RPE Origin Managing Partner Ryan Phelan has been named Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year by the Association of National Advertising’s Email Excellence Center.

“Ryan has been a key leader, and a top contributor in the space since we launched the ANA’s Email Excellence Center,” Bill Zengel, SVP ANA Email Excellence, said. “I’m delighted to see him get this well-deserved recognition from his peers – the members of the ANA.”  

“I’m incredibly humbled by this honor,” Phelan said of the award, presented on Feb. 8 at the Email Evolution Conference in Washington, D.C. “I stand on the shoulders of our previous winners, who are brilliant people who have led our industry for 25 years or more, and learned so much from them.”

“The email industry has always been incredibly welcoming for thought leadership,” Phelan continued. “You don’t need to pass a test or get certified or accredited to find a forum where you can express an opinion or engage in respectful discussion. 

“Our industry supports people who are smart, kind and humble, who share what they have learned in order to help all marketers succeed. This has been my guiding principle for all the work I have done, and I am honored to claim a place among those who educate and advocate for our industry. 

“Receiving this award from the Email Excellence Center is doubly gratifying because it comes from people I have known, worked with and admired for years, since the EEC was first founded in 2007 as the Email Experience Council,” Phelan said. 

“Being a thought leader is not something you can claim for yourself. Your community appoints you a thought leader for your ability, your credibility and depth of knowledge, and your willingness to share and give back to help marketers the way you were helped.”

A digital marketing veteran of 20+ years, Phelan has developed email strategy and tactics for retail mass-merchant brands and established account-based marketing programs for technology vendors. He worked with data providers Acxiom and infoUSA (now DataAxle) and consulted with many other B2C and B2B brands on business-building strategy and campaign execution. 

His experiences as a marketer who was largely self-taught in email skills inspired his desire to reach out and mentor others who also were learning email marketing on the job. 

A longtime member and past chair of the EEC’s Advisory Board, Phelan also is a contributing member of other industry-focused community groups and mentors entrepreneurs and mid-career marketers.

“I’m so honored to be in that class of people who keep working to help our industry as a whole become smarter and more effective,” Phelan said. “At our best, we help each other succeed – which benefits our companies and makes us more valuable employees – and we raise the standards for everything email touches. In other words, we all win when we all do better.”