I’m live at the Internet Summit in Raleigh today and just joined in on my favorite topic: e-mail marketing!

The session is just getting started and we’re listening to Jeff Revoy, Chief Product, Marketing and Strategy Officer with iContact. Jeff is focusing on 5 examples of using e-mail marketing effectively. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Keep them interested: compelling e-mail campaigns promote increased e-mail efficiency and performance.
  2. Be succinct. We all tend to scan our messages, so briefly and clearly express your messaging. You’ve got to capture them “above the fold.”
  3. Important Messages: test, test, test your messaging to find out what works (one of the things I like best about e-mail marketing).
  4. Make sure it is easily scanned. Is your most important information easy to find?
    • Welcome messages. Don’t delay more than 24 hours before the message is sent out and make sure you have a clear subject line. Also, consider providing a call to action to make the e-mail a workhorse for you.
    • Holiday messages and campaigns: create a sense of urgency, include a navigation bar that mimics your site.
    • Don’t forget mobile! You must be sensitive as to how your messages will render on different devices. Smartphones will soon overtake PCs in sales.

5. AND … extend beyond the inbox. Make sure you integrate with social media platforms. With Facebook’s announcement this week about their new e-mail platform, you run the risk of delivering your message to “the other inbox” (i.e. the one that doesn’t get checked).

Overall, good points from Jeff. Especially about the tie-in to social media. There’s a lot changing in that space.

Up next is Jenn Markey with Protus. She’s focusing on “Social will get you in the door, but e-mail is the closer.” Like the title!

Jenn started with a poll question for the audience about where you spend more of your time: e-mail marketing or social media. The room seems to be about 50/50. But, more of us are spending more time in both.

So, how do you leverage e-mail marketing and social together? First, e-mail marketing typically has a great ROI b/c it is low cost. However, that lends to the idea of “let’s do another blast.” But that isn’t a good move either b/c of reputation and deliverability problems.

Key message for e-mail: be relevant or be silent.  Social keeps it relevant.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Look for where your customers are coming from and use that to drive your lead generation program via e-mail
  • Make sure you know the demographics about your contacts.  Worst thing you can do is send an e-mail with the wrong personalization information
  • Think like a customer; speak to a customer’s interests

Up next is Grey Garner with Emma.  He’s focusing on Turning Passive Audiences into Evangelizing Advocates.  That’s one complex presentation title!

Grey is going to focus on community and relationships and provide 3 tips.  Let’s see what he has to say:

He’s hitting the right notes– you must focus on content and your goals/strategy before you jump in.  Couldn’t agree more.  Too many people are tempted to rush in and start flinging e-mails around!  He’s moving into his three tips

1. Find Your Voice. Take the buzzwords out, make the tone more conversational and focus on how we talk to each other.  But it is also just as important to focus on what we say.  Will it stand out?  What makes me/my company/my brand’s voice unique? Look for opportunities to deploy that voice.

2. Make personalization truly personal. In the past, this was more of a technical innovation (like mail merge). This helped make e-mail feel a little more conversational and that was good, but it doesn’t go far enough for today’s environment.  Consumers have an expectation that you will learn more about them over time, their preferences in terms of content, what type of channel (mobile/social/e-mail), etc.  If you pay attention and provide that to the customer, they are more likely to reward you in the future by turning around and sharing that message with their contacts.

3. Pay It Forward. Community and relationship building is about building a conversation, and that’s a two-way street. You must take time to discover what your most loyal subscribers are passionate about and then help them spread the word.

Great presentation from Grey.  Good, clear points.

Up last is Michael Bird with Netprospex. Looks like Michael is going to focus on sales and generating revenue.

The DMA says that for every dollar spent on e-mail marketing, it generates $48. Michael is going to give us 7 tips for your next e-mail marketing campaign:

1. Create a sense of urgency. This one speaks for itself.  One interesting note: putting a date in the subject line generates a 24% higher open rate.  I’ll have to try that on one of my next campaigns.

2. Time your e-mails strategically. Timing is everything and his data suggests that B2B audiences do not pay attention in the afternoon, so the time to get messages into their inbox is in the morning.

3. Don’t make them think! Only put in one link. Driving all links in an e-mail to one destination can generate a 48% higher conversion rate. Interesting.

4. Go mobile or go home.  Mobile is here now. 38% of customer e-mails are read on mobile devices.  For a nice laugh, Michael just pointed out that most of us are listening to him and checking e-mail on our phones right now!

5. It’s all about relevance.  Why should someone be paying attention to your message?  You’ve got to answer that question.  51% of recpients will still label an e-mail as spam if the offer or message is irrelevant.  If that’s true, it’s scary!

6. Read your own e-mails.  Would you open, read and respond?  If you won’t, then your audience won’t either.  So, change it or don’t send it.

7. Define your own best practices. Determine what works well for you and for your contacts/clients. You can’t compare across to others b/c each list is different.  And don’t forget to watch your metrics!

Two things to remember:

1. E-mail marketing must drive revenue

2. Everyone in the company is in sales

So, this was more “sales” oriented, but still some good tips nonetheless.

That’s it for the e-mail marketing session.  As always, good to spend a little time in my favorite topic.  Up next: Google AdWords!