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Impressions from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013

Not long ago I attended the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Las Vegas. Overall it was a good conference with lots of good tactical content for attendees to take back with them and implement in their own programs. Some of the content served as great reminders that making some minor adjustments, and what may seem as obvious changes, can make big performance improvements driving real results.

One aspect that stood out to me was that from email marketer's perspective it is critical to make sure you not only develop great content for your subscribers, but also what happens post click from the campaign you worked so hard to develop.

Here are a few more takeaways:

The biggest eye-opener for me was that over half of respondents to MarketingSherpa's Email Benchmark 2013 Report haven't analyzed their emails for mobile and tablets. With so many articles and discussions occurring around responsive design and mobile usage, this stat seemed much higher than I would have expected. It goes to show that we must continue to educate on the importance of improving experiences for customers accessing our emails on mobile devices and optimizing what that experience is like post-click.

One other eye-opener was that 82% believe their list is growing slowly or not all. This shows the importance of not only continuing list growth efforts, but also ensuring our contact strategies are aligned to be customer focused in order to reduce list fatigue and churn. By continuing to send everyone the same message, we are only setting ourselves up for failure in the future as customers are increasingly tuning out mass marketing.

It was an honor to present the award for Best in Show to the folks at NFL.com. It was exciting to hear how the NFL.com program moved to a customer first approach last year. They used dynamic content based on what the customer wants in order to "build" the email (stats, articles, video, etc) and as a result they saw 121% increase in opens and 26% increase in click-throughs.

This customer first approach made sure that fans weren't getting content related to a team rival or  stale content. My only gripe was the session was too short! I wished there was more time to hear them talk about how they handle the off season as well. With such a long period of time where customers won't be as engaged (or content is minimal), it would be great to hear how they handle communications to their fans and keep them engaged (opening / clicking) and ready for the kick off to the next season.

I also led a speed-roundtable (think speed dating but with 10 people at one time) during one of the breakouts. My topic was on the usage of social data to improve relevance in email programs and moving beyond the 'like.'  Description:

Until now, marketers have used social channels almost exclusively for branding, awareness and acquisition marketing. What's next is aggregating and making actionable all that rich Social Graph data and enabling it to exist seamlessly alongside CRM, profile, behavioral, web analytics and other data sources to drive relationship marketing programs.

It was great to hear how some companies are either already using this data or already researching how they can leverage this data for their marketing efforts. Being at an email focused conference and a relatively new concept, I was a little nervous that the content might not resonate but each session was a sell out and the feedback was positive. Thank you to all those who attended the roundtable!

As marketers move away from a channel specific approach to a more customer-centric approach, it will be interesting to see how conferences centered around a particular communication channel evolve. Very exciting times to be involved in digital marketing!

Thank you MarketingSherpa and see you all next year!

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