If you are a hard-core emailer, you might have been among the 100-plus people who showed up over the weekend in our hometown of Atlanta to attend the DMA's Email Intensive sessions.
The email intensive included several sessions, a few of which I was able to participate in.
I kicked off the sessions with a presentation on Silverpop's recently-completed "2005 Broken Link Study." We looked at more than 300 large company email programs and analyzed exactly how well (or how poorly) the messages were being received and viewed in the inbox.
There were two sessions focused on general education: a "boot camp" for beginners, and a skill-sharpening session for experienced emailers.
A group of industry veterans hosted by Matt Blumberg of ReturnPath discussed the trade-offs between acquisition and retention email programs.
One of the most focused sessions was on the list-building technique called co-registration. I could do an entire series of blogs on this one but suffice to say, experts Matt McFee (OriginData) and Josh Perlstein (ResponseMedia) did a great job presenting and answering questions.
The most-well-attended session was hosted by Stefan Tornquist of MarketingSherpa and David Baker of Agency.com. They had an awesome panel including email experts from Sony Europe, American Airlines and Coca-Cola. I took a ton of notes during this session. Among my favorite take-aways:
David Baker talked about segmenting lists into responders, sporadic responders and non-responders. He recommended this as a first pass in understanding and targeting your customer base.
David also played devil's advocate on whether it is a best practice to ask customers at which frequency they'd like to receive email. I've always held it was best to ask customers directly, but David changed my mind. His simple but compelling question was: Do I actually know how often I'd like to hear from American Airlines? Given I don't know what they want to say, or how compelling their offer may be, I might be better off letting them make the determination. David's main point was to use your data to make a decision on what customers will respond best to. Obviously, there are situations where it does make sense for customers to set the frequency, but David provided an excellent counter example that really got me thinking.
Everyone agreed that inactive customers should be treated differently, but Jim Butler of American Airlines raised the question of what defines inactivity? Is it no responses, no flights, no frequent flier activity (e.g., credit card points)?
Krisztina Pinter of Sony Europe told one of the most compelling stories for testing I've heard. While launching their new Vaio line of laptops, the marketers decided to put all their materials on a black background (matching the product's new design). Fortunately, she tested the day before the launch only to find that HotMail blocked black backgrounds--all their text was white on white. They were able to fix it before the final launch and avoid a huge brand snafu.
I'm excited about the rest of the show, so stay tuned for more ...