Email Marketing Insights from the 2014 DMA Annual Conference Guru Sessions

At the DMA’s 2014 Annual Conference in San Diego, I was fortunate to serve as the “Email Guru.” It was a great opportunity to chat with those on the front lines of email marketing, hear their challenges, and suggest solutions. Here are some of the topics they brought up:

1. Email collection.

The problem: Many of the marketers I met are challenged to collect enough high quality emails. Let’s break this into two parts – on one side, there’s volume: How can you increase the number of organic email signups? And on the other side, data quality – How do you make sure you don’t pollute your database with dummy signups (from a call center, say, where reps provide 123@gmail.com over and over…) and less-obvious but still detrimental problematic and/or bouncing addresses?
My recommendations: There’s a lot to dive into there, but bringing it back to basics is a good place to start; I was surprised by the number of websites I pulled up where not only is an email signup not a push focus, but is totally hidden in a dusty corner of the site. And you shouldn’t be surprised that I think an email validation solution like SafeToSend can be a solution for email collection challenges as well :)

2. Moving the needle.

The problem: Marketers are overwhelmed; there is no shortage of best practice recommendations and new mar-tech available. Increasingly, the problem is prioritization of effort / focus.
My recommendations: Focus on the initiatives that will do the most to carry your program forward. I was struck by a smart question a CEO asked me: What should I be doing, as a leader, to support our email marketing efforts? My answer: the thing you need to be focused on is email list growth, because that is the engine of your program. Everything else emanates from that effort and can be handled as you move downstream from that growth initiative.

3. Data silos.

The problem: If you attended the hottest sessions at DMA, you could easily walk away with the impression that Big Data and Omnichannel Marketing have been around for years. Talk more closely to marketers and you’ll quickly find the reality is much less glamorous. Tying together a total view of the customer and pushing / pulling content and engagement across platforms is certainly on the to-do list, but it is often blocked by systems and data challenges.
My recommendations: I don’t have any easy solutions here – but I’m excited for FreshAddress as marketers tackle these challenges: Email address is often the primary key for tying together first- and third-party data, so being able to add, update, clean, and enhance that key is going to be essential to making some of the Big Data / Omnichannel talk into reality.

Did you attend the DMA conference? What are some of the challenges and topics that came up in your conversations? Tweet at us @FreshAddress and let us know!

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