How a Conference Exhibition Hall is Like an Email Inbox
Having just returned from the Internet Retailer Conference with over 600 vendors, you realize what a competitive place the event floor is. Not only are vendors competing with other vendors that provide the same service or product as they do, they are competing with every other vendor in the exhibition hall. I couldn’t help but see the similarities with email. The email inbox is a competitive place. Marketers’ potentially compete head-to-head with their direct competitors on a regular basis, but they are also competing with every other sender in the inbox.
Which vendor booths grab your attention (subject line)?
There is a lot to see on the exhibition floor at a large convention. The booth and those working it only have a few seconds to engage with attendees as they quickly pass by. The same goes for email. If you don’t have an engaging subject line that is relevant to your audience, you lose your opportunity to engage. Don’t blow this opportunity. Test your subject lines. Monitor your competitions’ subject lines and those of other successful marketers. Make sure you can quickly grab the attention of your subscribers who are reading your email on the go and dealing with busier and busier inboxes. Just like the exhibition floor, you are competing against all the emails in your inbox, not just your direct competitions’ emails.
Which vendor has the best messaging and the most knowledgeable staff (creative)?
Let’s face it. If you have an ugly booth or people working the booth who don’t know their stuff, attendees aren’t sticking around. Even worse, they might run to your competition’s booth. The same goes for email. If your email doesn’t quickly convey its value in a visually appealing way, your subscribers won’t click and potentially look at your competition for their next purchase. Make sure to test all your emails and view your email in variety of email clients to ensure the email renders well for all your subscribers. In addition, know what your competition is sending and how it is performing.
Which vendor has the best giveaway (offer)?
I will be the first to admit that my suitcase contained several items that I will give to my children as “gifts” (and a personal favorite for me – a t-shirt that says “keep calm and email on”). Because of these items, I chatted with several vendors. Without an enticing giveaway, I wouldn’t have chatted with them. While not all emails must have an offer, those that do need to have one that is valuable, timely, and relevant. What generally works with your subscribers? Which offers work for your competition? How do your subscribers engage with offers from your competition? Hint: You can find out with the new subscriber overlap beta feature in Inbox Insight.
Which attendees are worth talking with (targeting)?
With such a huge conference and hundreds of vendors, not every conference attendee is going to be the right target for your product or service. And, for those that are, your competition is potentially using different measures to engage with those attendees. Do you know the various ways your competition is engaging with their various booth attendees? Does it appear to be working (how busy is their booth)? The same goes for your email file. While you might have thousands on your list, your list is not homogeneous and how you (and your competition) engage with them should vary. Some subscribers may want several emails a week while others only want a couple emails a month. Some may be recent purchasers and others have never bought a thing (yet). As an email marketer (just like a vendor on the exhibition floor), you need to know your audience and how to get engage with that individual. Monitor your competition and learn how they are using email to engage with their audience effectively. When do they send? How many emails do they send? How are they segmenting their file? And how do these tactics work for them?
Interested in tracking your inbox competition? Check out some tips here or contact your Account Manager for more details on Inbox Insight and our new beta features. Not currently utilizing Inbox Insight to optimize your campaigns and increase your ROI? Contact Return Path to learn more.
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About Julia Peavy
Julia Peavy is currently the Director of Partner Services at Return Path. In this role, Julia is responsible for supporting Return Path’s partners and helping improve the client experience through consistent, quality, and scalable services. When Julia's not helping partners and their clients, you can find her on the slopes, trying to lower her handicap, looking for bargains, or watching one of her boys' many sporting events.