E-mail Insider Summit

Last week I was honored to be the host of the first E-mail Insiders Summit that took place at Boulders Resort near Scottsdale, Arizona. A little over a year ago, I approached MediaPost about sponsoring a breakfast series to educate marketers about e-mail marketing and pitched it as an extension of my E-mail Insider column. Their response was: "We don't want to do a breakfast series--but, how about if we fly people out to a big resort for a three-day intensive summit instead!"

And so the idea of creating the E-mail Insiders Summit was born. The idea was that 50 VIPs would be flown in to a top resort, all expenses paid. VIPs in this case were folks that had a big budget, did a lot of e-mail, and could immediately implement any of the ideas they took back on a global scale. Another 50 would be vendors, agencies, analysts, speakers, and sponsors. The only thing we didn't know was, would it work?

It worked.

From the first evening's cocktail reception on Sunday, until the final presentation at noon on Wednesday, I witnessed the launch of what is sure to become the industry's most intimate and educational e-mail marketing event. Here e-mail movers and shakers from companies such as Cisco, IBM, Lands' End, CNN and HP got to meet to discuss e-mail deliverability issues with service providers such as Goodmail. Top brands got to have their e-mail campaigns critiqued by leading brand strategists at OgilvyOne, and MRM Worldwide. And e-mail vendor sponsors got to pitch their products for a VIP- only audience.



We also learned who could shoot golf (David Baker of and who couldn't (me).

The word reputation summed up the first day of the event, dedicated to deliverability issues. Starting with Goodmail CEO Richard Gingras' keynote address and continuing with panel discussions and lectures on list building and getting to the inbox, it was clear that a company's or list's e-mail reputation scores were going to be increasingly important to the future success of its e-mail marketing efforts.

The theme for day two was the importance of maintaining a strong brand identity across all e-mail marketing channels. As she stressed in her opening keynote remarks, Ogilvy One's Jeannie Mullen, stressed not only the importance of brand presence across e-mail touch points, but also of having a "brand aid,", a prepared plan of action in place for those times when something in your e-mail campaign goes terribly wrong: "And you WILL have a campaign go wrong at some point," Jeannie warned before revealing some of her own mistakes over the years as a leading e-mail marketer.

The last day was devoted to an overview of the latest legislation and court cases. The only thing clear was that marketers are still unclear as to the latest Federal Trade Commission rulings. The day ended with the official launch of the E-mail Experience Council and a moving tribute to the Ryan Andrew Kaiser Memorial Foundation, which will be the year-long focus of the Council's first efforts to provide case studies emphasizing the positive impact of e-mail marketing.

And between presentations and programmed discussions, we all shared our e-mail experiences over dinners, cocktails, golf, wilderness tours and spa visits. Hey, someone has to do it! Needless to say, I'll be there again. Look for a second E-mail Insider Summit sometime this fall.

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