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How to drive email innovation with programmatic coverage



Why we care about email marketing: A marketer’s guide


“The consumer is something we’re trying to figure out,” said Ryan Phelan, managing director of RPE Origin, in his presentation at The MarTech Conference. “They consume everything that we do. The email marketer is sending out promotional campaigns, triggered campaigns –all kinds of different things to get a conversion.”

“Whether you’re on the B2B side or the B2C side, what you experience in email is trying to get that consumer to do what you want them to do,” he added.

Encouraging customers to opt into your email marketing programs isn’t a straightforward process — it’s a conglomeration of numerous touchpoints that marketers need to grasp if they hope to engage with these groups. But, to keep track of so many points of contact, marketers would be wise to take a programmatic approach.

Here’s how Phelan recommends email marketers implement programmatic coverage to secure customer buy-in.

Understand the changes to the email lifecycle

“The ’email lifecycle’ … is an archaic term, something that we need to think differently about,” said Phelan.

He then described his experience working for Responsys (now part of Oracle) back in 2006. During this period, he and other marketers talked about email using the lifecycle framework –how the consumer started and ended in predictable places. This was because marketers were responsible for teaching customers to use the internet during this period — how to shop online, how to get an email, how to sign up for email, what newsletters were, and what websites were.

However, in today’s digital-first culture, customers use the internet in a multitude of ways. The standard customer email lifecycle mentality no longer makes sense.


“This [lifecycle] approach of acquiring a customer, converting, growing, retaining, and reactivating them is very linear,” said Phelan. “I don’t think that represents consumers today.”

No two customers interact with campaigns the same way. There’s no longer “one type” of customer — if there ever was.

Source: Ryan Phelan

Email marketers need to move away from this linear “lifecycle” model and focus on understanding the customer’s journey, using their unique touchpoints as signposts.

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Take an inventory of touchpoints and segments

“I think marketers need to take an inventory to ensure that they have good coverage across the touchpoints and segments,” Phelan said. “Do you have coverage? Do you have programs that address the transitory nature of a consumer?”

Phelan asks marketers to consider five different phases of the email marketing program: acquisition, onboarding, conversion, retain, and reactivate. Unlike the lifecycle framework, these phases are nonlinear, so customers can find themselves in any segment at any time. Marketers can employ automation tools to keep track of these touchpoints.

Source: Ryan Phelan

“My job as an email marketer is to make sure that when I hit criteria when I pass a threshold of engagement, there’s a message there to meet that moment,” said Phelan.

“Look at these five different phases and make sure that you have coverage in terms of marketing automation or ways to recognize peoples’ presence in that phase,” he added.

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Implement a programmatic approach

Recognizing which phase the customer is in is vital to marketing effectively, said Phelan.


He added, “These are the major places where people visit, even for a moment. Think about audience size and the transitory nature [of customers] — think about acquisition, subscription, conversion, loyalty and influence.”

Source: Ryan Phelan

Phelan believes the goal of this programmatic approach is to map out each customer touchpoint and email marketing program available to you, enabling teams to select which programs they enact based on the audience. The mapping process is designed not only to understand your coverage but to help enact new programs over time, connecting with customers at every touchpoint.

Source: Ryan Phelan

“It’s not about a lifecycle, and it’s not about a linear path,” said Phelan. “It’s about having the programs in each of these key areas to talk to your consumers.”

About The Author

Corey Patterson is an Editor for MarTech and Search Engine Land. With a background in SEO, content marketing, and journalism, he covers SEO and PPC to help marketers improve their campaigns.


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MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers



MOps leaders as psychologists: The modern mind-readers

This four-part series presents a framework that describes the roles and responsibilities of marketing operations leaders. This part discusses MOps leaders as psychologists, in addition to their roles as modernizers (see part 1) and orchestrators (see part 2).

Exposure to marketing during my early educational journey was limited. With a heavy math/science background, I chose the “easy” path and majored in engineering. I struggled in advanced engineering classes but thrived in electives — communications, business, organizational behavior — which was a sign for my future in marketing.

Because of my engineering background, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to join GE Healthcare through its entry-level leadership development program. There I was exposed to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). 

MRIs had become go-to diagnostic devices and subsequently were used in neuroscience. I was fascinated by their eventual application in fMRI: Functional MRI. These extensions helped us understand the most consequential medical mystery: how (and why) people do what they do.

fMRI uses the same underlying technology as conventional MRI, but the scanner and a medical contrast agent are used to detect increased blood flow in response to a stimulus in what is commonly referenced as “hot spots.”

fMRI reveals which of the brain’s processes “light up” when a person experiences different sensations, e.g., exposure to different images in common studies. As a result, we now know what parts of the brain are involved in making decisions.

Successful marketing ‘lights up’ customers’ brains

Traditional marketing campaigns and measurement left gaps in understanding how and why people choose to buy. We were dependent on aggregated data. 

With digital channels, we gain first-hand insights into an individual’s response to a stimulus, i.e., content. Here’s where the comparison picks up: 

  • We can observe nearly anything and everything that customers or prospects do digitally.
  • Most customers know that we can track (almost) everything that they do.
  • Because of that knowledge, customers expect contextual, value-based content, forcing marketing to provide more value in exchange for the permission to track.

Our goal as marketers is to make our customers and prospects “light up” with pleasure or satisfaction at each interaction. And, we now have the technology to track it. We are effectively reading minds — just as if it were an fMRI scan.

Here’s an overview of three of the primary psychology “tactics” that every marketer should know: 

  • Priming is the attempt to trigger a subconscious reaction to stimuli that influences our conscious decisions. The most common application is in branding and first click-through impressions. If a customer continues their journey, then the use of aspirational product or service images in content are common priming approaches.
  • Social proof is perhaps the most common example, given the impact of word-of-mouth influence. It is commonly seen in product reviews and ratings. Content marketing often relies on case studies and customer testimonials to hear from “people like us.”
  • Anchoring refers to marketing’s role in pricing and discounting. Most decisions people make are relative to the initial set of information they have received.

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MOps leaders manage the mind-reading stack 

MOps leaders are modernizers that now manage the mind-reading martech stack. We then lead the orchestration efforts to analyze the response (the “scan” data) and “prescribe” the next steps of the campaign.

Two catalysts spawned the emergence for martech applications:

  • New channels that delivered stimulus (content) and collected responses: search, social media, retail commerce channels, etc.
  • Tools that organize and manage all of that response data, from foundational CRM platforms to marketing analytics and data enrichment.

These developments led to the new psychological skills that have become essential to the role of MOps leaders. 

Processing and interpreting intent data is an example. ZoomInfo illustrates how B2B marketers are accessing this capability. The company now provides buying signals to marketers based on their customers’ behaviors, in addition to the basic contact information that was the origin of its business. 

Intent data is already in widespread use. Six in 10 companies responding to a recent survey said they had or planned in the next year to implement intent measurement data solutions. 

The top challenges for effective intent data utilization fit squarely in the role/responsibilities of MOps leaders include:


These trends support the conclusion of the first three parts of this series — that MOps leaders should aspire to be: 

  • Psychologists who elicit responses (i.e., “light up” the brains) of customers and prospects and interpret those signals for the business. 
  • Modernizers who adopt the technology that enables the activation of those signals.
  • Orchestrators who are cross-functional project managers and business partners with IT, legal and compliance.

Next time, I’ll complete the framework with a discussion of how the role of MOps leaders includes being a scientist, constantly testing and evaluating marketing efforts with teams of analytics specialists and data scientists. 

Editor’s note: This is the 3rd in a 4-part series. In case you missed them, part 1 (Modernizers) is here and part 2 (Orchestrators) is here.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Milt is currently Director of Customer Experience at MSI Data, an industry-leading cloud software company that focuses on the value and productivity that customers can drive from adopting MSI’s service management solutions.

With nearly 30 years of leadership experience, Milt has focused on aligning service, marketing, sales, and IT processes around the customer journey. Milt started his career with GE, and led cross-functional initiatives in field service, software deployment, marketing, and digital transformation.
Following his time at GE, Milt led marketing operations at Connecture and HSA Bank, and he has always enjoyed being labeled one of the early digital marketing technologists. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from UW Madison, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.


In addition to his corporate leadership roles, Milt has been focused on contributing back to the marketing and regional community where he lives. He serves on multiple boards and is also an adjunct instructor for UW-Madison’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp. He also supports strategic clients through his advisory group, Mission MarTech LLC.

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