Altaf Shaikh

About Me

Altaf Shaikh is the founder and CEO of - a full-service interactive marketing firm that helps organizations harness the power of email & social media to acquire, engage and convert prospects faster — and to retain existing customers better using data-driven marketing concepts.

Under Altaf’s leadership ListEngage assists clients on almost every aspect of e-marketing including but not limited to best practices; effective email designs; increasing email deliverability; triggered email campaigns; drip marketing automations; attracting and engaging visitors using social media channels like Twitter, Linkedin & Facebook.

ListEngage’s clients include companies like Parametric Technologies, Alpha Software, Fidelity Investor, Brandsmart, Liberty Mutual, IDC, Nova Chemicals, Demandware, Classy-Kid, Jessica London, J.Jill, Response Insurance, Green Giant, Chadwick’s and more.

Altaf is passionate about digital marketing and has more than a decade of experience purely in this field. Previously he was the CEO of and prior to that held senior engineering and consulting positions at Bell Labs, PictureTel, and the European Commission Brussels. Altaf graduated with a degree in Computer Science which gives him a unique vantage point to also view marketing challenges from a technological and analytical perspective.

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Email Will Increase Ecommerce – 1 Introduction

1. Introduction

Email Will Increase EcommerceListEngage has been helping our customers enhance their ecommerce since our inception 10 years ago.  We are proud to have helped companies such as Filson, BrandsMart, and Alimed set up automated messages that bring customers to buy.  If you look at this chart from ExactTarget, you can see that by sending more relevant emails, based on data you already have regarding your customers, will help generate revenue.

The objective of this series of four articles is to make you aware of the ways that automated emails can help you, and for a low cost.

All of us involved in ecommerce abhor abandoned shopping carts, inactive customers and decreasing conversion rates.  These evils can be purged by sending automated, personalized,...

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Email Will Increase Ecommerce – 2 Transactional

2. Data Driven Emails and Order Updates

This is the second on the ListEngage ecommerce series and concentrates on how to increase sales by using data driven emails and helping customers track their orders

Targeted, automated email offers significantly more value than what one accomplishes through a blast to your “list”.  Your website has collected a lot of customer information, and this data can be used easily and wisely through automated event driven emails.  Event driven emails are prepared using a set of triggers, giving you the opportunity to set up and fine tune your communication and response optimally based on the behavior of your customers.

One should consider using event driven emails such as:

  • Welcome emails for new visitors and...
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Email will increase Ecommerce - 3 Order info and device

3. Feedback from Customers and Track Devices

Motivate customers to help improve product information

You should use email to ask your customers to rate products and write reviews. These reviews offer invaluable customer insights into your products and descriptions as well as providing you with insights on the performance of your site.  Motivate your customers with an incentive (e.g. discount on future purchase) after they have written a review.

We would suggest that you invite them to write a review around two weeks after they’ve made a purchase. If there is no response from the customer, send a reminder mentioning the incentive again, and encouraging them by letting them know how they will be helping others.

The feedback given by the customer...

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Email will increase Ecommerce - 4 Reactivate and Reward

Reactivate customers via email

You, like every other ecommerce site, have customers whom you have not seen for a long time and/or no longer open your emails.  They represent a missed opportunity! Think about checking their email address (look for an email change of address) and sending a reactivation email to customers with an incentive.  If they react be sure to welcome them back with an (automated) personal message. 

But what to do with those who do not respond to your reactivation request? The answer is simply to stop sending ignored emails.  Put these customers on a separate list, and work to get them to respond again.  Send them an email from a person rather than your site.  See if they are back on your site with a new email address...

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The Lobby is Empty – What Works Better Than SEO?

email marketingThe B2B world has changed, that was never clearer to me than the other day.  I was in the lobby of the main office of a large manufacturer, large room with lots of tables, chairs, couches, and a very nice, older, well dressed receptionist.  I went to the desk to meet my appointment (it was actually to see a friend) and the receptionist was excited to help me.  While I was waiting, I noticed that this large lobby was totally empty (except for me).  To pass the time, I asked the receptionist if it was always like this, and her response was affirmative, but that it used to be filled with outside salespeople meeting with purchasing folks.  She said that the salespeople just don’t come any more; she thought it has something to do with the...

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Holiday Message (Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!)


                  holiday message from Engager

This issue of our newsletter “The Engager” looks very different from previous versions, instead of sharing best practices, tips and tricks on email, mobile and social we felt it is the perfect time to wish you:

Best Wishes for a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year

We also want to thank our clients, friends, fans and followers for your business, support, constructive feedback, and suggestions that you have so willingly shared with us.

So who are all these vibrant and fun folks in the photos below?

All of us at ListEngage have great fun doing what we do on a daily basis. In doing so we talk to many of our clients and contacts regularly and if we are lucky we get to meet some of you in-person; so we wanted to be...

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Google Hummingbird Overpowers SEO

I would like to applaud Google for continuing to improve their search algorithms and degrade the impact of those trying to outGoogle Hummingbirdsmart the searcher via what is termed Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  The latest update from Google, termed Hummingbird, appears to be a significant upgrade.  However, with every improvement there are intrinsic problems, and in this case I would like to call the problem “the rich get richer and the new guy is invisible”.

Google’s success, and my personal love of the search engine, is because I can quickly find what I am looking for in the cornucopia of information on the worldwide web.  I have a feeling, as a user you feel the same way.  SEO exists to move a lesser known (but perhaps better qualified) product in...

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Is Your Attention Span Long Enough to Read this Email Marketing Article?

email marketingIn a recent radio interview, Doris Kearns Goodwin was discussing her new 900 page book "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" especially the differences between news journalism in the early 20th century versus today.  In the early 20th century, newspapers would publish entire speeches and they would be read by their subscribers.  The point Goodwin makes is that our attention span has gone down enormously since then.

There is no arguing the significant reduction in our attention spans (even within our lifetime), and I believe it continues to decrease every year.  However, in marketing and especially in email marketing we are fully cognizant of reality, and the much shorter attention makes...

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ListEngage wins ExactTarget’s Global Services Award

ExactTarget Connections 2013As the Founder & CEO of ListEngage, I am very proud and excited to announce that ListEngage has been presented with ExactTarget’s “Global Services Partner Award” at ExactTarget Connections 2013 annual conference. This is the highest award presented to ExactTarget’s Partners.

While presenting the award, Danielle du Toit - Director, Global Centre of Services Excellence at ExactTarget stated “List Engage was selected as the recipient for the Services Partner Award at Connections 2013 for their hard work, their commitment to the Orange Partner Network and their dedication to embodying ExactTarget’s Core Values.  List Engage consultants are easy to do business with and have consistent high client satisfaction ratings.”

ExactTarget – Email & 1:1...

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Responsive Email Design (RED) is all the rage but what is it really?

Responsive Email Design

Part "1" of Three Part Series on Responsive Email Design (RED)

More email is read “mobile” than on a desktop email client or via webmail. Stats say that higher than 43% of email is now opened on a mobile device. With Email still being the main marketing workhorse, businesses today large or small have few choices but to assure that all their emails are mobile-friendly and designed with Responsive Email Design (RED) considerations, the alternatives are far from acceptable.

Responsive Email Design requires dynamically detecting the visitor’s screen size and orientation and adapting content and layout for nicely rendered messages. Previously one had three choices on how to create an email that would render readably on devices from Smartphones, to...

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Step by Step instructions on how we converted our newsletter – “The Engager” with Responsive Email Design Techniques

Part "2" of Three Part Series on Responsive Email Design (RED)

The Challenge: Take an existing custom email newsletter template and turn it into a responsive (mobile-friendly) design.

The Engager is a typical email newsletter. It uses well formatted HTML designed for email. This means the Engager template uses inline styles and table formatting to determine a very specific email design. On a typical desktop email client the Thanksgiving edition of The Engager looked like this:

Responsive Engager1


However, when viewed on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android, the email would look like this:

Responsive Engager2


Responsive Engager3



The text is too small to see, so the user is forced to pinch and zoom their phone to something more like this: image next

As you can see, the user sees only a portion of...

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What do I do if I need help with our mobile email strategy or Responsive Email Design?

Responsive Email Design


Part "3" of Three Part Series on Responsive Email Design (RED)

More and more the targeted reader of your email has no tolerance for anything but something special.  Should you make your emails mobile-friendly with a few tweaks or should you go all out and convert them with Responsive email design techniques. Assess the situation, work with experts to understand if Responsive Email Design is what you need right out of the gate.

In many cases you can experience significant improvements in your email metrics by testing and tweaking you emails to be mobile friendly by taking small steps. If you have the resources, budget and a good business case then Responsive Email Design is one of the best methods to use to accomplish better email readability...

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What Do Donuts Have To Do With 1:1 Email Marketing?

email marketingImproperly done emails frustrate me, and drive me not to buy from certain merchants. I fully realize that it is easy and cheap to send 5 million emails in the blink of an eye. One only has to get a .001% open rate, and the program is a success. WRONG. To me, it shows that the company sending me the email has little or no respect for me and does not mind wasting my time. I rarely binge on donuts so reading about the new donut flavor of the month doesn’t get me excited. The few seconds that it takes me to see the email, and properly dispose it of are a few seconds I will never get back. Multiply that times the thousands of merchants (B2B and B2C) who send irrelevant content, and you can imagine the waste it creates.

Now email marketing is my...

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Are You Analyzing Your Email Marketing Results?

email marketing resultsOne of my favorite quotes is Albert Einstein stating that the definition of Insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  However, looking at my email inbox, it occurs to me that by this definition many email marketers are guilty of this email marketing insanity. To deploy an email repeatedly without analyzing who is receiving the email, who is opening the email, and who is reacting to the email exposes that insanity. 

What Kind of Email Marketer Are You?

You can be one of only two genres of emailers:

  1. When it comes to your email execution strategy – you spray and pray, you are a carpet bomber, you have a list with “thousands” of names and you pay little or nothing per email so why not just blast and...
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Leveraging Social Media by Monitoring Conversations

At ListEngage we often get queried by our customers as to what should be their marketing strategy regarding social media.  We have a standard answer, and I would like to share it with you here:

Social Listening as a Marketing Strategy

Picture an infinitely large room, filled with every person in the world, all having conversations with each other.  Now imagine, you could pull out those conversations that involve your market segment and your (and your competitors) product families.  I am certain that every person reading this posting would consider this insight into what is being said to be precious.  This is where Social Listening plays a pivotal role. To us, advertising on social media is like yelling on top of your lungs in this tremendous...

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Digital Marketing 101 - Email List: A Foundation for Success

Marketing management of major companies find it imperative to invest heavily in digital marketing.  However, more times than not, those same departments are missing building a strong foundation (a great email list) and that is subsequently negatively impacting their success.  We all have lists sitting around, be it the sales prospect list, the web visitor list, the customer list, the ship-to list, the bill-to list, the newsletter list, etc.  Most departments are making the IT investments to try and consolidate those lists, and fill in as much information as possible on every member of those lists.

However these lists are filled with many wrong names, they are loaded with loading docks, accounts payable, purchasing, people who have changed...

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Marketing Strategy – Customers Don’t Want Ads, they Want a Conversation

marketing strategyIn an article “Customers Don't Want Ads, They Want A Conversation” by Brandon Evans, the point is made that marketing strategy should focus on becoming a dialog between buyers and sellers. This dialog is built around the social network imperative that the best way to create real value for companies is through deep collaboration with consumers. 88% of CEOs said “getting closer to customers” was the top priority for their business and that is based on the simple fact that the winners are those who are closest to those who buy, use, and advocate for their products. 

Social Media Technology

It is hard to argue with any of Evan’s points; however conversations, dialogs, listening and discussing are foreign to traditional marketing, branding, and...

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1 to 1 Email Marketing - Follow The Clicks

1 to 1 Email MarketingThere is no shopkeeper in the world that is not intimately aware of which items are being looked at, when and by which customers. This inevitably leads to conversations relevant to the customer’s interests and needs. Those who have read some other of my other posts know well that I am impressed with the clerks in every Nordstrom’s ability to keep track of their customers preferences and give them a heads up via 1 to 1 email marketing, when new stock arrives or items are reduced in price.

Marketing Automation To The Rescue

Then why doesn’t this scenario play out more often, that is - a relevant visit (or set of visits) to a website (the modern equivalent of the person browsing in the shop) result in an immediate email describing the principle...

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Why Don't Colleges Teach How to Succeed with Email Promotions?

Grads - MBAI was speaking to a friend recently who had been interviewing (and testing) students graduating with an MBA, and he was mentioning how every one of them was excellent with PowerPoint, each able to create compelling presentations.  He then when on to quiz them on creating advertising copy and again each and every one of them did a superb job.  Finally, he asked them to create and describe an email campaign for his product and every one of them failed miserably.

I am not in a position to tell universities what to teach; however with over fifteen years of experience developing, measuring, and improving email campaigns, I am a decent judge for what works and what does not.  99 out of 100 emails I receive have major flaws in their design and/or...

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This Says It All About Winning in Business

Once in a while, I see a quote which is so phenomenal that I put it in a special file to use often.  My only regret for each quote in the file is that I was not smart enough to originate it myself.  One of the items in that file says that we are all pursuing an unfair advantage versus our competitors.  Another says that any marketing professional who thinks that marketing can stay consistent in a world where technology is accelerating by Moore’s law better change their mind.  The best quote I have seen in a long time is the following:

"The only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers," wrote Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff. "Brand, manufacturing, distribution and IT are all table stakes. The only source...
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