June 5, 2019

Email on Tap Episode Nine, with Kait Creamer, Email Marketing Manager, Scaled Agile


Imagine… a beautiful Colorado wilderness and…email! Anthony Chiulli, 250ok’s director of product marketing, met with Kait Creamer, email marketing manager at Scaled Agile and the Email Experience Council’s 2019 Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year to discuss our very favorite things.

Check out the video below to get a sense of how art and design elevate email, and how even the most successful email marketers simply found themselves falling into this niche. How do you excel in an area they don’t truly teach at school? Kait and Anthony explore that and much more.


Email on Tap, Episode 9 | Kait Creamer, Scaled Agile from 250ok on Vimeo.

(Keep scrolling for key timestamps and even a full transcript. Plus, find links to our podcast version!)


Total Run Time: 11 minutes
00:30 – How Kait got her start in the email industry
2:24 – Kait’s unique style and approach to email marketing
3:03 – Most important elements in creating compelling and effective email content
3:57 – Kait’s source of inspiration in designing and developing email creative
4:37 – How Kait’s artistic talent and passion for art carries over into her career
5:57 – Kait’s reaction to being named the 2019 EEC Stefan Pollard award recipient
7:25 – How networking and involvement in the email community influenced Kait’s career
8:45 – Lightning Round


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Transcript

Anthony Chiulli
Hi, everyone and welcome to another episode of Email on Tap. I’m Anthony Chiulli and we are here in front of beautiful Flatiron Mountains in Boulder, Colorado. Today my guest is Kait Creamer; she’s the email marketing manager at Scaled Agile. Kait, how are you?

Kait Creamer
I’m well, Anthony, how are you?

AC
Is this a unique spot for you to conduct an interview?

KC
Definitely, I’ve never had an interview at the Flatirons, but this is one of my favorite spots in Colorado, so happy to be here.

AC
It’s beautiful. So tell me how you got started in email.

KC
Yeah, sure, so I was actually a music industry major in college. I’m a tuba player, classically trained. And in school, I kind of realized as I was doing my classes, I really enjoyed everything that I was doing, but I got to know the industry, and just realized the politics and the environment weren’t for me. So at one point during school, I entered this contest. It was a social media contest to win a bunch of outdoor gear. And I won the contest and I heard from the marketing agency based in Colorado, and we just started kind of interfacing. And I just, totally as a joke, asked them, “Hey, do you have any internships in Colorado? Because I want to move there.” And they said, “Well, we don’t have anything in Colorado, but we would love to have a remote marketing intern.” So from there I kind of accidentally got into it. I realized through a series of jobs after that that I really love digital marketing and that’s where I wanted to go. So after a few different jobs, I ended up moving out to Colorado, started work with MakeMusic. So it was kind of the best of both worlds with my background in music and a broad, generalist digital marketing background. And probably four, five months in, my manager started saying, “Hey I really want you to own email, I want this to be your thing.” And I kept saying, “No, I don’t want to be pigeonholed on email, this is not my thing. It’s wildly unsexy, you don’t put me there.” And then I really started digging into it and I found the dev and the creative interesting and then I found the email community. And that’s what kind of sealed the deal for me. I think I’m a lifer now.

AC
That’s great, I mean, it’s funny, I feel like everybody that I interview and talk to that’s established a career in email happens to just fall in email.

KC
Yeah.

AC
No one goes to college majoring in email.

KC
No, no. I think it’s one of those things that you don’t realize how awesome it is until you’re in it. And I’m really grateful for that, because it takes a special type of person to get into it and really realize how much value there is in it.

AC
Talk about your approach and style in the way that you manage email marketing.

KC
Yeah, I think it’s all about relationships and that’s something that I think the community supports really well. So when you’re thinking through strategy, through copy, through design, through development, all of that has to be based on strong relationship skills. So you have to be thinking about your subscribers and how does this resonate for them? How does this add value? And beyond that you have to build relationships internally to do really effective email marketing, because a lot of people are uneducated on how to do it well, and adding value both for the business side of things and for the subscriber side of things. So it’s definitely an art and a balance.

AC
So speaking of art, what do you think are the most important elements to infuse in creating content and creating beautiful, inspiring emails?

KC
Oh, that’s an interesting one, because most people aren’t opening their emails hoping for something really beautiful. I think that’s kind of a surprise-and-delight thing. So talking about art, and email, and design, it’s really a matter of knowing your market and what they’re looking for. So I think Nest actually does this really well, right? So people, when they’re shopping for home security, or cameras, or thermostats, or things like that, they’re not generally looking for this beautiful design experience. But, the thing Nest does that really makes them stand out is that they do offer this beautiful design experience. So not only are you getting all of the things that you actually need, but you’re having a great experience in your inbox as you’re shopping or looking for products to support your life.

AC
So where do you go for inspiration, then, on content? What sources of inspiration or ideas do you pull from and weave into your content?

KC
Yeah, Really Good Emails is like the stock answer. I love those guys, that team is brilliant, and because it’s kind of crowdsourced, it’s coming from the community. Obviously, there are a bunch of great examples of things that people are doing really well in the inbox. Talking about brands, specifically Airbnb, Asana, and Lyft are kind of my three go-tos. I think they have great brand voice and they’re very clear and concise. And brevity is something that I really love in the inbox.

AC
So one of the things that most people may not know about you is your passion and talent for art outside of email. How do you think that passion helps you and your career with email marketing?

KC
It’s an interesting thing, right? So I’m a visual artist in hobby, and that’s kind of my side hustle. And of course, with my musical background, that’s a totally different type of art. And I think one thing that I’ve realized over the years with all of the different arts that I’m involved in is that once you are in something and you really dig into it, and you’re starting to learn things about it, it kind of attunes your ears and your eyes to look for things that you wouldn’t ordinarily look for. So that totally applies in the inbox. Art and design really matter a lot to me. So like going to a concert as a musician, and hearing if something’s a little pitchy or there’s a really interesting chord progression, art and email totally apply the same way. So I can say, “Hey, I really like the white space that they arranged here,” or, “It’s a really interesting the way that they made the flow in the email setup so someone would get to the point to the CTA maybe five, six page full scrolls down…”

AC
Right.

KC
And that’s the kind of stuff that you pay attention to as an artist and designer in email that I think a lot of people don’t.

AC
I think that probably is a very good passion hobby to have to complement a career in email.

KC
Yeah, it’s fun, so it’s a good balance.

AC
I would agree. So I’d be remiss to not congratulate you again…

KC
Thank you.

AC
…On your recent recognition of being named the 2019 EEC Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year recipient. What an incredible honor. What does that mean for you?

KC
It’s honestly still like, kind of a shock. It doesn’t feel real. Mostly just because there’s so many people who I admire in this community and I don’t think it’s just a, “Hey I was doing amazing things by myself, and so I won this award.” Really everything that I’ve learned has come from the community because like you said earlier, there’s no major in email marketing. So it’s a testament to the fact that I have this amazing support system. The Email Geek Slack, the Women of Email, all the different amazing events in this industry. It really speaks to the knowledge sharing there is. And I’m super appreciative to have had the people around me and had the knowledge sharing around me, to be able to put those things into practice, and do something really amazing in my work.

AC
Yeah I would agree, I think this is the first industry space that I’ve been in where everyone is so supportive and collaborative within the community, and not standoffish and everyone is willing to help one another, share ideas, even if you work for competitors. It’s a really, I think, unique and rare occasion for folks that work in the email community.

KC
Yeah, it’s super inclusive, I love it.

AC
You’re an avid speaker. You’ve spoken at EIS and EIQ and EEC and others. And you mentioned Women of Email and other councils and organizations you’re a part of. How does networking and being involved and active in the community help you with your career?

KC
Yeah, that’s the best part, right? So, that’s, I think, the best thing that does for anyone’s career is really keep up the energy, right? So if you’re going into a job every day and you’re fighting the same battles and are facing the same challenges, even if those are really good and valuable battles and challenges and conversations that you’re having, that can be really exhausting. So I think the thing that’s really beautiful about the community is that we have this opportunity to come together and energize each other with the possibilities of, these are the things that we can do in our jobs and here are the ways that you face those challenges, and those difficult conversations that can sometimes be draining. So I think that’s definitely one really big, important facet. And beyond that, the community is so cool in that everyone supports each other and it’s really inclusive. So if you and I were having a conversation on the Email Geek Slack if we didn’t know each other outside of that Slack community, I see so often people saying, “Hey, I’m really good at this thing but I need help with this other thing.”

AC
Right.

KC
And people are so willing to jump in and support each other, and that’s just something you don’t see in many other industries.

AC
Right, right, I couldn’t agree more. All right, so we’re gonna mix it up a little bit and have some fun. This is a lightning round, I’m going to ask you five questions that require brief responses. Are you ready?

KC
Yeah, let’s do it.

AC
Animated GIF or animated JIF?

KC
GIF all day long.

AC
Okay, interesting fact people don’t know about you?

KC
I became a certified hang glider pilot about four years ago.

AC
What?

KC
Yeah.

AC
Wow.

KC
So I don’t fly as much in the mountains in Colorado often, but I do like to fly.

AC
AMP for email, it’s very buzzworthy right now, lots of innovation going into AMP for email. Plan to use it or wait and see?

KC
Yeah, that’s a tough one. This is supposed to be lightning round, I’m going so slow. I was gonna say wait and see, but you brought up a good point on Twitter the other day about this might allow us to send things out, and then make adjustments later. So I’m really interested in exploring that a little more.

AC
Fill in the blank: The thing that I love about working in email is…

KC
The mix of dev and and creative.

AC
Well said, and last; looking back, what career advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?

KC
Ask for the things you want. That’s something that took me a while to learn. And people were so willing to help so I offered to help. I’ve always been pretty good at that, but then also take the time to say to yourself this is what I’m good at and this is what I want and tell people that. Because your community will expand and grow and you contribute and people are willing to help you.

AC
Well said.

KC
Thanks.

AC
This has been an awesome interview, Kait. Thank you so much. What a beautiful setting to conduct this interview. Thanks everyone for tuning in, we hope to see you on another episode of Email on Tap.

Author: Nicky Copland

Nicky is the senior marketing manager at 250ok. Before joining the team, she spent the majority of her time crafting and implementing communications strategies for the association industry. She was never a brain surgeon, but she played one on the internet.

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