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Interview with Uber’s Email Marketing Manager

Dan Grech Interviews Teri Rosenbaum, Uber's Head of Email in the UK & Ireland for the latest edition of 'No BS Email Marketing'

[Editor's note: This interview is a taster for a new, free guide : No BS Email Marketing, 2nd edition. It's a great resource for all marketers interested in email and CRM. You can download it for free today from here].

Teri RosenbaumI’m an email marketing manager for Uber in the UK and Ireland, with a focus on  communicating with our drivers. Prior to this, I spent seven years at a small app startup in Southwest London, where I ended up doing a lot of email. I’ve been at Uber for almost a year - since last September. One of my major achievements here has been winning an award for customer obsession. I guess it’s my thing - caring about our users and what their inbox looks like, when they get messages, what those messages are, how much we segment - those really essential practices. TDanhat kind of stuff has essentially been informed by the problems that I’ve dealt with in the past. Now, all of these practices I’ve learned are very important to me. I want all our communication to be super relevant, I want it to be received at the right time, I want it to be legally compliant, I want it to be clear, and I want it to be helpful.

How did you get into email?

Teri RosenbaumGiven that I was at a tech startup and I was there for eight years,- the products I was working with changed a lot over the course of time, but towards the end of we developed a SaaS model. At one point I was the only one doing any type of content, and I decided we needed to have a customer journey. So we went from never sending email to creating an entire customer journey for our registered customers, and as well as a series of more acquisition--based emails.

I kind of got thrown into the deep end at this time and learned how to build and optimise these communications as I went along. I hadn’t really thought of myself as an email--focused person up until that point, though it became quickly apparent that it was my preference and, conveniently, where I was most skilled. I stopped trying to pretend I enjoyed things I really didn’t enjoy that much, like creating and managing social or advertising content. They’re not really my bag.Dan

Was there much of an uplift in the performance of your emails when you decided to plan and implement a strategy?

Teri RosenbaumThere was a huge uplift. We weren’t doing very much marketing at all - we weren’t actually even sending emails.

I think it started with a Black Friday campaign We realized, “Hey, these emails are actually working!” We started thinking more about the various stages at which a customer – a business, in this case – would require an app. We did a lot of research and eventually created an automated customer journey based on time & purchase decisions.

Since joining Uber, I’ve realized that automation is one of my strengths - automation, centralization, and streamlined processes - that’s really where I’m most interested and get the most excited. Creating customer journeys is super exciting once you start getting into it.

DanHelping to make my time and other’s more efficient is also a huge part of my role here.

Is there a lesson that you can say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far that you can share?

Teri RosenbaumOne of my biggest lessons comes from my last role, in finding ESPs. We really struggled in researching and selecting an email platform. We had some interesting requirements. The end result was that I documented and contacted all of the ESPs available in the UK - something like 400 of them. I spoke in depth to around 20 different ESPs. When I first started doing it, I didn’t actually know the questions I should be asking. But over time I started to learn the questions that actually got the job done. However, that didn’t necessarily mean that I had the most qualified person on the other end of the line answering those questions.

You absolutely need to speak to someone who’s technical who can be clear about the features of their platform - not a salesperson. Salespeople might not understand what IP’s are being used, or how to avoid spam filters, or even if their own company actually meets your requirements.

It’s important to be as detailed as possible with what you ask so that they’re clear of your objectives.

I’ve had problems in the past with emails going to spam, which is relatively common, and also a hard place to get back from. After speaking to a large number of vendors who were sure that they could fix that problem easily, quickly and with a certain amount of money, it turned out not to be the case.Dan

What’s the biggest challenge that you face at the moment from an email point of view?

Teri RosenbaumI would say one challenge is segmentation.

You don’t always have to email everyone all the time about everything. Something that I’m working on is to ensure we are sending the right messages to the right people at the right time. People behave differently and have different preferences, and our efforts need to reflect that. I sort of own the communications channel, so I have to think about other things as well, like push notifications and SMS. It’s hard to figure out how to create a good, dynamic experience that works for everyone and not just a certain set of users. I think this is probably pretty common.

Analysis can be difficult too. There are so many tools and I’ve learned so much, but I still feel there’s so much I don’t know about my emails and how they’re being received. And I don’t know if those are things that I want to get the answer to. What caused X amount of people to not open that?

You’re never going to know that answer at a granular level. You’re not going to get engagement from those people to tell you that. What about an email with a call to action? What caused people to convert, or not to? What’s the best thing to test next?

We’re doing a lot of campaigns – and sometimes I find the smarter your campaigns, the more difficult the analysis.  If we have a potential partner-driver who’s not yet active with us, they’re going to receive different style and series of communications and they’re going to respond differently. That’s opposed to a partner-driver who’s been on our platform for a year. They must be treated as completely different audiences.

So there’s not one open rate or one click--through rate or conversion rate to benchmark against overall. You can do analysis on individual campaigns and try to aggregate it, but there’s no overarching data because there’s so many different audiences within your audience.Dan

Is there a lesson that you can say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far that you can share?

Teri RosenbaumOne of my biggest lessons comes from my last role, in finding ESPs. We really struggled in researching and selecting an email platform. We had some interesting requirements. The end result was that I documented and contacted all of the ESPs available in the UK - something like 400 of them. I spoke in depth to around 20 different ESPs. When I first started doing it, I didn’t actually know the questions I should be asking. But over time I started to learn the questions that actually got the job done. However, that didn’t necessarily mean that I had the most qualified person on the other end of the line answering those questions.

You absolutely need to speak to someone who’s technical who can be clear about the features of their platform - not a salesperson. Salespeople might not understand what IP’s are being used, or how to avoid spam filters, or even if their own company actually meets your requirements.

It’s important to be as detailed as possible with what you ask so that they’re clear of your objectives.

I’ve had problems in the past with emails going to spam, which is relatively common, and also a hard place to get back from. After speaking to a large number of vendors who were sure that they could fix that problem easily, quickly and with a certain amount of money, it turned out not to be the case.

By Robert Allen

I am the Editor of Smart Insights. I manage the Smart Insights blog and write on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn.

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