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July 10, 2024 - Articles

Email Peeps 47: Philip Storey

Philip Storey

Tell us how you got into email and what made you start your own email-focused agency.

I started my career as a web designer for a furniture brand in London. On my third day, my boss asked me if I knew anything about email marketing. I didn’t know a thing about email. Keen to impress, I agreed to take on the email campaigns and three months later, I was an email marketing executive (thanks Zia!).

I spent 12 years client and ESP-side, in various creative and strategy roles. At my last ESP, I ran the strategic services team globally. We were working with some of my favourite brands. It was great – we did some amazing work on the strategy side of things. The only problem – they weren’t a fan of the platform, so they kept leaving. And if they left the ESP, we lost them as a strategy client. That wasn’t much fun, so I decided to start my own agency, which meant we could use any platform. 10 years later, I’m still here, proudly leading Enchant Agency.


Based on your experience, what are some common areas where B2C brands could improve their email marketing strategy? 

I think the most obvious one, is automation. Most B2C brands have just a handful of automated campaigns in place. If we work with a brand, we aim for a minimum of 20 and some are running more than 50. They get results, they take pressure off of the regular campaigns and they’re great for improving the customer experience. A think a good benchmark is 60/40 – if less than 40% of your revenue from email is coming from automation, you have work to do.

Next up, I’d say is multichannel CRM. What I mean by that, is email working with SMS, push, in-browser, in-app messaging and direct mail. Marketers could improve the customer experience and ROI from campaigns that span other direct marketing channels. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I think creativity is hugely under-invested in B2C. I’m talking about not just the budgetry investment, but time. This has become a bit of a trend – spin up an email design system, whack it in your ESP and use it for the next couple of years – that’s the current trend. Email design systems are critical in efficiency, but don’t forget about design – pushing creativity with every element of every email gives you a competitive advantage. Harness it!


Are you using AI in your agency, and if so, how?

We are using AI at Enchant, and it’s going great. We’re using it for:

  • Challenging and improving content writing for CRM campaigns
  • Creating sections of content in our own campaigns and blogs
  • Suggesting better subject lines

What we’re not using AI for yet, is strategic planning (flows, list growth etc). But we are working on something of our own GPT where we’re feeding in all of the best performing campaigns, the frequency and segmentation of messaging, the channels and results – we are doing this across sectors and hopefully soon, we’ll be able to spin up strategy boilerplates for new campaigns from these. I will stress though, this isn’t ever going to be a finished article with AI – it might present us with some interesting options for a starting point with things like automations, but there will always be a need and advantage for manually planning.


What’s in your email marketing toolbox?

Hardware: 

  • Macbook Pro 13 inch (96gb ram, 2tb HD)
  • Apple Studio Monitor (the nano-texture glass version is amazing)
  • Neve 88m (audio interface)
  • Telefunken mic

Software:

  • Google workspace
  • Figma
  • Miro
  • Microsoft ToDo 
  • Monday.com
  • Loom
  • Adobe CS
  • Dropbox
  • Blaze
  • Grammarly
  • Hemmingway 

Have you ever made a mistake when sending a campaign? What did you do about it?

Who hasn’t made a terrible campaign mistake, right? My worst one, was in my first job. I sent a blank email to the whole database (I forgot to close the head tag = no content showing). It was one of those – looks great in preview and even the test was fine. The campaign definitely was not fine! I crept up to my boss’s desk and told him. I thought I might get fired, but instead he asked me “what are you going to do about it?”. I said, I’ll send the same campaign now, to all and explain in the subject and body what happened. It ended up performing super well (and thanks Peter McKenna for being great about it).


What’s your favorite email campaign of all time? Why?

What a question… In my 22 years in this industry, I’ve seen a lot of great work. I’m going to say a campaign by Kitbag.com. They ran the Arsenal FC online store and were launching the new kit for the coming season. Except they accidentally sent a campaign to all of the Arsenal database, promoting the new Chelsea kit. It made headlines in all of the daily newspapers and was the talk of football for a few days. I imagine whoever sent that campaign felt terrible, but not many email campaigns make a wave like that. Embrace the mistakes.


You seem to travel quite a bit. What’s your favorite part of the world?

I’m writing this from Berlin, as we have an office out here. I love to travel and since being at Enchant, I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time overseas, working from different corners of the world. If you’ve not travelled that much for work and you’re able to, I encourage you to try – it helps you to get a different perspective on things that I personally can’t find when I’m back home.

I love being in South East Asia; usually a small town called Mui Ne in Vietnam. It gives me a chance to be 6 hours ahead of things in the UK, which means that when I’m there, I get so much done. If I ever need to really conquer something big (like the rebrand we’re currently going through), I’ll tend to take myself out there and get some focus time.

Much love,
Andy

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @emaillove

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