chris!

From Templates to Modules: Why We Made the Switch

Templates to Modules - Why We Made the Switch

Recently, Knak made the decision to sunset our template library. It was a tough call, one that took more than two years to make. These templates were our signature product. The thing that marketers used to build great emails without knowing how to code. The reason referrals came looking for us.

They were at one time one of our main sources of revenue.

But.

As time went on, we realized that our templates were creating as many issues as they solved:

  • Creativity was restricted because even small changes required time-consuming design updates.
  • Templates didn’t provide granular user controls for different team members.
  • Tracking parameters weren’t added automatically to the links in the emails.

The list goes on.

It would have been simple to just keep adjusting the templates to solve each individual problem, but in listening to our customers, we realized the main problem wasn’t a template problem at all. It was a creation problem, and it couldn’t be solved with templates.

To address this, we developed two new products – Builder and Enterprise – that take a modular approach to building emails.

Modules are highly customizable and speed up time-to-market by taking the guesswork out of email creation. Anyone (really anyone) can build a beautiful, on-brand email using Knak, but what we like most is that these tools put the creativity back in the hands of marketers.

No more restrictive templates; no more waiting for a developer to change the template to fit your campaign.

With Builder, emails are built start to finish using a drag-and-drop approach. Modules and layouts can be edited easily, and emails are automatically synced to a marketing automation platform for deployment.

Enterprise is built for larger teams. Custom workflows make it easy to collaborate, and the precision branding controls allow for creativity while still protecting brand identity.

These two new products solved the problems and made it much easier to get emails out the door. Our clients were happy, email bliss was reinstated, and all frustrations evaporated forever.

Except.

Because our customers were so comfortable with the templates, they were … ahem … resistant to change. They were willing to continue using a less efficient, more restrictive process simply because they already knew how to do it.

And we get it! We’re marketers too, so we know the time constraints most marketers are under. Everything needs to be done five minutes ago, and when a new technology is introduced, no matter how incredible it looks, it’s way simpler to stick with the devil we know than it is to devote time and resources to training our team on something new.

So, we broke it down slowly. We worked with our clients a few at a time to introduce them to the new products. We made sure they had the support they needed to use the new products successfully. We even developed a buddy system to help clients train their team to use the new products.

Over time, those clients became champions for Builder and Enterprise at their businesses. And eventually, templates were no longer our major source of revenue.

Change is difficult. That’s why it took a while for our new products to catch on and why it took two years for us to decide to ditch the templates.

But the truth of the matter is, you can tweak things, develop workarounds, and re-code until you’re blue in the face. Sometimes, you just need to look for a better way.

We’d love to show you how we’re redefining email creation. Request a demo today, and see how Knak gives you the freedom to create amazing emails and the tools you need to do it quickly.

We’re Going to MarTech East

Knak - We're Going to MarTech East

Knak is headed to MarTech East! Join us in Boston, September 16th to 18th, for three days of outstanding presentations, great networking opportunities, and an introduction to the technologies that are redefining traditional marketing.

We’re going to be on the expo floor at booth #413 — we’ll be the ones wearing the blue Knak t-shirts — and we can’t wait to connect with our wicked awesome customers (See? We’re totally ready for Boston.). Stop by to find out what’s new at Knak, pick up some sweet Knak swag, and meet Jack, email creator extraordinaire.Knak - We're Going to MarTech East

The MarTech conference promises more than 55 presentations from senior-level marketers along with next-level martech solutions designed to save time and deliver results. You can view the full agenda on their site, but here are a few we can’t wait to attend: 

  • Sept 17: Keynote – “Platforming Marketing: Marketing Operations as an Organizational Platform
    Speakers: Scott Brinker – chiefmartech.com, Matt Lemay – Agile for Everybody
  • Sept 17: How eBay Grew an Active Grassroots Advocacy Community Using Martech
    Host: REQ
  • Sept 17: On the Frontlines of Digital: How to Get Customers to Love your Brand
    Host: Acquia
  • Sept 18: Keynote – Orchestration Beats Sophistication in Marketing & Martech
    Speaker: Cesar Brea – Bain & Company
  • Sept 18: Creating and Enabling a Unified Marketing Ecosystem
    Hosts: Deloitte, TD Bank

 

Together at Knak.

On Site, In Sync

Knak has goals, and since we know our team is the key to reaching them, we got together for a few days of goal setting, mission clarifying, and brewery touring. Here’s the inside scoop on our very first Knak on-site.

Our team is spread all throughout Canada. While we love the remote setup, Zoom calls and Slack channels are no substitute for facetime (The real kind. Not the app.). So, we converged on Ottawa last month and spent 4 days digging into our mission and solidifying our strategy for the next year.

Knak, By Definition

We started with an open discussion about Knak. Our founder and CEO, Pierce, asked each of us how we define Knak’s mission, and it was interesting to hear that we’re on the same page. We also had a chance to share our own ideas of what we think is possible for the future.

Then, we spent a bit of time breaking down Knak’s building blocks: the why, how, and what of what we do. First and foremost, we’re Marketers helping Marketers. We’re obsessed with our customers’ success, and we’ll bend over backward to exceed their expectations. Here’s a recap of how we make that happen:

Why we do what we do: We empower enterprise marketing teams to focus on what matters to them. By streamlining the email creation process, we’re freeing them up to devote their time and resources to driving revenue.

How we do it: Knak’s easy-to-use, self-service platform eliminates the distractions and pain-points that enterprise marketers face.

We also spent some time reviewing our core values and discussing how we implement them in client engagements and prioritize them when we make hiring decisions. These are the principles that keep us on track:

  • Show Respect
  • Practice Transparency
  • Think Bigger, Act Bigger
  • Stay Curious
  • Maintain Balance
  • Take Calculated Risks
  • Get Sh!t Done

Group Goals

It’s easy for a CEO to dictate goals. The larger the organization, the greater the likelihood that someone without a ton of day-to-day interaction with the team is charting a course for the future and handing the plans down to be implemented. We have a great team, and even though I’m sure we could implement whatever comes our way, that’s not the way we work at Knak.

We started our goal-sharing session by giving each team member a chance to create a conservative and an aggressive revenue goal for our next fiscal year. We shared those goals on a whiteboard, and as a team, we arrived at our goals for the next year. Some are aggressive, some are more conservative, but most importantly, our goals are in keeping with our mission and they have team buy-in.

We also took the time to identify gaps in our team and sketch out a hiring roadmap for filling those gaps. We did the same with our products: what should we prioritize, when should they be completed.

It was a frank, open discussion, and it gave us a great opportunity to make sure we’re in alignment and working towards the same north star.

Eating Our Own Dog Food

KnakOnSite

Next, we got creative. Over lunch, everyone (everyone!!) on the team created emails. I’m not a designer and I don’t have a tech background, but I, along with the rest of the team, used my own skillset to create an email. We reviewed the emails together and took the time to consider them in light of the feedback we get from our customers. The results were fantastic! In just over an hour, each person on our team created an email that was identical to one from their favorite brand. We already knew that Knak made emailing easy, but seeing the number of beautiful emails that the team created in no time at all was a validating experience for the team.

I’m not about to join the design team, but we liked the exercise so much that we’ve planned to incorporate it into future team meetings and use it as part of the on-boarding process for new team members.

Team Building

Knak Brew Donkey

Ottawa is a beautiful city, so spent some time showing it off to our visiting team members. We did a brewery tour and got to know each other better. It was a chilled evening, and it was great to make some more personal connections with the team.

The on-site got us in sync in a way that only actual face time can. It helped bring our goals and expectations into alignment, and it opened the door for better communication in the weeks since. We’re energized to work towards our goals, and we’re ready to carry on with our mission!

What Traveling to Tokyo Taught Me About Marketing Nation

Knak Enterprise Email Creation Platform- Tokyo MUG

As a startup in a massive industry, the Knak team understands that we need to operate with a high degree of fearlessness if we want to stand out among the many MarTech vendors in an ever-growing ecosystem.

So when an opportunity to present at the Marketo User Group Day in Tokyo popped up in our Slack channel, I didn’t hesitate to raise my hand. Sure, I wasn’t the most experienced public speaker, and I’d never travelled such a long way on my own. But the Marketo community puts a high value on fearlessness, so I set my self-doubt aside and hit the ground running.

As one of the leaders of the Ottawa Marketo User Group, I couldn’t wait to see how a city as big as Tokyo organizes their MUGs. I wanted to soak up as much of the experience as possible so I could share it back in Ottawa. I was also excited to introduce Knak to a broader group of Marketo users.

Here are a few things I learned from the experience.

Tokyo MUGs are no joke


A typical Ottawa MUG usually involves a few hours and a guest speaker. The Tokyo MUG Day lasted for six hours, featured execs from Clearbanc and Marketo as well as a privacy lawyer, and hosted more than 300 marketers.

In addition to the size of the event, I was thoroughly impressed by the many guest speakers present and the breadth of topics covered.

Breakout sessions centered around many different aspects of the Marketo community – from Femketo (women who use Marketo) to vendor-specific groups like Salesforce, Adobe Experience Manager, and more.

Marketing Nation is bigger than I thought


The Marketo Community in Japan, much like the one I’ve become familiar with in North America, is strong. Many of the 300 people in attendance knew each other well, likely due to the fact that they don’t wait for a MUG Day to come around to get together. In addition to the bi-annual MUG Days, Marketo users in Tokyo can take advantage of monthly breakout sessions geared towards specific marketing groups.

The Tokyo MUG Day attendees were also more than welcoming to me. Despite the language barrier they embraced me fully, offering suggestions for restaurants, parks, and attractions to visit. I was thrilled to receive such a warm welcome!

Think global, act local


For my presentation, I spent some time introducing Knak and discussing the future of email marketing (through an incredible translator, of course!). The booming tech industry in Japan means that Japanese companies can run their entire Marketing department without going outside the country for support, but that doesn’t mean they’re not open to collaborating with their North American counterparts. Countless MUG Day attendees came up to me after the presentation to ask questions about Knak and find out how we could help them build beautiful emails faster. It was amazing to see their excitement about engaging with a Canadian company.

Fearlessness: the Marketo way of life


While I was experiencing my own doubts about MUG Day (the size of the crowd, the language barrier), I realized that the attendees were having some of the same hesitations. The event organizers encouraged them to speak to me in English in order to get some practice, but shyness from both sides stifled communication.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before we started nerding out over our mutual love of marketing. I got to hear stories from several different marketers about how they reached their current roles, how they manage Marketo at their organizations, and how they’re tackling their biggest marketing challenges. In each story, “fearlessness” played a role, and I heard the message over and over again: in marketing and in life, you’ve got to just ignore the fear and get things done.

Different side of the world, same email problems


Despite the language barrier, everybody was able to air their grievances over what we and Knak are most passionate about– the email creation process. Hearing marketers on the other side of the world talk about the same pain points, from creating the emails themselves to getting them approved by the right people, was equal parts comforting (at least I’m not the only one) and exciting (Knak can help!). It was so motivating to know that the work that Knak helps marketers far beyond our front door.

All-in-all, I’m so glad I took advantage of this experience. It’s always easy to come up with reasons to maintain the status quo, but this trip halfway around the world gave me the opportunity to live out the fearlessness that Marketo encourages. It was my first time in Japan, my first presentation with a translator, the first time I ate ramen in a private cubicle (!!!), and my first experience meeting my Japanese Marketo counterparts.

For many of the Tokyo MUG Day attendees, it was their first introduction to Knak. Hopefully it offered some insight into what Marketers are doing in other parts of the world; at the very least, it was an opportunity to work on their English, likely a step outside their comfort zone for many.

And isn’t being out of your comfort zone the first step to being fearless?

Welcome Felix Higgs

Felix Higgs - Customer Success Manager

Meet Our New Customer Success Manager

As a company, Knak has been laser focused on customer success since day one. As our company has grown, so has our customer base, and we’ve been looking for a team member whose exclusive focus would be our clients’ success.
Felix Higgs is the perfect guy for the job.

With more than ten years of experience as a Customer Service and Marketing industry professional, Felix has a long track record of putting customers first. He comes to Knak from Cendyn/Guestfolio where he was an Account Manager, responsible for assisting clients in all stages of the life cycle. He also has experience as an Email Marketing Specialist at a non-profit and has filled a variety of other roles (in a variety of other countries!) so he understands the unique challenges that email marketers face on a daily basis.

His years of experience in the email space along with his laser focus on customers make Felix the perfect fit for Knak. He’s ready to jump right in and help resolve problems on the spot, and he’s excited to further our commitment to providing world-class service. We can’t wait for you to meet him!

If you have any questions for Felix, or want to say hello, you can reach him at felix@knak.com.

[Infographic] Who’s Who at the 2018 Marketo Marketing Nation Summit

The most exciting week of the year for Marketers is just around the corner!

With over 80 partners exhibiting at the 2018 Marketo Summit, it can be a little overwhelming to know who can help you with your most urgent business goals and objectives.

We have made it simpler for you by categorizing all of the different vendors into clear and concise categories. This will help you navigate the expo hall like a pro and use your time most efficiently.

Check out the infographic to see all the Marketo LaunchPoint partners who are sponsoring the 2018 Marketo Summit!

Who's Who at Summit 2018
P.S. We’re helping throw what’s bound to be the hottest party at Summit this year! Don’t miss out on the party that everybody will be talking about. Register now.