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6 Takeaways from #MarketingUnited 2016

Marci Whitman


Marci Whitman

Estimated Reading Time

2 minutes

I’m a nerd when it comes to email + marketing. In fact, I find it difficult not to add my email address to every subscribe box just to see what other marketers are doing. This week I joined around 1,000 attendees at the annual #MarketingUnited Conference hosted by the {Best} email provider, Emma.

Monday morning I woke up giddy to join other Emma customers for a day-long intensive on email!  While most people roll out of bed with the morning blues, I’m skipping around Nashville to Emma’s Headquarter.

Top takeaways from the conference:

Design doesn’t have to be difficult

You’ve probably noticed colored rows have been a trend in web design for a few years.  Now, carry that trend over to email.  Adding colored rows or even a slight gray tone separates content and helps the reader when scrolling. Mix a few of these tips into your Design:

  • Use large headings or colored backgrounds in your newsletter
  • 15pt font at a minimum {lately I’ve been going with a 16-17pt easing the eyeballs from small mobile devices}
  • Stray from left sidebars.  Mobile views shift left to right, so your left sidebar content gets prime time.  Better yet, dump the sidebar for a more modern look.
  • Use image captions for important info or call to actions
  • 72% of marketers say using animated .gif’s resulted in higher click rates
  • Primary Call to Action should be a button and different color than other elements in your email
  • Don’t be afraid of scrolling emails if your content is valuable

Dynamic Content is Dynamo

Customizing your readers content changes their entire experience with your brand.  Dynamic content can be specific references to their purchases, custom images, and more.  The limitation to using dynamic content is to the data in your list.  Give your data some thought.  What fields/questions are valuable to you?  One stat used throughout the sessions is; 90% of customers find custom content useful.  Of course, they would!  We as marketers need to think like our clients when writing content.

[bctt tweet=”90% of customers find custom content useful. Of course, they would! #emailmarketing” username=”boomerangzone”]

Engage Inactive Subscribers

We all have inactive subscribers on our list.  I had to laugh when the speaker, Rachel Rogers suggested a t-shirt that says, “Your opt-out hurts my feelings.”  If people aren’t opening your emails, systems like Gmail are going to take notice.  Lower open rates can negatively impact your delivery rates.  Depending on your rate plan it also hits the budget.  One of the sessions focused on trying to re-engage subscribers by sending them a targeted email.  The frequency of running an inactive subscriber campaign was suggested to be every quarter or at the least twice per year. Here’s a few steps you can take:

  • In your email account create a new sign-up form {this will be to manage inactive subscriber preferences}
  • Create an email reminding subscribers why they signed up in the first place.  Show them the most popular content over the past year, or resources.
  • Send a second email with the tone of “are we breaking up”?  Include a link to manage preferences such as frequency or type of interest categories.  Here’s a fun video HubSpot uses with their unsubscribe emails.
  • You can do a few things at this point.  Suppress this segment out of future mailings or delete them completely.  Be careful if you choose to delete subscribers as that it may mean they can’t get back into your list automatically at a later point.

Welcome Emails Are Big!

Sending a welcome email to new subscribers results in 33% more brand engagement!  In fact, 74% of new subscribers expect to receive a welcome email.  What to include depends on the type of service/product you offer.  A few ideas:

  • Be unique, show your brand personality
  • Build excitement for future emails
  • Give subscribers an incentive/call to action
  • Gather additional information about the subscriber
  • Showcase helpful resources (maybe top 1-3 blogs)

[bctt tweet=”Sending a welcome email to new subscribers results in 33% more brand engagement!” via=”no”]

Automated Email Campaigns (Series)

You may be familiar with the term Automated Emails, “Drip” campaigns or Automated Workflow.  Either way, the point is to send a series of emails based on a specific trigger to a group of subscribers. While we use automated workflow for many of our client accounts, I found myself inspired by the possibilities. Let’s look at a few then you can share in the comments how you are {or could be} using automation for emails.

  • New subscriber series – a series of 3-4 emails send once a week to showcase how you can support them.
  • A free how-to series with helpful tips, guidance, videos, etc.
  • A winery may send a series of pairing suggestions and a recipe.
  • When someone signs up for an event, training, retreat, etc.
  • Membership renewal series – for associations who want to remind members of the benefits used over the year.  Use merge fields to display an expiration date, dues and list events a member has attended.

Taking Your Sign-up Forms To the Next Step

Forms tend to be short and sweet initially, asking for name and email.  In some cases, you simply see a field for an email address.  As you welcome new subscribers find out their interests further supports you in delivering content that keeps a subscriber engaged and far from the opt-out button.

That covers  the content highlights, these were BIG moments of the conference for me.

Scott Stratte, Opening Keynote

Scott Stratten, UnMarketing giving the opening keynote at #marketingunited

Darn near front row when Scott Stratten gave his opening keynote.  If you don’t know Scott, picture my facial expression as I say, “What do you mean you don’t know Scott”?  Hurry over to your favorite bookstore and buy/download UnSelling.  Awesome Book!  Next, listen to Scott and his equally awesome wife Allison Kramer in their podcast called UnPodcast.  Every time I hear Scott speak I get inspired to be better, different and memorable.

Workshop With the Most Energy and Personal Impact
Day two I was ecstatic to attend the workshop given by Aaron Draplin Owner of Draplin Design Co.,  Yeah, learning about trends and how-to’s is great but wearing my business owner hat I can relate to Aaron.  Hearing his story as a kid out of Michigan, staying true to his style of design, not giving a flip {pretty sure he used a different word} about what others think and running his business how he wants.  That is reassuring.  You can check out some of his design work at

Virtual Reality Blew Me Away

Charity Water Virtual Reality Experience

Charity water delivered one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had at a conference. In one of the exhibit halls they setup virtual reality stations. I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Figured it would be a quick message from their director. Wrong. So very wrong.  

Charity Water showed the next level of philanthropic conversation.  I’ve been aware of their work for years but to experience it.  Wow!  The virtual experience took you on the path 13-year-old girl named Salam.  A donor comes as close to being alongside as trucks drill and strike clean water.  I can’t find the words to explain the level of impact this had {other than to say a donation was the result}.  The power this new technology has to connect donors with a cause is evident.

The Emma team donated $30 for each attendee who watched the video.  The room was packed both days so I can only imagine another community will soon have clean water thanks to the Emma Family.  Thanks to Emma for supporting a great organization!