Speaker spotlight: Mathew Patterson (Campaign Monitor)

Want to know more about the experts who’ll be speaking at FOWD?

Follow our series of interviews with these leading lights in the design community.
First up, Mathew Patterson, Community Manager at Freshview, the team behind Campaign Monitor.

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Q. You’re coming all the way over from Australia for this conference – so thank you! What makes Campaign Monitor the expert on email newsletters?

A. Thanks for inviting me! Most of our customers are based in the States, so this is a great opportunity to come and speak to some of them, as well as meet some new people.
The web is full of really great email marketing and communications advice (and a lot of really bad advice!), but with Campaign Monitor we try to focus quite specifically on the design side of HTML email – making the experience of creating and sending emails a lot less frustrating, and letting designers get on with what they are paid for, the creative work.

We have customers in countries all over the world, from freelancers all the way up to companies like Ebay and Nike, and even including fellow speakers Threadless. Their lists are of wildly different sizes, but they can all see the value in a service that just gets out of your way and lets you create your own designs, send them, and follow up with great reporting. We spend a lot of time researching issues of CSS support in email clients as well as things like image blocking, and we’ve done a lot of the hard work up front in finding out what works and what doesn’t.

If you’re a web designer needing to know how to do HTML email, then you’ll find that Campaign Monitor is the best resource out there.

Q. Tales of the impending death of email have been around for some time now, but it’s still a hugely valuable and popular marketing and communications tool. However, there’s a lot of confusion about how effective these can be in the face of filtering and blocking and so on. Why do you think email marketing is still important?

A. Communicating with your customers by email consistently ranks as one of the most effective methods of growing businesses. Everybody’s favourite guru Jakob Nielsen has stated that having an email newsletter is “is probably the single-highest ROI action you can take to improve your Internet presence”. As web designers we tend to be ahead of the ‘non-geek’ world, and think everyone should be using RSS and surfing the web all day, but the fact is that the huge majority of people are not out subscribing to feeds, but they are reading their email.

Relevant, valuable information sent by email is an excellent way to build relationships with your customers or clients, and it can be targeted much more specifically to the things individuals are interested in. We send out millions of emails every day for tens of thousands of customers, and we hear from those customers about the great results they are getting, so we know it works.

Q. Is there an art to designing the perfect email newsletter – a tried and tested format that works?

A. If only it was that easy! Certainly from a technical perspective there are some things we know work in most cases, and there are some general email design principles like making it clear who is sending the email and how to unsubscribe that apply in every case. However, just like in general web design, the right approach is dependent on the audience you are trying to reach. One company’s perfect newsletter format would probably not work as well for the company next door.

There is an art to designing email newsletters, and the key is understanding the nature of email. It’s a much more personal medium than a webpage – it comes right to you, and that means it can be very effective, but also very intrusive. If you can be respectful of that, then you have an opportunity to talk quite directly with your customers and prospects. Our gallery is full of different approaches to this, there’s no one perfect design. Know your audience, just like in web design.

Q. What kind of topics will you be tackling in your session, and what do you hope people take away?

A. At the Future of Web Design I will be talking about the current state of HTML email, particularly as opposed to the state of web design in general. We know that parts of the web design community see HTML email as the red headed step-kid of the web, but I hope that I can help people to see that HTML email is not going away, and that there is a big role for web designers to play in making email a better experience for everyone.

Keep watching this space for our next speaker interview!! 🙂

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