Top takeaways from the 2008 Email Summit

Here’s what the top marketing and research directors at MECLabs came up with on Tuesday afternoon, after three intense days of slicing, dissecting, analyzing, and optimizing email and landing pages at the MarketingSherpa eMail Summit in Miami. (Oh yeah, and after a power outage that made national and international headlines!)

#1: Marketers have to be more than marketers. According to Jeanne Hopkins, Chief Marketing Officer for MECLabs Group, CMOs need to understand more than just marketing. They need to understand the business as a whole, including the company’s finances and its technical capabilities and limitations. This means making allies of the CFO and the CIO, understanding their problems and concerns, and making sure they understand marketings’. Most importantly, marketers need to get across to the CEO in easily understood and quickly digestible terms, graphs, and pictures just how and how much marketing is contributing to the bottom line and the success of the business overall.

#2: Is 2008 the year that email marketers get religion on landing pages? Email experts and marketers are starting to “get” that email is not created, sent, and responded to in a vacuum. As MarketingExperiments subscribers know, Continuity and Congruence play a huge role. Emailers better understand how important it is to avoid site flow disruption: ensuring Value Proposition and its communication—from the product, to the offer, to the Landing Page, to the conversion—each step the visitor takes to get from one to the next—is not interrupted, doesn’t cause unnecessary Friction, and doesn’t make the customer so anxious they fly instead of click to buy (or sign-up, or donate).

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#3: It’s all about the message. Stefan Tornquist, Director of Research at MarketingSherpa, reminded the final session’s audience that the click-to-open ratio in email testing is a key metric when it comes to the quality of your content and the subjects your readers like best.

#4: Marketing + IT = Happy faces. See number 1. Marketing and IT must be able to communicate. IT must enable marketing. If IT doesn’t (or won’t) support and facilitate what marketers need, and more importantly, what prospects and customers need when they open an email, click, and get to a Landing Page, then marketing will fail to deliver all it can and remain adequate instead of excellent (right Flint?) and so will the business. Having been a CIO intent on changing the culture from within, here’s a nice synopsis of my perspective:

” IT is not an end in itself. It has no purpose and no value beyond supporting and enabling the business, thus there is a strong argument that ultimate responsibility for IT strategy setting and implementation should rest with the business leadership.”

IT Alignment: Who Is in Charge? The Information Technology Governance Institute, 2005

#5: Email isn’t dead. Email still delivers stunning ROI when done properly. Hence the need for professional training, sharing of what works and what doesn’t, and a community of marketers that wants their communication with customers to be timely, welcome, relevant, and above all, useful. After all, that’s what customers want.

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