MTA Gamechangers Series: Email Marketing with Matt McGowan

In our MTA Gamechangers series we will be talking with thought leaders and pioneers from the digital industry and hearing about technology that could quite literally change the game. Today we are hearing from Matt McGowan from Adestra who is helping marketers navigate the latest developments in the world of email.

MTA: Email is such a strong channel for marketers. What separates great email marketing from rest of the messages that fill our inboxes?

Matt McGowan: Every day, marketers must anticipate and react to consumer actions and preferences. Email, and the platforms that power it, sit at the heart of this effort. We have learned over the years that the best email marketing starts with a clearly articulated goal, not just a nice piece of creative.

Effective marketers start with a use case, which is often an identified strategic opportunity for the business. This could be as simple as emailing the promotion of the week or as advanced and complex as an automated journey that considers the consumer’s or customer’s propensity to make a purchase.

Once they have their goals, they go on to build their messages, select timing (automated or a singular campaign), QA the messages rendering in all desktop and mobile clients, send for approvals, deploy the message, and then optimize based on real-time robust analytics.

In an ever-changing and evolving digital landscape, marketers must surround themselves with the tools they need to orchestrate marketing excellence. But, it all begins with their goals.

MTA: Email marketing is very well adopted, but it faces some major challenges, such as GDPR. How will this new set of regulations affect marketers and the marketplace?

Matt: While GDPR will have an extensive impact on business, it will in effect require companies to become more transparent in data privacy and collection. This affects how we handle data, how we treat our customers and how we communicate with them.

All the confusion and frustration over GDPR boils down to one thing: Marketers and the businesses we work for are not used to providing this level of transparency. Under the law, we must let the customer decide whether the value exchange of customer information for products or services is balanced.

GDPR has so many levels and layers that we’ll interpret and question it long after the May deadline passes. We’ll be better served if we all admit that the key to the law is that we must be authentic in granting our customers control over their data.

Transparency must be the buzzword of the day. As executives, we must be advocates for that transparency. If not, our customers will find it somewhere else.

MTA: What are some of the challenges marketers must overcome in, say, the next 6 months?

Matt: In many organizations, email and CRM now sit at the centre of the marketing team. This is because email is one of the few channels that is permission-based and, therefore, goes to the heart of consumer experience. Moreover, email addresses are key to identity and in the future, will likely replace cookies with respect to tracking online behaviour.

The ability to drive messages, instead of waiting for consumers to notice advertisements makes email critically important. In the next six months, markets should look at three areas where their efforts can have the greatest impact.

  • Automation – Being able to anticipate or react based on the data from behaviour, data science, and preference is key.
  • Mobile first – 60%+ of consumers read and act on email on mobile devices. Marketers need a platform that guarantees mobile responsiveness across all devices.
  • Segmentation – all consumers are not the same.  As such, marketers must ensure the customer gets the right message at the right time and/or place.

MTA: What do marketers need to overcome the hurdles and challenges that keep them from achieving their email goals?

Matt: Too often, email for marketers has become a daily slog through archaic systems that offer no technical or conceptual support. Long past are the days where email providers can ignore the needs of their marketer clients. We’ve seen time and time again how past leaders in the space diminish their support, UX, and services.

Marketers need help dealing with both the technical aspects of building, delivering, monitoring and analyzing email. They need solid support people who can answer their questions quickly and knowledgeably, not just about the platform, but about the wider issues that affect marketers.

Marketers can help themselves by partnering with technology providers who do more than provide a service. They should feel just as comfortable calling on a tech partner for help setting up campaigns or to learn about changing global email and data laws, like GDPR, as they would be when a technical problem crops up on the platform.

The marketing world has changed dramatically over the years, and many marketing teams lack the in-house resources that can help them stay on top of the changes that affect their performance. This creates a great opportunity in the marketplace for technology providers who seek to become genuine partners with their clients.

Marketers should accept nothing less than tech partners who dedicate themselves at every level to ensure that they provide the tools and help marketers need when they need them.


Matt McGowan has worked alongside some of the world’s best known and thousands of relatively unknown brands, agencies, and technology companies. Matt is President and a member of the Board of Directors at Adestra, an enterprise Software And A Service® Email Service Provider, where he is directly responsible for the America’s business and their global publically available resource library for marketers.

Before Adestra, at Google and YouTube, Matt headed up Strategy and worked with Google leadership and the executive teams at the Big 6 advertising holding companies. Before that Matt served as Managing Director at Incisive Media (sold to Infopro Digital) and held leadership positions at Pearson PLC and Charles Schwab.

If you want to know more about email marketing, please contact the MTA or reach out to Matt and the team at Adestra.