More than 40 email marketing professionals gathered in a Downtown Atlanta speakeasy for networking, food, drinks, and a lively discussion at the Email Experience Council’s 2017 Atlanta Meet-Up.
The eec’s Meet-Up — hosted by enterprise email service provider MessageGears and email deliverability agency Inbox Pros — featured a panel of three Atlanta email marketing leaders: MessageGears’ CEO Roger Barnette, Inbox Pros’ CEO Chris Arrendale, and Laura Berkobin, the Director of Digital Marketing & Content for Pull-A-Part.
However, instead of a traditional panel, where the three experts talk and the other attendees listen, moderator Will Devlin (MessageGears’ marketing lead and eec Member Advisory Board member) flipped the script, turning the event into an open roundtable discussion about today’s trends in email marketing, and where it might be headed in the future.
There were plenty of topics that came up during the 45-minute conversation, but here are some of the key takeaways:
Frequency doesn’t matter
Or, that is, it only matters if what you’re sending isn’t relevant to your reader. We’ve all heard the question, “Are we sending too much email?” Lots of deep tomes have been written on the subject in blogs and books and Facebook rants, trying to nail down the perfect number of touchpoints to get a customer’s attention but not send them running for the hills (or, worse, the Unsubscribe button). But the consensus seems to be that timing may be the wrong metric to think about. Instead, focus on sending emails your customers will care about, and that will be relevant to them — even delight them. If you do that, timing will take care of itself.
Email hasn’t changed in 20 years — or has it?
There was a good debate over how much email marketing has evolved over the past couple of decades. Some thought it’s basically stayed static for much of that time. But others identified changes, some subtle and others more profound — from increased personalization and artificial intelligence to animations and smarter use of behavior triggers. The inbox is still there, and has been for quite some time. But spam filters keep getting more sophisticated, and the standards continue to rise for just making it into the main inbox rather than one of a number of filters or tabs. Changes keep coming, but email isn’t going anywhere.
Small may be better
There are plenty of email challenges we all face every day, and it’s tempting to say that the vast resources and expertise at large organizations give them a leg up in conquering those obstacles. But many in the room agreed that small organizations have a lot of advantages: less data to sort through makes personalization and targeting more streamlined, smaller staffs make them more nimble to adapt to changes in the expectations of readers, fewer layers between the marketing staff and the C-Suite helps them to change tactics and get campaigns out the door quickly, among others.
Email marketers need versatility
It’s not enough today for the best email marketers to simply know how to draw up a few segments and get emails out the door. As customers continue to raise their expectations for what they see in their inbox, the list of skills needed to excel in the email marketing world raises with them. Now, the best email marketers understand user-experience design and copywriting, user behavior and empathy, SQL and HTML coding. Developing that broad set of skills will serve you well if you want to make email work for you going into the future.
C-Suites out of touch?
Another reason small companies can have a problem-solving advantage is that, with typically younger C-Suiters, they’re more open to adopting new technologies and pivoting to new ways of accomplishing goals. Whereas, at larger companies, executives likely took decades to get that corner office, and they haven’t been in the weeds with the day-to-day reality of email marketing in years, if not a decade or more. That can have a way of freezing their understanding of technology and audience expectations where those were 10+ years ago, and it can make them hesitant to make a change that seems obvious for the people working directly with the emails.
Interested in participating in a Meetup in your area or joining the eec community? It’s a great way to knowledge share and network with your peers. Reach out to eec staff for more opportunities.
Content Marketing Manager, MessageGears
Enjoy the Meetup pictures below. For the full collection of photos from the Meetup — visit the MessagGears Facebook page.