March 10, 2015

5 Big Takeaways from MarketingSherpa Email Summit

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South Las Vegas Boulevard, the main strip in Las Vegas, is crawling with “street marketers” vying for your attention. Do you want a ticket to the best seat in the house for tonight’s broadway-performing show? What about a seat at the top chef’s new restaurant at the casino hotel down the street? Flyers, ads, and paid workers are relentlessly trying to grab your attention to get you to commit to their offer. In many ways, Las Vegas street marketing is just like email marketing. In the clutter of “email noise” we try to figure out the best strategy to grab an audience’s attention, gain their trust, and ultimately get them to commit to whatever we’re offering.

“Vegas street marketing is just like email marketing”

I recently had the privilege of attending MarketingSherpa’s four day Email Summit in Las Vegas where we focused on just this. I listened to renowned speakers such as Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner, and Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. I participated in roundtable discussions on re-engaging inactive subscribers, and took advantage of coaching clinics with top email-experts on the topics of deliverability and real-time personalization. While it would take hours to fully lay out the new tools and knowledge I gained from Email Summit, I’ll sum it up with five key takeaways.

1. People want to buy from people, not from companies

It’s true. No one ever wakes up and says, “I can’t wait to check 100 unread emails about why Company A is better than Company B.” Your email subscribers want real interactions and real conversation with someone who knows exactly what they’re looking for. As Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of the MECLAB Institute iterated in the first workshop day, “We must conceptualize an email as a part of a sequenced conversation containing a series of micro-yes leading to an ultimate macro-yes. Not only in email but in all areas of marketing – speak in your customer’s terms not your company’s. People don’t want to buy from companies, people want to buy from people.”

2. Test, test, test…and then test some more

Testing is one of the most important steps in improving your email campaigns, but is often overlooked or underestimated. Many of us put testing on the back burner when in reality we need to test regularly in order to gain insight into what our customers care about. “Testing is key. Sometimes testing falls to the bottom of our priorities,” said Diana Primeau, Director of Member Services at CNET during a breakout session, “and what works for one brand might not work for another.” Develop a hypothesis and then test it. Every single test should provide insight about the customer.

3. The goal of an email is to get a CLICK

“The goal of an email is to what? Get a click!” I think this will forever be engrained into my brain from Dr. Flint McGlaughlin’s sessions. It’s incredibly easy to confuse the goal of an email with the goal of the landing page. We over complicate our email copy and design and think our reader must convert immediately from the email when really our main goal is to “get a click.” Your call-to-action should clearly communicate what you want your reader to do. Jose Palomino, CEO of Value Prop Interactive said it clearly in an afternoon session, “If your value proposition looks like it’ll be hard to do, your prospect is going to hesitate to move forward with you.” Make your offer enticing. Make it what someone wants to do. Once you get your reader to click through, then it’s the landing page’s job to convince them to fill out the form and convert.

4. Mobility is (still) the new name of the game

Mobile viewing is only going to continue to grow. During a coaching clinic with Michael Kelly, Co-founder of ClickMail, I spoke with him about the fact that almost 50 percent of audiences prefer to read emails on a mobile device. Make sure that your emails and landing pages are mobile friendly. Have thumb-size buttons and legible fonts. Use a service like Litmus or Email on Acid to test your email’s compatibility with mobile devices. Not only will it provide a better reader experience, it can also boost deliverability to your entire subscriber list.

5. Use your expert network and industry peers

I met and heard from a number of email experts on subjects such as deliverability, real-time personalization, and content writing and design. All offered up simple practices that can boost these metrics. Not only were the experts helpful, but they were also fellow email-geeks who shared similar challenges and obstacles in trying to provide our customers with what they’re really looking for. Make sure to use your own network of email-gurus to bounce ideas off of, and find best practices that can be incorporated into your own strategy.


This is just a glimpse into the many lessons I learned from MarketingSherpa Email Summit.

To learn more about Email Summit, visit their website here. If you also attended Email Summit, what key takeaways did you learn to bring back to your company? Share your experience in the comments!

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