ClickZ B2C Email Strategies: Its a Wrap

Consumer email marketing case studies and the latest industry statistics. Sizzling roundtable panel discussions and dynamic audience interaction. Grand buffet lunches and a gala awards-dinner ceremony.

Those are just some of the highlights of last week’s events in Long Beach, California. Between ClickZ’s last conference of Y2K — B2C Email Strategies — and the first annual Email Excellence Awards (cohosted with MessageMedia), this southern California hot spot was on fire (well… maybe a BIT of an exaggeration there).

Like any good conference should offer, there were networking opportunities aplenty. Daily breakfasts and lunches allowed attendees to swap war stories and — yes, it’s true — talk politics. (The Florida election debacle was all the rage.)

The other side of the show was, of course, the sessions. For those of you who missed it, here are a few highlights.

Rick Bruner of IMT Strategies had, as always, some timely statistics to share. Yes, folks, there IS indeed a shakeout coming, and it’s going to affect all of us in some way, shape, or form. (Related side note: Just last week, three acquaintances of mine were laid off. Two weeks before that, two others were also let go due to downsizing. Each was employed by a different dot-com.) Scary stuff, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. The survivors will bode well in the future when it comes to campaign response within this space.

Speaking of increased response, Rick also drove home the point that “response” in email marketing terms can’t always be compared to response when referring to direct mail. Too often, he said, marketers call a 10 percent click-through rate their “response” rate, making direct mail’s traditional 1 percent pale in comparison. We must be mindful that direct mail response actually refers to ultimate conversion. Meaning, quite often, real dollars and not just eyeballs.

Gordon Paddison of New Line Cinema shared some of New Line’s strategies for upping its offline ticket sales. Streaming rich media audio and video promotions are key strategies to New Line’s success. Along with that, email list rental was becoming a bigger and bigger part of its online marketing scheme.

One of the best parts of Gordon’s session, though, was the lengthy Q&A with the attendees. The audience was certainly engaged, and the interaction with New Line’s marketing exec was outstanding. Everyone certainly learned more about the film industry (and marketing to filmgoers) than they probably ever thought they would. A good lesson learned was that email marketing can definitely drive sales for offline events — a lesson we’re sure to see more marketers taking advantage of in the future.

Fellow ClickZ columnist Nick Usborne gave a smart, often hilarious presentation on copywriting for the email landscape. He took a fresh look at many of the tried-and-true copywriting tactics and spinned them in such a way as to elicit a near standing ovation at the conclusion. He also made an excellent point that copywriting should be taken as seriously by online marketing executives as their sites’ programming and design.

He honed in on the critical, yet often neglected mandate of “Know thy audience” — along with its likes, needs, lifestyle, family situation. In fact, Nick himself took on the role of “single mom with three kids” and showed attendees how to market to “her.” He showed how momentum was built in selling a simple cordless phone: “Hook” prospects with a lifestyle value proposition; use the benefits to make them desire the phone; and use the actual features of the phone only to help substantiate their purchase (in other words — at the ad’s conclusion). Rest assured, Nick had plenty of other valuable email copywriting tidbits to offer.

Between these standouts, there were also panel discussions made up of seasoned direct and email marketers, along with lessons learned and case studies shared by some of the savviest in the business. Other topics included wireless email marketing, data mining, and best practices for the industry. And in the evening after Day 1, just about every attendee participated in the first annual awards ceremony, which was completely dedicated to email marketing excellence. Why, it was a veritable Academy Awards for our industry.

All in all, it was a terrific show and, I believe, a good time had by all. Stay tuned for more of these events in 2001. Just be prepared to share some stories from your own trenches. It’s bound to be a battleground of a year.

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