As we continue our popular Marketing Heroes series we are delighted to speak with email marketing expert Guy Hanson, he tells us his inspirations, challenges, what marketers should be focusing on, plus much more. Meet Guy Hanson…

Please introduce yourself.

Guy HansonI’ve just turned 50, and I’m still figuring out quite how I feel about that! I’m British born but South African raised, so the recent Rugby World Cup was good for me! I live in Silverstone, Northamptonshire but mostly work in London so I enjoy a great country/city life balance, enjoying the best of both. I’ve been married for 23 years, and have a son who is now into his second year of university, so empty-nesting is a real thing!

I’ve been in email for 18 years, and like to believe I’m recognised as an industry expert, especially in the murky swamp that is deliverability!

Please tell us about your business.

So it’s been a weird year for me – after 8 great years at Return Path, I was made redundant at the end of August. That kind of thing always comes as a shock, but I’m now starting to embrace it as an opportunity. I’ve been so grateful to my professional network, and the support from the many great people I’ve met over the years.

I’ve been getting a load of “would you be interested in doing some consulting for us?” requests – and now seriously thinking this could become my next big thing. Watch this space . . .

What have been the main challenges facing marketers in 2019?

The usual ones – not enough budget, not enough resource (budget), not enough technology (budget) . . . it’s really frustrating, email consistently positions itself as best performing channel in terms of ROI, but marketers really struggle to articulate this value. They should probably be more aggressive in cannibalising budget from other channels, and maybe the DMA’s “Value of Data” initiative can also play a role in helping them make more compelling pitches.

That said – it’s not only about spend (or lack of it!). A few weeks ago, I spent the day with some of UK/Europe’s biggest email senders, and their challenges were an interesting mix. With a well-known home & living brand, their email program has become so important to the company they are scared of innovating! Scale can impact negatively – a big travel sender was talking about AMP, and how they will need to double their processing capacity. And one of the biggest daily deal senders was bemoaning the fact they don’t have enough data in some regions for their AI initiatives to work properly! High quality problems for sure . . .

What in marketing or business inspired you this year?

I’m loving the way we are now seeing conclusive proof of post-GDPR performance uplifts. Many of us knew GDPR was simply writing many established best practices into law, and it was a no-brainer performance would improve as they were adopted. More robust consent, better quality data, clearer setting of expectations and provision of greater choice would combine to create stronger trust between brands and consumers, build stronger relationships, and generate more engagement.

Now we’re seeing the evidence – email deliverability has improved, opens/clicks/conversions are up, and opt-outs/complaints are down. We’re also seeing research showing softer metrics – customer satisfaction and brand trust – have also improved. I work with many programs in countries where GDPR-level data protection standards haven’t yet happened, and my message is “don’t wait – it’s absolutely in your own interests to do this now!”.

What should marketers be focussing on in 2020?

Everyone’s talking about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). While it’s not completely new, broader adoption from mailbox providers and email service providers, coupled with greater awareness from email marketers, means 2020 is the year it acquires critical mass. I think Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) is going to get a reboot now that Gmail has confirmed participation. “Hyper-personalisation” is the next big buzzword, as near 1:1 targeting becomes a reality.

With smart speakers now so prevalent, voice and email will be a big consideration – how do your emails sound when they are read? Related – but more generally – will be increased focus on accessibility. And I think we’re going to see more attention paid to user experience: better nurturing, better storytelling, and more thought around tools like nudge theory and behavioral economics.

Oh yeah – and preparing for Eprivacy as it starts to become a reality . . .

Who are your marketing heroes?

I love people who are larger than life, and thrive on the oxygen of publicity. Richard Branson is an obvious example, and Elon Musk more recently. Neither is perfect, but they absolutely understand the power of self-promotion, and the self-confidence to harness it!

If you could give a tip to aspiring marketers what would that be?

Marketing success is becoming more and more about data – good data builds better customer relationships, good measurement means better understanding, ongoing improvement, and more investment. Every marketer needs to be a data storyteller, and aspiring marketers should hone their data skills as they set out to become the next big Chief Marketing Technologist!

You are sent to a desert island for 12 months – You can take 3 business books, 3 records and 1 luxury item – what would you take?

Books: I find myself more and more interested in understanding why people behave in the ways they do – especially in response to marketing. So probably “Sensation” by Thalma Lobel, “Inside the Nudge Unit” by David Halpern, and “How not to be Wrong” by Jordan Ellenberg. I’ve read all of them before, but I want to re-visit them and tease out how their ideas map specifically onto email marketing.

Records: that’s tough – can’t I just take my Spotify account? I’m old enough to be a rock dinosaur (that’s what my wife says!) – so probably U2 (Joshua Tree), Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet), and INXS (Kick) – soundtrack to a large part of my life!

Luxury item: boring, but probably my laptop. I’ve got at least 3 books I want to write, and 12 months on a desert island would be the perfect opportunity!

What do you think of Pure360’s new visual identity?

Love it – I’ve always been a Pure360 fan. When I look at the new identity, I’m thinking words like “clean”, “bright”, “dynamic”, “contemporary”, “fun” – all words I associate with the company, and I think the refresh will serve Pure360 well!

Thank you to Guy Hanson for being one of our Marketing Heroes, you can follow Guy’s journey using the details below:

Twitter: @GuyHanson