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The Inbox Insights 2022 guide with Jenna from Ascend2

Email’s Not Dead: Season 3, Episode 4

The Inbox Insights 2022 guide with Jenna from Ascend2

Email's Not Dead

About this episode:

We've got a gift for you and you can download it from the Mailjet blog. We just released our Inbox Insights 2022 report, for which we partnered with our friends at Ascend2. We invited out Jenna Balegno from Ascend2 to dive into why this report will benefit your email strategy and what to expect in email in 2022.

Meet your presenters

Jonathan Torres

Jonathan Torres

Manager of the TAM team at Sinch Mailgun

Eric Trinidad

Eric Trinidad

Technical Account Manager II at Sinch Mailgun

Jenna Balegno

Jenna Balegno

Chief Operating Officer, Research Director at Ascend2


Email’s Not Dead – S3, E4: The Inbox Insights 2022 guide with Jenna from Ascend2



Eric Trinidad: Welcome to emails not dead. My name is Eric, and this is Jonathan.


Jonathan Torres: Hello.


Eric Trinidad: Hello. We're here to talk to you about all things email, and we'll be your earbuddies along the way. We are officially in the New Year, our first official podcast of 2022. We're super excited. Jonathan, how was your holiday, sir?


Jonathan Torres: It was good. It was OK. Yeah, it was the holidays. All right.


Eric Trinidad: Did you get anything good for Christmas?


Jonathan Torres: It was fun. Did I get anything good for what? Are you going to put me on the spot like that? I don't, I can't think of.


Eric Trinidad: We were just talking about gifts.


Jonathan Torres: Actually, this hoodie is probably my favorite thing because I keep using it over and over and it's super bright and orange. So I know everybody can't see it. It's audio format.


Eric Trinidad: But I was just about to say.


Jonathan Torres: Bright orange hoodie and I love it.


Eric Trinidad: So yeah, no, I feel you. If I could lift my leg up into the camera and show you I'm wearing that, well, I mean, I'm sorry. Well, I will show you my socks, which have my daughter's faces on them. That's one of the gifts I got, and it's pretty dope. I'm pretty excited about it. So that's cool.


Jonathan Torres: That is really awesome.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, we have another gift for our listeners today. Jenna Bonano is joining us from Ascend2. She is the CEO and research director, and she's going to be talking to us a little bit today about some things that we have partnered up in. Jenna, how are you doing?


Jenna Balegno: Hi, good. How are you?


Eric Trinidad: Doing very well thanks.


Jenna Balegno: Love being called a gift right off the bat. Thanks. Wow


Eric Trinidad:  Yeah. I think you're going to be gifting us with so much knowledge. I think today.


Jenna Balegno: So much data, such fun stuff.


Eric Trinidad: Well, we're definitely nerds about email. And if you're nerdy about numbers, then I think this will be a good podcast.


Jenna Balegno: Yeah, I can definitely nerd out on some research with you.


Eric Trinidad: Nice. So, yeah, if you don't mind like giving us a little background, like, who is Jenna?


Jenna Balegno: Oh gosh, where do I begin? I'm a Gemini no I'm just kidding.


Eric Trinidad: Long walks on the beach, okay, I got it.


Jenna Balegno: Wrong podcast. Sorry.


Eric Trinidad: Oh yeah.


Jenna Balegno: Well, I am currently the COO and research director for Ascend2. Like you said, so I work with our clients to kind of conceptualize research that's used for content purposes. You know, we try to determine what you're trying to achieve with your research and then who you're speaking to with it and then format survey questions so that the audience can respond in such a way that will hopefully create some compelling content and data. And then we create reports. So I kind of had that whole thing up. I've been doing that for a while. I guess this is my third year in that position.


Eric Trinidad: I'm going to hold you to it. Yeah, we have your background right here, just checking to see for that.


Jenna Balegno: Yeah. And I've been working with Ascend2 for five years. And so before that, I still kind of have a little one woman digital agency that I just do like print and web and digital design for some old clients. But yeah, this is my main thing now, and I love it. I've discovered that I love finding patterns and things and like telling a story with data for marketers. So, yeah, who knew!


Eric Trinidad: So how did we get together? Like, how did Ascend2 and Pathwire come together? Like, what are we working on what have we secured with you?


Jenna Balegno: Pathwire kind of for lack of a better word like commissioned Ascend2 to create this resource, basically for email marketers to use not only like in their strategic planning for this year, but also it's a guide to come back to. I mean, when you take a look at the report itself, like the whole thing can be used as a guide and keep coming back to it. But the last, like 10 pages or so are truly like printables. If I was a dedicated email marketer, I would paste them to my walls. You know, we've created this document that's full of tips and tricks and hopefully help email marketers better their email performance for the year ahead.


Jonathan Torres: I would say like, it's a lot of really fun data. I think, you know, it's weird to say that about data. I think sometimes it's there, but it's fun and interesting.


Jenna Balegno: No we make it fun Jonathan!


Jonathan Torres: Exactly, exactly. I like seeing behind the scenes right away, what's the why behind things? And that's kind of, I think, where I always end up, when I'm asking questions, when I'm looking at things like, what is the why and why are we doing this and what's going on? And I think that's kind of the, you know, when we start talking, then getting this conversation, like, that's a little bit about the hefty part of the conversation is the whys. I don't know. It's just good data like it's really good stuff to have, and it's really fun to see the way that people are doing it. So with that Inbox Insight 2022 to its coming out, it should be coming up pretty close, right together with it. That way you have the data, you have the report, you can look at it, you can dive in yourself to all this data and all this knowledge and then be able to, you know, look at the things that we're doing here, you know, through the podcast what we're explaining what we found, I guess, is like the basis of things or what we find interesting within it and then I mean, we kind of get into the reasoning of the report, like why we're doing it. Like I know you've already mentioned a few things like getting the insights the way that you stated it. I really, really like it because it's so perfectly aligned with the why question of...


Eric Trinidad: It's a guide, really.


Jonathan Torres: Well, yeah, but you and your team really dove into what is the beneficial information, right? Like what are the things that are important that are going to give the right questions the right cues for people to really consider what they're doing, how they're doing it and get the most pertinent relevant information, right? Like it's a matter of getting that part of it out and really starting to not just look in focus in the one little thing. And I think sometimes we see from the outside perspective, I know people that look in on the email industry like, Oh, it's just the email part of the business or it's just, you know, this small portion of things. But for people in the email industry, like those that are doing the email marketing and like ourselves that are, you know, within that part of the business helping that part of the business, that's the most important thing to us. So kind of aligning, I think all of those pieces is to me what a lot of the report also kind of goes into right. What particular part of the business is doing these things and then bringing it all out. So that's a little bit of what it meant to me, and I just want to make sure that I'm not thinking of it incorrectly. But it sounds like from what you're saying so far, like, it sounds like I'm kind of on track with it and from you, like, is that accurate?


Jenna Balegno: Totally. Yeah, I mean, we try to ask a mix of questions too. So some of them are, you know, more general seeming. But when you get down to it, they might seem like it just backing up conventional wisdom. That's something that you like "of course, this is the way it is". Whatever, but like at its core, marketing is, I mean, this might not be popular, but like it's very simple, like when you get down to brass tacks and it's easy to forget what those core components are and so like to be able to like have more general questions about such a broad topic. You know, it's really helpful to see them like evidenced by data, I think, I guess is what I'm trying to say.


Eric Trinidad: No, that's 110 percent correct. I think the conversation that Johnathon and I have with our customers, sometimes it isn't. You feel like it might be just like the natural order of things, but in practice, it might not be that simple for folks, you know, for them to understand it. This is backed up by actual data is even better. You know, when we tell folks like, oh, well email people you know, don't send to people who don't.


Jenna Balegno: Send them relevant content.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, exactly. You know? Yeah. Oh yeah, that makes sense.


Jenna Balegno: It does serve as a good reminder, you know, like, there's just fundamentals.


Jonathan Torres: And I think that's why I post that. I love thinking that email's super important. I know for me it is like a big part of my life now, and I know so many people that they don't even have a clue, sometimes even that their businesses themselves are doing. They're utilizing email at any kind of large level or really for what their business would you use email for when they're not directly related in those. Those topics are like, really, you know, opening up and seeing it and really having something where looking at that piece of data and right that we're kind of exposing it to everybody and most importantly, right for those that we do find it important and people within our industry. And I think that's who exactly this is targeted for. But really just kind of bringing in all aspects of it that I think is is pretty awesome. And I guess with that like when we're looking at the email specific stuff or I guess like the whole marketing piece in general and when we start kind of diving in when you're doing the report. So you know, you kind of mentioned general questions within marketing that are happening and then the audience of who that's been asked to, you know, it's kind of another thing that we had, you know, talked about in our, you know, as we were leading up to record this podcast and kind of things that we were talking about. But can you speak a little bit more about that? Like who the target audience is that you're asking these questions to?


Jenna Balegno: Yeah. So this report in particular, the entire survey was to, I think, a little over 500 marketers, marketing decision makers, which is huge. And then this segment of that group that this report represents is, we call it the best in class segment. We have a success question in there that has them rate their perception of the success of their email program. And so a sliver of that five hundred and ten, I think it was like 17 percent reported that it was very successful. So we like to look at I mean, that success segment to me is so insightful, you know, like they're what's working, right? It's such a clear picture of, you know, compared to the general group. Like the group as a whole, the five hundred and ten marketers like you can see stark differences between what's working. You know, the strategies of those you know, that are working and those that I've seen a little less success. And so it's just such a good segment to create a guide around.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, because I know a lot of people would like to be in that top tier and that upper echelon of marketers, you know...


Jonathan Torres: Doesn't everybody is that yeah, right? Yeah.


Jenna Balegno: Everyone wants to be at the bottom of what they do.


Eric Trinidad: Remember that's how you remember folks also. But yeah, you know, no, that's awesome. That's great to hear that, that they're engaged and they're willing to share, you know, some of that knowledge and see what they feel is important. So I guess, you know, with some of that information, like could you explain like like how much of their like what did they state kind of like some of the highlights of the report?


Jenna Balegno: I think first and foremost, I think I said this to you guys the first time we met. This could be like the highlight you use as your artwork for your podcast. That, like the importance of email, is ninety seven percent of best in class. Marketers agree that executing an effective email marketing program will be critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy in the year to come. So I mean, that's huge in my mind. It's such a good headline. Yeah, yeah. I mean, we can get into it like I think the challenges of marketers, especially best in class. I think a lot of people can relate to it, you know, increasing engagement and integrating email with other data. I think that most marketers at this point can agree that they're trying to make all their data come into one cohesive view of a customer or client. And so, you know, I think that data fuels everything at this point, right? So, yeah, I mean, we could talk about that all day.


Jonathan Torres: But oh, we can, we do! I think that kind of goes and for one validates, you know, too many things. One, I just said it like emails are the most important thing. So now we know it's true. But we also know that data is one of those things that we talk about a lot. And, you know, outside of the context of, you know, kind of what's in the report, I think the report really just stands to expand how much what we're we're looking at. I think on the podcast itself, we've probably talked it into the ground the whole point of using open data, using tracking data within your email and within the email segments you're already sending out. It just helps build a great portfolio of who each one of your customers are and then understanding that and then utilizing that data to then curate your campaign. How do you think you're at your sunset policy so you don't look bad to ISP's you're sending out. That is super, super insightful and super like good information that I think any person doing email marketing is going to find beneficial. And if they integrate it, they're going to be much more successful than they are today if they just start doing that simple thing. Then if you go with that next step further, like what people are saying here is integrating that data set with everything else that you have in line, I think is just it goes beyond that. I don't think we've talked about it enough on the podcast. You know, with what we've done, I think we've mentioned it maybe once or twice. But really, yeah, you have data sets from your website, you have data sets from your sales, you have data sets from, you know, any mail physical marketing that you're doing as well. Like, there's a bunch of data sets out there and the more you integrate it, the better it is. I mean, that's the beauty of seeing a report like this where you're seeing the people who are most successful, the people that are saying that they're super effective, that this is working really well for them. Yes, it's going to bring in those kind of things. It's going to bring in that, that level of success that they're having because they're doing this stuff. And it's great validation. I think also to see that, you know, stuff that we're saying, stuff that we advise and we tell our customers to do that. It's working and it's really successful for a lot of these people. We're kind of looking at some of the data and some of the things that we found to be able to like pull things out from is the whole dynamic content also where you're adjusting things using this data. And I don't know if you have any specific numbers on that dynamic contact information.


Jenna Balegno: We asked marketers to tell us the current use of their dynamic content and email. So to what extent are they using it? And we found that only 12 percent of the overall group reported using it extensively versus thirty three percent of best in class marketers. So that's I mean, that's a significant jump from 12 percent to 33 percent. You can deduce from that. Obviously, dynamic content is working for people, you know, like it creates that more personal experience and especially, you know, like we said, layered with other data may be collected from another channel or even one other channel really paints a whole different picture. And you can provide that like that really one to one experience that people frankly at this point, expect. Like, there's nothing. I mean, I don't you know when someone gives me a bad experience now digitally, it's just like I notice it. Maybe that's me just me being a marketer, but still like, like, how do they not have this right? You know?


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, yeah. Well, maybe that actually, maybe that's their game, right? Maybe they're so bad. You're like, Oh, I remember this guy...


Jenna Balegno: You're all about like being the lowest rung, you know? Yeah.


Eric Trinidad: I got to be the ying to Jonathan's yang. You know, we balance each other out, you know, I just try to play devil's advocate in those things. But oh yeah. Oh man. You just kind of teed me up for this other question that now it makes me even seem even worse because I was going to ask what are they like their struggles?


Jenna Balegno: But I'm on to something here.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, yeah. You figured me out. What are they having the biggest issues with or is or what they've kind of shown in the report?


Jenna Balegno: So just as far as the overall challenges, like in email marketing?


Eric Trinidad: Correct. Yeah.


Jenna Balegno: We saw for the best in class segment increasing engagement with the top one. Integrating email data with other data was the second and then improving accessibility was the third. What's notable about this is that the top challenges for, like all respondents, were, of course, increasing email engagement, but the next two were creating an overall strategy and measuring performance. So to me, this is actually very interesting because, you know, the top challenges of the best in class marketer represent kind of a more mature or more sophisticated email program, in my opinion. Like if you're challenged by integration and accessibility, you're focusing on these like more granular tactics. Whereas like for all respondents who might have less success with the email so far and hopefully will improve in twenty twenty two, you know, creating an overall strategy and measuring ROI. Those are kind of fundamental strategic challenges.


Jonathan Torres: It's one of those things that I think whenever I see the challenges and I think this kind of comes in one of those places where sometimes, as in within the industry and as we see email marketers struggle with this is that you think you're on an island whenever it comes to the challenges that you're having and seeing these kind of things like increasing engagement, like it's a constant thing that we hear. And it's one of those things that I think we've got a pretty good solution, right? Like we're seeing that the best in class, the things that they're finding success and the things that they're doing that make them successful is the things that we usually tell people that they need to start doing. But there still is that that thing that they're it's they see the challenge, right? They see the need to create better engagement, they see the need to do those kind of things, you know, and getting better at the strategy and things of that nature. And no matter how much we tell them, that's a thing that everybody struggles with and that they need to start doing these other things that will help them with that stuff. Sometimes it's hard to get by and seem like to me that that's why this report is so awesome for that we can see things like that People say like, "Hey, this is exactly what the struggle is. This is exactly how do you find solutions to those things". And I guess I'm just looking for validation.


Jenna Balegno: And I think it's just human nature. That's human nature. Yeah, people are just curious what other people are doing. At least I am. Maybe that's just me, but like and I'd like to just think it's human nature. But I mean, I want to know what's going on in other people's heads all the time like, and this is such a good representation of that. And what's great about this report, too, is that, you know, Pathwire like dives into each of these challenges and like gives actionable solutions, you know, like checklists, literally checklists of like what you can do to increase engagement, which is I mean, it's just this is it's great. I can't say enough about it.


Jonathan Torres: That's that's awesome. And I know that kind of covers like a lot of the things that we're looking for, right? And a lot of things that we want to happen with doing something like this and using the report, being able to validate what you're doing, being able to see what the other half is doing. And that's the other half like, you know, the people that are doing things correctly and you're doing things correctly, maybe the things that people are doing wrong. Eric, I'll give you this one. You know, seeing the people that aren't having success, like where are they struggling? And have you heard of all those things as well? Because even if you're at the top and you're performing great, if you're doing things or not thinking about everything in a holistic way, you could be doing even better. And there's other things that maybe you haven't seen and haven't opened your eyes to. So doing something like this, seeing this information is going to be super, super useful. And I think that's a great way to use this report right to read it, to understand it, to see what successful people are doing successfully and what those that are not doing, where they're trying to improve things that they're doing and even the ones that whenever we look at those struggles, I think there are so many times where it's like, I haven't thought about that struggle and maybe I am struggling in that situation. Maybe I do need to pay more attention there, but I just haven't opened my eyes to that yet. So it's it's real nice that I or it's a nice thing to see within the report, and I really, really like that.


Eric Trinidad: Well, just to kind of add on or just apply a line to what you're saying as well, it does give you insight into that top 20 percent right to those that are really doing well. So if you feel like you know you, you need to get to that stage and you're but you're only focusing in on the like the little, you know, the minor league stuff. How are you ever gonna get to the pros if you're still have that minor league mentality? You know, how are you going to be like the Dallas Cowboys? If you're still thinking of all the little guys you know? Hard pass on everybody here at the company, that's unfortunate. You feel that way about this year's Super Bowl champs. Oh wow. Oh. We just lost everybody. Sorry.


Jenna Balegno: Yeah, I mean, even, you know, like when you take it down to even if you're creating an email and you feel super like this is just kind of a metaphor for it all. But like if you're creating this email and you're super confident in it, you're super confident in the content and everything you're still right before you send. You're still nervous, you know, like right before you execute, you're still there's still that anxiety, right? Guarantee you're at least wanting to refresh those analytics all the time, right? So like people, even if they're like even the best in class, still, I think have that, you know, and they're still struggles that that are present there. And so if we can learn from them, we definitely should.


Jonathan Torres: You know, we're taking a few notes on this. And I know like part of the things that we wanted to do is highlight the fact that this report gives you good insight into, you know, seeing with the other side does, which we've already talked about enough where to start investing your time, really, and that the fact that we're making everybody psychics today and have good insight with all of this great information, like the data, the data speaks for itself. And whenever you have that information coming directly from those that you know might be your competition, they might be, you know, people that are just within your arena and you can see what they're doing, how they're doing it, the things that they're considering, what they're considering next is also a big thing. And being able to see that like, man, that's pretty good insight that we don't often get or don't always get. At the very least, we don't always get it. But seeing it, having it written down and then with the suggestions that have everything that's coming through like as far as like our team sees and, you know, with experts behind the scenes who have done this, we've been doing these kind of things and who get to see all kinds of angles, I think is super, super nice to see. I mean, at least in my opinion, it is.


Jenna Balegno: Definitely, there's so many thought leaders in here that like they summarize things great. So even if you just look through the report and like only read the quotes from the thought leaders, you're getting something out of it I think.


Eric Trinidad: I guess the biggest gift that you can give our listeners today is look at what is happening in the new year or what is some bit of information that you can say that is coming up for email marketers?


Jenna Balegno: Agility is something we're seeing a lot of and across all of the research that we're doing, making their technology more flexible so that it can speak to other technologies, making sure that their data can be integrated like again with the data integration. But you know, the composable technology stack for 2020 to like, maybe keep an eye on that and make sure that your teams are working in such a way that they can be flexible and quick and kind of almost real time. I'd be interested to see how far in advance post-pandemic, like how far in advance marketers as a whole are scheduling out their strategy. It's like, I think that right now there's kind of this realization that, you know, you don't really know what's coming. Like, anything can happen. And so I have to wonder, you know, are marketers scheduling their, you know, their entire year strategy in advance? Probably not right now, you know, like or at least they are. And but with the fact in mind that they need to be able to pivot. So we are that agile email marketing, I think is a big one.


Jonathan Torres: Yeah, definitely. I mean, if we can think of a few things between the pandemic and shipping shortages or delays and supply chain issues and all those kind of things that I know we've been talking about on the podcast itself. But like really, that just affects the entire world. Like, what can you do besides be ready to do changes on the fly? So, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's definitely a big thing.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, yeah. Yes, you never know when there's another ship going to get stuck in a canal. Yeah, you know.


Jonathan Torres: I feel like that's your favorite thing that happened within the past two years.


Jenna Balegno: That's like the highlight of two years.


Eric Trinidad: I referenced that situation like four times today. I don't know. 


Jonathan Torres: Every opportunity you get. It's great. So, yeah, so the release date for this and I don't know exactly, this podcast may get posted before the release date of the thing. So yeah, if we're posting this before, you should be able to see the e-book come out on January 17th. So that's, you know, really soon, I'm sure, from dropping this really soon from what we're recording this one, I'm excited and I'm excited for everybody to kind of dive in and be able to get this help. I'm ready to send customers over and be like, Hey, we've done the work we've done the research like Jenna is amazing. She's put this great thing like helped out and got it this information for us. And, you know, we all put it together in this great way and just go check it out and that be awesome. That'd be great.


Jenna Balegno: Our whole team is awesome. Yeah. 


Eric Trinidad: All right, Jenna. If people were interested in seeing more about us, then do you have any information or where they should be going?


Jenna Balegno: You can head right over to our website,, we're on all the socials, Facebook and LinkedIn, and Twitter.


Eric Trinidad: TikTok, not TikTok yet?


Jenna Balegno: No, we haven't taken that dive yet.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, yeah, we haven't either. I think we're waiting. We're waiting for it. We're waiting for Thomas to get it together.


Jenna Balegno: So just a bunch of like charts and like super, super engaging stuff, it's great for video, yeah.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, yeah, that's for sure. All right. Well, thank you very much, Jenna. We really do appreciate you joining us today. It's been a real pleasure. Thank you for putting up with Jonathan and I today.


Jenna Balegno: Thank you, guys. You're great.


Eric Trinidad: Yeah, you're welcome back any time. Until next time. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day.

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