5 Things I Learned At The Email Design Conference – #LitmusLive Recap!

I spent this past week at my favourite work event of the year, The Email Design Conference (formerly #TEDC16, but Ted Cruz hijacked that hashtag, now #LitmusLive). For the last three years, it’s time for me to spend 2 full days with other email nerds, while learning from email nerds. I always come back home inspired to do email nerd things for retailers and brands. 

Litmus Live Boston was split into two tracks – Marketing and Development. I had focused on the Marketing sessions and there were so many amazing speakers (yours truly included) that it was difficult to not be overwhelmed with the amount of information coming our way. From rap music making effective (and legal) opt-in campaigns to the very strong theory that if you like cats, you’ll likely be an email marketer.
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Below are my top 5 takeaways from Litmus Live 2016.

1. Transactional emails are just as important as your regular campaigns

by Andrea Mignolo, Movable Ink

When companies put the customer first, they map out the entire customer journey and make each and every touch point touch point an extension of the brand experience. Often times, transactional emails are rushed, forgotten and a big mess.

Take the time to review all transactional emails and ensure they’re providing the best experience for your customers. Too often, we see order confirmation emails that use default eCommerce templates, that are stale and not personable, that look nothing like the marketing emails your customers have grown accustomed to. No detail should be forgotten, even injecting some personality into something as simple as the Preheader can go a long way.

Parachute does a great job of on-boarding right down to keeping their Preheaders top of mind:
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Even their password reminder email is on brand:
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Email strategy shouldn’t apply to just email marketing, it should apply to everything.

2. Email Marketing is a Privilege, Not a Right

by Vicky Ge, Amazon

Can you imagine if the CEO of your company wanted you to stop sending emails after one customer complaint? It happened at Amazon after a product recommendation email went out that may have suggested some products without having any discretion for  the customer at the end. This customer was embarrassed with the recommendations for a product purchased ]that was meant to be something private.

Email is a right, not a privilege. Do right by the customer by thinking of them first, then working back when planning out campaigns, especially automated ones.

Email marketing is a lot like knocking on someone’s door. Sometimes you knock and they invite you in, sometimes you knock and they won’t answer the door. And sometimes you knock and they put out a restraining order on you. Look at Instagram’s promoted posts as an example, a post will appear in your feed. You may not engage with it and if you don’t, you won’t see that post again. If you do engage with it, you’ll get more that’s tailored to your tastes. Think of your marketing campaigns as such. If people aren’t engaging, don’t keep trying to force that message on them, pick up on the signals they’re sending to you and do something with it.

So you’re probably thinking, I have a monthly report I create with opens and clicks and revenue and conversions, isn’t that enough? Sure, if you don’t want to do right by the customer. Those reports are great for you – the company. If you really want to take subscribers’ signals and do something with them, consider revising that monthly report to include new segments, rather than your database as a whole. What does that mean, right?

If you’re sending an email to your entire database, consider splitting them up into groups such as high value, browsers and sale purchasers. You’ll sooner be able to identify trends from the signals subscribers are sending to you. For example, you may learn that browsers may not be interested in your newsletter. So reserve the newsletter for your fans and brand ambassadors.

3. If You Segment, You Probably Won’t Get Blacklisted

by Ivana Simovic, Demac Media

Sure, maybe it’s in poor taste to include my talk as a takeaway but gosh darn it, it’s a good one and this is my post and I’ll do what I want.

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I had covered the secret shame of getting blacklisted and how to recover from it and prevent it from happening again. In one example, I had discussed the importance of segmentation, especially during highly promotional, fairly aggressive communication periods – like the holidays. If you’re sending out a campaign multiple times a day, be sure to segment, not everyone wants to hear from you 3 times in a day, few people do!

Segmentation isn’t as overwhelming as it seems. In my experience, I’ve found there are 3 steps to get buy in from a team on segmentation.

  • START SMALL – do something that barely changes the process. For example, split up your list by time zone, so if you are going to batch and blast, you’re at least sending to subscribers at an appropriate time.
  • GO BIGGER – use the data you currently have to help build segments. For example, if you collect gender information at opt-in – USE THAT. If you don’t, you can set up segments based on gender-specifics links subscribers have clicked in the past.
  • BE SMARTER – start being a mind reader. For example, build out models based on recency, frequency and monetary value.

Take the time to exclude anyone who has purchased from your previous campaign, find people in your database who are likely to respond to a sale email, I guarantee you it’s not everyone.

I covered A LOT of information in my session, so feel free to download my deck below and reach out to me if you have any questions.

The Email Design Conference – Litmus Live 2016 Presentation by Ivana Simovic from Demac Media

4. Focusing on Improving One Specific Metric Probably isn’t Doing You Any Good.

by Amanda Soehnlen, CareDash

Have you ever been asked to increase a specific metric and done it? And then looked at the results  and wondered… was this actually a win? I’m sure we all have. In Amanda’s talk, she covered the pitfalls of focusing on one specific metric and how to properly define success. For example, if you’re looking to increase open rates, a successful campaign will look like this:

  • Opens, clicks and conversions increase AND unsubscribes and spam complaints decrease
  • However what we commonly see when we’re increasing open rates is this “success”:
  • Opens, unsubscribes and spam complaints increase AND clicks and conversions decrease or remain the same.

What the “success” tells us is that your subscribers think they like what they’re going to see, but they don’t. Let’s break this down a bit more for you. You receive an email campaign and the subject line reads “Jeans! 50% off!”. Great, you open that up, but now the email says, “Jeans! 50% off! Select styles.” Well, that sucks. However, I click through to the landing page and then I’m hit with, “Jeans! 50% off! Select styles. Restrictions apply, must spend $100 or more.” – NOPE.

Manage expectations and you’ll see wins.

5. Do less, but be smarter.

by Holly Wright, Phoenix Direct

If you’re not setting up automated campaigns, you’re doing email wrong. In Holly’s talk, she covered how automated flows make up only 6.1% of emails sent but account for 44.7% of all email revenue. So why are we killing ourselves with 2-3 weekly marketing campaigns? You could literally come up with an automated campaign on anything. Seriously, I think there were a list of 50 different types of flows in Holly’s deck alone – Welcome, bounceback, cart recovery, birthday, VIP, retargeting. The list goes on and on.

Take the time to map out each and every possible customer journey, create an hierarchy of all your flows and be smart with your exclusions, ensure that new subscribers have completed their welcome flow before you include them in any regular marketing campaigns or additional automated programs. If you do this right, you can see huge returns (Holly said her automated programs return $4.00 in revenue per email sent vs $0.33 in revenue per bulk email sent).