Please, tell us how did you work in the first days of the war. Did the company have to shut down completely?
It should be noted that our entire company operates online. Our entire team works remotely, people are located in different parts of the world. Therefore, it was not a problem for us that we did not gather in the same office on the 24th in the morning. We just asked again in the same working chats: “How are you? What do you have there?" These were the first hours of the war.
At that time, the organization of employees, and the support of colleagues were important. In the second place was customer support. Some people had mailings right in the process. In the early days of the war, some people moved, and some ran for shelter. But we threw projects and supported what needed to be supported. Some companies have stopped working, so the workload was lighter, and we no longer had to control all projects.
When we had already regrouped, we continued to do something. At the same time, some of our projects, which is also logical, also stopped.
What is the situation in EmailConsulting now? Are you already back to full-time work, like, for example, at the pre-war level? Or has the number of projects dropped?
I would say that a lot has changed. Some of our employees were from such regions as Mykolaiv or Poltava, and they became volunteers. We also supported them for a while. Now, we support volunteer organizations. So, we reformatted the team. This was an important step that helped us enter other markets.
It is very pleasant that many Ukrainian companies have also reformatted: they left, relocated their offices abroad, from where they support their work.
After three months of the war, we have a new wave of those who started doing something new to raise the business to a new level. Therefore, email marketing has become very relevant here. Everyone pulled out their bases, remembered that they needed to do something, and came to their senses. After 3-4 months, we also reformatted, got new specialists into the team, and started cooperation with new clients at a qualitatively new level.
We know that before the war you ran email marketing training courses. Do you continue this educational initiative? Or is it suspended?
It is currently on hold because all courses are in the Russian language. And now all these videos are even unpleasant for me to use. Therefore, now I am going to redo the content in Ukrainian and English, and also host live seminars and webinars on interesting topics somewhere. So, now everything is suspended but I plan to restore this initiative.
Has the email marketing of Ukrainian companies changed during the war? Perhaps, there are some new restrictions on the use of certain techniques, or have some new approaches come to the fore?
If we are talking specifically about the Ukrainian market, the indicators have changed depending on the field of activity of the company. It all depends on what kind of audience was in the database. If this is an audience that has stopped buying things or a product, or a product is now at the wrong time, yes, everything has changed here.
But for other companies, the opposite is true. Those who had never used email marketing before remembered their customer contacts and started monetizing them. If they have relevant services or products but haven't used email marketing before, they've started to do so.
As for the use of services, it is not related to the war, but rather to the technicians. Outreach services are now gaining popularity. Like Snov.io, when you need to connect your services, mailings almost go to cold databases. But this is not related to the war - this is a general trend because outreach is very popular in the Western markets.
What kind of mailing and SMS lists one should use under the current circumstances so as not to cause a negative reaction, irritation, or thoughts in the Ukrainian audience that this is not the right time?
You know, there's this interesting story about the red lipstick index. This is a global experience: when there is some kind of crisis, sales of red lipstick grow. Because women, just like men, have to take inspiration and energy from somewhere. It's not about luxury, it's not necessarily expensive lipstick. It can be in any price range. It's about how you feel in any situation.
Therefore, it is possible to say that this product is on time, and this one is not on time, only if you launch a mailing list and apply with an adequate offer.
Now, perhaps, it is not even necessary to write on the mailing list that there is a war going on. We have been experimenting for a long time and found that when a company uses crisis content, help for the sick, or anything similar, this must be done very carefully. Because exploiting such topics for the sale of goods is not good and not ethical.
But if you openly help the Armed Forces of Ukraine or send some percentage of your income to them, it helps. In a sense, we now feel that instead of a certain purchase, we can donate to some fund. And everyone has a conscience. But if a company says that it is transferring aid to some fund, that's good. This supports the connection of the nation and the idea that we must somehow function, we must live and work, and this is proof of our life.
We not only fight, but we also build. And it is important – to focus on building something and not just on the war. I am sure that running a business in Ukraine is a very responsible thing. Because it means building something. Not only destruction, not only negativity. Building something is very important.
I have seen controversy on the Internet about advertising jewelry. I don't know how they are with sales. But for any product, it is good to send letters of moral support and be frank about your position. Do not write long texts - appreciate the client’s time.
Did EmailConsulting have to make any unpopular decisions: lay off staff, reduce hours or wages to keep the business in operation in the face of uncertainty? Or it did not affect you?
It (the war) affected us. After two months, we had to make some unpopular decisions. But, as I said, we agreed with the employees on it, we did not fire anyone on purpose.
In addition, foreign markets still require certain skills, such as knowledge of English. It's a little different.
So, we have lost part of the team and gained part of the new team. Because people have also lost their jobs, and now in general there is a kind of rotation in the market.
Do you need new specialists now? Have you fully recruited your team?
We are in dire need of new specialists. I see that the Ukrainians have received new inspiration. Many interesting projects came in with interesting requests and tasks. Therefore, strong middles are needed: both email marketers and designers who will typeset emails.
Recently we were looking for copywriters: Ukrainian-speaking and English-speaking natives. We temporarily used the freelance services of natives, but wanted to take people on the staff. And we have already managed to find copywriters that are fluent in English. However, we still need designers.
Tell us how you usually select new team members. What are you paying attention to? Is work experience a deciding factor when hiring specialists?
Experience does matter, of course. Before the war, we had very different projects in the package. That is, there were also very simple ones, which have been running for a long time, and we could hire juniors for training. But now we have more challenging projects. That's why we need people with experience.
What are we paying attention to? An email marketer, for example, must know at least two mailing list systems and be able to work with them. I really pay attention to education in marketing itself: what is a “target audience”, what is a “message”, what is a “call to action”, what is “segmentation”, and “funnel”. After all, marketing is not about texts and blah blah blah. If you want to be a specialist, you must have a solid basis. And the better it is, the better you will work, and the better your email marketing will be.
When I teach, I always have three blocks.
The first - basic marketing – it is general marketing, where we study the target audience, segments, tone of voice, conversion, ROI, etc. The second is email marketing - it is about what a "welcome chain" is, how it is built, how long it should be, how to map triggers, etc.
The person may have never done this before, but here I'm already looking at their way of thinking: is the candidate ready to learn? Email marketing is constantly evolving, and this includes messenger marketing because these are all channels of mass communication and cannot be broken. SMS also goes here, that is, all channels of communication.
It is important to know how a person thinks, how they learn, and how quickly they pick up an idea. If I see that the thought has gone, and the person has not fallen into a stupor, this is very good.
And the third thing a Middle or even Senior email marketer needs is technical skills. Knowing what a “DKIM key” is - is already a technical skill. Knowing how to set up a postmaster is a technical skill. And then - to draw up a technical specification for integration, to look into the hosting with your own hands - this is a very good skill. And it's not as terrible as it may sound. If you have gone through this once, you are already thinking: “Yes, it is not that complicated.”
What difficulties do you face when looking for new team members?
When searching for a new team member, the main issue we face is a lack of marketing background and critical thinking. That is, as they taught in the courses, as they heard somewhere there - that's how they do things. And when this begins – that's it.
Yes, there are very few good email marketers in the market. This is generally a big problem. Not just good, but with two simple skills: to know about marketing and be able to think critically.
What are the short-term goals for EmailConsulting, given the extreme uncertainty of the environment in which you have to work?
Our first task is to continue to live and function. This is the most important task.
Also, one of our tasks is to support Ukrainian businesses entering the world markets. We do it, we are very proud of the projects that are now in our clip. They are very cool: we form cases and will show them.
And the third task is to bring Ukrainian expertise to world markets. We are pleased to be aware that, as Ukrainians, we have something to give to the world: our expertise and assistance in setting up and maintaining email marketing. We are historically forged in a competitive marketplace and with a strategic, creative, and technical approach. We can provide very high-quality services precisely because we have grown in the Ukrainian market with Ukrainian and world junction systems. So, we see ourselves as worthy representatives of the nation for cooperation with the whole world.
Ukrainian email marketers are strong enough. We know all systems; we know how to set them up. And we're looking to go out into the world. Of course, we have a lot to learn from foreign colleagues. And we will work with international projects, with multilingualism, and set up automation. We are tuned in to such global projects.