Ready Steady Email!

The week before last saw another successful showing for the Ready Steady Email event that I helped co-found in my capacity as a member of both the DMA’s Email Marketing Council and the E-communications council at the IAB. For those of you that don’t know, the daylong workshop is designed to highlight and hone the skills needed to produce a successful email marketing strategy.

Take your positions

The format starts with a welcome from the chair, on this occasion the accomplished Tim Watson from Smart Focus. Tim took the group through the introduction which extols and demonstrates by a virtue of a simple exercise the benefits of ‘learning by doing’, ie ‘Do’ then ‘Review’ then ‘Refine’.

The day then moves onto an example email marketing case study which is deliberately riddled with ‘errors’ which the attendees work on in groups. The groups must work on the following areas:

· Strategy

· Data aquistion & management

· Legas & best practice

· Segmentation & targeting

· Measurement & evaluation

· Design & content

· Testing & refinement

They must work out how they would make a success of the email marketing activity for the example company used in the cases study. As the delegates carry out the exercise, industry experts from both councils do the rounds and offer insight wherever people are struggling or have questions.

Once complete, everyone’s proposals are collected and the industry experts give them the once over before selecting two to present to the whole group ‘Dragons Den-style’, while the panel digs deep with some telling questions. Finally, the audience votes on which was the best pitch and the winning group goes home with some hard-earned victory wine!

We run the event in London twice a year, with the next one scheduled for March 2011. It’s also toured the country, stopping in Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Bristol so far with an event in Leeds being put together as we speak.

What’s great is that it benefits both beginners and the more experienced marketer. Because everyone’s working with the same case study, the baggage of who’s from where and what they’re doing in their day job disappears.

If you are new to email marketing you benefit from the experience of others and the industry experts on tap. Equally if you are experienced and have been afraid of asking that nagging question you always wanted to ask, the case study scenario enables you to put this question across in a ‘safe environment’.

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Times change

Having been a on the panel of experts at the various events over that past two years, it’s amazing to see just how radically different the strategies presented today are. What shines through is the importance of refining your strategy, and key in yesterday presentation was integration – making sure all channels are working together for the best result whether they be print, social, email, web-based or anything else. Equally interesting to see from the groups yesterday was the shift in strategy from purchasing data to acquiring data via other channels, whether social, PPC or natural search.

The old question of “is email dead?” arose. The following ensued:

“Who has a smartphone?”

Everyone in the group nods.

“Who has checked their emails on it today?”

Everyone put their hands up.

Mobile was once touted long before social as heralding death of email, but now we are looking at not only the application but the device itself which makes our inbox portable. We are now taking our email with us wherever we go.

But some things stay the same…

The larger observation from how much things have changed in the last two years is the importance of reviewing your processes. Whatever works at the moment is certain to change in the future and those who stay agile and adapt will position themselves much more ably for ongoing success.

What makes email so powerful is both its ubiquity and its flexibility. Those who understand this most fluently will be the real winners, whether of wine at the next Ready Steady Email event or out in their market place against their competition.

For now, congratulations to Rosie, Matylda, Kim and Evanna for taking the prize on the day! If you want to walk in their footsteps, check out the DMA best practice guidelines for more top strategic advice or drop me a line if you want to know about future events.

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