EEC 2019 recap: Data is changing our approach to email

4 key themes from the Email Evolution Conference


Understanding people is at the heart of everything marketers do. And today’s data-rich world lets marketers build deeper connections than ever before using personalized communications.

These topics ran through many of the sessions at the 2019 Email Evolution Conference. Let’s explore four key themes that all email marketers can keep in mind.

#1: Email is a key tool to drive the growth that marketers need

Marketers need to keep driving growth for their companies, and brands that understand their customers and deliver on those insights are poised for success. Decisions, data, strategies and insights need to connect with customers in a way that is relevant and impactful.

As Bob Liodice, ANA President said, email marketers need to “take risks and be brave.” The inbox is great place for marketers to take chances that will drive growth. It’s somwhere that most people visit on a daily basis, and it’s already one of the top channels for both B2B and B2C marketers.

  • 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI
  • 20% say it’s the most effective channel for customer retention

A data-driven email strategy that builds connections with your current and potential customers is one of the best ways you can grow your business.

#2: Data is changing the way marketers work

Data feeds machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools, and these tools are powering the future of marketing. In fact, they are already embedded in a lot of the technology you’re using.

AI and machine learning are exciting because they’re making our jobs (and lives) better. AI enhances the skills that marketers already have and works with you to make you more productive in unimaginable ways.

A few examples of how some companies are utilizing machine learning to help better understand their customers:

  • Struggle detection uses data to understand the breakdowns in the customer experience. Once you are aware of the problems, you can take action to fix them.
  • Offer hyper-personalization creates “essence” profiles of each product (based on color, model and user feedback) and finds patterns that align to personal profiles and behaviors. Using that match, they can then provide relevant recommendations.
  • Contact fatigue is understanding how many times each customer should be messaged. AI can uncover the tolerance that each person has for message frequency. Understanding this fatigue level can help marketers understand how often they should be messaging this person and let them tailor campaigns accordingly.

#3: Build everything for the customer experience

Putting the customer first is nothing new. But today’s tech and data-centric approach brings up two goals toward getting there:

  1. Understanding where, when and how your customers want to receive their information
  2. Figuring out how that will help the customer

What are some steps toward applying that in your email strategy?

  • Focus on mobile-friendly design. Use headlines that won’t get cut off on a mobile device, CTAs that are easy to find in an app and image sizes that will render correctly.
  • Ensure accessibility best practices. Accessibility in email means making sure that everyone can read your emails, including people who use assistive technology.

Screen readers, which are often used by people who are visually impaired, are one type of assistive technology. 

And it’s not just clients with disabilities who use this technology. More people are having their emails read to them through voice-controlled smart speakers, like Google home and Amazon Echo, and apps on their smartphones. Ensuring your email is follows accessibility best practices will help with individuals using these devices as well.

To make sure screen readers don’t just read your whole table structure out loud, make sure your email is coded properly.

Image alt text is another feature to keep in mind. If your image needs to be read aloud by a screen reader, the alt text will describe what the image is. So if you have a picture of a sunset over Maui, make sure the title isn’t something unhelpful, like “email image 3.”

#4: Get creative

Today's email designers have more options when it comes to designing unique and engaging emails. Many of these tactics can be embedded right within the email, creating a seamless experience for your customer.

  • Gamification, like scratch offs or rewards for filling out profile attributes, adds a sense of challenge and fun to your email program.
  • Hover and shop options provide additional content and information about products that are shown in the email.
  • Templates allow you to swap out information easily, giving your team more time to develop interesting and personalized emails.

Fuel everything with data to build human connections


Steve Hayman, Senior Business and Data Analyst at Dell said it best: “Data drives decisions.” Data should inform everything you do, from understanding the challenges your potential customers face to determining the focus of your campaign.

  • At Dell, they used a data-driven, multichannel contact strategy to re-engage their inactive subscribers. “We took sleepy subscribers out of the existing path into a different and newly created path,” said Steve.

They divided their subscribers into several tracks based on their behavior with Dell and delivered a series of emails and direct mail. Through their data-centric approach, Dell determined which subscribers to keep in touch with and which subscribers to let go. Their campaign gained three times more revenue and two times higher margin than the test group.

After attending EEC 2019, it’s clear that no matter what your email marketing goals are, data will play an important role. Data uncovers your subscribers’ underlying behaviors, and using this data in your email program is crucial to building deeper connections with people.

Learn how email can help you deliver personal, highly relevant messages for all of your customers.