Commentary

The News From Indianapolis

If I was ever worried about the strength of the email marketing industry, those fears are certainly being dispelled this week. I'm in Indianapolis attending the ExactTarget Users Group meeting, and was completely shocked by the strength of the attendance. With 600 people registered and a standing-room-only crowd packing a large auditorium for the keynote, it was pretty clear that if "email is over," that message hasn't reached this Midwest crowd.

ExactTarget is probably the only email company that I can think of that can take over the center of a major city for a party, as they did last night, using Indianapolis's Monument Circle for a barbecue, live band, and open bar.

Some speakers were doing back-to-back duty; I saw EEC founder Jeanniey Mullen in the hotel hallway preparing for her presentation, after which she was flying to New York to deliver the keynote at the ClickZ email conference the next morning. And with Marketing Sherpa, The Email Insider Summit, and, I presume, an EEC conference coming up on the horizon, there are plenty of networking opportunities over the next few months. All of which is good for the email marketing industry and makes up for the lack of coverage one finds at the more general interactive marketing trade shows.

Later today I'll be speaking on competitive intelligence in email. Competitive intelligence is often misunderstood. It is not as simple as simply signing up for the in-house lists of your competitive set list. Monitoring the frequency and cadence across all forms of email marketing is the only way to get a true sense of your competitors' email media plan. What is being sent out in-house, versus newsletter sponsorships, versus affiliate marketing? How does the company's brand equity and marketing look and feel change from channel to channel?

How is your own company's brand presented in email? As I've mentioned before, many companies that make heavy use of affiliate marketing are unaware of what those affiliates are actually sending, or that they are sending anything out at all.

So competitive intelligence is also monitoring what your own company is doing that you may not be aware of, and what people are saying about your company in other newsletters and email publications.

Competitive intelligence goes beyond email creative as well. The frequency with which a company sends out email, the seasonality, the mix across third-party lists and in-house lists, can all play a part toward the success of that email marketing strategy.

Next week we'll be examining once again positive case studies and statistics that reinforce the power of email marketing. But right now, I'm surrounded by email marketers that are demanding my attention. And I'm loving every second.

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