Summit: Maybe Less Focus On Social Topics? More Case Studies?

We had a blast on the mountain in Deer Valley last week at the Email Insider Summit, aside from a bit of altitude sickness. I was really impressed with the output from many of the speakers, the roundtables and networking events, yet I left with a few nuggets to improve the content for the next summit.

Trying to figure out what to do with social media strategy as it relates to CRM still seems to be an exercise in guesswork. One of the panels attempted to focus on the type of data that the social world produces: number of fans, number of connections, feedback, comments; essentially social graph data.

The first audience response was "Oh my gosh, businesses really can see all these things I post online?" -- followed by "What do I do with this data?"   There was a lot of discussion about what the larger data aggregators (Experian, Acxiom etc.) were doing with social data and how companies were accessing this data. But there was very little substance about pure integrated social campaigns, innovative technologies or how companies are using this data for targeting, segmentation and intelligent marketing.



 While the common response to various social media campaigns presented in roundtable settings was "cool!" I could see that most were curious, yet still had a hard time seeing where it fit into their business world. Social marketing is something we'll all have to embrace over the next few years as it gets ingrained into how we build Web and consumer experiences. Many retention marketers struggle with how to measure influence and how their marketing activities integrate with social. But there's no mistaking it, this is a subject that will be so core to marketing in the coming years that email marketers can't afford to get behind the game. One marketer said, and I had heard this quote some time ago, "Social marketing is like sex as a teenager! You get really excited about it, you talk about it a lot, but you're not very good at it."

We offered a few other topics that were very consumer-focused to help round out the Summit, with panels from Microsoft on the Hotmail inbox, as well as a stellar presentation by Loyalty Labs on consumer loyalty programs.

One of the big winners was the "Building an Email Database" roundtable run by Mike Fitzgerald of AdKnowledge. While there was a lot of talk about acquisition, there were heated discussions on the value of email append services. I was a bit surprised at some of the conservative comments from acquisition-oriented companies, but it netted out that email append is alive and well. Most of the larger brands do it persistently as a list hygiene process, and you shouldn't discount it when applied properly.

What was missing from this summit,  I thought, was discussion of pure deliverability, and more case studies. The feedback was clear:  People wanted to hear about deliverability, more about privacy and essentially "what are the challenges getting into the inbox." We've deviated from this technical and tactical view of deliverability in the past, giving way to more topical discussion around trends, but you could tell there was a void. As programming chair, I will definitely work to ensure we integrate deliverability back into the main stage sessions in April.

This event is always a mix of service providers and industry people, along with representatives from consumer and B2B brands. As is common with brand marketers, they clamor for case studies and examples of what others have done. Personally, I find these contextually irrelevant in many cases, unless you find that pearl of a study with a great presenter. But there is no denying that the audience wanted more "meat" on these topics. You can never get away from the value of case studies and the intimacy of program details that usually comes forth.

So, the next summit will definitely feature a blend of case work and foundational topics (deliverability). Too, I bet by then we'll find some great examples of Social CRM.

If you have great ideas for topics, case studies or great speakers for the April Email Insider Summit, shoot me a note ( I'm always a sucker for great content, creative speakers and topics that are "out there."

4 comments about "Summit: Maybe Less Focus On Social Topics? More Case Studies?".
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  1. Chad White from Litmus, December 14, 2009 at 1:59 p.m.

    Instead of another panel of 20-somethings, I'd love to see a panel of CEOs/CMOs and talk about how they view email marketing, view multichannel strategies, budget for various channels and the role that ROI plays on those decisions, etc.

    While it was surprising how little was said about deliverability considering its heavy presence at past EISs, I thought it was telling that so few people were interested in the deliverability roundtable this time.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 14, 2009 at 2:52 p.m.

    1. ALL media is social. Some just travel faster than others. So when when that term is used, it really just sounds stupid.

    2. What seems to be missing isremembering there is an enormous market out here that use email regularly and feels it works plenty fast. A message is sent and the receiver receives it in seconds. Also, thinking before you speak still has fans. Think about it.

    3. Just think about more doctors using email. There it is again - PRIVACY comes up to punch marketers in between the eyes that shouldn't be open in the first place.mmmm....

  3. Ted Myers, December 14, 2009 at 3:49 p.m.

    You said "it netted out that email append is alive and well."
    Does this include B2B email appends? If so, where might I find a list of "reputable" email list service companies?

  4. david Baker from RedPill, December 15, 2009 at 10:34 a.m.

    Interesting posts...

    1. Email Append is doing well, I'd recommend you talk to Axciom, but you do have to recognize that business append is tougher than consumer append, with people changing roles so rapidly.. But that is the first place to look.

    2. Paula: I don't really know how to respond to your post, as you are all over the place, but I'll try. All media isn't social, and I have 100 media planners that will differ with you. Email does work and I didn't elude to otherwise, unless I misunderstood your comment. Not sure what you are talking about "thinking before you speak has fans"....We do a great deal of strategic thinking before we communicate outward to any consumer, customer etc... so not sure where you were going with this?

    3. As for doctors, I think you need to do abit more research, we've seen many more PCP (Primary Care PHysicians) adopting email as a means of communciating with their patients and it varies by rural, suburban and urban practice presence,,, so privacy - yes, but there's alot of research that makes that statement void...We've done alot of work in the health space, so again, not sure where you are going with that one..

    4. Chad: Yes, it was surprising that there was alot of interest, in the past 6 summits, deliverability had lost popularity, but I think we are remiss in not talking about it.. it's kind of like ad serving and not talking about Atlas or Doubleclick and technical limitations/standards??? it usually gets blended into discussion.

    5. I do like the ideas of CMO's, but the problem is .. they'll all say "YES to email and not get a heck of a lot deeper.." and they'd talk in generalities....we get this at many other events in keynotes... It's also hard to get C-Level people to this specialized summit in remote places. the whole point of the consumer focus group is to see if our assumptions about consumer trends stack up....and have alittle fun with it.... have ideas for the next one...

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