“How do you get to be the leader? Be the first-est with the most-est.”
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
When explaining why we’re creating the Email-Based Retargeting category, there are two different whys to address:
If you know what Retention.com actually does (we identify anonymous web traffic and give you their email and postal address), the first question you probably have is, “Is that legal?”
(The answer is yes, in the USA. Not anywhere else.)
Shortly thereafter you probably thought, “I’m emailing someone who was on my site but didn’t give me their info. Isn’t that too invasive?”
To answer this question, I would like to draw your attention to the data that Google collects about you every minute of every day.
We live in a world where invasiveness is so extreme that it’s difficult to get your head around it.
Here’s what Google can access and monetize*:
It’s hard to internalize just how invasive this is, but as a society, we seem to be fine with it. And that’s not even including Facebook or any other social media site that collects data about you.
Legally emailing someone to monetize a visit to your website isn’t nearly as invasive as monetizing even one of the bullet points listed above, let alone all of them at once, 24/7/365.
Not only that, Google and Facebook are monetizing visits to your website with the exact same technology we’re using to track visitors.
They’re making you pay over and over again for the same display and search retargeting clicks.
It’s time for you and your business to take advantage of that exact same identification technology, and monetize those visits for yourself.
It’s time for you to start doing Email-Based Retargeting.
Now we’ll address the other why.
The best book on creating a category and why you should do so if you can is Positioning, by Al Reis and Jack Trout.
They write: “The easiest way into someone’s mind is to be first.”
They defend their statement by asking if you know who the second person was to step foot on the moon or fly across the Atlantic, or what the second highest mountain in the world is.
What’s the easiest way to be first?
To introduce a completely new thing, or way of doing something, and to introduce your product or service as the first product or service to do that thing.
Seth Godin addresses category creation in a slightly different way, but in my opinion, it’s just semantics.
As Seth hypothesizes in The Dip, it’s imperative to be the “best in the world” at something.
Creating a narrative that you’re the best in the world at something is simply creating a narrow category for your company or product to dominate.
Why did we think Retention.com deserved its own category?
Anthony Kennada, the founder of Gainsight, a category creator in the Customer Success space, made a checklist for deciding if your industry is right for category creation in his book called... you guessed it! Category Creation.
In his words, if you answer yes to all or even a few of these items on this checklist, category creation is right for you.
Despite Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) becoming increasingly commoditized, Retention.com actually does something completely new and different that no one has ever heard of.
At the same time, people are excited to hear about it.
When they put the code on their website, it works. We send them email addresses they don’t have yet, of real people.
Those are the perfect ingredients for category creation, so we created Email-Based Retargeting.
The most straightforward benefit of creating a category is that if you can continue to dominate that category, and not be dethroned by a “fast follower,” market share accrues to you.
The Harvard Business Review says companies that create categories enjoy 53 percent higher revenue growth and 74 percent higher market capitalization growth than their counterparts that “disrupt.”
In Positioning, the authors say that if you own a term in the mind of the market, the #2 brand that comes to mind will win half the market share, and #3 will be another half still.
Today’s examples are actually even more profound than that. They’re completely monopolistic.
Google for Search. Amazon for e-Commerce. Uber for Ride Sharing. Twitter for Tweeting.
Examples that are closer to home for what we’re trying to do at Retention.com are HubSpot for Inbound Marketing, Drift for Conversational Marketing, ClickFunnels for Sales Funnels, and MailChimp for Email Marketing.
What about if you’re entering a crowded, established category?
You can still own a term (or phrase) in the mind of the market by resegmenting the market.
Some great examples of recent niche plays by companies that I follow who have done a great job at resegmenting a crowded space are Convertkit (Email Marketing for Professional Bloggers), and Klaviyo (Email Marketing for Ecommerce).
The beautiful part of owning a term in the mind of the market (or not-so-beautiful, depending on which side of it you’re on) is you don’t necessarily have to be the company that invented the product to own the term. But if you do own the term, your prospects are likely to think you were the innovator.
Publicity is easier for a category creator because journalists are always looking for something new to share with their audience.
The proof seems to be in the pudding for this one. As of now, we’ve been able to line up appearances on 10 podcasts in a week, a co-promotion with AppSumo, and several help-a-reporter-out placements.
I’m convinced there’s no way we could have lined up those appearances with our product in the email marketing space, which has been around for 15 years with more than 150 vendors.
Cultivating a community of brand champions who agree that you’re solving a valuable problem will help validate your category and grow the industry.
This community takes time to develop, and starts with appealing to the human side of early adopters.
Gainsight Founder Anthony Kennada points out that if you can cultivate a group of early adopters via educational content on your blog, featuring successful customers on your website, and hosting live events and conferences featuring early adopters as speakers. “Their support can create a network effect that propels category awareness and thought leadership into the marketplace, sparking a flywheel that will compound and gain momentum as time goes on.”
Pioneers often die with arrows in their backs.
Creating a category is the easy part. Developing it and defending your leadership position over the years is the hard part.
Google has 91 percent market share in Search. They most certainly did not create the Search category.
Mailchimp is a great example in Email Marketing. They have become synonymous with the term over the years through building a great company and brand with a freemium strategy. But Constant Contact was the pioneer.
An innovative “fast-follower” can take advantage of the effort and capital you have invested in creating a category. With an educated market, it’s much easier to move quickly and take market share with innovative “us vs. them” marketing.
Jack Trout and Al Ries say that you do it through brand. Position your product to be the standard by which every new product is compared to.
“The essential ingredient in securing the leadership position is getting into the mind first,” they write. “The essential ingredient in keeping the position is reinforcing the original concept.”
The example they use is Coca-Cola. “The Real Thing” is a strategy every leader can employ. It immediately forces the prospect to judge any competitor by the standard Coca-Cola has set.
What’s the reality of actually doing that in today’s world?
There’s an infinite supply of everything, new vendors are popping up left and right with newer, better products, and there are more low-cost ways to get initial virality to get products off the ground.
I believe the answer is still brand, but the definition has changed.
Today, securing positioning takes so much more than a great tagline. Your brand is the value provided to your market through content, the community you cultivate around your product, your ability to attract talent and stay innovative, and the connection you can create between the people behind your product and the people behind the logos you’re selling to.
Like most worthwhile things in life, it’s a slow, day-in and day-out grind that you can’t really tell is working in the short run, but something beautiful will ensue over the long term.
*courtesy of Dylan Curran at The Guardian
Listen to me and Helen talk about Email-Based Retargeting:
At Retention.com, we define Email-Based Retargeting as the following:
Email-Based Retargeting uses identification technology - usually cookies or cross-device ID - to identify anonymous website visitors.
Those visitors are matched to a partner network database of contact records (with opt-ins), and the end user is sent email addresses of people who are not already on their list.
The last part of the definition - “... of people who are not already on your list” is what separates Email-Based Retargeting from all technology before it, such as Cart Abandonment, Category Abandonment, and Behaviorally Triggered Email.
With Email-Based Retargeting (unlike display retargeting), the end user pays once and owns the contact record forever. As long as there is an opt-out link in the email, the end-user can email that contact record for as long as they wish.
Email-Based Retargeting is a new, incremental acquisition channel.
EBR works behind the scenes. Most businesses can easily add EBR to the Email and Direct Mail Marketing that you are currently doing to grow customer acquisition.