Meet the Influencer: Andy Thorpe

captashAndy, aka Captain Inbox, is the Email Oracle at Pure360.

1. How Did you Get Started in Email Marketing

Even though the education system and I didn’t get on, I picked-up programming pretty quickly during a job fixing and building (then new) Pentium4 PCs at a local business equipment company, so I made the late choice to go to university at the age of 22 to see where that took me. When I left university in 2006 with a Higher National Diploma in Web Programming and a Bachelor of Science (degree) in Business Software Development I needed a job that I could do fairly easily whilst I looked for the right job. I didn’t want a sales job, done too many of those and found it too morally challenging over time; I wasn’t ready for a programming job, I needed something more social for a little bit to get my head back in the real world.

A software startup (something called an ESP) named “))) Pure” were hiring new sales people beginning with three months of account management as training, sounded perfect. I’d do my 3 months and quit before I had to go into sales; I should have got myself together by then and be ready for a proper job.

3 Months in, I went to hand in my notice, I was given a pay rise and made the first dedicated Account manager; I went on to build a team of account managers and then took on deliverability and invented @Captaininbox, before recently settling into marketing services, in a company of now nearly 200 of which I’m employee number 14 and now it’s called Pure360.

2. Tell Us a bit about your Current Role and what a typical Day is Like

I’m currently on something like my 6th job title in 8 years having just recently been promoted in my latest role as the company’s first Senior Managed Services Consultant. It’s a role I thoroughly enjoy. Everyday I get to use my experience and knowledge of email, account management, design, marketing, a bit of programming and our Pure360 software; I get pushed and motivated to stay on top.

The job is about delivering services sold to customers whether they are new customers or existing; some are one offs like training sessions handed to me by project managers on how to get the best out of the software, small projects like a full service campaign, data intelligence, creative fixes etc. and some are on going where I manage the project and do some or all of the email marketing for a brand.

Most days have a little of each type job, except when I get sent to see customers; normally to hold seminars and workshops training either on the system, strategy or deliverability - which I appear to be very knowledgable about. Lately I’ve also been signed up to a few more shows than usual to stand up and talk about Email in general or anything more specific. It might have something to do my recent rating as no.42 in the list of the worlds Email Marketing Influencers, imagine how popular I’ll be once this goes live.

3. What do you see as the Future of Email Marketing?

Nothing dramatic in the near future, Email is still the top delivering digi-marketing medium and will continue chogging along as it always has done: underappreciated, under budgeted, too often abused but always delivering.

Mobile has given email’s waning ‘shexzy’ factor a little lift by dragging it’s code out of the 90s, where Outlook seems to want to keep it, with the iPhone’s email client rendering everything and of course new mobile technology is changing user behaviour all of the time.

The “big data” catchphrase brought something forward that’s been around for a while but now it’s more accessible & affordable. The usual bread and butter broadcast to the newsletter list will never go away and nor should it but the ability to mine and join so much data at the single customer view and then automate those emails is going to keep developing and that is important for all marketing; Combine that to also using user behaviour from previous emails (opens, clicks or not etc.) as well other touchpoints, like the website and social; sending more emails which are more relevant with less effort and less cost can only be a good thing for everyone. Reputation and new spam trap types will also continue to improve the quality of the senders in general.

In the long term I worry about email being used for messaging less and less, and inboxes being left only for marketing and receipts. If a personal message is urgent, you text someone and no longer even have to worry about character count; where there is a lot of pictures or videos being passed about or the messages aren’t urgent enough to warrant an SMS people tend to use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger or another popular instant messenger etc. email is the last resort.

Email only tends to get used for messaging socially when the message is very long and not urgent or to people who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough for instant messengers, like my Mum for instance.

We’re a long way off yet and I reckon technology will come through as mobile bandwidth will eventually make SMS redundant then phones will prioritise the SMS less and it’ll all fall into some sort of a hybrid inbox then it’ll all change again... and I look forward to being in the middle of it all!

4. Why Should Anyone Choose Email Marketing as a Career?

Email compliments and is complimented by all other forms of marketing because email is the personal long tail and will always deliver more conversions at the end of the day. So to be good at email you also get a great understanding of all other angles of marketing, from crm/data mining to seo to social and onwards through more tech as it appears and vanishes. There are also many sides to email, from design to data to strategy and management, all evolving all the time as technology and trends change; a very exciting place to be, as long as you find a firm with enough respect for email to pay you a decent enough wage to do it.