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About Our guest

April Mullen - Director of Consumer-First Marketing Adoption

April is a proven digital marketing leader currently focusing on global client strategy and marketing for Selligent Marketing Cloud.

As an evangelist of Consumer-First Marketing, she guides her clients to build better relationships with connected and empowered consumers. Outside of Selligent, Mullen is an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and was critical in helping to develop the digital program’s initial curriculum for the changing digital age.

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Show notes

Getting Into Marketing (03:17) 

Ten years ago I was aspiring to become an art curator and I’ve obtained a BA degree in Art History. I have interned at a couple of prestigious museums. I have decided not to go on with a master and Ph.D. in Art History, only to come out of it into a really challenging job market where I’d have a lot of competition. It’s incredibly difficult to get a prestigious job in Art History and it doesn’t really pay that well. 

Departure From College And The Art World (06:29) 

I did some research and I have decided that I wanted to pursue a career in digital marketing. I was self-thought as a lot of people early in digital work. Within 90 days of sending out my resume, I received my first job and it was at a catalog e-commerce company that sold women's clothing. I was hired as a Marketing Coordinator. 

I managed the catalog feeds to the various comparison shopping sites, but also the relationships with affiliates.

A person that ran an email marketing program left the company just before the holidays, so I have found myself landing a promotion. I was moved into an analyst role and I managed the email program. 

The Impact of Gender (11:02) 

I didn’t really feel it early in my career. The first job I had was at a women's catalog company, so because of this, there were a lot of female merchandise leaders. Our president was a female and so there were a lot of women just by the nature of the product that we sold. 

However, as I moved on and progressed to other jobs, especially now that I'm in tech, I fewer women. I have found myself in a really weird position because I have found that women look up to me and they reach out asking for advice. 

Women of Email Organisation (13:06) 

Women of Email was founded in 2016. One of the co-founders has actually written an article on the absence of women in email marketing and posted it within an IT industry group. What we have found out is that it was mostly men who commented. Again, I myself did not feel the lack of gender diversity when I was younger in my career, but I have definitely felt it on a senior level. 

We have decided to do something productive and that’s how Women of Email organization was born. Our whole mission is to promote leadership among women in the email marketing/relationship marketing niche. We found that part of promoting the visibility of women in their career is to get them on stages and get them speaking. We are active in more than 30 countries. 

Many women believed that they are not thought leaders in their fields. Many of them thought that they are not senior enough. We have found that all it takes is just a little nudge - telling women that their work is valuable. 

Since 2016 we have connected over 60 women with conference leaders. 

Being a Professor And Working In a Journalism Field (16:59) 

I wasn’t actually employed by Media Post, but I was a columnist for them for several years. I wrote for their email insider column. I was also a news editor of my college paper, so obviously I have always had this passion for writing. 

For the past five years, I have also started teaching at the Business School of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. The opportunity came to me from Dr. Perry Drake who came to teach at the University of Missouri. He started a program and he put the call out that he is looking for people with an MBA and who are professionals. Someone recommended me to him and we met to discuss the program. I have accepted the challenge.

An Adjunct Professor (20:08) 

An adjunct professor means I am not tenure track. I am not on a career path to becoming a full-time professor. I started teaching five years ago and most of my students are either MBA students or professional returning students who are seeking to receive a certificate. A lot of these returning students are giants of the industry. 

Working At Scottrade (22:36) 

I started working at Scottrade in July 2008 when the stock market crashed and that was pretty terrifying for everyone. The brand only had one email newsletter going out every month and it was just very basic and by the time I left, we had built a fully automated CRM communications program. After we have built this, I went to the dark side - the agency side and I had some amazing clients there.

StrongView (25:05) 

At the time Selligent was StrongView. Some of my friends from different Martech companies were moving over to StrongView and I also got very interested in working there. Before I knew it I was interviewed and got the job and came on board. However, not long after I have come to the company we were sold and we went through some changes. I was pushed onto the sales team and tasked with helping to sell the solution.

The Sales Role (27:05) 

Being in sales enablement was a lot of fun and I actually still do quite a bit of support for the sales team today. My job was to speak with brands and their marketing teams. To take what their need was and bring it to life through a story. 

A Change in the Organization (28:29) 

StrongView and Selligent got merged and we took on the Selligent name. Most of the leadership went away and my role changed again. Prior to the role I’m in now, I was on the innovation team, which is a team we had temporarily.

Then my role shifted into the marketing team and I am also one of our thought leaders. I speak publicly at conferences and webinars at our own events. But I'm also in this interesting role where I'm also one of our subject matter experts in terms of strategy. 

The Meaning of The Consumer-First Marketing Adoptions (30:23) 

We are all about consumer-first marketing. Traditionally, marketers have been focused on product and promoting that product and we believe that concept should be flipped on its head. My role was to make sure that it actually happened in practice. 

Developing Skills (32:06) 

I think I'm relying a lot on my innate skill set of being a good communicator. It's something that has worked really well for me so far. But I am always seeking to improve. I'm always seeking new sources of knowledge. 

Advice For Young Marketers (34:19) 

I have found that connecting with like-minded women has really increased my confidence and my ability to see a path forward. Find your community, but if you don’t know what your community is yet, find a group of people that you can relate to. Get together with them, have people that you can call when you're having a business problem.