Top Takeaways from the MarketingSherpa Email Summit – Day 1

MarketingSherpa Email Summit email marketing conference

The Movable Ink team headed out west to Las Vegas this week to join nearly 1,000 email marketers for the 2014 MarketingSherpa Email Summit. We’ve been surrounded by some of the brightest influencers in the industry—so it’s no surprise that our minds are jam-packed full of fresh, new ideas.

Below is a recap of our thoughts from the first day of sessions. We’ll continue to post updates as the summit goes on, so be sure to check back!

1.    Although the face of email continues to evolve, the core philosophy of marketing remains the same.
Marketing is driven by psychology, centered on the ability to appeal to unique aspects of human motivation. What exactly is it that makes us say “yes” and commit to a buying decision, especially when we’re faced with a number of competing options? In his keynote presentation, Dr. Dan Ariely, professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University and author of the bestseller “Predictably Irrational,” talked about the concept of “choice architecture” and how our environment determines the decisions we make every day.

So how does this relate to email marketing? Think of every email as an environment, and every click as a decision. In order to motivate someone to take that next step—such as clicking on a specific call to action—a marketer must not only make that choice crystal clear by minimizing any conflicting choices or distractions, but also by ensuring that each message is as relevant and valuable to every consumer as possible.

2.    Take the time to take a risk.
Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” How can we expect any significant changes to happen on their own without testing out new—and sometimes seemingly outrageous—ideas?

For example, we heard from Christine Nurnberger, VP of Marketing for SunGard Availability Services, who developed a creative B2B campaign about a potential “zombie apocalypse” to re-awaken executives to learn more about SunGard’s disaster recovery services.

David Sierk, Email Strategist at Dell, took a different approach to showing off a new product’s functionality by using an animated gif that wasn’t only eye-catching, but educational about how the product worked.

Dell animated gif email marketing

The moral here? If you never try, you’ll never know—so don’t be afraid to get creative and step out of your comfort zone in order to get the results you want to see.

3.    Think of “mobile” as a unique behavioral context, not just a device type.
At this point, there’s simply no denying that consumers are favoring mobile devices for email use (our latest data showed 65% of brand emails were opened on smartphones or tablets in Q4 2013). Effective design is a critical component of mobile optimization. Utilizing single-column layouts, mobile-friendly fonts, and large tap-friendly buttons are necessary tactics that marketers should use to maximize mobile email marketing effectiveness. But how else can marketers meet the unique needs of mobile users?

One way to do this is by targeting content for specific devices in real-time at the moment of email open. For example, the call to action on mobile devices can be entirely different than on a desktop. If a subscriber opens your email on an iPhone, promote only your iPhone mobile app and direct the click-through to route straight into your app’s page on the App Store. The same approach can be taken for iPad, Android, and other mobile devices. Less friction and more relevancy = higher conversions and more engaged mobile subscribers.

Stay tuned—we’ll be sharing a few more of our favorite takeaways after day two!