How did you get into the digital marketing scene and discover your area of expertise?
When I think about it, I’ve always been a marketer. As a kid, I enjoyed watching television commercials, I’ve always been drawn to magazine ads, and though I’m a massive fan of American football and definitely watch the Super Bowl for the game, I equally watch it for the commercials. I studied marketing and advertising in university, worked in a few areas of marketing early on. Then took a leap (with a company who took a chance on me) into my digital career in 2008, and the rest is proverbially history. Digital marketing was an immediate hit with me, as I fell in love with the capabilities, measurability, and features it allowed marketers. Of course, these benefits have just kept growing, which makes this career ever-changing and ever interesting for me.
When I started my digital career, email was really the only channel available. We had websites, but they were primarily just static pages, and were certainly not true tools which worked for us the way they do now. As my career has progressed, I’ve expanded and refocused quite a few times, making sure that I am comfortable working across channels and disciplines to some extent, but always staying pretty true to my email roots. I really love a great email programme or campaign, but it’s all the hard work that goes into it from the back end that’s truly important, and that’s where a lot of my focus lies.
If you could describe your talents/specialty as a superpower what would that sound and look like?
Vision is my superpower. I have the ability to look at situations through many lenses, all with the intent to put the focus on the end result and the customer’s experience. Also I review both macro- and micro-level activities and performance, analyse it all, and then help guide clients down the optimal paths to drive results and create the best experiences for their customers (or prospective ones). I don’t always tell my clients exactly what they want to hear, but I tell them what they need to hear. And then help bridge the gap between what they might have thought they needed with what they actually need. Having the perspective of someone outside the business is usually a valuable one.
What do you enjoy most about now being able to teach your area of expertise as a tutor at NZIE?
Hearing thoughtful questions from my students as we’re discussing a topic is really exciting, as I can tell they’re thinking about what I’ve said, then applying those thoughts by wanting to know more. I’ve always loved helping people to think differently or see things from new points of view, but seeing students take their thoughts and ideas, coupled with a few things I’ve been able to teach them, and produce great insights is really rewarding.
Give us an insight into what learning at NZIE is like with you? What can students expect when they show up to one of Jen’s online classes?
I approach teaching my classes with the same enthusiasm I have for my work, and I truly love it. And I try to bring some humour, insights, and first-hand experiences from my work to each topic we discuss. I also include a relevant, topical meme and at least one marketing highlight (something cool I’ve seen a brand do recently) for each class session, too.
With the skills you are teaching, along with the other subjects included in the Digital Marketing Diploma, what is possible for these students upon graduating?
With NZIE’s Digital Marketing Diploma, students are getting a well-rounded view of the digital marketing landscape, being introduced to foundations and then being asked to apply some of what they learn on a variety of topics. This is incredibly valuable, as we often specialise in an area or two, but work closely with other teams and practice areas. So it’s important we’re able to speak and think credibly beyond our own areas of expertise. Learning as we go in our careers is inevitable in this industry, but having a solid foundation is key. NZIE’s courses are super practical, and give students the opportunity to apply what they’re learning, then receive insightful feedback.
Give us a juicy golden nugget industry tip related to email marketing:
Don’t send emails unless you have something valuable to say. Many email marketers get so caught up on sending emails that they neglect to make sure those messages contain helpful, relevant information that their subscribers actually want. With all the noise and competition for inbox and attention real estate, it’s important that we don’t just send an email for the sake of sending it. Each email, each headline, each sentence, and each word must have a purpose, an underlying strategy, and be working hard for your brand.
If you could chat to someone on the fence about joining the Digital Marketing Diploma programme what would be your parting piece of advice?
This programme is great for many levels, and for people at many junctures. Whether you’re wanting to upskill, cross skill, sharpen existing digital marketing skills, or move into digital marketing as a new field, there’s something for everyone. The variety of courses which align with digital marketing disciplines offers a great foundational and working knowledge to gain insights into each field and help discover what you enjoy most.