Our guest today is Teresa Anne Smith, Social Media Manager & Customer Success Engineer at SMTP2GO.
I first saw her this year at Inbox Expo, where she gave an excellent presentation about best practices in building an email list and the importance of maintaining list hygiene.
Teresa left the UK seven years ago and has chosen Spain as she wanted to continue her studies and learn Spanish. But then she discovered the email industry and started to work remotely for a New Zealand company, and well…, this is what we’re going to talk about in this interview. 🤗
In this conversation, Teresa shared with us:
- her journey in email deliverability,
- how she handles two roles simultaneously,
- valuable insights into how businesses can improve their subscribers’ engagement,
- her tips and tricks for communicating with customers during lockdown,
- why is delivery important,
- major trends to watch in email marketing for the next period,
- and many more!
We are so glad to have Teresa on the blog and welcome you to enjoy the interview!
Teresa, can you tell us a little bit about your career background? What do you do on a typical day at SMTP2GO, and how do you manage to have two roles at the same time?
My background is actually quite different. I always wanted to go into theatre and work as a backstage manager, which led me to studying Events Management and Public Relations in London.
I didn’t quite make it to the theatre, but I did work as a marketing assistant for a successful exhibition company in London. I loved it!
As I was young and curious, however, I left to go travel the world. I eventually landed in Madrid, Spain, where I’ve been living for the past seven years.
I taught English for the first year (as many expats do), and then went on to a few sales-based roles.
I then completed a Master’s degree in International Business Management, and eventually started working for SMTP2GO. I have been with the company for almost 5 years now, starting off in technical support and customer success, and now dabbling in social media.
It is hard to juggle the two roles, there are some ideas that I have to put aside for a later date, and I have learnt to accept that I can’t do everything. But, it’s fun! It keeps me occupied and I have truly learnt a lot.
My day-to-day pretty much consists of troubleshooting and trying to keep up with this ever-changing industry (headache).
Having expertise in both social media and email, what advice would you give B2B marketers who are struggling to reach and engage with audiences?
Educate, don’t promote! B2B can be difficult sometimes, especially when you have a service, not a product.
The best way is to educate in any way you can on topics related to your service, rather than promotional content. I am still learning myself, and find that it’s definitely the best approach.
Humour also goes a long way, and transparency. I also think it’s really important to just be engaged and active on social media.
Even if you don’t have many followers or feedback on your posts (we tend to fixate on this too much), if a potential customer comes across your profiles and finds ‘tumbleweed’, they may look elsewhere.
Educate, don’t promote! … Humour also goes a long way, and transparency.
What was your winning strategy for communicating with your customers during lockdown?
We have always worked remotely with SMTP2GO. We are headquartered in New Zealand and my colleagues are based globally. Two in Spain, two in the UK, two in the US, one in Australia, and the rest in New Zealand.
Therefore, communication with our customers throughout the pandemic is as strong as it always has been!
We actually won an award for best customer service at the beginning of this year, and I think one of the winning factors was that we are always contactable. We often have potential users surprised when we answer a call, they don’t expect it!
Why is delivery important and when is an email considered delivered?
So, delivered doesn’t necessarily mean it reaches the inbox, it just means it was accepted by the incoming mail server.
Delivery is important – and it’s better to land in the promotion tab, or the junk folder, than having it disappear into the abyss.
What we really want to monitor is engagement to ensure your inbox placement is good. Although, that’s going to change a little with Apple’s new privacy update. So we’ll see.
In your opinion, what makes an outstanding email newsletter and how can email publishers create better experiences for their subscribers?
A newsletter needs to give the reader value, and you should always have the reader in mind.
Whether it be need-to-know information or a joke to make your subscribers laugh.
Give them something and, again, don’t just go for that promotional content.
You should live by the motto: “if you haven’t got anything worth saying, it’s best not to say anything at all.”
What do you think will be the main trends in email marketing for the next period?
More transparency, accessibility and all-round positive vibes! User-generated content is going to be a biggie, too!
Users love getting involved and, if you have a tangible product, you can very easily get some great content from your customers.
Also, scaling up personalization (it goes way beyond just knowing their name and location), and upping best practices as well (inboxes are getting harder and harder to reach).
Increasingly, publishers use ads to monetize their newsletters and even more well-known brands choose email for advertising. Why do you think email gained so much attention from publishers as well as marketers?
Although social media is – and always will be – a great competitor, email continues to bring value to both marketers and publishers, as it allows you to target and personalize at scale.
It’s also the best channel to get back what you put in, which can’t be said when it comes to social media.
Being a third party tool, the restrictions and costs can act as a barrier between you and your potential customer. It has you craving the control and comfort that you get with email.
What’s the part of your job you’re most passionate about and how do you find inspiration in your everyday life?
The part of my job that I am most passionate about is helping our users improve their email deliverability.
Whether that be on a support call or if someone catches an instagram post. I enjoy keeping up with the industry and have a great sense of satisfaction if I come across a content idea that I know is going to help our users, or anyone for that matter.
And away from work, I find my inspiration in everyday life by keeping fit (I am a huge martial arts fan), living in the moment but also arranging things to look forward to, such as holidays.
I travel a lot (pre-pandemic), which is why working remotely has always been a huge plus for me at SMTP2GO. I plan to move to Italy in the near future, so it’s great that I can just take my job with me.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters you’d like to recommend to our readers?
If you are looking for educational book/podcast recommendations, you’re asking the wrong person! I read/listen to relax, so I tend to go for fictional books or a funny podcast.
I recently decided to follow Reese Witherspoon’s book club as I like her productions, and they have been great so far: “The last thing he told me” and “Where the Crawdad’s sing”.
Closing on a funny note, could you share the most ‘unexpected’ request that you received from your customers so far?
Oh, wow! We receive a lot of requests, but none stick out to be unexpected or unreasonable, etc. I guess they are usually based around a specific feature a user wants us to implement, which of course depends on the demand.
We do get a lot of funny requests via our sales chat though. I had someone ask me for a copy of my history essay once; and I think we have all had a few marriage proposals, I really don’t know how they find us!