A look back at The Email Design Conference 2014

Last month, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Litmus Email Design Conference 2014 in Boston as a guest of Litmus. The conference, as expected, was fantastic. It went incredibly smoothly, the speakers were knowledgeable and engaging, and overall I had an amazing time. Here I’ll run through my five favourite talks.

Building a Community with Curated Content

Dave Verwer, Curated Inc.
Matt Byrd, Litmus
Jason Rodriguez, Litmus

After the general introduction session, we had the tough choice of picking between two different tracks of presentations. For the first talk, I chose track B which was Building a Community with Curated Content.

This talk started with Dave Verwer of Curated Inc discussing how he built the community of IOS Dev Weekly using curated content in an email. It was fascinating to hear the tools and methods he used to put together this newsletter without a huge time outlay.

We then moved into Matt and Jason discussing how they use curated content to build up the newsletters they have at Litmus, such as the Email Design Newsletter. One really interesting stat that came from this was that removing a featured article actually helped overall click-through rate in their emails.

All three speakers agreed that putting links at the bottom of their newsletters didn’t massively harm those article click-throughs. As Matt so aptly said; people are conditioned to scroll! I for one #EmbraceTheScroll.

Process This! How to Be Successful by Design

Jay Jhun, BrightWave
Megan Merrifield, Gulfstream Aerospace

For the next talk, I switched back over to track A to catch Process This! How to be successful by design. If there’s one thing I love hearing about, it’s what companies are doing process-wise for their email marketing.

I loved hearing what Megan was doing in terms of efficiency in her process, bringing in Lean efficiency and even using Six Sigma to improve the quality of their process outputs. It was also hearing what Jay, who works agency side for BrightWave Marketing, was doing internally to manage tight turnarounds, crazy client requests and all the other joys that come with agency life. They also put together an awesome brief document to help manage those incomplete briefs!

Data Science at MailChimp: Using Mountains of Data to Improve the Email Experience

John Foreman, MailChimp

Day two saw a lot of tired faces after a really great after party. But they were quickly perked up by an incredible talk from John Foreman who provided a great insight into some common email myths. MailChimp send 10 billion emails a month and they cracked into some of the data science.

The one really big takeaway for this was that You are not Obama. This was in reference to the Obama email campaign in 2012 that proved when you send more email you generate more revenue. John shut this idea down stating that it doesn’t work for a lot of MailChimp customers (not to say it won’t work for you!) I will now be using this as my evidence that you have to test everything yourself!

How to Beat Email Clients with Email Hacks

Brian Graves, DEG
Fabio Carneiro, MailChimp
Kevin Mandeville, Litmus

Next up was one of the talks I was most looking forward to. This was a panel talk which was basically three true email development geeks sitting down and discussing their tools of the trade, tricks, etc.

The thing that made this so great was that each of them came from a different background. Brian works for an agency, Fabio works for an ESP, and Kevin works client side. It was really interesting to hear their differing opinions on stuff. Brian is a big fan of pattern based email design and development whereas Fabio thinks it cuts some of your creativity out. Kevin is a big fan of implementing crazy hacks to “beat” email clients whereas Brian is very much of the mindset that you should use hacks as a last resort.

Designing for Emotion in Email

Kevin Mandeville, Litmus
Jason Rodriguez, Litmus

I can safely say this was my favourite talk of the whole conference. Kevin and Jason absolutely rocked the stage. Although the talk was titled Designing for Emotion in Email, they covered a lot more than just designing; they talked about what’s pushing email forward, emails they love, surprising design elements, and a lot more.

One of the best quotes of the conference came from this talk:

“A remarkable email is human”

This talk is something that all email marketers need to remember, and which I think we sometimes forget.

Speed dating, round tables and lobster

Outside of the talks, the conference was an amazing way to just hang around with like-minded email geeks.

Between the talks there were speed dating sessions hosted by various email experts. It was great to just wander round listening in to the advice the experts were giving people. The lunch tables were also organised to have round-table discussions lead by the experts.

Outside of the conference, there were a lot of email geeks in the hotels nearby and we kept the email talk flowing well into the night over some lobster.

In conclusion, I have to give it up to the Litmus team and everyone involved with running The Email Design Conference 2014. If you love email as much as we do, we’ll see you there next year!