Top Takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit – Day 2

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 Las VegasLast week, we shared a few of our top takeaways from day 1 of the MarketingSherpa Email Summit. After spending another day with email marketing’s brightest minds, we left the summit feeling energized and ready to take new ideas and put them into action. So that you can do the same, below is a recap of a few more of our biggest takeaways from the event:

1. Test, learn, adapt, repeat.
To discover what factors make someone say “yes” and convert—whether that conversion action is opening an email, a click-through, or making a purchase—marketers must “always be testing” along every stage of the sales funnel. With each campaign we launch, we’re faced with two options: go with our gut instinct and do what we think will appeal best to our audience, or conduct tests so that we can let our customers tell us what actually interests them.

During a few presentations, the audience was asked to guess “which test won” and vote for which image, call to action, subject line, etc. would outperform another. Sometimes we guessed correctly, and sometimes we learned that our hypothesis, for whatever reason, turned out to be incorrect.

The only way to know for sure whether a hunch is right or wrong is to test. Every test is a learning opportunity to fill a particular knowledge gap you have about your customers. A/B testing doesn’t have to be time-consuming. With real-time creative optimization, marketers can test and optimize emails on the fly. Check out this case study to see how The Taunton Press was able to double click-through rates using real-time creative optimization.

2. Be relevant. Deliver the right message, at the right time.
The end-goal of testing is to optimize your message so that it is as relevant as possible to your customers’ interests and current context. The idea of “saying the right thing, at the right time, in the right way” was stressed more than once throughout the conference, and for good reason. For email to stand out in today’s fiercely competitive inbox, it must genuinely resonate with customers by being timely, personalized, and relevant.

Lilly Pulitzer email college campus recruiting program

Lilly Pulitzer used live tweets to show social proof. (Click to enlarge)

Let’s face it…everyone likes to feel special. Deep down, your customers might know that email you just sent went out to thousands, maybe millions, of others. But that does not mean they want to be treated like the rest. By delivering content that is relevant in real-time to each customer’s current context—such as the time of day, day of week, location, device, even the weather outside—your message can quickly transform from a one-to-many mass communication into a one-to-one conversation.

3. Psych 101: The science of persuasion.
During the first day of the summit, Dr. Dan Ariely covered a few ways that marketing is driven by basic human psychology and motivation, exploring the topic of what gets someone to commit to a buying decision (
read more in the day 1 recap post here). The second day of the summit continued with more practical lessons in consumer psychology, this time from Dr. Noah J. Goldstein, author of the bestseller “Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.” 

Dr. Goldstein first discussed the principle of “social proof”—when people are unsure about how to behave, they turn toward others’ behavior to set a standard. One way email marketers can tap into this principle is by including real-time social media feeds to show engagement with a contest or cause, like Lilly Pulitzer did in the email seen here to promote participation in a college campus recruiting program.

Dr. Goldstein also covered the important role of scarcity in driving behavior—the less available a resource is, the more people want it. Email marketers can play on this principle by using a countdown clock to show how much time is left to take advantage of a special offer, or show a live count of how many products are left in stock.

That’s a wrap on the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014! You can catch the Movable Ink team next at eTail West in San Antonio, Texas on March 3 – 6. If you’re headed to eTail West and are interested in chatting with someone from our team, reach out to us at to set-up a meeting. We hope to see you there!