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Interview with Tamara Gielen – Email Marketing Consultant & Trainer at Plan to Engage

Wednesday - January 2, 2013

1) Can you describe yourself briefly? What is your passion?

2) How did you get started and how did you become an email marketing expert?

tamaragielenTamara Gielen: I started my career in email marketing as an online media specialist at Cognos, then moved on to where I was responsible for the set up and roll-out of their eCRM/email strategy and then joined Ogilvy in 2007 in my first consulting role. A year later I founded my own company and I now work as an independent email marketing consultant with brands from all over the world. In 2001, when I was working at Cognos, we started sending out emails to invite prospects to attend our events and very soon learned that your messages need to be interesting and relevant to your audience, otherwise you’ll just get blocked. I also learned that sending out emails in batches of 500 via Outlook was not the right way to do it 🙂 So I started reading everything about email marketing I could get my hands on. And ever since then I’m hooked on email marketing as a channel, because it’s so powerful and measurable. In 2005 I started my blog ( because I felt that I

  • needed a place to archive all the good articles and resources I had found so far
  • and share them with the world

Because of the blog, I got hired by eBay when they where looking for someone to take on the role of eCRM/email marketing manager and started getting invitations to speak at international events. Because I love to help other people and teach them about email marketing and eCRM best practices, I became a consultant.

3) What do you think are the main elements of a good email marketing strategy?

Tamara Gielen: As in direct marketing, it always comes down to sending the right message to the right person at the right time, so

  • Have a strategy (know what it is that you want to achieve)
  • Know your audience (who are they, want are they looking for, what interests them, what makes them take action…)
  • Make sure you have permission to email the people on your list
  • Have a contact strategy that aims to provide value in each message that you send
  • Have a test plan (regular testing is key to improving response and conversions)

4) What are the top 5 mistakes small businesses do when doing mass emailing?

Tamara Gielen:


  1. Sending everything to everybody
  2. Sending emails to people who didn’t ask for it (no permission)
  3. Not optimizing design & copy for the medium (both on desktops and on mobile devices)
  4. Using Outlook to send out email campaigns
  5. Buying lists and expecting to get good results from campaigns sent to these lists

5) Can you tell us about the main differences between email marketing for B2B and B2C?

Tamara Gielen: I don’t really see that many differences between B2B and B2C actually – apart from list sizes that are typically much smaller in B2B. As I mentioned before, it all comes down to sending the right message to the right person at the right time, which means you need to have a good understanding of the customer journey, the buying cycle and the people on your list so you can send messages that are relevant and valuable. The tactics to get response are in essence the same in B2C and B2B, only the message and the approach will be different because you’re talking to a different type of audience.

6) Where do you find the best information about email marketing?

Tamara Gielen:


  • My webinar of course
  • My blog (
  • MarketingSherpa and eConsultancy both have very good content on email marketing