New Year, New CEO: Ryan Phelan Takes Over At RPE Origin

Ryan Phelan starts his new role as CEO of RPE Origin, a digital agency assisting enterprise companies with email strategy and services, with plenty to consider.  

First, there is the disappearance of cookies.  

“Cookies were always going to have their deprecation moment,” he says. “Since the early privacy laws, it was on the roadmap. It’s just come time for the band aid to be ripped off.” 

That said, dependence on third-party cookies has “taken us away from the primacy of the email address as a primary identifier. Attribution has been confusing for years, but the email address, carried through from acquisition to conversion, attaches the attribution that marketers need.”  



Phelan concedes that “third party cookies were easy and making that same attribution link through first party were harder, but possible.”

In his new role, Phelan succeeds John Caldwell, who founded Red Pill Email in 2004 and joined forces with Phelan and his agency, Origin Email, to create RPE Origin in 2020. This change formalizes the process put in place at that time.  

Caldwell plans to devote more time to Alan’s Artisan Soap Co., a business he founded with his son Alan, to sell small-batch soaps using natural ingredients. 

In addition to Phelan, the management team at RPE Origin now includes Jeremy Grecco, chief technology officer; Kelly Stephens, vice president of client services; Evan Diaz, chief creative officer; Lisa Buljan, vice president of customer success, and over 27 other employees and partners. 

Phelan has been in the email marketing field for 25 years. He has worked at Acxiom, Responsys, Sears & Kmart, BlueHornet and infoUSA. Most recently, he ran marketing for Adestra’s U.S. business.

What else does he see changing in the field? Generative AI and expansion beyond a language model.  

“Already, ESP’s are developing ways to expand into the connection they have with their proximity to the customers data. I see 2024 as the year that AI gets easier to comprehend AND implement.”


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