Who to follow
15 Aug 2018
Who to follow: Kait Creamer
Kait Creamer is a true Renaissance Woman.
Artist, musician, digital marketer, traveller, dog whisperer… Kait can do it all. And, her path to digital marketing prominence has been an interesting one, to say the least.
After obtaining a degree in Music Industry from Middle Tennessee State University in 2011, Kait stepped forth, tuba in hand (Kait is a classically trained tuba player) to begin her career in music. However, it didn’t take Kait long to realise that a career of long hours in a practice room was not the path she really wanted to tread. Fortunately, Kait’s first job out of school was with an automotive agency that put Kait straight to work on PPC and SEO strategy with dealerships from across the US.
As Kait puts it:
“I found I had a knack for data analysis and empathetic marketing pretty quickly.”
After a jaunt to New Zealand in 2014 to spend some quality time with farm animals and mountains, Kait decided to move away from her home state of Georgia for good and made her way to Colorado. Also making its way to Colorado around the same time was a music tech company called MakeMusic, which was in the process of rebuilding almost its entire team. As it turned out, MakeMusic was actively looking for someone to help with its digital marketing program, and Kait, with her background in both music and digital marketing and her experience with MakeMusic’s platform, was a perfect fit.
Kait’s fate was sealed.
Despite “loudly insisting that I wouldn’t be pigeonholed into doing just email” Kait soon realised that the email pigeonhole was actually exactly where she wanted to be. Why?
“Email allows me to be a developer, analyst, strategist, and content curator in a way that nothing else does, so I guess you could say I haven’t looked back since then.”
Now Manager for MakeMusic’s digital marketing team, Kait oversees MakeMusic’s digital strategy across all channels but maintains that she remains the biggest #emailgeek on the entire digital marketing team.
Kait’s deep love of all things email, coupled with an engaging social media personality and a willingness to self-deprecate when appropriate has made Kait one of Phrasee‘s phavourite follows for quite some time.
Tips for having a conversation with me: ignore my enormous ego. pic.twitter.com/1hByu5xzDd
— Kait Creamer (@KaitCreamer) June 14, 2018
Now that we’ve walked with Kait through her journey to email marketing nirvana, let’s see what else she has to say…
Kait Creamer tale of the tape:
Favourite food: Since “all of them” likely isn’t an option… a homebaked crusty baguette with brie.
Pets: Cooper and Pippin, my Australian Shepherds/maniacs. You can follow them on Instagram @cooperandpip.theaussies!
Dream Job as a child: Survivalist, I guess? I wanted to live in the trees and was always trying to make acorn pancakes in my parents’ backyard. (It never worked.)
Last big purchase: A 3-week return trip to New Zealand to tramp around and visit friends.
Guilty pleasure: Brownies for breakfast.
Pet Peeve: People leaving dog poop bags on trails. Rude.
An interview with Kait Creamer
For those who might not know, what is MakeMusic, and how does it make life better for its users/customers?
I remember using Finale from my early days in band class, writing my own arrangements of songs like ‘Under the Boardwalk’ and learning music theory. It’s the industry standard notation software that composers use to write anything from Broadway and Hollywood film scores (think ‘La La Land’ and ‘Hamilton’) to simple lead sheets for church groups. Unlike a lot of other tools out there, Finale gives musicians the flexibility to create the music they want exactly the way they want it (and hear great playback as they compose!).
SmartMusic, on the other hand, is a tool for music educators and their students. It allows teachers to assign music to their students from a massive repertoire library of tens of thousands of titles. Once a student opens an assignment, they can see their sheet music on screen, hear professional accompaniment as they play along, and see red and green notes that indicate what they performed correctly or incorrectly. Then, they can submit a recording and grade to the teacher for feedback. For music programs where there are sometimes hundreds of students per teacher, SmartMusic makes it really easy for teachers to engage students on an individual level and help them grow as musicians.
What was it about digital marketing that inspired you to make a career out of it?
For me, it’s all about the connection with customers and the puzzle of the data. Good marketing isn’t about bringing in the cash–it’s about building relationships with people and connecting them with the thing that improves their quality of life (although the cash is a fortuitous side-effect). When I look at KPIs and the performance of a campaign, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the human side of things. All data tells a story.
Digital marketing (and email specifically) has given me the opportunity to not only share MakeMusic’s mission and the awesome work our team is doing, but also to connect with exactly the people who need these tools the most. It will always be a challenge, and one I feel lucky to undertake.
Why has email marketing been such a good fit for MakeMusic?
Two big reasons:
1) We’re a software company, so we have heaps of data. We have insight into how customers use our products every day, so we use that to tailor the email automation programs that teach people how to be more effective with such robust tools. Email allows us to deliver a lot of information at the right time and to the right audience.
2) Since teachers often have such busy schedules, email gives us the chance to share onboarding instructions, subscription reminders, and other messages that may have to sit in their inboxes for a few hours before they are read.
Our content strategy is absolutely insanely good. We are a small, lean team but we have a huge network of accomplished composers, arrangers, and music educators willing to share their expertise on our blogs. With email, we can get those stories, tips, and tricks in the hands of the customers for whom they’ll be most helpful. I subscribe heavily to “surprise and delight” methodology and if I can make someone’s day marginally more interesting, enlightening, etc. with an email and a really great piece of content, I’ll count that a win.
What is your favourite thing about working with email?
The community, hands down.
Email can be such a frustrating, rewarding, exciting challenge. The rules are always changing and I appreciate that complacency with dev skills isn’t an option when there’s always a newer, better way to create an email. Because of that, I think email as a career attracts a certain type of person: someone who’s driven, creative, empathetic, and willing to dig for the details. And in the case of MakeMusic (and loads of other companies), there’s only one email person (me) making this stuff work. When I found the
#emailgeeks community, things definitely clicked. I was surrounded by others like me who were working so hard to be great at something that’s being declared dead every three months. It takes a special kind of person to love email, and I feel pretty lucky to have made lifelong friends through such an unexpected career path.
What changes and advancements have had the biggest impact on how email marketing is done during your email career?
I hate that this is what it’s come to, but I absolutely have to say GDPR. I hope you’ll forgive me. There’s a tweet from Fabio Carneiro that pretty well sums it up:
The joy I feel when I use GDPR to force bad email marketers to stop pulling their dumb shit can only be categorized as cosmic and all-encompassing. pic.twitter.com/zDWfoHuUOq
— Fabio Carneiro, but with crippling depression (@flcarneiro) April 20, 2018
GDPR is forcing companies who’ve been blasting emails to every damn record on purchased lists to take a step back and start considering the implications of their actions. While legislation won’t necessarily make them better marketers, it is (hopefully) steering people to learn more about what makes a subscriber relationship successful on both ends.
What advancements do you expect to have the biggest impact on email marketing in the years to come?
Gosh, that’s tough. I’m hopeful for so many things, but I think tools that enable personalisation at scale will be a game-changer. I dream of a world where, instead of dumping people into buckets to send them 1 of 4 variations of an email, every message we send is engaging, empathetic, human, and unique to the subscriber. The technology exists, but I think we need more buy-in from ESPs and bigger brands to help it spread.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in email marketing?
Lean into the
#emailgeeks community. Seek out designs that (and designers who) inspire you, and learn how to make beautiful things of your own. Find the developers who push the limits and figure out what makes their code spectacular.
Always, always, always think about the subscriber first. Be an advocate for good marketing and strong business ethics. And perhaps most importantly, expect that few people will understand your craft, but strive to be exceptional at it anyway.
If email disappeared from the world tomorrow, what would you do?
I’d lean into my side hustle with my art business drawing and painting. I’m always looking for reasons to get outside and work with my hands even more.