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  • February 15, 2008

Takeaways from the Email Evolution Conference 2008

Monday through Wednesday of this week, the Email Experience Council held its first annual Email Evolution Conference. The event exceeded our wildest expectations, drawing over 500 attendees—so many that the fire marshals were circling. Thanks to all that attended, including our fantastic lineup of more than 100 speakers. Here are just a few of the great insights and learnings from the event:

Viral Marketing:
>>We identify email forwarders and treat them differently, rewarding them, said Lawrence DiCapua, Pepsi’s senior marketing manager. They reward them by promoting them to a VIP program within their Pepsi Extras loyalty program, along with others who show acts of evangelism. People have to requalify for VIP with each campaign—except for bloggers, some of whom are permanently VIPed.
>>Pete Sheinbaum, CEO of DailyCandy, said their forward rate was as high as 14%, but generally in the 5% to 10% range. They use send-to-a-friend links, but it’s really the content that drives the forwards, he said.

Subscription Practices:
>>Hot Topic had used a sign-up process that asked for 20 pieces of information, said Travis Falstad, their internet marketing manager. Consequently, their list size was shrinking. They redesigned their process so that they now ask for only three pieces of information: email address, confirmation of email address and birth date. Next steps for Hot Topic include adding a preference center so subscribers can say how often they’d like to receive emails, what topics they’re most interested in, etc. In the next couple of months, they’ll also change their welcome emails so that they try to convert subscribers into their loyalty program.
>>We have gotten lots of registrations through sign-up incentives, but not a lot of quality registrations, said Brian Ellefritz of Cisco Systems.

Behavior Targeting:
>>Falstad of Hot Topic said that they use behavioral targeting more than expressed preferences currently. “For instance, if we send out a World of Warcraft email and 30,000 people open it then we flag those people as being interested in World of Warcraft.”

Whitelisting:
>>Ellefritz of Cisco said that their admin center at the bottom of their emails have four sections: Profile & Subscription, Approve Sender, Unsubscribe, and Privacy Statement. The “Approve Sender” link takes you to information on who to whitelist Cisco in different email clients, how to turn on images, etc.

Video:
>>Carmen Curran of Mintel, which recently did a consumer survey about video content, said that there are three main types of videos: new product demos, instructional and commercials. New product demos are the most popular of the three with consumers overall, with older customers being more respective to them than younger customers. Younger customers were more respective to commercial videos than older customers, who were much more likely to find them annoying. The ideal length for videos highlighted in emails is 30 to 45 seconds.

Personalized Images:
>>Priscilla Lawrence of Scene7 said that customers have a significant response to personalized images, particularly those personalized with their name. For instance, Williams-Sonoma tested personalized images and saw conversions increase 50%. Golfsmith saw revenue jump 167% when they used it. For retailers like Lillian Vernon that sell a significant amount of monogrammed and personalized goods, this technology might be very effective in select cases.

List Size:
>>ExactTarget has found that the size of the list is a determiner of list effectiveness: the larger the list, the less effective it is.
>>When asked how they defined email success, only 2% of attendees of the Email Evolution Conference said “list size.” 47% said they defined success by “conversion dollars”; 42% by “response rate”; and 9% by “delivery rate.”

Digital Marketing Mix:
>>One way to exploit the synergies between search and email is to use popular search terms in your subject lines to boost open rates, said Andy Goldman of OgilvyOne worldwide.

Authentication:
>>Craig Spiezle, chairman of the Authentication & Online Trust Alliance and director of online safety and security at Microsoft, said that Hotmail was seeing problems with florist spoofing with Valentine’s Day approaching. He said that major brands can see up to 80% of “their” email spoofed. For instance, 10.4% of email appearing to come from Amazon is spoofed. Spiezle urged marketers to authenticate both their email domains and their corporate domains, since phishers largely spoof corporate domains.

Acquisition Email:
>>The email channel is used so aggressively by disreputable marketers that we haven’t figured out how to use it for acquisition, said Jim Champlin of Allstate.

Product Reviews:
>>80% of buyers say that product reviews are very helpful when making buying decisions, according to David Daniels of JupiterResearch.
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