Early this month I did the overseas conference thing with email marketing. It was a couple of years since I last attended and a lot had changed in email land since then. So I decided that it was again time to spend 12 hours in a confined silver tube to experience all there was from our North American email marketing services friends.

The customer conference call this month covered some of the details I found but, nevertheless, here are a few “takeaways” that you can apply with your email marketing this month.

1) Batch and blast email messaging will garner less and less prospect attention. There is only so much online attention to go around. And as social media sucks up its growing share and general email volume increases year on year, a poorly targeted, highly generic offer email will get less opens and even less clicks.

The alternative? Highly targeted and relevant offers or, the subject of a number of sessions I sat through, campaigns automatically driven by a change of behavior of the prospect or customer. For instance: when they subscribe; when they buy for the first time; when they would normally purchase a restocking run or even when they add an item to the cart BUT fail to check out. Yes, most of these are technically a lot more challenging than just loading up a list and firing out a message – but that’s going to be the price you need to pay to get the attention you need to make your promotion work.

2) This was from a presentation on email strategy ̶ three simple questions you should answer BEFORE sending your next email campaign. Is this campaign tied to our overall email campaign and organizational goals? Why should my subscribers care? What are my subscribers to do next? If you can list down some solid answers to these three then all’s looking good.

3) “If you are not testing you are guessing.” A great snippet on an early slide about (surprise, surprise) email testing. We all fall into the busy, busy tactical trap of doing “stuff” to get a campaign out. Nevertheless, it’s the smart ones who can look back over what they used to do three months ago and compare that with what they do now – and see a difference due to the results their tests achieved during this same period.

4) With “relevance” being the catch cry of email marketing improvement, there was some good discussion on the type of content you require to make this a reality. For instance there is “Evergreen Content” that works for everyone and will never change. Then there’s content with a “Long Shelf Life” that works for all but lasts say 3–4 months. Then there’s content just suited to your target segments. By producing content across each of these three areas you can efficiently put together a series of email campaigns without having to create 100% bespoke content for each.

5) And the final point wasn’t really a point – more a realisation that the long-term effectiveness of email marketing will have very little to do with the creative or content of the message itself. It’s more about how well the media integrates with other parts of your online and offline properties. For instance, does your e-commerce tool integrate with your email app so a series of “welcome” messages can be sent to those purchasing for the first time? Or can your room booking engine connect to a tool that allows email messages to be sent to not only confirm a booking but also, five nights before arrival. It’s these nitty gritty points of email integration that will turn what could be a very ineffective batch and blast email strategy into a highly specific and highly profitable behavior-based campaign.

Have fun.