Email Peeps 18: Andrew Beeston
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
ɐᴉlɐɹʇsn∀ ɯoɹɟ ollǝH.
Do you remember Outlook Express? My first experience sending email (newsletter or marketing) was using Outlook Express. There was no tracking code, no html, just paragraphs of plain text, with a hope that someone would reply and say ‘I liked this’. I used the old trick to send to myself, then BCC to batches of 50 people. I had a list of a few hundred from a hobby website – but I was hooked.
After starting myself on a hobby website, I connected with a friend and grew a thriving agency – where we taught ourselves everything: web design & development, ecommerce, graphic design, digital marketing, seo, and email marketing – but email was my favourite thing to do by far.
So after 10 years of building the agency I was tired and had a new family. So I sold my portion and headed to corporate. I currently work for an ESP (Oracle) where I get to work with some of the best businesses in Australia on digital marketing strategy, running successful marketing teams, and making sure they get the most out every send.
But you know what – I still love the feeling of sending out an email to a group of people and hearing their responses. In some way, I feel like Apple is taking us back a bit to the pre-tracking world of the web, and I’m kind of here for it.
What’s your favorite email marketing hack, tip, or trick?
One of my favorite techniques for email is introducing binary choices into messaging.
You start with the subject line by asking a question of the reader, and bring it all the way through to the click with a binary option for clicking.
It does three things:
- For the reader, it provides an opportunity to give feedback that’s simple, easy, and not intrusive.
- For the marketer, it introduces a new signal in click data that just having a single call to action doesn’t provide.
- For the overall program, it increases opens and clicks. I’ve seen a 60% increase in unique clicks using this technique.
There’s so much you can do with that approach – it’s really fantastic, relatively passive, and simple to implement.
What is your advice for email peeps entering the workforce in 2023?
Email isn’t standalone – for a reader it’s often a very small part of their interaction with any organization, or business. While you’re getting into it, become as experienced in the bigger context as possible. Learn how email plays a part in the general customer experience and you’ll be better able to serve whoever you’re working for.
One way of doing this is to run your own work. A fantastic way would be to start a niche website of your own interest, try and build a list, and send emails. This can provide you with hands-on experience that’s invaluable in the workplace.
What’s in your email marketing toolbox?
- I’m on a corporate PC – it’s very beige. So much of what we do now is just browser based, so I’m not hugely fussed by the hardware anymore (except when I’m trying to run ai on my local machine).
- Most used: Wildly it’s Excel that I use the most 🤭. Because I now spend a lot of time analysing marketing results, I’m merging data sets from different platforms inside Excel.
- Platforms: Oracle is my patch, so Responsys & Eloqua, and a slew of our CX tools too.
- Then there’s the side stuff where I help my friends – Mailerlite, Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Klaviyo, Shopify (hey they send email!), and Gmail BCC.
- Design: Photoshop is still there, I love it, but also Canva (gotta support Aussie businesses)
- Automation: I love using Make.com, Zapier, and our Oracle platforms too.
- The ultimate must have for emailers: PhraseExpress – don’t @ me, but this is the greatest automation software for getting work done.
What’s your favorite email campaign of all time? Why?
Okay this one is going to be super niche, and a little caveat up front. I don’t think campaigns can be measured by appearances – for me a good email absolutely must be a results email. So in that sense, I will answer on my favourite resulting email, and it’s not the results you think.
I worked with an organisation on a series of emails that subscribers would receive over a few weeks. In the emails you’d hear a series of real (but anonymised) diary entries from a group of persecuted people through the eyes of a woman from that group. They were horrific/hopeful/kind/tender all across the series.
I think there were like 14 emails in total for the campaign, and thousands of people across the world would read them, share them (hey remember sharing emails?) and then the best bit of all they had people were calling the non-profit – some in tears, some just so moved by the descriptions. But the stories resonated so well, that they were compelled to call and share their response.
I haven’t come close to anything like that in yonks, and certainly even the most beautiful emails I’ve worked on don’t elicit that kind of emotion or response.
That’s why it’s my favourite ever.
What can email marketers do to make the biggest impact on their company?
Email is often the tail that gets wagged by other teams and so impact is hard to come by. I’ll talk with an email/automation team and they tell me there’s not much choice in what they do and they find it hard to achieve much. They’re perceived as not the marketing team, they’re also not product, they’re often not even agency. So they’re kind of stuck with a perception of being low value drone workers.
But they have something other people don’t – they know how email works and what amazing potential it has. So making an impact at your company starts with having confidence around knowledge, and then growing, and using that knowledge to speak into the strategy as a result.
Practically this looks like going to teams and putting forward ideas with well thought out rationale, or pushing back on ideas with solid evidence based data. It also looks like finding that one person in the business who is up for a bit of an experiment and running some tests that you might not have thought through. This elevates the place of email, and the value that other teams place on the final work.
I recently helped a marketing team redesign their entire engagement process within their business. We worked out that there were at least 8 teams that needed to be consulted before an email was even ready to go. We put in place a really good way for them to be able to be proactive with their colleagues, push back on ideas that wouldn’t work, and set rules of engagement that meant that their work was perceived as valuable.
How do you manage work-life balance?
I’m fortunate to work for a company that has a really good work-life flexibility built in. There are a lot of people who have a lot to manage in the different aspects of their lives, and flexibility to do so is important to us as a whole group.
As a result, communication about where and what we’re doing is really important. So communication and boundaries (I just think of boundaries as a form of communication) are super solid ways I manage work/life balance.
When things are overwhelming at work or at home, it’s often for a season. Knowing this in both personal and professional realms can help with flexibility. For instance, working on huge iPhone launch campaigns in the past meant there was less time at home and a lot more at work for a couple of weeks. As a result, at work some things needed shifting to other people, and home life was reorganized to accommodate for a while. I think keeping that big picture in mind really helps, as it’s never going to be balanced 50/50.