Thriving in crazy, difficult times

  • Pierre Hage

    Pierre Hage

Published Jan 12, 2021

Making Space for Marketing Innovation


Learn how Knak adapted its marketing strategy, leveraging networks, launching new initiatives, and investing in creativity for innovative marketing solutions.

One year ago, we were busy preparing for Adobe Summit. We had some incredible stuff planned, including a party at Ice Bar, and we were looking forward to connecting with our clients and hopefully meeting some new ones at our newly-designed booth.

We all know how that turned out though, and by the end of March, we were looking for ways to accomplish all we had planned for Summit – and the rest of the year – from our slightly less well-designed home offices.

The good news is that we are marketers ourselves, which means we’re creative and always ready to brainstorm new ideas, so we got to work on adapting our marketing strategy to fit a year without live events.

We’re nearly a year in now, and while we’d love to put a number of in-person events back on our calendars, the truth is that we’re really excited with the new directions we’ve taken.

Here’s a look at how a shift in your marketing strategy and execution gives you space to launch new initiatives and get creative with your campaigns.

Leverage Your Network

One of the things we’ve done this year is to reach out to the influencers and innovators in our network. The world of email marketing is full of really amazing people, and we wanted to start sharing their helpful, brilliant content on our blog.

To that end, we reached out to email rockstars like Sara McNamara, Matthew Smith, Jen Capstraw, and Kim Greenop-Gadsby, among others, to collaborate on some innovative pieces.

As marketers, yes, of course we hope fresh, insightful content will drive traffic to our site, but our main goal as a company is to make life easier for our colleagues, our chief purpose is to help other marketers simplify their process and get more out of every campaign.

Start Something New

We didn’t get to see our customers and prospects in person this year, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t connect. We launched three new initiatives that gave our CEO and COO a platform to share their insight and interview some really cool people.

Pierce Ujjainwalla, Founder and CEO, launched the Unsubscribed! podcast and blog, and so far he’s had some incredible guests, like Greg Porter from Great Canadian Heli-Skiing and Evan Liang from LeanData (BTW: new episodes are available every Wednesday).

Brendan Farnand, Knak’s COO, also launched the Inside Marketing blog. We love that these initiatives have given us a chance to partner with people in other areas of the tech space to show how the right technology and partners make email marketing (much) simpler. More of this to come in 2021!

Update Your Website

No matter how well attended a live event is, you’re always going to get more web traffic on your site than foot traffic at your booth. So, make a good impression and invest in a website that clearly helps visitors understand what you do, how you do it, and why it’s important.

This year, we’ve invested significant time into We reviewed our goals as a marketing department and updated the site to reflect our focus for 2021. We’ll be rolling out our new design over the next few weeks, so check in and take a look at what we’ve been working on.

Invest in Testing

We know time is a marketing commodity that’s always in short supply, but make time to A/B test your email campaigns. Think of it as a marketing initiative – test different CTAs, subject lines, design styles, animations, etc, and invest the time to analyze the results. As 2020 Marketo Champion Warren Stokes said in our interview with him last fall, “Your campaigns don’t get magically better because you send them more.”

If you don’t know what’s working, you’re just launching campaigns and hoping your intuition is correct. Don’t guess! Test your emails and make sure your marketing efforts are focused in the right direction.

Invest in Creativity

Marketers are some of the most creative people we know. Unfortunately, we’ve started to notice an alarming trend – automated email campaigns are threatening to turn marketers into data entry clerks.

While efficiency is critical to successful marketing operations, creativity is equally important, and automatically generated campaigns will be difficult to customize for diverse audiences.

Maybe 2021 is the year to put your same-old marketing playbook to the side and try out new campaign and design ideas. You’re likely deploying more campaigns than ever before, right? So it’s time to experiment. 

If you’re using a good email creation platform, you can save time and be creative by building emails in minutes and getting them to market quickly. A/B test your creative ideas, and you may be surprised at what gets results.

Bonus: Get Pierce’s take on the future of automated campaigns, and get some 2021 design inspiration here. 

Talk to Your Clients (and Then Let Them Talk for You)

Featuring customer stories is nothing new, but one of the benefits of having your customer success team closely aligned with your marketing team is that you find out how your customers are interacting with your product.

At the start of the pandemic, we reached out to all our customers. We asked what sort of help they needed, and then we offered them flexibility and special accommodations as they transitioned to a new work environment. Whether they needed the accommodations or not, we had a chance to connect with each of them personally and see how they were doing.

Since then, we’ve had several clients who were willing to share their stories. User perspectives like this deliver a level of insight and credibility that Marketing can’t always do on its own. Citrix’s Cory Riley joined Pierce at a MUG event recently, and in about 6 minutes, he accomplished something that would take our marketing team quite a few campaigns to achieve. 

As with anything else, this is about working smarter, not harder. If you’ve invested the time into the success of your customers, invest the time to listen to their stories. You’ll get great ideas for new integrations and product features, and you’ll likely get some great info to share with your audience.

Excited About the Future

I have to be honest – I’m really excited about the initiatives we launched over the last 10 months. Some of the things we’ve always wanted to get done are finally live, and I’m not sure we would have gotten here without the intense pressure cooker that was 2020.

I do believe that live events will return, and when they do, we’ll be there, hanging out with clients in person and taking a much-needed break from Zoom. But until then, we’ll continue to innovate and lean into the relationship we’ve formed with incredible email marketers around the world.

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  • Pierre Hage


    Pierre Hage


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