Designing an Email Marketing Conference
Last week, I spent three wonderful days (four, really) on Captiva Island in Florida for the Email Insider Summit. Overall, I thought the event was great—especially for networking purposes. The sessions themselves were like any other conference: some solid, and some not-so-solid. Content overall was pretty good.
The Insider Summit, in particular, is more intimate given that there were about 130 people in total for the conference, and many of them are higher-ups and thought leaders in the space. (I would highly recommend the conference for those who want to meet the industry voices you read on a weekly basis.)
But it got me thinking about what a conference would look like if I were asked to design the agenda…
Theme: Email Marketing from Beginning to Unsubscribe
I found it interesting that at the Insider Summit, the topic of acquisition was the very last panel, and pretty much the most ignored. It’s interesting because according to Day 1 Keynote Bruce Biegel, acquisition remains about 60 to 70 percent of the marketing business, with retention making up the last 30 to 40 percent. I have many theories as to why this topic is ignored, but I won’t get into those.
Anyway, in my thoughts around designing an email marketing conference, I thought it would be cool to have the agenda centered on a theme—the theme being a chronological view of the email marketing lifecycle, from opt-in to opt-out. So here’s what I’m thinking:
Day 1: Acquiring and Engaging New Leads
The first day of my conference would focus on getting new leads and opening up the dialogue via email. Sessions would include:
- List rental done right: I’m not a huge proponent of list rental, but it’s better than list purchasing. Plus, to have a debate on how to do list rental could be engaging and keep people involved. We all have opinions on the subject.
- Getting email signups outside of email: This session would focus on different places you can get email signups—whether it’s your website, direct mail, point-of-purchase in stores, etc.
- Leveraging social media for email signups: This session would be a more specific spin-off of the above session, talking about the marriage between email and social media, and how social can be used to drive acquisition.
- Welcome emails done right. Whether it’s a simple transactional type email, or a series laid out over several days, we can all agree that some semblance of a welcome email is needed.
Day 2: Engagement Through the Lifecycle
The second day would focus using email throughout the customer lifecycle. In my view, sessions would include:
- Lead scoring: This may speak more to the Day 1 sessions, but a debate around lead scoring and using it as a basis for segmentation could be intriguing. Who’s using scoring? Who isn’t? Is it for everyone?
- Identifying triggers in your lifecycle: We’ve all heard about trigger-based email. But what are those triggers? Should you assign a series of messages to each of these triggers? A good debate could be had here.
- Creative review: Where should you place calls to action? How can you ask for a sale? When’s a good time to go with relationship building rather than selling (and yes, there is a difference)? A discussion on messaging and creative would be great at this point.
- Post-sale and retention: How should you approach post-sale dialogue? How are you handling the transactions? How can you keep customers satisfied and engaged?
Day 3: Customer Renewal and Control
The third and final day of a conference (and let’s face it, three days is more than enough—too exhausting after that) would focus on the end of the lifecycle. In my mind, sessions would include:
- Preference centers: To some, the preference center is about sending the right information to the people who want it, and giving customers the controls. To others, the preference center gives the customer too much control, and they don’t like it. Some best practices around preference centers and a debate would be awesome here.
- Win-back/reactivation campaigns: How to “win back” old customers or reactivate subscribers to your newsletter/offers. A discussion on incentives, creative, etc.
- List hygiene: At the end of the day, in email marketing you’re only as good as your list. A session with tips and debate around keeping your list clean will make for good discussion.
- Unsubscribe and CAN-SPAM refresher: We all have a general idea about CAN-SPAM compliance, but good email marketers agree that CAN-SPAM is not enough. Let’s debate unsubscribe policies and best practices and refresh everyone on CAN-SPAM.
So there you have it. That’s my idea for a conference. What do you think of the theme idea?
Takeaway: Designing an email marketing conference themed on the entire life cycle (from opt-in to opt-out) would give both new and veteran marketers a wider view and much better perspective.