Interview with Return Path CMO, Daniel Incandela


“An authentic and meaningful message must be the foundation for any marketing work. This is something I believe a lot of companies take for granted.
Data should be the biggest driver behind any sort of strategy, campaign, or messaging.”

Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
Return Path recruited me in January 2016 to be their head of digital marketing and brand. At that time, Return Path was looking not only to rebrand themselves as a business but to revolutionize the digital experience. As someone who loves a challenge, Return Path was a great place for me to work. Following Return Path’s successful rebranding and relaunch of its digital presence, I was promoted to run global marketing efforts for Return Path.

Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
An authentic and meaningful message must be the foundation for any marketing work. This is something I believe a lot of companies take for granted. Data should be the biggest driver behind any sort of strategy, campaign, or messaging. There exists more data now than ever before and it will only continue to increase. It is imperative that leaders in marketing create a digital strategy that stands out and provides significant insights.

What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Genuine storytelling and using data to access the right audience is something that I believe has yet to be mastered. We may have tools like AI or ABM that can point us to new leads or a customer base, however it is still our responsibility as marketers to create that connection by delivering a memorable experience.

What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
Marketing technology is typically not viewed as a holistic ecosystem, even though it should be. I have seen many situations where tools are used which made sense at the time they were chosen. But, when you take a step back, you realize you have created an ecosystem with conflicting ideas and pieces that don’t work together. Everything needs to be holistic in order to avoid any bigger problems later.

One word that best describes how your work.

Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Our email re-engagement campaign is one that I’m especially proud of. We had experienced some issues with our subscriber list because our company switched email service providers. So, we made the decision launch a re-engagement campaign with both our customer and prospect lists, while at the same time launching a new preference center. The campaign utilized lighthearted and fun messaging and designs including animations and a “hello” and “goodbye” song-related playlist.

The campaign ended up being a huge success with open rates as high as 40% and lots of engagement. Through this campaign we cleaned up our mailing lists, gained insights into what kind of content our audience consumes, and were able to opt in our legacy list for more accurate send data. Our work was even featured in some webinars and blogs, and got a lot of love on social media. The creation and results of this campaign made me incredibly proud.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I start my day at 6 am to set the tone, respond to any emails, and organize my day.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
I am not quite sure to be honest. The field of marketing is constantly metamorphizing, so I just try to stay focused and adaptable.

What is the core marketing technology capability of your firm that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer lifecycle?
Our data-driven solutions help email marketers understand their deliverability and take action to reach the subscriber’s inbox. This allows them to connect with more customers to drive awareness and revenue. Additionally, our optimization tools drive email “superpowers,” ultimately improving opens, clicks, conversions, and return on investment. With increased insight into how, where, and when customers are reading email, we help marketers build a winning email strategy.

Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
I can’t give too much away but we are working on a number of exciting launches and we have a very innovative product roadmap that the entire company has rallied around.

What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?
I see all of the above. An explosion like this is going to create competitors, partners, and lots of opportunities. Return Path has been around for 18 years, so we’ve already seen a lot of these explosions and trends. We stand by the strength and quality of our data and our immense knowledge of the email industry—and we believe this will be instrumental going forward. The customer is at the forefront of our strategies, so I feel like we are positioned to remain a leader in the field. But it’s not something we ever take for granted.

Could you share for our readers, an infographic or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?
Website Management Platform—elastic hosting and cloud-based development tools

An open-source content management system
Third party marketing automation platform for email marketing and lead management
Email verification software for lead management
Open-source JavaScript and web frameworks
Robust A/B testing tools
Google Analytics software suite
Salesforce CRM
New advertising tools/ABM approach
Marketing attribution & forecasting technology
And of course, full use of our own Return Path tools—our email program would be lost without them.

Daniel Incandela joined Return Path in January 2015 and currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer. As the head of Return Path’s marketing organization, Daniel’s vision shapes the direction of global marketing efforts, providing leadership and innovative strategy to drive the business forward.

Prior to Return Path, Daniel held marketing and digital leadership roles at Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget), Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In each of these positions, he reinvented the organization’s approach to marketing and established new standards for digital marketing excellence.

Daniel is a frequent speaker at brand and digital marketing events. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, and was included in the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Forty under 40. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from IUPUI.

Return Path analyzes the world’s largest collection of email data to show businesses how to stay connected to their audiences and strengthen their customer engagement. We help mailbox providers around the world deliver great user experiences and build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam doesn’t
For more information please visit our Website

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