Litmus Live Recap: The Most Precious Insights I Learned At The Biggest Email Marketing Conference

Litmus Live 2021 recap

Litmus Live is one of the biggest email marketing conferences out there. Top speakers, precious insights and lots of inspiration for the coming year! It happened a month ago, and I’m still listening to the recorded sessions and taking notes. Here’s a concise recap of the things I liked most and found most useful at Litmus Live 2021.

Rudolf the Reindeer and pumpkin spice couches: How to use storytelling in marketing

Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer, writer and speaker, shared her thoughts on how to make a great story that sells.

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Everybody likes good stories. What differs a story that sells from any other story is the perspective: customers need to see themselves in the content that we’re producing.

The story should be about your customer, not your product.

“We have pizza” by Pizza Hut is an example of company-centric storytelling. But even if you love your product and see how much value it can bring, customers need more than that. They need to see themselves in these stories.

For example, if you sell liquid detergent, your story should not be about how great it is at cleaning, but about how happy your customer is, now that the clothes are clean and fresh and they have more time for a glass of wine with friends instead of doing laundry.

This is what you can do to make your customers connect emotionally to your product:

  • Make the customer a part of your narrative or even the hero of your story. Rudolph the Reindeer fairy tale is a great example of a customer-centered story. Look at it this way: Rudolph (your product) makes Santa (your customer) the hero of the story by helping him illuminate the path through harsh winter weather with his nose (your product’s superpower).
  • Add emotion to your story, not just logic. Ann shared an amazing story about how she put up 2 different Facebook ads to sell her two old couches. One ad just used the logic approach and stated that the couches were free. The second ad had the emotional approach (“Perfect for binging Netflix or cozying up with your bestie on a chilly autumn night”) and stated the price of $95 dollars. The emotional ad outperformed the logical one very fast, even though the logical one stated the product was free!

5 click-worthy email personalization trends to inspire your marketing strategy in 2022

Lauren Gannon, SVP at Professional Services Epsilon PeopleCloud Messaging, told a story about how personalization has evolved during the existence of email and talked about top trends to use in 2022.

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Personalization has changed a lot in the last 15 years. Fun fact: the famous movie “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks gave it a big push. After this movie went on screens, email started to be regarded as something more creative and personal than before.

In 1999 desktop gave way to mobile devices and it changed the way how emails were consumed: they became a more personal experience.

This year, with the iOS update, customers got more control of what they will receive. So personalization is now more complicated for marketers than it has ever been. Here are the personalization trends that will rock your email campaigns in 2022 even with the privacy changes the iOS update has brought.

  • Use BIMI. When a customer sees your logo next to an email from you (this is what BIMI actually means), it makes you more recognizable and creates more trust.
  • Map your customer journey. Identify and collect user touchpoints, see if there are opportunities for automation or gaps you can still cover. This way you learn a lot about your customers and can tailor your marketing efforts to what they really do and want. Example: Marriott hotels used machine learning to create unique subject lines for each guest. That’s personalization level 800! 😮
  • Simplify email design process. Use modular email systems, pre-built templates and reusable content. Use dynamic content to easily show relevant content to customers.
  • Energize content with interactive elements. In 2020 Litmus asked 2000 email marketers if they use interactive content. Only 23% of them said they do. That sounds like a great chance to stand out! For example, you can use AMP-carousels to show products that your customer just browsed or abandoned in the cart.
  • Boost behavioral messaging. Send real-time personalized messages based on customer transactions and online behavior (search, browse, abandon).

“Head and heart of marketing”: How to make both logic and emotion bring great results to your campaigns

Frank Hoffmeier, senior manager of client solutions at Moz Group, gave precious insights on how the so-called “emotional-logical sandwich” approach can transform your email marketing performance.

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When people make decisions about a purchase, do they use logic or emotion? Or both? And if both, what’s the smart way to combine it? Frank Hoffmeier shared a 4-steps formula that explained what approach you should use at every stage of a purchase.

  1. Awareness stage — use emotional appeal. Get people excited at sign-up and during the first few emails, build trust, tell a story.
  2. Consideration stage (when people already know your product and are considering if they should buy it) — add logical reasons. For example, if you’ve already shared great stories about how your lounge furniture made families happy and relaxed, now it’s time to add that it’s made of high quality wood and stain-resistant fabrics.
  3. Decision stage (when people are about to make a decision) — continue to use logic. Maybe it’s time to remind people that your lounge sofa has a very attractive price? Or that the delivery and installation is free?
  4. Retention/upsell stage — back to emotions. Ok, your customer has made a purchase. Great work! Now, what if you tell them how these beautiful cushions can bring a completely new cozy look to their living room? Just like in the pumpkin spice couch story, remember?

Email careers: How do people become email marketers and how to advance your career in email

Kristin Bond, a co-founder and board member of Women of Email, talked about how email marketers actually became email marketers and gave advice on how to thrive in this career.

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In August 2021, Kristin surveyed 252 email marketers about their careers. This survey cannot be really called statistically significant for the whole email community, but it shows some quite interesting facts about what brought people to email marketing.

Here are fun (and insightful) facts about careers in email:

  • An average email marketer is 37 years old. The survey showed that 14,5% of people are/will be 37 years old in 2021. That is not a coincidence, it’s because of the history of email. Those who are around 37 learned to code a bit at a young age in the 90s, when computers appeared. This brought many of them to a career in email.
  • 30% of email marketers are “theater people”. That means they had to do something with performances, acting, etc. before they started on the email marketing path. And that’s understandable! Email industry is creative, geeky, and the mistakes you make are very public.
  • Most email marketers have a degree in communications. That is quite expected as email is actually a means of communication.

People didn’t really choose email, life kind of threw them into it. Here are a couple of examples of how that happened:

“Someone asked me to come run email, and I thought “How hard could it be?”

“Needed someone to code an email. I raised my hand…”

“Applied for a customer care job at a startup, and the owner said: “Hey, you’re a writer, can you learn email?”

What to do if you feel like you’ve hit the ceiling:

  • Try to do some other type of marketing.
  • Ask for more responsibility: to manage a project, people, a channel.
  • Strike out on your own (start your own company).

Tip: Don’t focus too much on job titles. They aren’t even the same across companies.

How to prepare for a career change:

  • Refresh your LinkedIn profile and CV.
  • Take part in email communities like Email Geeks, Women of Email, your ESP community.
  • Put yourself out there: start a blog, speak at events, participate in Twitter chats, be a guest on podcasts or start your own!

Want to find a job in email or need an email marketing specialist?

Check our Jobs in Email Facebook Community.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection

Oracle’s Chad S. White shared his thoughts on Apple’s new privacy features and how marketers can adapt to them.

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Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is a new feature introduced with iOS 15. It hides some of the Apple Mail users’ information like open behavior, IP address, location, and device information. Apple will pre-fetch every email’s content which means that in addition to the “real opens”, there will be so-called “Auto Opens” which are fake.

Specialists expect 95% of Mail app users to do it eventually. We’ll feel the real impact in early 2022.

Yet, your strategies need to remain the same, only tactics will have to change:

  • Continue to measure open rates to understand engagement and deliverability, design efficiently via CTOR, email ad impressions.
  • Watch out for trying to take real opens too seriously — they were always a bit ambiguous.
  • Figure out how your ESP will measure opens. What do they show you: real opens, Auto Opens, or both?
  • Manage the engagement of subscribers — its importance isn’t going anywhere, you still need to run re-engagement campaigns.

Today, opens are central. Prepare to rely on other metrics:

  • Clicks
  • Web sessions
  • App sessions
  • Purchases

Restructure email journeys. Since you won’t be able to heavily base them on opens, consider:

  • Sending full emails journeys with prominent opt-out.
  • Using clicks to accelerate and trigger progression.
  • Break journeys into groups triggered by clicks.
  • Using loyalty programs.
  • Using cross-channel activity.

And finally, ask yourself:

How much of your audience is affected by the MPP? Do you have much to worry about? How long are your email journeys and how much do they rely on clicks and opens? Change your tactics for the better.

Great tips to advance Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in your emails

Anne K. Tomlin (Founder, Emails Y’all) and Shani Nestingen (Lead Product Designer, Target) gave their tips on how to create emails that reflect your audience. All of it.

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It’s more vital than ever to create messages that speak to every one of your subscribers. Adopting an inclusive outlook not only fosters a culture of respect and belonging, but it’s also good for business. It shows your customers that you care and you can be trusted.

Here’s what you need to do to incorporate Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) in your emails in a natural way:

Look at your customer and subscriber data to improve personalization:

  • Know your audience and represent all voices so that your customers see themselves in your messages.
  • Focus on interests, not demographics.
  • Make your content dynamic by swapping images and texts.
  • Use reporting data to check what works and what doesn’t.

Enhance accessibility to make your emails usable and readable to all people:

  • Use contrasting colors.
  • Add descriptive alt texts for all images.
  • Add large buttons and make sure your text is no lower than 14px.
  • Use live text — don’t write text on images.
  • Use short and clear copy and side-aligned paragraphs.

Represent all voices through copy and imagery: 

  • Use gender-inclusive pronouns.
  • Use the preferred language of your audience.
  • Include images of people of different ages, cultures, ethnicities, and LGBTQIA+ couples.
  • Make your team more diverse, it will make your content more diverse.

Audit your content with your team’s help. 

  • Regularly check what you’re missing and what you can improve on.
  • Don’t set and forget your transactional emails, review them.
  • Add all team members to the discussion: leadership, copywriters, designers, developers.

How to transform your company’s newsletter strategy

Meagan McGinnes (Senior Editor, Newsletters at WBUR) and Dan Oshinsky (Founder, Inbox Collective) talked about WBUR’s email strategy.

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WBUR is a public radio station located in Boston. Here are their 5 newsletter strategy lessons that any business can learn from:

If you’re just getting started with data, start small: 

  • Pick specific metrics you can start with and make it more sophisticated over time.
  • Use data and reader feedback to inform decisions like launching new products.

After learning that their listeners might be interested in the political coverage, they launched Mass Election Prep resulting in 80% of its subscribers opting into the regular newsletter.

Content is still king: 

  • Using the data from surveys and feedback, make sure that you give your audience something great and valuable.

When they started, WBUR’s newsletter had no strategy for growth and no conversation with readers. They launched 7 new newsletters with a personal approach. As a result, they experienced 83% list growth from January 2020 to January 2021.

If you’re asking the audience to listen, you need to do the same:

  • Don’t forget to listen to your audience, not just your superiors, let people shape the future of newsletters.
  • The inbox is a great space for creating a personal atmosphere.

By making their newsletter a less formal product and by asking questions and encouraging replies, WBUR got the list with 50% of contacts having the 5-star rating in MailChimp (highly engaged).

Don’t put yourself on an island: 

  • By creating cross-departmental working groups, you can do much more and much quicker than when you’re fighting other teams.

WBUR has cross-functional meetings on any product, including newsletters which helps them create messages that resonate with their audience.

You never have all the answers. So keep asking questions: 

Don’t ever stop, continue to be curious and wonder how to do better and improve.

Simplifying A/B testing to make better data-led decisions

Jon May (Email Marketing Manager, RAC) loves A/B testing, has a lot of experience there, so he decided to share his thoughts on the best practices for running A/B tests.

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Find A/B testing too complex? Here’s a nice outline of what it is and why you need it (or not!) and what to look out for.

Why do A/B testing? (and when not to)

A/B testing:

  • Turns opinions into facts.
  • Helps internal stakeholders be heard.
  • Hels to watch out for the HIPPO (HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion). They’ve got opinions — make sure they’re confirmed with facts.
  • Tells specific things about your audience.
  • Lets you try out unconventional ideas.
  • Reduces the overall risk of failure.

When not to A/B test:

  • Not enough data/subscribers
  • It doubles the creative required
  • Not enough resources
  • Testing for the sake of testing
  • Make one thing better

How to build a test theory

A template test theory:

I think that [item to test] will [increase/decrease] the [metric] by [a little 0-5% / a bit 5-20% / a lot 20%+] because [reasoning].

How to analyze results

Email creative metrics:

  • Delivery rate
  • Open rate (warning! Pay it special attention in light of the MPP)
  • Click rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Click quality score

Email program metrics:

  • List growth
  • Average days since last engagement
  • Average days on the list
  • Win back rate
  • Sunset rate
  • Abuse rate

Financial metrics:

  • Profit
  • Revenue
  • Average order value
  • Items per order
  • Customer lifetime value
  • Average orders per customer

Business/product metrics:

  • Length in app
  • Active users
  • Retention rate
  • Re-buy rate
  • Cancellation rate
  • Returns rate
  • Complaints rate

What tips did you find the most useful?

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