Q&A: Lewis Sellers, Managing Director of Conesso & Pinpoint, part of idhl Group
Lewis Sellers leads Pinpoint and Conesso, two agencies of idhl Group. As Managing Director to both, he holds a wealth of experience in the world of eCommerce, software development and email marketing.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
When I was at high school, I setup a business selling Chinese Sky Lanterns, importing relatively small quantities from China and selling them via eBay to make some money. Stock was selling very quickly to the point where we needed a dedicated website. Over the course of 6-12 months alongside my programming experience, I built a website on a platform called Cubecart. During this time, I learnt a little about SEO and managed to get the website to rank in the top two on Google for all the major key phrases.
The business continued to grow to the point where we were importing around six to eight containers per annum, and we secured contracts with the likes of Amazon, Lakeland, Fenwick and other large UK retailers. We replatformed the business from Cubecart to Magento (now Adobe Commerce) and continued to operate the business before selling in 2012.
During that time, I made a lot of poor decisions, but learnt tons about the supply chain, issues retailers faced and the pains of working with external agencies. This led me to setup Pinpoint, a Magento specialist agency that would help merchants find elegant solutions to complex problems. Over the years, we’ve amassed a fantastic client roster, working with major Premier League Football Clubs, global brands such as Casio, Osprey Europe and Regis Salons and have grown from strength to strength.
In December 2017, Pinpoint was acquired by idhl, one of the UK’s fastest growing digital marketing groups. I’ve continued to grow the business within idhl before taking over as Managing Director of Conesso (formally Wired Plus) in 2020. Having worked with several email marketing platforms in the past from a merchant perspective and coming from a background of eCommerce and software development, I felt it a worthy challenge to get involved with!
Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard to build further structure within the team as well as rebuilding the entire Conesso platform from the ground up. Our new platform and rebrand launched in May 2023 and we’ve focused heavily on user experience, managed services. We’re now looking at our next phase of growth.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Conesso is a marketing automation platform, focused on helping marketeers make better decisions with their data. Our platform has all the major features you’d expect such as sending mass emails, building workflows and segments, surveys, landing pages and the ability to integrate with thousands of third-party systems, alongside in-depth analytics.
With the rollout of the new platform, we’ve focused on building something that is easy to use, fast and infinitely scalable. We’re using all the latest technology to provide a seamless experience to users and have an exciting roadmap of features which we’re releasing at pace.
In terms of USP, our key differentiator is our managed service offering, which focuses on working closely with our clients to define and execute an email marketing strategy focused on driving ROI. If you’re an eCommerce company, we would use all the data we have available to us, whether that be Customer Lifetime Value or Repeat Order Probability. This would be used to make informed decisions to build out further flows. If you’re a non-transactional business, we would focus on other metrics such as lead scoring.
We understand that marketing teams don’t always have the skillsets internally to employ a dedicated email marketing expert. That’s why our service is built around getting you up and running with the correct marketing flows, testing and iterating on the results.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
Unlike many of the email marketing platforms in the market, we are using the latest technology in our platform, which provides a fast and infinitely scalable solution for our clients. We’ve really focused on key parts of the platform such as Analytics, to ensure we’re providing useful information that’s easy to digest.
In addition to this, we’ve focused heavily on our ability to integrate with third party systems (whether this be an eCommerce platform, a CRM, or a bespoke internal platform that our clients use). We have a middleware team internally that can handle custom integrations and we’re launching new features on a regular basis to give ourselves an advantage over the competition.
What advantage does it add?
Email marketing has one of the largest ROIs of any marketing channel and is often overlooked. Some of our clients generate several millions of pounds of revenue, for tens of thousands of pounds spend.
In our experience, most companies have aspirations to use email marketing, but don’t have the internal time or skills to build out the automations, review them and make iterative improvements. The benefit of our managed service team is that we can work closely with you to define a strategy and take the strain off the implementation before providing you with the results.
Email is also complimentary to many other forms of marketing. As an example, you could send traffic to your website via paid ads, try and capture the users email address via a popup/newsletter sign up, then continually market to those customers in a strategic way. When this approach is rolled out in the correct way, it can help to improve the return from other channels.
What does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?
When engaging with a retailer, we would define what success looks like together. If you are an eCommerce retailer, this is typically some form of revenue increase, or increasing customer engagement and repeat order probability. If you are a non-transactional retailer, this could be brand awareness, driving leads via other methods, or driving footfall into a store.
Our approach is bespoke to each and every customer we work with. Once the success criteria have been outlined, we would carry out ideation sessions to understand what contact data we would like to collect and how we can enrich that data over time. A good example of this could be a retailer selling chocolates who needs to understand their customers preferences. You don’t want to be sending emails around chocolates containing nuts if the recipient has a nut allergy.
From here, we would create a strategy, present this to the business and build it out. Frequent reporting would be provided, and continuous iteration of the flows would be handled to maximise the results. Our aim is always to build a one-to-one relationship with customers via personalisation, rather than sending out blast campaigns which drive high unsubscribe rates.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We can integrate with over 5,000 platforms via our connector with Zapier. Alongside this, we have bespoke integrations with major eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, as well as integrations with CRM / ERP systems such as NetSuite, Capsual CRM, Microsoft Dynamics etc.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
As many are already aware, the UK economy has struggled to rebuild off the back of the pandemic. Teamed with a cost-of-living crisis, companies have become highly aware of their cost base and the costs they need to cut in order to stay ahead.There is a lot of competition in the market, and we are seeing that merchants are feeling the pressure of a ‘race to the bottom’ on price. Facing these challenges, it comes all the more important for businesses to use their budgets wisely and focus on channels that will bring them the best return.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
When compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is a low-cost way to communicate with customers quickly. Not only can you market to the same customer multiple times, but businesses can also use email to segment their audience based on preference to provide highly personalised content. It is this highly personalised content and targeted approach that email marketing can offer which will help businesses stand out in saturated markets.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
We are currently working on additional features for the platform, including SMS functionality and further integrations. Our aim has never been to end up in a feature war with other providers on the market but ensure that the features we have are market leading. We want to provide our client base with everything they need to maximise their investment with us.
Any final thoughts?
We’re an approachable team who hold a wealth of knowledge in the world of email marketing. We’d love to speak to anyone who is interested in furthering their email marketing requirements to see how Conesso can support you in this journey.
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