The MarketingSherpa Email Summit: Email as a learning tool


In her opening remarks at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit in Chicago Anne Holland put up a few slides to show how email marketing continues to be a force online, in spite of the much publicized problems of deliverability and spam.

Dr. Flint McGlaughlin and I spoke on the opening panel yesterday and, as I listened to the questions from the attendees, it struck me just how much there is still to learn about email marketing.

There were hundreds of people there, all of whom had come to learn from the many case histories being shared by the speakers.

In fact, that was perhaps the most powerful aspect of the conference: every speaker shared data on various aspects of their email marketing campaigns and practices. Instead of listening to opinions, the attendees were able to see what companies were actually doing, and the results they had achieved.

For me, what struck me most was how email marketing allows us to learn. By tracking click-throughs from your emails and newsletters, segmenting your lists and tracking again…you can learn an enormous amount about what your subscribers are really interested in.

The learning opportunity is different from what you can achieve through your web site. Your subscribers are a very particular segment of your audience. They have expressed a higher level of interest in what you offer by signing up in the first place.

Also, with your emails and newsletters, you have a very controlled environment in which you can decide which messages to deliver and which links to include.

This allows you not only to promote your products or services in a very direct and personal way, but also gives you a very fine-tuned opportunity to learn more about how your subscribers behave, and what they really want.

The second thought that came to mind was a suspicion that very few companies and organizations use email marketing as a learning opportunity in the way I have described.

Too often emails and newsletters are used simply as blunt instruments to promote products and services.

If I learned anything yesterday, it was an appreciation of how valuable one’s email lists are, and how much we can learn from the actions of our subscribers.

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