March 02, 2016
Case Study

Email Marketing: 5 actionable tips and tactics from your peers at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016

SUMMARY: At MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, almost a thousand marketers came together to drown out the daily office noise. Read on for five tactics provided by your peers to help you develop customer-centric email campaigns.
by Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, and Shelby Dorsey, Reporter

Work days fill up quickly. Technology allows us to do so much more, it can be overwhelming. The question marketers have to ask within all of that noise is: Am I serving the customer?

At MarketingSherpa Summit 2016, almost a thousand marketers came together to drown out the daily office noise and ask that question in Las Vegas. With tracks in Email & Mobile, Digital & Data and Content & Social, there were breakout sessions for everyone to learn what we can all do to consistently improve our campaigns.

To help you with your far too long to-do list, here are five tactics from your peers to help you develop customer-centric email campaigns.

Tactic #1. Continue to assess mobile emails

We all know that consumers are increasingly interacting with brands on mobile devices, with email being one of the most important meeting grounds.

However, even if you were an early responder to responsive emails, it’s important to always test. For instance, through testing and data, Ebates discovered a behavioral change in consumers. The team noticed that customers were shopping on Thanksgiving primarily on mobile devices, most likely from their couches after a heavy dinner.

The team designed the Cyber Days Preview email to be mobile responsive, and engage the audience of over four million subscribers at a time they knew customers would be open to it.

"When people sat down on their couch after Thanksgiving, we would be there," Derek Kazee, Director of Retention Marketing, Ebates, said.

Tactic #2. Incorporate the right social media for your brand

In his presentation, Bart Thornburg, Senior Manager of Email Marketing, WeddingWire, said brands need to explore which social media platforms are right for their customers. In his case, showcasing Pinterest was best for the brand.

Thornburg and his team realized that, like most marketers, they had stuck the four social sharing icons onto the top of their email template without thinking. But no one ever clicked on them.

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So they removed them.

Increasing social sharing in email campaigns is about understanding user behavior, he said, even if that means pulling back on elements that aren’t working cross-channel. What you discover might be worth the risk.

To truly engage customers across email and Pinterest, WeddingWire went from photo-focused emails, with no true social media CTAs to "Pin now, read later" CTAs that showcased relevant Pinterest content.

This tactic focused on giving customers the content they wanted to consume, and had them interacting with the WeddingWire Pinterest boards.

Tactic #3. Adjust email templates

For the past few years at Summit, certain trends have popped up, and mostly they involve fun or flashy campaigns. The trend that was prevalent this year was getting back to basics, and testing the “bones” of emails.

One of the presentations that focused on this was Dell, which experienced a transformational moment when it began reassessing standard email templates as part of an email service provider switch.

Jessica Vogel, Senior Global Marketing Manager, Dell, said "lots of testing with small adjustments" led to the company re-doing its email sends, and part of this strategy includes "[having] a good key message."

In the campaign covered at Summit, Vogel said her team focused on testing moving the header to the bottom of the email.

In her breakout session, Vogel mentioned the long-held belief that email needs to match the landing page. This idea served as the control for the A/B test, and the treatment was then to move the noise to the footer, allowing recipients to click through to the landing page via the hero image.

Jill McEwan, Director of Direct Advertising, HomeAdvisor, also presented on an adjusted email template. In an attempt to re-engage customers, it used a newsletter template with the customer's first name and their project interest incorporated into the send.

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One of the most lucrative changes the team made was to redesign the newsletter into a modular template with box-like sections for articles and other features.

The team also tested how many articles there should be in the newsletter — between three and five. They found that with more articles, people were in the email longer, helping with deliverability, and click rate increased.

Tactic #4. We won’t say it again: keep your email database clean!

The blacklist is very email marketer's worst nightmare.

In his quick takeaway session, Laz Tyrekidis, Digital Marketing and Audience Director, Metropolis International, shared how his team lived through, and overcame, that nightmare. Affecting 24 B2B brands for two months, a deliverability blacklist resulted in no email marketing activity or online revenue through this channel.

They were able to turn it around and are currently running a model email program after implementing these six steps:
  • Cleanse invalid contacts

  • Re-engage inactive contacts

  • Segment lists

  • Redevelop email templates

  • Optimize for mobile and tablet devices

  • Review email campaign content and scheduling

After cleansing nearly 50,000 invalid email addresses (around 2%, Tyrekidis said), the team was able to re-engage inactive users on the way to increasing traffic coming from email campaigns into the brand's websites by 90% and increasing online revenue by 8% compared to the previous year.

Tyrekidis told the Summit marketers to think about their customers and what they want to receive.

"Testing is really important,” he said. “You don’t know [what the winning scenario is] until you test it … keep optimizing and running the same tests over and over again, because the market changes."

Tactic #5. Optimize customer lifetime value

How do you turn a name on a list into a loyal and engaged subscriber?

This is the question that Julia Fox, Marketing Manager, discussed in her takeaway session, and how she and her team used email to optimize member lifetime value.

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By acting during the early phases of the customer journey with a series of onboarding emails with a membership incentivized structure, they were able to drive behaviors correlated with customer quality. These behaviors include commenting, rating and anything that keeps them interacting on the site.

Fox discussed how email can be utilized beyond generating sales, to engage customers on a path to increased lifetime value.

One of the steps in the email onboarding process is encouraging customers to download the Naked Wines app. The app encourages engagement with, and the cross-channel effort is effective at retaining customers. found that people who had read the email about the app download were 125% more likely to download the app than people who hadn't, according to Fox.

This statistic went on to verify the team’s efforts to drive engagement, because of those customers who downloaded the app, 72% were still members after a year versus the 32% of those who did not download.

Join us on March 9 for the post-Summit wrap-up webinar where the MarketingSherpa Editorial Team will discuss the most inspirational and actionable lessons from this year's two-day event in only one hour.

Related Resources

Top Takeaways of MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 [MECLABS webinar]

Email Marketing: How content and testing boosted revenue 114% at IAC subsidiary HomeAdvisor

Email Marketing: Last-minute holiday deals preview wins with customer-centric approach

Email Marketing: Pinterest email test results in 31% lift in re-pins from email

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