5 Key Takeaways from Lifecycle Messaging Conference #LCMC13
The Lifecycle Messaging Conference
was held held October 9-11, 2013, in San Diego, California at the Omni San Diego Hotel
, located in the heart of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District. The focus of the 2-day conference was helping companies implement advanced lifecycle messaging programs to bring their email marketing program into the modern world. Summed up in the tagline: “Email Marketing in an Omni-Channel World.” Conference sponsors and host Blue Hornet is an enterprise email service provider and part of Digital River, Inc. (NASDAQ: DRIV).
There were remarkable keynotes by noted authors and marketers Mitch Joel – Author of CTRL, ALT DELETE
, Jay Baer, author of Youtility
and Simms Jenkins author of The New Inbox
. The conference focused on email marketing, but invoked all of the tools and platforms of digital marketing including mobile, social media, SEO, SEM, paid media, ecommerce and more.
Topics presented and discussed surrounded the challenges, issues and power of email marketing to drive KPI’s and ROI. As a person no longer directly involved in email marketing, I was struck by a few key takeaways that transcended any single presentation or message. These themes resonated in most of the presentations, and just as importantly, dominated conversations between each session.
Here are the 5 key takeaways from the lifecycle messaging conference (and one bonus takeaway.)
Takeaway 1: Mobile is the Future and the Present. One Screen To Rule Them All.
There is one screen. All that matters is the one screen in front of you at that specific moment. Data showing the dramatic affect mobile has already had, and will continue to have, in email marketing was stunning. Recent surveys show that up to 88% of your email subscribers will either DELETE or UNSUBSCRIBE from your entire email list, based solely on how your email LOOKS on their mobile device.
Current numbers show that approximately 50% of ALL emails are now read on a mobile device. This provides all the ROI you will need to run as fast as you can to responsive and adaptive design for mobile.
Amid active discussion about the role of mobile in email marketing, some attendees still maintained that designing for mobile was fine for ‘early adopters’ but wasn’t yet ‘mainstream’. Several companies mentioned that they were not seeing high levels of conversion or purchases from mobile. However miraculously, those companies with existing full mobile support in their customer funnel, verified they were seeing strong and growing mobile conversion and revenue.
Before you decide that mobile users don’t convert or buy, make sure your entire funnel both functions well, and looks good on mobile. It is no longer a question of when, and it’s clear that last year was the “year of mobile”. If you are not already focused mainly on mobile you are already losing relevance and revenue.
Takeaway 2: Gmail’s new tabs is freaking everyone out – but the reality is great content still gets read
The second buzz in presentation and talking points is Gmail’s new tabs inbox. There was endless discussion; an entire presentation solely about it, dozens of audience questions and nearly every speaker mentioned it at least twice. Bottom line is the actual data (both circumstantial and analytical) indicate that far from being the “great email killer” many doomsayers had feared, it turns out that the overall affect was nil. At least it was nil for actual revenue per email for those companies who were delivering compelling value to their email subscribers. (And had responsive mobile design)
– Sr VP of Blue Hornet summed it up:
“The job of Gmail and other service providers is to provide a positive inbox experience. One positive of the new tabs is that consumers seem to be more in a ‘shopping mindset’ when they go to the promotions tab, so take advantage of that.”
Most users and speakers have seen that they are getting fewer opens of their emails but that revenue per email is relatively flat (with a decrease of about 0.2%). Which is good news, since everyone agreed that most of the other email providers were looking to roll out similar features in the coming months.
Bottom line: Great content still gets read, regardless of the changes to the email inbox. (Unless you are ignoring mobile and sending out ugly non-responsive emails since 88% of those get deleted or generate unsubscribes)
Takeaway 3: Lifecycle Messaging is now the standard and Real Time is king.
When you order something on the Internet (or even order a competition style cappuccino in a great coffee bar
using Square) you expect, and generally receive, an immediate email reply confirming your order. When it ships or moves forward in the order process you expect another confirmation emails. Same for when you subscribe for an email newsletter. Everyone expects that welcome and transactional receipt emails are in real time and they are the new standard that we judge all companies by. But did you know that even today over 20% of ALL companies never send a welcome message!? 20%!
The cool technology talked about was really more about psychology than technology. Behavioral marketing was in abundance at this event, and cutting edge companies are combining it with active monitoring of customers and prospects (both actions and history) and using this “small data” combined with smart prediction, to create real time triggered messaging.
Triggered messaging is separate from typical batch email messaging in that it happens in real time, in a one off, direct to the customer relationship. A customer’s actions set off a trigger point that triggers a message or series of messages. This is where futuristic companies like Smarter Remarketer
are making some interesting impacts.
Takeaway 4: ‘Big Data’ is not that important if you suck at Small Data
The small data that smart marketers are using to do real time marketing and triggered messages as part of their lifecycle messaging program are far more important than the so-called “Big Data”. “And more importantly if you suck at small data it turns out you suck at big data too.” (thanks Mitch Joel
for this quote!)
For all the industry and analyst talk of how big data is changing the very fabric of the time space continuum, all that big data is comprised of many piles of small data. Small data things like: a user just searched for ‘El Salvador coffee’ on your website or an iPhone just opened your email, can have a huge impact if you take action.
Here’s the rub: companies need a sound strategy in place in order to take meaningful action on small data. Most companies agreed that was specifically where they were lacking and needed improvement.
Takeaway 5: Deliver value and utility or die
Both Mitch Joel and Jay Baer focused on this and drove the point home. Both authors wrote books about this very subject. It was interspersed throughout the conference and made apparent in just about every presentation and case study, that for the most part, truly successful email marketing campaigns were specific value delivery programs supported by email, content and social marketing programs.
Jay Baer has his famous quote:
“Create marketing so valuable, so useful that people would willingly pay for it.”
This point underscores the importance of content, utility and value as demonstrated in discussions of the net impact of Gmail’s tabs.
Takeaway 5.1: Nearly everyone can clearly taste the vast improvement that quality Craft Cocktails enjoy over standard Issue well cocktails.
Blue Hornet hosted a cocktail party for attendees at a local bar called the Gaslamp Speakeasy. The Gaslamp Speakeasy is focused on high quality Craft Cocktails. Interestingly the Speakeasy shares an internal entrance and a wall with another bar (Hennessey’s Tavern). Because the party took over both bars, they felt like one single establishment, however it quickly became apparent to everyone that ONE of the bars was making freakishly awesome tasting cocktails and one was making lackluster, standard drinks.
BOTH bars had pretty much the same menu of prohibition era cocktails. The only differences were: 1. The bartenders on the Speakeasy side were highly trained and meticulous and 2. The Speakeasy side used higher quality ingredients.
Everyone I saw, who tried both, was shocked by how much better the Speakeasy drinks were. People were having conversations about how amazing the drinks at the Speakeasy were in comparison to the exact same drink at the normal bar.
No one told them they were better, they simply tasted the difference. People were ‘oohing’ and ‘wowing’ over the flavor of the drinks and savoring them. It was vindicating and satisfying to see that quality does have impact. The same thing happened when people tasted my Ballast Point Sea Monster or Stone Smoked Porter Craft Beers.
Bottom line summary: Mobile is everything, the more things change technology-wise the more they stay the same, real time messaging and marketing is king, rock the small data, deliver value or die and always, always buy Craft Beer and Craft Cocktails.