In the 57th episode of The Email Design Podcast, hosts Kevin Mandeville and Jason Rodriguez sit down with email marketer Kristin Bond to discuss how Girl Scouts of the USA manages their email marketing programs. Be sure to follow along and join in the discussion on Twitter using #EmailDesignPodcast.
Watch the full video above or listen to the audio-only version below.
In this episode:
- (0:54) How did you get into the world of email marketing? Kristin graduated from college with a degree in public relations. She found a marketing copywriting role in Indianapolis at a life insurance company. (Ironically, the company was in the same office building of ExactTarget at the time!) That company ended up wanting to send email and that fell into her lap since she did the copywriting. Two years later, she moved to NYC and was a community manager for an online forum for developers company. She ended up helping with email at that job as well and started learning HTML and CSS. She proceeded to work at Warby Parker and Food52, where she had a lot of hands-on experience migrating to the ESP platforms of ExactTarget and Sailthru. After taking a sabbatical to step away from startups, she landed at her current role at Girl Scouts where she’s been for a little over two years.
- (8:34) What were some of the key takeaways from your experiences before Girl Scouts? Kristin learned that the scrappy startup environment wasn’t the best fit for her personally. She also learned that just because people are smart and tech savvy, doesn’t mean they know email marketing well or excel with it. Email marketing requires a lot of internal education to other colleagues and stakeholders.
- (14:15) What does your role consist of at Girl Scouts? What’s your team structure? Girl Scouts is a non-profit organization and runs off of a limited budget, so Kristin is tasked with “doing a lot with a little.” She describes working there as a collaborative, inclusive environment. She feels she can be more deliberate with her decisions and think things through more thoroughly. One of the key downsides: Everyone asks her for free cookies. Kristin leads an email team of two consisting of an email designer/developer and council support. She also has support from other teams such as a Salesforce Marketing Cloud developer and the merchandise email design and development team. Kristin mainly focuses on being a technical solutions consultant, reporting, and internal training.
- (19:15) How is Girl Scouts organized? Girl Scouts operates off a federated structure model (similar to a franchise). There are 112 local councils all over the USA. Each council is their own separate, legal 501(c)(3) non-profit. This presents a challenge for Kristin as each council is in control of their own operations and marketing, so she has to get “buy-in” individually to standardize email marketing efforts. One of the organization’s current big projects is a customer engagement initiative, which aims to get all of the councils using the same web platform (Adobe), CRM (Salesforce), and ESP (Salesforce Marketing Cloud). They’re transitioning 10-15 councils every 3 months. Once a council has successfully transitioned to Salesforce CRM, Kristin provides a lot of internal training. Her goal is to make email as easy as possible and cater to the lowest common denominator of experience. Each council is set up as a child account under their main Salesforce Marketing Cloud account. Kristin’s email team created modular templates for each council to use, which leverages AMPScript to personalize and localize all the emails. The email team also helps build out national brand emails.
- (28:12) How is your Digital Cookie program managed? Girl Scouts has a Digital Cookie program which helps girls learn about digital marketing, and has 67 transactional emails in its program including customer emails (shipping, order confirmation, etc.) and emails to parents, girl scouts, and volunteers. Individual Girl Scouts can actually see how many emails they’ve sent. The program uses an external ESP provider which is required for some of the functionality, which also presents a Salesforce integration challenge. Girl Scouts’ primary cookie season is December–May and they are already working on next year (started this past December) as it requires a lot of planning. Kristin dreams of creating an “Email Marketing” Girl Scouts badge.
- (36:35) Where do you focus more for your job – empowering local council email marketing or email marketing for the national brand? Kristin largely focuses on helping local councils with their email marketing. The national Girl Scouts brand doesn’t send a ton of emails, comparatively, and isn’t as large of a focus for the email team.
- (38:34) How do you manage quality assurance for local councils at your scale? Girl Scouts doesn’t have a tried and true QA process for individual email campaigns yet, as local councils still manage and own their individual email marketing programs. Kristin tries to provide as much training and support as possible with webinars and other materials. They also leverage the expertise of experienced council members to provide insight into challenges other councils may be facing.
- (43:25) What is Women of Email and where did you come up with the idea? What are the goals of the organization? Kristin is one of four co-founders of Women of Email. After a seeing a 10-person panel at a conference last year that only featured one woman, Kristin wrote a blog post about the lack of gender diversity for speakers at email marketing conferences. The blog post caught fire on the Only Influencers email list and sparked major debate. There were four women engaged on the email chain – Kristin, Jen Capstraw, April Mullen, and Laura Atkins and they connected privately on the matter. They all agreed they should do something about it and started a Facebook group for women in email to connect. There are now 600+ members in the organization and is spreading solely on word of mouth. They’re starting to do panels at conferences, such as EiQ Gathering. The group is filing paperwork to legally incorporate and become an official non-profit organization. The mission of the organization is to encourage professional development by providing mentorship and resources for women in email marketing. Membership is currently only open to women, though options are being explored for male membership as well.
- (51:47) You’ve had a fair amount of success with speaking engagements at conferences. What advice do you have for those who want to get involved in public speaking? Kristin’s first speaking engagement was on a retail panel at Connections in 2013. Kristin built up her personal brand a bit with her blog Email Snarketing and that helped open the door for more opportunities. She has typically worked at companies that don’t have conference budgets, so the best/only way Kristin can attend is if she’s selected as a speaker. Her advice is that if doing a solo presentation is too terrifying, start off on a panel, as it’s less intimidating. She also says if you work for a brand, email conferences probably want you to be there.
- (56:10) Rapid fireFavorite email client: Outlook 2013 (Windows)
Least favorite email client: None
Favorite email geek to follow: Matt Byrd
Favorite blog: Ask A Manager
Favorite email newsletter: Clover Letter
Favorite email campaign: The Email Design Conference 2015 Twitter Feed Email
What would you be doing if not email? Sewing (minored in costume design and sews a lot of her own clothes!)
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