Welcome to our Marketing Heroes Series. In this series, you will hear marketing stories from the field from your peers across the globe. For the past 6 years, we’ve watched the individuals we work with evolve, grow, and soar. Our clients are at the center of our business and we want to put their stories front and center too. Enjoy!
Marketing Hero Questions
This series focuses on 7 questions to highlight the stories of marketers that solve critical business problems, deliver transformational customer experiences, and drive impact every day for their companies.
I’m really pleased to get started with Jaime Dodd from Road Scholar!
Featuring: Jaime Dodd – Senior Analyst, Email Marketing
Company: Road Scholar, Educational Travel for Adults
Location: Boston, MA, United States
What are one or two things you typically do during the first hour of your day that leads to a productive day?
I’ve established a morning routine that I’ve found is super important for me to stick to in order to have a productive day.
Nearly every morning, I wake up early and either go for a run or get some workout in before heading into the office. Taking this time for myself before a full day of work energizes me and improves my mood, as well as keeps me more alert and focused for the rest of the day.
Once I’m at my desk, I have a coffee and eat breakfast while I check my inbox and prepare a to-do list for my objectives of the day so I know exactly what I am aiming to complete.
What is one marketing “best practice” you’ve applied in the last few months that had a positive impact on your role? How has it helped you?
Currently, we are in the process of streamlining our testing process to make it more efficient and worthwhile.
For a while, we were frequently running A/B tests but we didn’t have a clear direction on what we were looking to achieve, it almost felt like we were throwing out random ideas hoping something worked. Often times we would look at the results, and even if the test slightly won out, we weren’t always ready to make that change across the board.
Now, we are working on testing with more vision and clarity of our goals and making sure they are sustainable changes. Instead of just adding a test to the calendar to “see what happens”, we want to have a clear hypothesis for the test and an implementation plan for the results.
We’ve set up a shared document where people can contribute future test ideas with their thoughts and goals for the test.
We have also set aside bi-weekly time that the team can get together and discuss the results from any tests we have run.
Following testing best practices has greatly improved not only my own understanding of our creative process but also how to better construct tests and plan for the future.
What in your current or previous organization has the biggest impact on your marketing strategy?
I think the push for personalization for our subscribers has had the biggest impact. When we first learned how to use dynamic content in our email campaigns, we really only had one use case for it. But since we developed the knowledge of utilizing variable data to create personalized messaging, we have been able to build off of that and create some really powerful campaigns.
We are aiming for personalization that goes beyond just the first name, but actually bringing in tailored messaging for people to start a one-to-one relationship.
We’ve built a 100+ version welcome series, and we are working on an email that shows people programs within driving distance to them to really bring the subscriber the most relevant messages for them.
What books, blogs, or thought leaders have greatly influenced your career, and why?
I love email marketing and since it is my primary focus, mainly I find myself turning to different resources for that.
I am a member of Women of Email, which is a professional network that promotes leadership for women in the email marketing niche. The group is a great resource for email marketers when considering things like best practices, specific questions, new ideas, general support and so much more. Prior to the group, I never realized there was such a large and passionate community in such a niche industry. Now, I have people that I can reach out with any nitty-gritty email marketing question and can get advice from people who understand what it is I am working on.
Recently, I had the chance to meet the co-founder of the group, Jen Capstraw, and was so inspired by talking with her that I have begun following her blog posts on Iterable’s site where she posts lots of helpful articles and webinars on various email topics.
How has an apparent failure as a marketer set you up for later success? How did you bounce back?
When I first started at Road Scholar, the team had just launched the first iteration of a big email project that everyone put a lot of time and effort in to start up.
If you’re familiar with Road Scholar’s story with Tinyclues at all, you may have heard me talk of these “Journey” campaigns before. See Jaime presenting Road Scholar and tinyclues usage
Anyways, I had just started in my position, and in my role I am responsible for giving an update on email campaign performance. Unfortunately, the results I had to bring back for my very first meeting were not as strong as everyone was hoping for… Being so new in the role, the last thing I wanted was to present this news to my new team. But as with any situation, it’s crucial to learn from mistakes and take negative results or failures and use them as an opportunity to improve and do better next time.
So as a team, we talked through the data and I analyzed all the metrics a bit deeper to get a clearer picture of what was going wrong. We made some initial changes and continued tracking performance while making adjustments as we saw necessary. We didn’t lose sight of the innovative vision we had for these campaigns, and over time, they’ve become among our top-performing and I got to be part of seeing the process through.
If you had to give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?
This question sort of makes me laugh…often times I still feel so new in the industry that it’s hard to think of what I would tell my younger self because I feel like I am still there and am constantly learning. But I think that’s part of the advice I would give— always take advantage of opportunities to learn from others.
Read blogs and attend webinars about industry trends and best practices. Attend conferences, if given the chance. If not, find one and ask to attend. Find a mentor that you can ask questions and seek guidance from.
Remaining curious and excited about my work sparks so many new ideas that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of on my own.
That leads me to my second piece of advice, don’t be afraid to share new ideas and learnings with others. Sometimes it can be hard to bring new concepts forward for fear of them being shut down, but I would encourage my younger self not to be so nervous but speak up and share her ideas because they could have a really huge payoff.
What is one marketing principle you try to live by?
(Challenge > Create > Test > Analyse > Iterate)*Repeat
Want to share your perspective? Do you have someone in your network you want to recommend for this series? Let’s connect!