Who to follow: Annette West
10 April 2017
Who to Follow: Annette West (@)
Annette West is the Project Manager at NewZapp, a web-based software that enables anyone to create, send, automate and track HTML email campaigns.
The “Project Manager” role, Annette says, covers a multitude of responsibilities including: managing NewZapp’s design team’s schedule, creating project briefs, dealing directly with clients to determine their needs and build relationships, testing the design team’s finished emails, and everything in between.
Annette began her career in email, without a degree, with no digital experience to speak of, and, in her words, “didn’t know one end of a web site from another”. But based on her previous managerial experience with a printing company, NewZapp’s Managing Director decided to bring Annette on to “keep everyone in order” way back in 2001.
Since then, Annette has discovered a passion for all things email, digital, and design, and has worked tirelessly to help NewZapp (a small company with big ideas) to grow into a successful and recognised email brand.
Annette is active in email marketing’s Twitter community, and she knows a good gif when she sees one, which is always a good thing…
Me keeping up with emails today… pic.twitter.com/ugS2ig6PW0
— Annette West (@nettywest) October 29, 2014
Dear Etsy, I bought a personalised wine label once. Just once. Last August. That’s it. I don’t need any more! #weekly #targetedemails #fail pic.twitter.com/n41TgzbIdB
— Annette West (@nettywest) March 2, 2017
But is there more to this self-made digital dynamo and her extensive experience in the email game than can be summed up in 140 characters?
Let’s find out…
Annette West tale of the tape:
Favourite food: Italian
Pets: Charlie our cat, and Winston the Staffie who we borrow and pretend is ours
Worst fear: Drowning (in water, paperwork, housework, VSO tasks, intellectual conversations, etc!)
Dream job as a child: After a dalliance with hairdressing, I mainly wanted to design product packaging
Last big purchase: New car
Guilty Pleasure: The Archers on Radio 4
Pet Peeve: Bad manners, and overflowing kitchen bins
An interview with Annette West
What is the difference between a good email and a bad email?
Oooh that’s a tough one! I think it may be best to put this in terms of two checklists:
A good email:
· Has a great subject line and preview text
· Contains relevant and/or interesting information (yes really… and/or!)
· Includes a call-to-action that benefits the recipient as well as enabling the sender to gauge whether their campaign goal has been met
· Is read and enjoyed
· Looks good on any device and screen resolution
· Opens & loads quickly
· Includes shoes
· Doesn’t require me to put my reading glasses on
· Isn’t Yellow
· Makes you want to share it
I could argue with myself all day long about which order to put these in terms of priority (apart from the first one of course!)
A bad email has:
· Nothing on display in the inbox that makes you want to open
· Boring content, that’s not relevant and/or interesting
· So much content you don’t know where to start
· So much content you only read a quarter of it
· No CTA
· To be pinched on mobile to read the text
· Doesn’t include shoes
What is it like trying to get a team of email designers to stay on task/on schedule?
It’s an art! And it’s also a two way street. I have a team with so much experience that they know just how to design and build good HTML for customers, but if I can do the right research before handing over the brief then between us we nail most new designs first time, and in good time. That’s not to say they’re not easily distracted by shiny things, or a cake run!
How does NewZapp’s (and your) social media activity help move the company forward?
My aim and, I think I’m safe in saying, that of our brand, is primarily to portray the human face of the company – to engage with followers and generally promote our approachability as much, if not more than, our products. When I have time I’m mostly using Twitter, and there my aim is to share resources of all types, which I think are useful to anyone working in email marketing or in design more generally. It’s also important for me to give recognition to other brands that are creating good design and marketing.
Which other brands are creating good design and marketing?
Things I’m particularly loving at the moment include… the fact that just when you think there’s simply nothing else new that you could bring to the world of handbags, Anya Hindmarch will think of another brilliant marketing idea (that I’d sadly still need to re-mortgage my house for!). The super cool Font Awesome team, not just their product but also particularly their campaign last autumn that became the most successful software Kickstarter ever! Eternal favourites of mine would be any and every new Liberty design, in particular the Alphabet collection, and I seem to be drawn to every new piece of brand identity that Channel4 & Film4 launches – particularly the work by ManVsMachine.
What was the most exciting development in the email game last year?
Well I’m a little biased here, but we launched a very bold new UI style last summer at the same time as features that we’ve been dying to get a chance to work on, such as subscriber segmentation. It was one of the most nerve wracking roll outs we’d ever done but also one of the most exhilarating! Watching our clients picking up and running with the new tools has been both exciting and enlightening (as yet again users surprise me with their own way of doing things!).
What is the hardest thing about making a great email marketing campaign?
Putting yourself in your audiences’ shoes and weighing up the best balance to make a good impression with them. Be it nailing an irresistible subject line, working out what makes for too many words or too few, or being too pushy or too laid back in attitude. I’d usually advise a client to compile every last thing that they want to convey in an email, and then cut it by half. Sounds so easy but it takes guts to do.
What do you watch for to determine if your work for a client has been successful? What is the most important metric to look at, in your opinion?
For me, it’s seeing the client sending email campaigns, simple as. They may not get a record breaking open rate, or go viral every single time, but if we’ve done our job well as a team then the campaign creation should be easy, flexible, and enjoyable to do. When we deliver a template design, it should be a huge weight off a client’s shoulders that we’ve got their back – they can focus on getting the right pitch and the right message across without worrying that they look sharp and on brand.
Final question, for branding’s sake, who is your favourite superhero?
Has to be Batman. He knows what colour suits him best, and he’s not making any apologies for it. Trends for underpants go in and out of fashion, but he’s a classic!
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