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Notes from MarketingSherpa's Email Summit

Below you can find my notes from MarketingSherpa's Email Summit along with some stuff I noted down when I was reading a bunch of white papers and studies on the plane home. I hope you find it useful!

General Guidelines

  • The average person receives 133 emails per day (US)
  • Make every communication count!
  • Don’t follow best practices blindly => test!
  • Your welcome message is the most impactful (highest open & click-through rates - take advantage of this “emotional moment” when recipients feel most connected & engaged) with your brand
  • Make sure you have a formalized content strategy - written down!
  • Set up an email best practices newsletter (Benchmark countries against each other (eg best conversion), Share learnings & best practices)
  • Keep your emails below 75KB maximum (Preferred size: 35 KB)


  • Ask yourself this question: How easy is it to implement & what is the ROI potential?
  • Adjust resources so you’re dedicating your efforts towards customers who spend the most money
  • Email typically underperforms for companies that do not have at least 1 dedicated person

Image rendering: the challenge

  • Less than 50% of marketers are creating emails that render properly
  • Emails with broken images are more often regarded as spam/phishing emails
  • 50% of readers have images blocked by default (Most web clients will block images by default by end of 2007)
  • 70% of readers use the preview pane (The top 5-8 cm (400-500 vertical pixels) are your most valuable real estate, use it wisely!)
  • If a picture is worth 1000 words and the picture doesn’t appear, how many of the words you were attempting to communicate will be conveyed?
  • A poor email experience can quickly turn into a poor brand experience and thus, the loss of a good customer

Design & lay-out

  • Copy is more important than design (Design messages using fewer images or include a table of contents at the top of your email
  • Keep the structure/lay-out of your emails consistent
  • Redesign email templates so that both content and images can be viewed within a 2-3 inch (5-8 cm) window
  • Use the preview pane to establish your brand & main Call-to-action
  • Create a balance of images & text that do not rely on each other in order to make a statement
  • Design for the top 60% of email clients on your list
  • The text version of your email is still seen by 15% of your list
  • Even it it’s just once, ask your designers to create your next email showing all images and then one version assuming all images are blocked


  • The #1 obstacle to conversion is clarity => Make the offer crystal clear!
  • You only have 7 seconds to convey your message
  • Consumers view any irrelevant message as spam
  • Before you hit “send” ask yourself: is it likely that this email will be viewed as relevant, timely and valuable by the recipient?
  • Relevant campaigns increase net profits by an average of 18 times more than do broadcast emails – despite the additional costs (source: JupiterResearch)
  • Today’s email success is about quality, not quantity
  • Create a sense of urgency for your offers (24-72 hrs)
  • Focus on 3-5 offers per email


  • Testing landing page copy gives the highest ROI
  • Make sure your test objective is SMART-I (Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Trackable & Implementable)
  • Pre-test all campaigns before they are launched => Delivery, images, links
  • There are about a dozen email clients that matter for most companies to pre-test in => Check the domains on your list

6 Tips for email testing success

  1. Ask a question
  2. Form a theory
  3. Create the test
  4. Segment the list
  5. Measure & analyze the results
  6. Make changes

List Management / Growth

  • Isolate (and remove) dormant email addresses (people that didn't open or click in the last x months) => Send them a last chance email
  • Be careful when using incentives to grow your list => Make sure the incentive appeals mainly to your target audience
  • Make unsubscribing as easy as possible => Make sure they can unsubscribe without knowing their password
  • When a recipient doesn’t respond to the confirmation email, sending one reminder maximum


  • Make sure metrics are calculating in the same way before you compare/benchmark your campaigns


  • 1 in 5 emails get blocked before they reach the inbox
  • Some ISPs use a senders’ bad-address-bounce rate (“unknown user rate”) as a key metric in determining whether to blacklist the sender => Keep your lists clean & remove hard bounces!
  • Set up SPF records, Sender ID records and mail using DomainKeys authentication when possible
  • Being SenderScore-certified means that delivery, images & links function properly in Windows Live Mail
  • At many ISPs, if your email address is in the address book of the recipient, you’ll have better inbox delivery and your images will be turned on by default

That's it! Let me know if you have any questions, or if you want me to clarify any of the above. Feel free to add your notes in the comments. I typically post all comments after reviewing them - that's just a measure to keep spam comments off my blog, so don't feel shy!

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