Welcome to October, the spookiest month of the year! If you are in the market to buy a new house to decorate with spider webs and skeletons, then you’ve definitely heard of Redfin, a technology-powered real estate company representing home-buyers and home-sellers in over 90 markets throughout the United States and Canada.
Since its launch in 2006 through 2018, Redfin has helped customers buy or sell more than 170,000 homes worth more than $85 billion.
For our October Customer Spotlight, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Katie Gillespie, Product Manager at Redfin.
October Customer Spotlight: Katie Gillespie
Katie Gillespie started in Marketing, first as an email marketer and then working on technical integrations with marketing software, including Iterable.
After that, she transitioned to experimentation and user segmentation software at Redfin and now works at the intersection of Product and Marketing.
In this spotlight, Katie shares how she transitioned from a role in Marketing to Product, what she loves about Iterable, the marketing campaign she’s most proud of, and more!
- Name: Katie Gillespie
- Company: Redfin
- Title: Product Manager
- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Hometown: Portland, Oregon
When and how did you get your start in marketing?
I started in Marketing right out of college. I ended up in my role, and at Redfin, mostly by chance—I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated, but wanted it to be both analytical and also business- and people-oriented.
I ended up talking with someone at Redfin about the company, and she suggested I apply for an open role as an email marketer in the Analytical Marketing department.
The team seemed like exactly the right fit for me. They were data-driven and technical, and involved in business decisions every day.
I wasn’t sure if marketing was what I wanted to do long-term, but Redfin has a great culture of career growth: it’s small enough that there are always projects on other teams which people are excited to have help on, even if it’s outside your immediate role, and it’s also large enough that there’s abundant mentorship and structure.
I loved the chance to try something new, and also explore what I wanted to do going forward.
Can you tell us a little about your career growth at Redfin? What has the transition from Marketing to Product been like for you?
The role I started in was a fairly straightforward entry-level email marketing role, building out new email campaigns.
Our email marketing software before Iterable required us to write SQL queries to select audiences and custom data for each email, so SQL-writing took up most of my day—and I quickly realized that was my favorite part of my job.
I started working with the Data Engineering team to ingest new data points into our software, then leveraging that to make new email campaigns that highlighted a lot of personal, local data we didn’t have access to before.
When we decided to switch to Iterable, I took on designing our data structures for Iterable’s platform and writing the SQL to transform our SQL database into Iterable’s NoSQL format.
At the same time as our integration, I started working with a partner on the Product team to define our strategy for a new internal software that let us run certain kinds of experiments on our website.
The project required a lot of the same kinds of thinking as the Iterable integration: figuring out how to adapt data and infrastructure we have already to a new use case, and building it in such a way that it would scale as our business’s strategy changed in unpredictable ways over time. I eventually made the switch to the Product team to lead the team building this software.
I’ve really enjoyed being on the Product team—I love getting to design software and work closely with the engineers building it. My current role involves a lot of projects closely related to Marketing, too, which means I can use what I learned from my time on Marketing and my relationships with the people on that team to build a tight collaboration between us.
What do you like most about using Iterable?
My favorite part of Iterable is the amount of flexibility it offers in its data structures. We have a lot of data—on our users’ characteristics and behaviors, on each unique home for sale on our site, on trends in the real estate market, and more.
Iterable offers so many different ways of structuring that data—such as their User Profile, Events, and Catalog, among others—as well as a robust set of APIs and other ways to get data in and out of the system, which allows us to find the right data structure for each different kind of data we wanted to ingest.
That flexibility means we’ve been able to create a data structure that is easy and intuitive for marketers to use without needing to sacrifice any power or complexity.
What campaign are you most proud of, and why?
My favorite campaign that I worked on was our Demand Pulse email. We send an email once per month to our users which updates them on current housing market statistics in their area, including changes in median home listing price, the number of homes for sale, and how long those homes have been on the market.
We had this data in our internal databases already, but when I started, the only way to include it in emails was for marketers to query our databases directly, clean the data in Excel, and upload it manually to our old email software each month.
I worked on automating this data, which allowed us to scale the campaign and provide Redfin users with the rich, personalized data they want to see. The campaign is now one of the biggest campaigns we send regularly.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
We often get asked, “Where do you want to be in five years?” but that can be very abstract and hard to answer.
The best career advice I’ve gotten is to instead frame it as, “Suppose you look back in five years: what would you need to have accomplished between now and then to consider that time a success?”
I find that helps make the question concrete and allows you to reflect on what really matters.
What is your most prized possession?
The possession that makes me happiest is probably the zero-degree sleeping bag my dad gave me for Christmas when I’d just started getting into backpacking. It’s kept me warm for many years now, and was there for many of my favorite memories camping.
The possession I’m most protective of, though…we just bought a brand new couch for the first time. Who knew those were so expensive?! I’m still nervous to eat or drink anything within several feet of it.
Learn More in Our Community
Want to learn why Redfin won Iterable’s 2019 award for Growth Marketing Team of the Year?
Ask Katie Gillespie in the Iterable Community where Iterable customers gain exclusive access to our thought leaders, request new features and learn the latest trends and tactics in growth marketing.