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Email Snob Interview: George DiGuido

After my brief departure from the topic at hand last week, I continue the Email Snob Interview series with a conversation with George DiGuido, Vice President of Email Marketing at Zeta Interactive.

GeorgeDiGuido-SonScottWritesEverything: George, thanks for taking the time to talk email marketing with me. I ask this of everyone, but how did you get your start in email marketing?

George DiGuido: Marketing has always been something that has intrigued me since I was a little kid. Lessons in marketing were a second education happening at the dinner table while listening to my father talk about his day at Ziff Davis Publishing. As it turned out, I had a knack for technology and went into Marketing and Management Information Systems during college.

After school, I got my start with a company handling network infrastructure for small businesses but knew I needed to break out into the marketing field. So I joined a small email marketing company called Bigfoot Interactive and the rest is history.

SWE: What is your favorite thing about email marketing?

GD: I have two favorites about email marketing: the people and the technology. In my role at Zeta Interactive, I am lucky enough to be out in front of customers and see what unique and fun things they are doing with email. It is invigorating to see and really gets me excited about email.

Email technology, the platforms, the functionality, and the ability to provide marketers with the ability to do great things with their email campaigns is really fun.

SWE: Since I’m a relative newbie to the business (comparatively to the likes of a John Caldwell, for example), I’d like to ask you what your thoughts are for those looking to get into the industry. If you could say one thing to someone who wants to get into the industry, what would it be?

GD: Never quench your desire to learn. Technology is constantly changing and that goes double for email.

People who go around saying that email is dead are just shortsighted. They have stopped taking the time to learn about the market around them and, as a result, have lost the pulse of where the industry is going.

Never stop learning.

SWE: Excellent advice! If you could name one book that you feel every email marketer should read, what would it be? Why?

GD: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.” I’m not sure it’s strictly for email marketers, but I think it is a great read for anyone in business.

SWE: I would definitely agree with that. What about a blog?

GD: To be honest, I’m not a big one for blogs. I learn more from Twitter and people posting articles that are relevant and interesting and just jump in from there.

That said I do love the Deliverability.com Blog, the ReturnPath blogThe Email Zoo, and of course, ScottWritesEverything.com.

SWE: Thanks, I appreciate the shout-out. Let’s talk influence. Who is your biggest influence in the industry? Why?

GD: This one’s easy: my father. By far my biggest influence in the industry. I have been working for and with him for almost seven years now, and every day I learn something new.

Outside of him, one of my mentors at Bigfoot Interactive was John Mathew. He not only taught me a lot about email marketing and deliverability, but he taught me a lot about being a leader and working with others.

SWE: You’ve mentioned technology several times, so let me ask you this: How do you think the iPad will affect email marketing?

GD: To start, I am not a big fan of the iPad. As someone who rides a train about 3 hours a day to commute to and from the office, I see people with all sorts of electronic gadgets to occupy their time. The problem I have with the iPad is its size. It is big, bulky, and has a glass screen. What happens when you drop it or something else in your bag scratches it? That is only the beginning.

That said, it will provide a unique experience to the user and allow them to receive full HTML emails in a form factor that is not a laptop. It will create a nice user experience and allow more people to convert on an email offer while on the go.

SWE: Let’s go larger picture then. What about mobile technologies? What do you think the effect will be there?

GD: As the smartphone becomes more and more accessible to non-business users more and more, people will be viewing email on their mobile devices more than ever before. Email will have to be presented in a mobile browser and be able to offer a similar experience to that of an email viewed on a desktop.

That said, email will still have to be relevant no matter with form factor they are viewing it in to get them open and interact.

SWE: Relevance is everything, isn’t it? Okay, let’s talk industry a bit. If there was one thing you could tell either clients or ESPs–whether it’s a frustration, advice, or praise–what would it be?

GD: I think this goes for both ESPs and clients, but cheaper does not mean better. Let’s stop devaluing email and not just go for the lowest cost option.

SWE: What’s the adage–”You get what you pay for.” Very true with email. All right, a fun question: What is one thing you’ve always wanted to try with email but not have done to this point?

GD: The triple lindy. Man… if I could just get that done.

SWE: That would be something to see, indeed! Last question: If you were stuck in an elevator with the CEO of a company that doesn’t utilize email, what is your “elevator speech” for email marketing?

GD: If there is a CEO out there who doesn’t use email marketing, they aren’t going to be a CEO for very much longer. That said, any pitch I make for email always ties back to return on investment and providing a solution to a client’s need.


About George DiGuido

George DiGuido is Vice President, Email Marketing for Zeta Interactive, a leading full-service digital marketing firm serving Fortune 1000 clients such as LiveNation and Sony Inc. Leading product development efforts for the agency’s world-class email platform, Zeta Mail, DiGuido has been with the company since its inception in 2007, having previously served as Director, Strategic Analysis. Before joining Zeta, DiGuido acted as Director of Client Services at Epsilon Interactive, overseeing key accounts such as Capital One, GlaxoSmithKline, and others. George holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Villanova University with majors in Management Information System and Marketing. A new Father, George enjoys spending his free time outdoors with his wife Erin and new son John.

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