The Rising Tide: An Interview with Will Devlin from MessageGears >

This month’s edition of The Rising Tide featured our technology partner MessageGears, an Atlanta-based company that finds cutting-edge solutions for building data-driven email programs on a super-sized scale. They call themselves a hybrid email marketing platform for enterprise organizations because of the highly flexible model they use to consolidate Big Data.   

We recently interviewed Will Devlin, senior director of marketing for MessageGears, about email, email events (we were blushing slightly when our EiQ conference got a mention) and email innovations soon to come.


How did you get involved in the email industry?

I’ve been in email for close to 16 years which is a little hard for me to believe. My first exposure to email marketing was at Overton’s, a supplier of boating accessories and watersports equipment, where I was responsible for their entire email and e-commerce practice. Overton’s was acquired by Gander Mountain and I created an email program for them as well. Years later, I got an opportunity to join and help build a company with a truly innovative email marketing solution (MessageGears) and I’m so happy I hopped on board!


Whose email program do you like landing in your inbox? What about it grabs your attention?

I’ve always enjoyed brands with a sense of humor, so I almost always open Moosejaw’s emails. There are so many fun, subtle bits in their creative. I also usually look forward to Shinesty’s emails because they’re fun if not absurd.

I also think Expedia does a great job of communication when I’m traveling. Booking a trip with them ensures I’ll have whatever I need, plus ideas about what to do and where to eat when I’m traveling.


Where do you see the industry heading in the next 5-10 years?
One way or another, solutions will have to be more integrated and less siloed. Enterprise brands are consolidating their data warehouses and will increasingly need technology that connects directly to that instead of its own separate data system. That’s most pressing today for large enterprises, but I can see that being a necessity for pretty much every company as speed and relevance across channels becomes the norm.


How do you stay up to date on email industry trends, innovations, products, best practices, etc.? I get so many newsletters in my inbox from partners I trust! I also greatly enjoy speaking to and hearing from marketers and practitioners directly, whether it’s at an event or conference or online in a forum or Slack group. It’s fun to see how different brands, vendors, and agencies are improving programs across the industry.


Speaking of conferences, do you have any favorite email industry events?

I personally enjoy MediaPost’s Email Insider Summits because they draw really smart people, and everyone’s generally relaxed and eager to share ideas and insights. Litmus Live, Movable Ink’s Think Summit, and BrightWave’s own EiQ event are all amazing and fresh ways to hear about the latest trends and innovations.


What in the email world have you been the most excited about lately?

I’m obviously excited about MessageGears and what we’re doing to address the specific and unique needs of large-scale “Super Senders.” The household-name consumer brands have so much complex data and so many customers to serve that it’s hard for them to be relevant to individual consumers. The challenge is that we, as consumers, expect those big brands to get it right more than anyone else.


What do you think is the value of companies investing in their email programs?

Email is so personal because it’s permission-based and can be tailored to people’s preferences and needs. It’s one of a few areas where marketers can thoughtfully put together programs based on what they know about customers and reach them at scale quickly and rather cheaply. It’s a cornerstone channel and is so crucial to get right.


By combining forces with BrightWave, how have you helped your clients take their email programs to the next level?

BrightWave’s strategic and creative mastery combined with MessageGears’ Hybrid solution has been a game changer for our clients. Chick-fil-A, for example, wanted to restructure their program to be more data-driven and personalized, and they’re also extremely protective of their customer data. We were able to partner together to build a really exciting, dynamic, award-winning program. Chick-fil-A has seen improved metrics across the board, including double-digit gains in open and click-through rates and an over 20% increase in conversions.

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