Untapped Opportunities within Email, Insights from CPO Brett Bair

Total Runtime: 13:00

2:11 – How much have you learned about the complexities of email since starting at SocketLabs?

4:00 – What is SocketLabs doing to help businesses find new opportunities with email?

6:02 – What is so special about on-premises email, more specifically SocketLabs Hurricane MTA?

7:18 – Outside of reporting, what else is SocketLabs doing with data to make customers’ lives easier?

9:04 – How is SocketLabs leveraging its people and its technology to help complex customers solve unique issues?

11:51 – Getting to know Brett outside of SocketLabs

(Keep scrolling for a full transcript of the conversation.)

Focusing on New Opportunities in Email

1 in 6 emails hits the spam folder. Yet marketers put all their focus on content and who it’s sent to. It’s time to realize the untapped opportunities that exist within how emails are sent.

We’re helping our customers realize the true potential of email delivery by combining our proprietary Hurricane MTA with deep expertise and reporting that provides actual insights instead of just more data.

Discover more about our innovative and intelligent message delivery solutions: including on-premises, cloud, and true-hybrid solutions in this conversation between Lauren Meyer, EVP of Product Marketing & Brand Strategy and SocketLabs Chief Product Officer, Brett Bair.

The Conversation

Hello, email geeks! My name is Lauren Meyer, EVP of Product Marketing and brand strategy for SocketLabs. Today, I’m sitting down for a conversation with the SocketLabs’ Chief Product Officer, Brett Bair. I’ve got a handful of questions I’d like Brett to answer, including what lessons he learned about email when joining SocketLabs, how he’s applied those aha moments to the product roadmap, and I’m hoping he can also give us a little bit of a sneak peek of what features the SocketLabs team has been working on. And let me tell you as an email deliverability geek, I’m really excited about these. So I’m really hoping he’s going to give you guys some good detail on that.

For those of you who don’t know Brett, he is the Chief Product Officer for SocketLabs. Before joining us in email land, or I guess deliverability land specifically, Brett spent more than 20 years helping startups, e-commerce firms and global brands leverage new technology and techniques to drive growth for their businesses. As far as I know, Brett has always been passionate about helping companies adopt a customer-centric marketing focus, getting the most out of their marketing efforts by putting the customer experience at the center of their email strategy. In fact, he even actually wrote a book on this topic! His expertise and hands-on experience in optimization personalization and omni-channel marketing are just such a great match for a role as the CPO of an email service provider, because he’s helping us provide a truly holistic approach to how we innovate as an email company. We want to meet the future needs of businesses who rely on email as a main driver for revenue, particularly for those who are not experts in email, who maybe need a little help, who are doing a million other things in their day.

So, thanks so much for joining me today, Brett. What do you say? Should we kick things off?

Let’s go!

Question 1: How much have you learned about the complexities of email since starting at SocketLabs?

I was literally blown away. I could not believe the fact that so much about email was a mystery to me.

I literally, in two decades, never even knew the term ‘deliverability’. It was a totally foreign language to me. But what was even more amazing was the fact that I’ve sent a lot of email in my day, hundreds of millions of emails to people and thought I was doing a pretty good job, but really never understood the fact that there’s so much that happens in between that point of sending – hitting send – and then it actually ending up in the inbox for that recipient. And really just not understanding the fact that, you know, I think so much of my career and the optimization has been the content, the message, who you’re sending it to, their engagement with that piece of content and that email. But I never really thought about the fact that if they’re not getting that message – they’re not actually receiving that email – I’m probably missing a huge bit of the opportunity. And the fact that I just wasn’t aware of this just blew my mind.

That’s so interesting, and it’s definitely something that I’ve experienced firsthand when I’m working for ESPs and third-party deliverability vendors. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about small B2B companies here or retail brands that are literally sending to millions of recipients per day. These people are juggling hundreds of different tasks and they’re trying to optimize their delivery and their deliverability. And it’s a really complicated topic for them to the point where they almost don’t even know that deliverability is a thing until they’re blocked somewhere.

Question 2: What is SocketLabs doing to help businesses find new opportunities with email?

I know we’ve got a new dashboard that’s coming, and I think you kind of spoke to that a little bit, but we’ve also got an updated version of our internal StreamScore. I know we’ve got some really exciting plans for updating our data and reporting insights. We even just hired a really awesome person to help us with that, in addition to a data scientist. What is all that going to end up looking like from the product perspective?

So one of the things that we’ve done recently is really, getting back to that customer-centric approach. We looked at how our customers are using our product today. What are the features they’re using? Where are they navigating in our site? And making sure the things that they need front and center are exactly that: front and center, that they’re easier to find they’re going to be able to get to the information they need quickly and efficiently.

I think about a car and your dashboard in the car, and it’s giving you lots of information. Sometimes that information could really be screaming at you to take action. You have a low tire pressure, or your check engine light comes on. You might want to immediately pull that car over and take a look – similar to what we want to do on in our dashboard. When someone logs in and there’s an issue, we want to let them know that right away. And it could be their quality score has dropped dramatically. It could be, they have some mail backing up in a queue. It could be all kinds of things. And all of that data now is going to be front and center and easy for them to dig in and access and get to that information quicker.

Question 3: What is so special about on-premises email, more specifically SocketLabs Hurricane MTA?

One thing that we don’t really talk about enough, but I think we should talk about more is our proprietary Hurricane MTA. It’s serving a part of the market that seems to be forgotten at this point. So from your perspective, what sets us apart from some of our competitors?

I think there’s a number of things. One: a lot of our competitors don’t have their own homegrown MTA, so that is absolutely an advantage for us. And the fact that it’s extremely flexible. We can do customizations that I know a lot of our peers cannot do. So I think that’s a huge advantage and that’s something we’re still tinkering with. We are still evolving it. We’re still thinking about how we can turn it into a more valuable piece in the email food chain.

We’re one of the few providers out there that have both a cloud offering, as well as an on-premises offering. I think there’s a whole world of people that want the cost benefit of what on-prem offers, but don’t want the kind of the overhead and they like the flexibility of cloud and that infinite scalability and that flexibility. Combining those two things in a hybrid product is really compelling and something that we’re actively pursuing and working on.

Question 4: Outside of reporting, what else is SocketLabs doing with data to make customers’ lives easier?

There’s an abundance of data [around email]. I think the reality is for most people, they don’t need more data. They need more insight. They need to understand where they need to be taking action or changing behavior to get the most out of the channel. And I think one of the things that we’re looking to do, and we have some amazing talent on the team to help do it, is really leapfrog some of the reporting side of things and really move more quickly towards that insight side. How do we give people the information that is going to really drive the end result that they’re looking for, which is better performance, getting more email in the inbox, all the things that they want and not requiring them to dig through tons and tons of data.

Today, it does still require quite a bit of human interaction to make that all work, but I think over time, it won’t. And I think we want to try to accelerate that path and we want to get people there faster through better use of data, not more data.

So notifying for a specific reason, I think that that’s beautiful because you see these dashboards or you see companies that are alerting you on every single little thing that happens and over time it just kind of becomes white noise. You don’t really know what to look at. You’re just glazing over the screen and you’re like, “I don’t know, everything looks good, I guess?” So it really is beautiful to just have that ability to sort of just have data points kind of just raising their hand and saying, “Hi, I’m really important today. Pay attention to me.”

Question 5: How is SocketLabs leveraging its people and its technology to help complex customers solve unique issues?

So I want to shift gears a little bit. Something that our CEO, Tim Moore, mentioned in my recent interview with him was this focus on providing more support to those complex, high-volume, one-to-many senders. And I know we’ve got a really great team that’s here to help walk them through that process, hold their hand, be that expert in the areas that maybe they don’t have an expert, but from the product perspective, what does that look like? How are we kind of matching what we can do on the human side from a product perspective?

Yeah, that’s actually probably one of our biggest initiatives this year, thinking about that type of sender: a sender that is in many cases, handling lots of individual senders could be lots of different brands, could be lots of different individual customers that – they’re in many ways, doing what we do, right? They’re managing all of that complexity, all that kind of nuance of what different customers are doing. And it’s really hard. And I think one of the things that hasn’t happened yet in the industry, and we’re looking to change that, is looking at the world of email delivery and deliverability from their lens. Thinking about how they think about these problems and really understanding the fact that this is not a core competency for them. They’ve hired, they’ve outsourced this part of their business because they know it’s not a big part of their focus. But the reality is, it’s a big part of the value in many cases, they’re providing to their end customers.

The other thing which is a really big opportunity for us is the fact that in many cases, whatever they – when they built the company or when they started to build their product, they may have set up with one of our peers to send email, but they didn’t really think through what happens when they grow to a point where that solution doesn’t make as much sense anymore. It isn’t really the right thing for them. But they don’t really have anywhere to go, but we have all that flexibility. We can start you in the cloud, take you to on-prem, or we can start using the cloud and migrate you into a hybrid solution. And I think there’s a lot of people out there that maybe aren’t thinking about this, but I think when they learn about what we’re doing and the fact that there is potentially some greener grass over here, we would absolutely love to work with them.

Like I said, create a solution that is really aligned with what they’re trying to do and their pain points. And really solving them from their perspective, not putting them in a situation where they have to basically tailor their business to work in that environment. We want to tailor our solution to be effective in theirs.

Getting to know Brett outside of SocketLabs

It’s such an interesting question in the COVID era. I’m someone that loves travel and trying new food and all of those things. So that world has been greatly diminished for me. Probably the one thing I had been able to do a lot more of is my obsession with coffee and in particular kind of playing with different gadgetry, I’m more, more of an espresso kind of latte drinker. That’s kind of my, one of my many nerderies, but that’s been the one I’ve been able to do at least in the current state of our, our world.


Well, all right. Thank you so much, Brett, for your time today. Email geeks, we’ve reached the end of this episode. So stay tuned. We’ll have more fresh content hitting your computer screens very soon. Until next time, I guess, see you in Email Land!