Increase Profit 2300% and Other Key Takeaways From MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit

As a reader of this blog, you might occasionally wonder, “where is email marketing headed?”

Me too. So to see what others were doing with their email campaigns, Jay Moore (you’ve probably heard him on one of our free live webinars recently) and I recently headed to Miami for MarketingSherpa’s 2009 Email Summit.

After several long days jam-packed with case studies, presentations and chats about email marketing, we walked away with our brains full.

Here are my biggest takeaways from the Summit:

The Relevancy Challenge: Can You Break Through The Inbox Clutter?

The Summit kick-off featured a MarketingSherpa survey that found nearly three-fourths of consumers reporting a noticeable increase in email volume from subscriptions.

You might expect that this to mean subscribers are getting overwhelmed and simply unsubscribing en masse to cut back on email, regardless of who it’s from.

However, the survey also revealed that the #1 reason for unsubscribing was not email overload, but lack of relevance. On top of that, another popular reason for unsubscribing – “the email doesn’t apply to me” – further underscores the need to create relevant emails and stand out in the inbox.

Numerous other discussions touched on increasing relevance not only to reduce unsubscribes, but to lift conversions.

In one case study, retailer L’Occitane en Provence demonstrated how a simple use of email analytics – personalizing a promotion to subscribers with a picture of a product they had recently viewed – yielded a 2300% increase in profit (yes, 23 hundred percent) over a less relevant control email.

(By the way, AWeber can segment your subscribers based on what web pages they’ve viewed; that’s one of the features of our Email Web Analytics tools. Hopefully a 2300% increase in profit gets you thinking about how you might segment with that data 🙂 )

Read more about email relevance.

Content Is King Again…

…or still, as many of you will already know.

One of the fascinating and heartening takeaways for me was the focus on quality content by several speakers.

Given that many big brands attended the Summit, I anticipated a strictly promotional email focus, but there was a lot of discussion of email newsletters and of welcome series (autoresponders) for new subscribers.

As competition for email users’ attention gets fiercer, the need to provide valuable content (which to subscribers is typically more relevant than promotions) increases.

In a down economy, with many businesses and marketers ramping up email volume, subscribers are more likely to open, read and click through from emails from senders who consistently deliver valuable content.

…and Testing Matters More Than Ever

I lost count of how many presentations focused on test results (half the presentations were case studies, which nearly always included test results), or on the gains to be had by testing.

To adapt a line from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, a central theme at the Summit was “A.B.T. — Always Be Testing.” And I agree:

There’s almost never an email campaign where you shouldn’t be testing something – subject line copy, different styles and locations for your calls to action, adding a headshot to your email (one of our social networking tactics for email marketers), or whatever other split tests you believe may impact your campaigns’ effectiveness.

Read more about split testing.

More Takeaways From Email Summit

I amped up my usage of Twitter during the Summit as it was a great way to get bits of information out in real time (and to serve as an informal notepad).

  1. See my Email Summit tweets
  2. All Email Summit-tagged tweets

Were you at the Summit? If so, what were your takeaways?


  1. Karin H.

    3/24/2009 10:37 am

    Testing, absolutely agree. Not just content, subject lines but something perhaps some might overlook: the interval between follow-up messages.

    Recently we’ve increased the interval of our ‘general-information’ list with 1 day, spreading out the messages even more.
    Before this change 8% of new subscribers left – 42% of those on message 3. Since the change our unsubscribe rate dropped to 2% – and last week we even recorded 0 unsubscribers.

    Test, measure, adept, test and measure again.

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Joe Swopes

    3/25/2009 5:30 pm

    I know that was some good information there, wish I was in attendance. Just from the tips you posted here, and all of Big Jason’s updates on twitter, I learned an awful lot, so I’m sure actually being there was pretty great.

    thanks for the update.

  3. Lisa Almeida

    3/26/2009 7:30 am

    Thanks for sharing. It really boils down to common sense, right?

    A whisper draws people closer, shouting pushes people away = relevance.
    Keep everyone’s favorite radio station in mind, WIIFM = content.
    Pay attention: do more of what works and change what doesn’t = testing

    Wrap it all up in the Golden Rule: email unto others as you would have them email unto you …and you have a relationship building, revenue generating power tool!

  4. Marcia Ming

    3/26/2009 8:19 am

    Thanks for this excellent report. I am looking for a way to share the information with my list. And of course, I will take advantage of your suggestions.

  5. Pete

    3/26/2009 9:44 am

    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for sharing! I agree with everything you said…definitely good solid advice.

    Something else I would suggest is to improve your copywriting skills. Take a course, study ads you receive that are "memorable," practice your writing skills, etc.

    You don’t have to be the best at writing, but you do have to be "good enough" to grab and keep your readers’ attention…and get them to take action.

    If you learn how to write effective headlines and can follow standard copywriting techniques for writing good body copy, your e-mails will have higher open and click through rates.

    Give it a shot and test the results. Aweber has all of the analytic information for you…and it’s easy to use. If a "newbie" like me can do it, so can you!!!

  6. Gobala Krishnan

    3/26/2009 10:59 am

    I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve not yet fully utilized Aweber analytics. Where do I find the time, sigh..

  7. Mary / GoodlifeZEN

    3/26/2009 3:33 pm

    I want to thank you for your excellent newsletters. It’s the only newsletter I actually wait for and pounce on when it appears.
    The secret: It’s insanely useful!

  8. Shanna

    3/29/2009 8:49 pm

    Just viewed all of your videos. I am excited to get started on using your service. I am also signing up for your newsletter knowing you will provide great tips on email marketing.

    I am glad I read your information on why people unsubscribe. Good advice for me to rememer as that is the only reason I unsubscribe to sites, as well.

  9. Email Testing Inspiration: Tips and a Recent Example - Inbox Ideas: Email Marketing Tips by AWeber

    4/6/2009 2:49 pm

    […] familiar with some of the big gains that tests can bring you. Perhaps you’ve even looked over some of the examples of things you […]

  10. Dave Welton

    4/8/2009 5:02 am

    I find your newsletters inspiration and contributed greatly to the success of my fast weight loss reviews site. Totally agree with split testing techniques you advocate and agree that it is greatly ovrlooked in marketing

  11. Glen Allsopp

    4/8/2009 4:52 pm

    Excellent info guys, thanks for the recap!

  12. Kim Duke

    4/8/2009 5:46 pm

    Before I launched The Sales Divas I used to sell
    national television advertising in Canada.

    Email is just like a TV channel. There are zillions
    of options available, however, people will remain
    loyal and PROMOTE what they love.

    Shoot for curiosity vs info dumping.

    I love the newsletter!

  13. Peter Hobday

    4/13/2009 1:08 pm

    I am sure they must have had something interesting at the summit.

    The Aweber research into ‘submit’ buttons was fascinating and should have been up there.

    I have just completed research into which font to use for email messages: Verdana, Times or Courier. Another interesting area.

    Frequency is a hot issue too. Daily, three times a week? Once a month? Allow the registrant to choose? Which??

    Length of message is a big one: do you ever use a long letter to a B2B audience?

    And what is the effect of using TinyUrl as your link to the landing page instead of the long address?

    Anyone interested in another summit?

  14. Postcards from Miami: Keeping up with the Email Messaging Optimization Workshop

    4/24/2009 11:17 am

    […] And AWeber: Increase Profit 2300% and Other Key Takeaways From MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit […]

  15. paul burnette

    4/29/2009 6:29 pm

    This is a great article and provides some great insight. I have never split tested, but will work on that next. I just made my first "real" thank you page because of the other article. So far getting great results from it.

    I also like the "email unto others as you would have emailed unto you" line – Pretty good advice 🙂

    thanks again!

  16. Ash

    6/1/2009 7:43 am

    I totally agree about content. I have been a long advocate of this because if there is nothing on the website, then there is no reason to return. E-mail campaigns are only good to have people return to the website. Having people, come once is a waste and will probably get people to unsubscribe to your e-mails. And once they unsubscribe it is nearly impossible to get them to subscribe again to be on your list.

    I cannot tell you how many clients I have consulted with who put a lot of money and effort into e-mail campaigns, offline marketing campaigns and other traffic building campaigns where they have virtually no content on their website. You must have content and a place to go to (i.e. your website) before embarking on an e-mail marketing campaign.

  17. Want More Opens or Clicks? Reward Subscribers! - Inbox Ideas: Email Marketing Tips by AWeber

    7/9/2009 8:53 am

    […] providing valuable content plays a big part here (as we’ve discussed on several occasions), but sometimes a little extra incentive can help, […]

  18. Robbi

    7/20/2010 10:52 am

    Wow! This is really epic. Thanks to you!