I'm just back from the semi-annual eMarketing Association conference in San Francisco. The eMA conference is one of my favorite events, and I've had the privilege of being a keynote speaker over the last few years.
The conference is unusual in many ways. It is much smaller than a traditional trade show, and it is highly focused on speakers and presentations. The attendees are fairly diverse, but most are pretty sophisticated. The topics and conversations cover all aspects of online marketing from email (woohoo!) to CPC search ads. The small size allows the speakers to really interact with the community, and the best learning takes place outside the presentations.
The hot topic this year was cost-per-click and cost-per-action search and banner ads. Del Ross from Intercontinental Hotels offered his theory that the market for this particular advertising vehicle is currently inefficient and benefits the buyer/advertiser. (Conversely, he pointed out, cost-per-message, or CPM, is overpriced.) Very surprising, however, was audience members' feedback when asked about their most successful advertising and brand-building mechanisms. No one mentioned CPC, despite the hot discussions around it. Many mentioned ad banners. The big news is that EVERYONE who was asked said that newsletters were one of their best advertising and lead-generation tools.
So, there you have it. Among the most cutting-edge marketers across all kinds of companies and industries, the good old email newsletter still ranks #1. Long live email.