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Who to follow: where are they now?

We’ve met some pretty interesting characters along the way in Phrasee’s “Who to follow” series.

Image credit: Fox



Since we began the series in August of 2016, we’ve  profiled more than 20 amazing email marketing personalities. So where are they now? What’s changed since we spoke to them? And have their industry predictions manifested?

There was only one way to find out…


Who to follow: Where are they now?


Jason Stockwell (@jj_stockwell) : Digital Marketing Manager at Modern B2B

Jason Stockwell: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

“It’s been a year of growth for Modern, we’ve been bringing in new staff and getting some great clients.”


You were our first ever “who to follow” is there anything you’ve wished you’d said during your interview that has haunted you ever since?

“I was the first one, what an honour. I wish I had used a different picture. I was very young and my hair was everywhere. Other than that vain observation, everything is becoming more personal, across social and email. Neither are broadcast mediums anymore.


Jenn Clauss (@jenn_clauss): Digital Marketing Specialist at Insight

Jenn Clauss: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

Phrasee featuring me in the “who to follow” series had a really positive impact on my personal and professional lives. It allowed me to share my passion for email marketing with people outside of the Emailgeeks community. My family, friends, managers and teammates were all incredibly supportive of me. I’ve gotten more leadership opportunities and special projects related to email at work, which have given me a lot of fulfillment. I just completed my first ever email design style guide update, and I have been tasked with collaborating with our EMEA team to design, develop and test email templates.

I never imagined that I would be doing work like this for a Fortune 500 company when I came to Insight 8 months ago. I’m very fortunate to work for an organization that recognizes that when you help individuals succeed, the organization as a whole succeeds. Our marketing managers are wonderful about identifying our passions and giving us opportunities to learn and grow.


Is personalisation creepy yet?

Personalization can definitely be creepy if you make it creepy. I’ve heard about an account-based marketing tactic for HTML5 ads that utilizes tokens to pull company names into ads. This is creepy to me because someone you’re serving ads to may not have necessarily opted in to receive marketing communications from you and volunteered information like their company name. A less creepy, effective alternative to this is to focus on providing personalized content that’s relevant to the target audience’s industry, interests, etc.


Kristin Bond (@EmailSnarketing): Senior Email Marketing Manager at Girl Scouts of USA

Kristin Bond: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

My life hasn’t changed that much since the last article. I’m still working at Girl Scouts and loving it! Well – I just looked back at the original article. I stopped playing Pokemon Go about a month after it was published. Oh, and I’d like to change my superhero answer now that I’ve managed to stay awake through an entire super hero movie – it’s definitely Wonder Woman. I love that she’s a combination of badassery and empathy.


In your interview you spoke about the email marketing community on Twitter. Do you think that’s still true, or has the community shifted away from Twitter for some reason?

I think the email community on Twitter is alive and well. I know a lot of great conversations (at least with members of Women of Email) are taking place on the WoE Facebook group, but Twitter’s still cool. (Right? Please? That’s the only social channel I’m good at.) I know there are a few email Slack groups that are pretty active, but I’m not on Slack. So, if anyone’s looking for an online place to talk about me behind my back, Slack is your channel.


Samantha Iodice (@e_Maven) Associate Director of Relationship Marketing at Intouch Solutions

Samantha Iodice: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

It’s been quite a year! I started a new full time gig and left consulting (mostly) behind. I’m now with Intouch Solutions focusing on Pharmaceutical and Healthcare customer experience strategy, aka how email fits in the mix. I started in Chicago. my home city, and just recently moved to our main offices in Kansas City, Kansas. Wild ride and I’m loving it 🙂


How are things progressing with Women of Email?

Women of Email has become a wonderfully collaborative, supportive, and large community of smart women from all sorts of email backgrounds. It’s an amazing resource for questions and opinions, a community for growing our individual brands, mentoring, and gathering insight into business, email, marketing of any kind, and bouncing ideas without fear. I recommend it nearly daily, but let’s say weekly! The community is so tight, they’re throwing me a welcome to Kansas City party tonight – there will be wine! 🙂


Frode Myklebust (@famyklebust): Senior Digital Manager at Beyond Retail

Frode Myklebust: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

I’m greeted with red carpets, paparazzi, and people chanting “PHRODE! PHRODE! PHRODE!” wherever I go. It’s a bit much, really.

I’m still at Beyond Retail, and I still love email. I have less and less time for the nitty-gritty, hands-on fun stuff, but for now I’m still getting my weekly fix of quirky bugs and email client gremlins.


Judging from your own inbox, have email marketers and brands been doing better at remembering that there is a human being at the other end reading their emails?

I definitely feel like brands and marketers are trying harder with email. Sure, there’s still a lot of lazy email marketing going on, filling my inbox with stuff I couldn’t care less about, but overall there’s more and more that make me smile – or, even better, buy.

I’m seeing a lot more good design, good writing, and personality in emails, and it’s really exciting. It also seems like a lot of marketers have finally wrapped their head around the idea of relevance, and no longer think of personalisation as a simple case of Hi, *|FNAME|* and job done.


Elliot Ross (@iamelliot): CEO and Co-Founder at Taxi For Email / Managing Director and Founder at Action Rocket

Elliot Ross: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “Who to Follow” series?

Being featured on the Phrasee blog turned my life around. I’ve travelled the world, spoken at conferences and become an “influencer” on Linkedin. Of course, it’s hard to tell whether that would have happened anyway, but as we know, not everything in life can be split tested.


Has the email marketing industry become better at “caring about the user’s experience, not just of an individual email, but of the overall email programme”? Has this become as important as you’d expected?

Interesting question! I think in some quarters, email has become a lot more user focussed, however, writing this the morning after Black Friday, a lot of brands have also thrown a few trust tokens away over the last week. The last year or so has been interesting in email – we’ve seen more challenges around proving the ROI in email, and using stronger attribution to try and prove the halo effect. These are both long term things, but central to that is providing an experience that users actually want.


Jaina Mistry (@jainamistry): Email marketing specialist at Litmus

Jaina Mistry: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

My life has been turned upside down! Paparazzi follow me every day—the fame is just too much! …. Or in reality, nothing has changed. My unwavering love of email is still as strong as it was back then 😉


In your interview you spoke about the discord between what email marketers see as “spam” and what end users/subscribers see as “spam”, and the difficulties this discord presents to email marketers. Do you think the confusion has been cleared up at all in the time since? Is the implementation of the GDPR a consequence of that discord? And do you think more laws like this will be coming down the pipe?

I don’t think the confusion has been cleared up. Consumers who don’t live in the email marketing space have taken hold of the term “spam” and have their own definition of it. “Spam” to consumers is anything unwanted, even if at one point they may have wanted it. While this may not change, it’s better that marketers understand that this may be the case for its opted in subscribers. It forces marketers to be more diligent with their sending practices and the content they’re providing to subscribers.

I can’t say whether GDPR was a direct consequence of the discord. I think consumers are becoming more wary of what arrives in their inbox. The inbox is a private space that consumers want to maintain control of.

There may not be more laws like GDPR coming down the pipeline, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes to existing laws. What needs to happen is worldwide universal anti-spam laws just to make marketers lives easier 😀


Jacques Corby-Tuech, (@iamacyborg): CRM Manager at Artfinder 

jacques corby tuech: where are they now?

How has your life changed since your “Who to Follow” interview?

So along with the world-wide fame and adoration of #emailgeeks around the world following our interview, I’ve actually changed jobs a couple time and just this week started a new role with a really exciting startup in the art space that enables anyone to buy unique artworks direct from artists.

I’m still very firmly in the email game, but right now I’ve got the opportunity to work very closely with an incredibly talented and motivated tech team which is a dream. I’m looking forward to being able to work on data and behaviour driven campaigns full of personalised content and (fingers crossed) really showing how email can contribute to the bottom line.


Has the email marketing world been making progress in adopting open-time optimisation and machine learning, as you hoped?

There’s been some exciting trends in the martech (buzzwords, groan) area, with Silverpop rebranding multiple times to showcase their “AI” tech and the big marketing cloud platforms adding more and more machine-learning enabled tech. One of the most exciting developments in my mind is actually what’s happening with Mailchimp’s product development, which is helping small businesses do a lot more with their email lists, like building ad campaigns for email audiences and opening up things like product recommendations and automation programs. Within the industry I often see a lot of conflict between what the professional email marketers do and recommend versus what digital marketing bloggers and influencers are talking about, so it’s great to see companies like Mailchimp championing solid founding principles around email.

Not to be too promotional but I’m really excited by some of the tech Emarsys are bringing to market. Not just from an email perspective but from a full CRM perspective it’s become increasingly easy for marketers to make use of machine-learning to build better email/sms/push/whatever programs that both help customers and companies.

I think it’s clear there’s still a long way to go to bring this out to a broader market, and with GDPR looming marketers and technology companies are likely to change their focus for some time.

I believe that marketers (myself and my arts degree included) use buzzwords to cover our lack of education and experience with a significant amount of basic marketing and statistical techniques, however I’m optimistic that some of these technology companies will finally help level the playing field. Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying John Foreman’s book, Data Smart and fully intend to experiment with a number of the techniques he showcases in the book.


Alex Ilhan (@omgitsonlyalex): Senior Email Developer at Email on Acid

Alex Ilhan: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in “who to follow”?

Nothing too drastic to report! Life’s been good, chugging along. I have a new love in my life. I’ve had a blast attending a bunch of conferences this year and spreading the good word about email accessibility. The feedback we get is always eye-opening.


What kind of progress has the email industry made along the road to accessibility since we last spoke? any exciting developments?

Although we’ve not seen any “ground-breaking” changes in accessibility this year has been an overwhelming success in terms of education and making it a topic that’s at the forefront of email developers, designers, and marketers minds. We had a crazy amount of feedback on our accessibility webinar a few months backwhich really helped us delve more into what can be done with email accessibility. Email on Acid CEO John was also spreading the accessibility word at Adobe Max. I’m looking forward to what 2018 brings! It’s going to be exciting.


Anne Tomlin (@pompeii79): Responsive HTML Email Developer and Emails Y’all founder

Anne Tomlin: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

I left my position at SiriusXM to go full-time freelance. I started my own business, Emails Y’all, and I’m doing very well. I’m working much more and much harder than I have at any other position, but it is very rewarding. I am also freelancing at RebelMail (shoutout RebelMail!), which is a dream come true.


Have the ESPs stepped their game up and sorted out the quirks that were causing you headaches in the past?

Haha, no. In fact, now that my knowledge has expanded to even more ESPs, I’m always finding new quirks that I have to manoeuvrer around. It’s all part of the email game.


Annett Forcier (@The_Annett): Freelance Email Designer & Developer

Annette Forcier: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

I have a feeling I get more traffic on LinkedIn. But that is just an assumption. I am now a freelancing email developer.


Is the arduous task of testing emails still taking up too much of your time?

I still test emails but I produce emails from a master template, which results in a fast turnaround.


Kristian Robinson (@joon82): Senior Email Developer at CACI

Kristian Robinson: where are they now?

How has your life changed since being featured in our “who to follow” series?

As a direct result? Haha…
When I was featured, it was April right? So I’d just started working with CACI Email Studio, and have been there about 7 months now.

Outside of the day-to-day, and creating templates, we’ve been working on growing the reputation, and awareness of the Studio team and the work we do.
Much of that time I’ve (I say “I”, it’s very much a team effort) been working quite closely with Channel 4 to explore what they want to be doing with their bespoke emails. So more experimental emails like Fargo, Women’s Euro’s, and Electric Dreams.




But there are many others. 2 of them are built around variations of the Faux-Video concept  – so I’ve been blogging about that a bit. (Although I’ve buggered up some of the hosting of my visual examples, and I’m yet to fix them) – so my medium posts are a mess

I’ve done a few talks, and I’m have a few more experiments in the pipeline, but as we’re super busy it’s been tricky finding solid periods of time to focus on them.

A couple of our C4 emails we have are up for awards at the DMAs which is pretty cool. But really I think the biggest win, is we’re winning new clients, and working with them, and they all seem pretty happy. The bespoke stuff is a nice aside to have.

I’m trying to step back and reflect a little more. I still think it’s important to try different things and experiment, and it’s great that people want to do that… but I’m trying to think more rationally and not trying crowbar the fun stuff if, if it doesn’t need to be there.

So that’s work…. and on a more personal note, I’m now playing drums again after a long break. So I’ve been focusing a lot of energy on that. Trying to give myself a little more balance, rather than obsessing over CSS all the time.


Have brands been stepping up to the plate and investing more into developing interesting, higher-quality emails in the time since your interview? why/why not?

Some brands, yeah. And some brands no.
It’s largely a judgement of content. Obviously for many brands it they don’t really need to do that stuff. But they’re certainly open to simple progressive enhancements. Unless it was a specific time of year, or special occasion, and bespoke projects here and there – which we’re finding with Christmas coming up. They might want to do something special.

C4 have been great since I’ve been there. Really keen to try things out, and more importantly focusing on getting to know what their audience respond to, but they have the content to try things and see how it goes. They have their template, but they get a great response from the bespoke builds we do. And that’s a ongoing project.

Many brands are still all about going into the Email Studio Tool for self-service, and I find once they have that, they’re happy, and feel empowered as they create their own content and save time.

Some brands are definitely keen to do more, but in many cases the budgets are currently focused on rebrands, templating, changing ESP, and sorting all that out at the moment…. so quite a few are in this transition when they start working with us..


Mike Ragan (@Mike_Ragan): Senior Developer / Designer at Action Rocket

Mike Ragan: where are they now?

How has your life changed since your “Who to Follow” interview?

Well, it has been a busy 6 months… I have become a homeowner and all the fun (IKEA trips) that go with that. Also I am just about to start freelancing now 1 day per week, so if you ever need any email design/development help, you know where to find me!


Has email marketing’s “period of change” resulting from Gmail taking email development more seriously played out the way you envisioned?

I have seen an erring away from hybrid coding styles, back to more conventional responsive, but this is only my personal (and almost certainly biased) observation. I think that the original ethos is still very much correct. One key principle for example,  is the fact that we consider all possible inbox environments – even the outliers – and see value in them. But gmail is certainly making the case stronger for using regular responsive code techniques, especially if it suits your production workflow.

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