Greetings Inboxers! We hope you’re recovering well from your “holiday hangover” and gearing up to make 2017 the best year ever for yourself and your business!
We’re kicking off our 2017 edition of InsiderInbox with globally-recognized email and digital marketing trendsetter Tink Taylor. As co-founder and president of dotmailer, Tink has been a pioneer in the space since the functional birth of the industry. Heavily involved in the Direct Marketing Association’s email best practices and awards programs, Tink is a passionate advocate of email marketing, having worked directly on programs for major global brands including BBC, Shell, HP and DHL.
Tink’s drive to fulfill dotmailer’s mission of “NASA technology with a Fisher Price interface,” has led to the development of outstanding marketing automation tools that enable marketers to leverage the most advanced technology to engage audiences without requiring a Ph.D. As dotmailer has evolved from a drag-and-drop email editor to include data analytics, Salesforce, Dynamics & Magento integration along with personalization automation, the company has quintupled its value from $20M to nearly $250M in just a few years.
With his depth of experience and influence, we think it’s safe to say you can take Tink’s predictions for the industry to the bank. Here’s what he has to say about where we’re headed.
1. Why did you choose marketing, or maybe it chose you?
I kind of fell into it. I had been working at IBM, and then took a job as a wind-surfing instructor at a resort in Greece. As you can imagine that type of excursion is a very expensive holiday, a C-level holiday, you might say. I built the online booking system for the resort in 1998 or so, one of the very early such programs in the world. Through my experience there, I met quite a number of business leaders and executives who, after learning what I could do, subsequently asked me to build their websites. My first client was the BBC, who wanted to build an emailing tool for Top Gear. So, while I kind of fell into it, I was a tech guy from the beginning. I guess you could say that I started then building the business that would become dotmailer.
It’s also worth mentioning that many things of the things I do as a business coach to help my clients stem from the rigorous instruction I underwent to become a wind-surfing instructor. That job has shaped my career in many ways.
2. What is your personal mission statement?
As a business, we aim to build NASA technology with a Fisher Price interface. We want to make difficult things easy for marketers. In the early days at IBM, before the dot-com bubble burst, we were building websites and such that cost in excess of a million dollars. They had a huge user manual that terrified the user. I figured there had to be a way that we could make it much cheaper and much simpler. I’ve always been about taking the pain away from people—simplifying the task that you have to perform.
3. Tell me something about your job @dotmailer that inspires you to keep working there.
When I first set out on this adventure with my fellow co-founders, it was in a treehouse pub in London. We all vividly remember sitting around that table, talking about how we wanted to build a tech brand used and known around the world. Today, we’re now the largest in the U.K., we’ve got a strong presence in the U.S. We’re now APAC, closing the gap there, and in the Middle East & Nordics. We wanted to build technology that everyone will use. It’s inspiring to actually be achieving those goals
4. Offices or open work space?
We have offices all over the world, and we’ve discovered that it depends on the nature of the work. If you need a place for quiet concentration, an office makes sense. We have a very rowdy sales floor, with reps walking around, doing pitches full of energy. So that might make for a tough environment if you really need some quiet time to think. As we’ve expanded, we’ve been mostly an open office with some closed-door spaces. I’d say we work mostly with open spaces, but we also have a lot of home-working employees, since the tech isn’t a barrier now.
My preference is to be able to see that’s going on, but it’s important to make sure you’re using the right stuff at the right time, depending on the work that needs to be done.
5. What is a skill that every digital marketer should have and why?
I’ve sat on several email marketing councils (DMA, etc.) and what I’ve garnered is that we can prove all these stats and metrics about time of click and action that traditional marketers couldn’t do before—there’s no doubt tech empowers great stuff—but, we’ve lost some of the powers of great marketing. We’ve made stuff too easy. I would like to see more of a traditional skills mindset about audience engagement, what really resonates with people. We’ve gotten really good at data segmentation and personalization. We have the tools, but some people have gotten quite lazy. Where there’s data, there’s gold, and we know that. We need to get rid of some silos and do some really smart targeting, but there’s also still skill and art in copywriting, artwork and design. It’s kind of forgotten, but you need to invest time there, in your call to action, in the clarity of your message. The marriage of the two is the best of both worlds.
6. What is the best part about your job?
Without shadow of a doubt: the people. We’re going on 20 years here and a lot of the first employees are still with us. They’ve been a big part of this journey, they’re smart people, and it’s nice to be able to motivate them to get great results. It’s a testament to what we’re doing here that they’re still with us after all this time.
Getting results is really important for us and our clients and partners. Being a part of the scene that helps give them the results they’re trying to achieve is extremely gratifying. We’re a fun bunch of people who can provide great tools and education to help you get the results you’re looking for. We’ve seen our clients’ careers develop over the years, and they’ve taken us along on their journey. That also speaks to the culture and character of our organization.
7. If you could only use five (digital) marketing tools, what would they be? And why?
• A smartphone. It houses so much of the technology that enables me to do my job. I actually have two—one for the U.S. and one for the U.K. I just recently found my old Palm Pilot, and it’s amazing to see how far the technology has come in such a short period of time.
• Email marketing automation tools. Email is a digital key, basically unlocking access to the entire digital world. You can’t do anything online without email—you can’t make a purchase, can’t join a social network. Email is the key, and for marketers, it gives us the ability to build a profile and an entire program around a consistent digital identity.
• Social, mobile, SMS, etc. Of course, there are plenty of tools out there, and it takes the right combination to do your best work.
The key thing about tools is that you have to choose the one that works for you in the moment. People are trying to sell a single stack solution, but not all of the included tools might be appropriate for the maturity of your business at that time. Use the tools you have to grow, and when you outgrow them, then look at something bigger.
8. Facebook or Twitter?
Both. I made a conscious decision to use Facebook for personal and Twitter for business. But that’s evolved. I still use Twitter for business, but now that I have friends through the business, my Facebook is now littered with business associates and industry contacts that have become friends. I also use Instagram, for both business and pleasure.
9. What is the biggest digital marketing trend that will drive success into 2017? What is the biggest digital marketing challenge for 2017?
The biggest trend will be the widespread use of predictive technology and artificial intelligence. We’ve already seen what IBM’s Watson can do and now Einstein released by Salesforce. They’re designed to mine the data we have and give us incredibly powerful insight.
But the biggest challenge? The biggest brands that have lots of data and lots tools, they can afford to purchase these high-end Tier 1 technologies. There are plenty of options out there to help generate personas, match likely buyers, etc. But, the challenge for mid-market brands is getting your data in order. There are so many data silos and we have to get our data into shape. It’s all over the place right now, but once we get it straightened up, those mid-market firms can better leverage the tools they have already. Predictive and AI will come along down the line. But, it has to start with clean data.
10. What is your go-to Karaoke song? And why?
I despise karaoke because I’m not the greatest singer, and my sister was a professional opera singer, so that doesn’t make it any easier.
But, I always pick “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond because everyone always joins in and drowns you out, and it gets the party started.
11. What’s the one or two things you can’t live without to get the job done?
The people here—our “dotfamily.” Regardless of technology or whatever, it’s impossible to get anything done without great people and the smartness they bring to everything we do here.
Thanks Tink! We appreciate your insight and time with us. If you’re planning to be in London on Wednesday, March 1st – don’t miss dotmailer’s inaugural Summit at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel.
Thanks for checking out this issue of InsiderInbox! Interested in participating in our Q&A? Let’s talk!