Notes From The Email Insider Summit

Park City is always a great event winter event, but this year was a little special. The Email Insider Summit is typically described as a very intimate, network-oriented environment. It's evolved over the years from an event that focuses on different aspects of the email industry to that of trends and high level discussions of issues that face marketers. Here's a brief recap.

Stephen Geer from Obama's campaign gave the keynote on Day 1. While the presentation portion of the session was a little lackluster, the Q&A with the audience was the dynamic needed to kick this event off. Geer pointed out that when it comes to voting, too much email wasn't an issue -- and also noted some of the complexities and multichannel efforts the campaign put in place, which many marketing organizations might envy.

Jim Sterne, the founder of the Web Analytics Association, was the keynote on Day 2 and was the most polished speaker of the event. He led us through a great presentation on marketing and analytics and laid out some fundamentals and methodologies of a very tough topic: attribution modeling. Jim isn't an insider to email, so it was refreshing to see someone focused on analytics and measurement reinforce the value of email, and talk in general about where it fits in the attribution circle. It was also refreshing to see someone from outside of email tell the audience, "You must find out the value of email and an email address to your business."



Bob Frady of Live Nation was the key case study presentation on Day 2 and did not disappoint. Bob is known for his very pragmatic presentation style, and does so with a classic direct marketer viewpoint. The primary message he drove home was an idea I've been speaking to for years: "You need to raise the level of your discussions and analysis to that of solving business problems and showing business results, not clicks and opens. Those mean nothing to the executive teams."

The rest of the Summit focused on group discussions, panels and networking events, which is really where the value is delivered. The panel discussions brought out some interesting topics with Loren McDonald navigating examples of social media and email with Jay Stevens from MySpace, Karla Venell from General Mills and Brian Whalley from OurStage.

The marketer's panel I moderated on Day 1 featured discussions around data management, personalization, and consumer perceptions. Vince Cheung from 24 Hour Fitness and Sal Tripi from Publisher's ClearingHouse talked about their issues as organizations to fulfill the data mission and the effects email has on their customer base. Brad Schleif from Northwest Airlines opened up to talk about the sophistication Northwest has put into its program, an idea reinforced at the Travel and Hospitality roundtable. The airlines just get it; they may not always execute well, but they have the foundation of good lifecycle and retention marketing down in many respects.

Stephanie Miller from Return Path led a very collaborative panel on Day 3, with each table going through a checklist of things they "should do" as pledges for great email marketing. A panel with Brad Bacon from The Weather Channel and Jack Hogan from LIfescript brought together two marketers from very high-profile publishing environments who clearly outlined what is a good subscription center and how they are monetizing this without sacrificing the user experience.

Lisa Harmon and Aaron Smith from Smith-Harmon Associates, along with Jessica Morris from Williams Sonoma, presented a creative showcase that was themed to the Emmys. This colorful presentation showcased the best in newsletters, preference centers and an assortment of email creative.

The last panel of the day was done on short notice. Ryan Deutsch of Strongmail led a session with long-time insider Ed Heinrich from Responsys and Chip House from ExactTarget, with the goal of collaborating on the next innovations in email and technology. As is usually the case with presentations from Ryan, he gave out plenty of Starbucks cards and challenged the audience to stump these technology executives on topics like couponing, data warehousing, mobile and RSS.

People love to collaborate and mix and the half-day sessions and roundtables on all three days allowed for this high level of networking and collaboration. The intimate nature of this event and emergence of new people attending, keep the Summit thriving each year. Kudos, MediaPost, for a fine event!

Editor's Note: Want to see (and hear) firsthand what happened at the Email Insider Summit? Click here for the first videos from the Summit.

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