Thoughts from EMSA 2010

The week before last, I was lucky enough to attend the Email Marketing Summit Australia 2010 (EMSA). It was fantastic to see mix of new and experienced email marketers, as well as a variety of organisations, both Nonprofit and otherwise. The majority of information was focused on organisations working for profit, but there were a lot of takeaways that are just as relevant in the Nonprofit world as well.

The day kicked off with a session on brand from Jack Perlinski, Director, Brand Strategy at DAIS, focusing on how brands must feed the desire that already exists within the marketplace, rather than attempting to create need. Good branding, Jack suggested, comes down to knowing who you are, what your market is about, and what you as a brand are passionate about. It’s also proving that you live your brand, that you truly adhere to the face you put forward as an organisation. This presentation got me musing on how well most of us really know our marketplaces, and how well we tap into the desires of our constituents.

Patrick Zulaga, Director of PMZ Marketing, presented on the importance of databases, suggesting that a database should become a marketers/communicators/fundraisers best friend. Interestingly, he suggested that 40% of the success of direct marketing lies in the message, 40% on the database relationship (so how close that person/constituent is to your organisation), and 20% on creative capabilities or ideas. He gave a very simple set of questions to help make the most of a database:Email Marketing

  • What is your database objective?
  • What information is available?
  • How can the information be captured?
  • How can you use the information?
  • What is the best way to segment your database?

It can be great to stand back, and look at basics such as these, as we all have a tendency to get buried in our data and to lose our way from time to time.

Julian Peterson, Marketing & Online Director, Time Out spoke about his successes with his weekly newsletter, hoping to help all attendees become email marketing ninjas. He had some interesting points that could work particularly well in a Nonprofit e-newsletter context:

  • If you don’t feel that you have any particularly exciting content, consider borrowing or swapping some from/with a partner organisation
  • Keep your templates fresh – don’t be scared to change these to keep readers interested
  • A strong call to action, worded in  way that is relevant to your brand, can make all the difference in your email
  • Consider using a free online tool such as Google Docs and/or Google Calendar to plan when emails/communications will be sent
  • Avoid using ‘click here’ in your email copy
  • Think about listing a phone number next to your unsubscribe button to help any users that have problems unsubscribing

David Smeardon, a Digital Strategist at Clemenger BDO, gave a great formula for keeping constituents/customers focused and engaged. He suggested telling a story through your email marketing, and sending three informational emails for every one ask. Essentially, this could mean that constituents should only receive one in four emails with a direct ask/appeal, and the rest should be focused on delivering the information they are interested in. This becomes easier if you start to look at what types of information your constituents are opening in your email newsletters. If there’s a big interest in a particular type of content, you could even consider breaking this out into its own information service.

I very much enjoyed this day as a chance to step out of my normal box and to chat to some fellow marketers, both profit and nonprofit based.  I hope this post provides you with some ideas to take away and use in your own email marketing strategy!