5 Questions with an Email Expert

In our series, 5 Questions with an Email Expert, we chat with leaders in the email marketing space about their background, favorite email campaigns and more.

In this edition of 5 Questions with an Email Expert, we spoke with Movable Ink’s own Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Michael Nutt. Click below to hear the full audio recording of the interview, or keep reading for the transcript!

What was your path to email?

I used to work at a company called Gilt Group. It’s a big flash sale site here in New York. Every morning at 11:45am, Gilt Group would send out an email to about 5 million people that would show all of the sales that were going on that day and everyone would show up at the site at noon and buy things. That email was extremely important to the business.

Working on the website, I noticed how important that email was. I was constantly thinking about more ways it could be more personalized or engaging to the user. That’s what got me interested in the email marketing world.

Why do you believe in email?

I think email is a really interesting industry. As a major communications medium, it’s completely open. It’s not a walled garden like Facebook or some of the others. It allows anyone to enter the space.

If you have a server, you can sign up and start sending email. I think it’s actually fueled a lot of interesting things. It means that the ecosystem can really grow and evolve in ways that wouldn’t be possible if a single company was controlling it.

What do you think is the most innovative thing happening in email right now?

I’m probably biased, but I think personalized, dynamic content is one of the really interesting things going on right now. Being able to control what’s being shown from the client side to the server side and being able to dynamically generate that on the fly. It opens up a lot of possibilities.

Right now in email it feels like we’re circa 1996 on the web where people figured out how to set up static sites and people were building these sites but we were just at the dawn of figuring out application servers. Then, Amazon comes along and the game completely changes. I think there are a lot of interesting lessons we can learn from that.

What are the most common email challenges you’ve seen recently? Do you have tips for overcoming those challenges?

One of the biggest challenges I see is people being able to produce enough content and doing interesting use cases. Often times, it requires a lot of different content or different edge cases. And people just don’t have the time to create it. I often see creativity being limited in that. That’s one of the really big challenges.

We’ve seen our clients repurposing content from their websites. And so it might be something being built by the web team or someone else. But being able to take that and pull it into email via web connection, that really allows them to make better use of their time – reuse that content and just pull it straight into the email.

A great example of this is the email eBay sends out everyday. They pull in products from their website. They set the email up once and it continually runs and shows the latest products.

Which brands are sending the best emails?

One of the best emails I’ve seen recently is the Spotify year-in-review email. They sent it out at the end of December and it showed the top tracks you listened to throughout the year. It was really an infographic style format of what you’d been listening to that year. And I think it’s certainly content that could have been shown on the Spotify website if you logged in. But the really interesting thing was that they pulled that directly into the email and surfaced [the content] for a lot of users that might not have seen it otherwise.

They also used the more powerful features of our platform – our image rendering. They could stay on brand by using their own fonts and custom javascript logic to ensure they were creating the best experience.