EiQ Speaker Spotlight: Laura Sullivan & Rich Wilson >

For this two-days-until-EiQ (!) speaker spotlight, we have a special double feature, starring BrightWave’s own Laura Sullivan and Rich Wilson.

Laura Sullivan is our former journalist/editor turned Creative Director/email design enthusiast. She oversees the creative product at BrightWave and, in 1986, she won a Toys R Us shopping spree through a Cap’n Crunch Sweepstakes. It remains one of the best days of her life to this day. But maybe EiQ 2017 can top it…

Rich Wilson is the VP of Customer Experience at BrightWave. It’s his job to ensure the Creative, Strategy and Technology teams work together to make email continually more meaningful to our brands’ customers. Like a few of our other speakers, he has some television experience to draw from during his EiQ session. In 2008, Rich and his wife (but mostly their home) were featured on an episode of HGTV’s Curb Appeal.

We interviewed Rich and Laura about email, BrightWave as an agency and exactly how hyped they are for EiQ. Here are their answers, two-for-one-style:

BW: What was your path to email?

RW: I started my career in mainline advertising as a copywriter, moved into creative management and received a gut punch in 2008 in the form of the Great Recession. I took the opportunity to pivot and started my own marketing company that eventually discovered the wonders of marketing automation and email. We grew steadily until being acquired in 2016. Email has been a fantastic journey. 

LS: Oh man. It was a circuitous one. And a fun one. From teaching English and writing in Asia to journalism grad school to magazine writing in New York to making email content for a cool Atlanta start-up to Content Director at BrightWave to Creative Director at BrightWave. Easy, right? I’m approximately 82 years old, if you look at that route.  

BW: Why do you believe in the channel?

LS: Now, more than ever, people demand relevant interesting content that speaks right to them. Whether it’s from a gorgeous online magazine or a brand. Email is a channel uniquely suited to deliver that content in a beautiful, meaningful way. 

RW: I believe email is the flagship in a fleet of intimate, behaviorally focused channels. It gives brands the opportunity to grow relationships and prove ongoing meaning – something more and more customers are learning to expect. 

BW: What is the coolest or most innovative thing going on in email?

LS: Oh boy. I am really into “kinetic” or interactive email and what this can possibly mean for the inbox. There’s a breakthrough happening right now with email design. From carousels to “hover over” states that allow you to get more context on the things you are interested in to “virtual reality” experiences—the possibilities are crazy. 

RW: I’m really excited about leading platforms integrating email with Push and SMS in well-orchestrated CX-focused campaigns. It has turned email from something akin to a broadcast channel to something far more useful. 

BW: Very cool! What do you want non-believers of the channel to know?

LS: “Blast” is a bad word. Email can be a very personal channel. 

RW: Agreed. Email gets a bad rap from the spammer days but new technologies and strategies have made email more effective than the newer, sexier channels like social. 

BW: What is your favorite email that you receive?

LS: I am delighted every time I get a Modcloth email in my inbox. They have excellent image-focused weekly communications to keep me up-to-date with their retro-mod inventory. Plus, they have some sweet, sweet behavioral emails that suck me back into their adorable clothes every time. 

RW: Another apparel example! Adidas always blends great imagery, fantastic copy and subtle personalization really well. Plus, they just made a declaration that they will no longer run TV ads so I like where the executive team’s head is. 

BW: Why does EiQ matter and why should anyone attend?

LS: This is a truly unique conference for our community. I’ve got an inside peek into the speakers’ content, and it has really changed the way I think already. You’ll get ideas for what’s next in email that you just ain’t getting elsewhere. 

RW: I feel EiQ is part of a movement to bring more utility and more meaningful engagement to the email channel. It may sound cheesy, but I truly feel we have an opportunity to help brands improve tiny increments of their customers’ lives. 

BW: Aww, you guys! What else are you looking forward to at EiQ?

RW: I’m looking forward to debates over cocktails and between sessions. It seems the areas between official programming are always rich with great cross-pollination of insights.

LS: “Unicorns.”

BW: Say no more, Laura. And, finally, we want to know: what is your favorite thing about BrightWave?

LS: Passionate people who have the privilege of focusing on one medium = magic.

RW: I appreciate how open the team is to continually evolving our offering and how we see the channel.

Fortunately, all of those passionate email people will be in attendance this Thursday! Excited yet? If not, feel free to dive into the official bios for Rich, Laura and all our other amazing EiQ speakers here

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