Q&A with Creative Developer, Gary Brown

Email marketing has hit the headlines this year.

Thanks to GDPR, our relationship with the emails we receive, who we receive them from and why we receive them has been under intense scrutiny. It’s also forced everyone working in marketing to re-evaluate their approach to the email channel with an even greater onus now being put on businesses to deliver relevant and engaging content to their subscribers (something we’ve championed for a long time and welcome with open arms).

Times are changing and, to shed more light on the subject and peer under the hood of the industry, we asked our Creative Developer, Gary Brown, for his insight into all things email.

Here’s what he told us...

How long have you been working with email marketing?

GB: I have 4 years experience in email marketing from 2013-2014 and then after a two year email exile I returned in 2016.

How has the industry changed during this time?

GB: From a developer’s perspective, change has come slowly. In 2013 the industry was beginning to move towards responsive design and supporting mobile. Today, more emails are opened on mobile than desktop so that’s created a huge shift, and many developers now design for mobile first, then make the design work on the desktop. Also, the #EmailGeeks Twitter & Slack community has been amazing for bringing all of the developers from around the world into one place to share ideas and improve our skills together as a community.

What’s the most powerful aspect of email marketing?

GB: Email is unique. If you’re trying to promote your business through social media you’re at the whim of the platform’s algorithm that decides whether your message is seen. With email, you can place your message directly in front of your customer.

From a designer and a developers perspective, what’s changing in the industry and what excites you?

GB: I’m excited to see the industry moving towards better accessibility. For so long, email developers have had a difficult enough time getting their emails to render correctly for major email clients without having to worry about extra layers of complexity to cater for those with difficulties. Mark Robbins has been instrumental on improving and promoting accessibility in email and we salute him for that. We have also seen an increase in interactive email techniques pioneered by the likes of Justin Khoo at FreshInbox. Despite insurmountable odds, email developers have managed to invent ways to insert modern web functionality into email - a truly impressive feat!

How will these changes impact the end user?

GB: When it comes to interactivity, people are going to see more emails that surprise and delight them, and that’s where clicks and conversions come from. When Jarrang recently implemented an interactive technique for one of our clients they told us that for the first time, people were responding to their emails to tell them they loved what they’d done. As an email developer, my focus is firmly fixed on the end user so to get praise from the public when they have absolutely no incentive to is very rare and special.

With so many ‘free’ solutions and templates out there, what benefits are there to people using a specialist agency?

GB: Free solutions and templates absolutely have a place in email marketing but unless you have experience in email you can quickly find yourself in difficulties. Email marketing is so multi-faceted that even to use a free platform successfully you’re going to need image editing skills, basic programming skills, knowledge of scheduling, access to a testing platform, split test knowledge and how to interpret the data.

Where do you think the industry will be in the next five years?

GB: The post GDPR world will be good for email marketing. Yes, mailing lists will inevitably shrink but the quality of those left on your lists will be substantially better. These folks that opted back in are willing recipients of your marketing messages and as such are much more likely to engage with your content. This is a good thing, marketing messages will become less of a nuisance and will only find their way to people who genuinely want to see it.

Have another question for Gary you’d like answered? Let us know on any of our social channels (you’ll find the links in the footer of the website) or send us a message and we’ll do our best to answer it for you.

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