Impactful networking and valuable learning materialise every time the email and omnichannel marketing community gathers at MailCon, and that's exactly what happened at this year’s Phonexa-owned-and-operated event, hosted at the Caesars Forum in Las Vegas from April 17 to 19. The three-day conference featured numerous networking opportunities, highlighted by the inaugural SaaS pitchfest, the kickoff party at Topgolf and the afterparty at Brooklyn Bowl – all of which further cultivated the collective mission of the ever-growing MailCon community. With nearly 600 attendees and over two dozen sessions, the 2023 event covered tracks across all email and omnichannel marketing areas – from compliance, behavioural science, deliverability, and everything in between. Here are some of the highlights from the conference. 1. Keynote: Navigating Consumer Behaviour Changes — 3 Components to Drive Email Engagement Olivia Balicki, Senior Manager at Deloitte Digital (Moderator) Umberto Castaldo, Head of Strategy at Deloitte (Keynote) Sitha Ngy, Group Creative Director at Deloitte (Keynote) Nick Ingham, MarTech Leader at Deloitte Digital (Keynote) As noted in the 2022 Deloitte Experience Management Personalisation Survey, some 79% of brands rate themselves as delivering great personalised experiences. However, they don’t know that there is a disconnect with the consumer – with only 37% saying that brands are doing this well. What does this tell you about email and its importance in the customer conversion journey? \t Email is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix \t Brands are falling behind customers’ expectations The above-mentioned facts drive a rather sobering conclusion – marketing teams cannot keep evolving in silos; instead, they need cohesiveness to drive a different type of change that keeps up with customer demand. For these Deloitte and Deloitte Digital execs, it all boiled down to the following three approaches: \tHave a human conversation: For too long, marketing messaging has been one-way and often irrelevant. With the deprecation of third-party cookies, it's more important than ever for brands to get to know their prospects and customers better using zero and first-party datasets. Use that insight quickly and consistently to optimise your messaging across channels and be human. \tStrike a balance between creative freedom and production scalability: As messaging becomes more data-driven and personalised, marketers must build efficient production processes that incorporate the creativity and human element customers expect from one-to-one channels while efficiently delivering at scale. \tDon’t get stuck in first gear: You are likely never done with investing in technology; your marketing automation platforms and datasets constantly evolve. Experience strategy, creative, and production teams must work closely with capability development teams to push the experience boundaries that drive growth. Think about lifecycle-based marketing and AMP for email, which has brought interactivity possibilities to drive engagement. 2. Keynote: Add Some BS to Increase Your Email Response Rate Nancy Harhut, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at HBT Marketing You increase your response rates when you write emails using behavioural science – or, as Harhut says – “BS.” Why? Because behavioural science allows you to take advantage of the scientifically-proven decision-making shortcuts people use when determining which emails to open and read. These hardwired behaviours result in automatic, reflexive responses, which means you can prompt people to engage with your email without giving it a second thought. And how’s that achieved? Through the use of the following science-backed behavioural tactics that bring more eyeballs to your email in their saturated emails. Here’s how Harhut described it. \t“Eye magnet” words: When it comes to subject lines, frontloading terms like – free, new, you, trends, top, because, instantly, sale, now, and offer – will naturally attract the human eye, prompting better open rates across the board. \tPosition your message for fast response: Tap into the principle of scarcity by making them feel special through exclusivity and time-pressed through urgency. \tRemember the consistency principle: Once people commit to a service or product, they remain consistent. When creating emails, remember that the first small yes will lead to many subsequent larger ones, so the more relevant your content and offerings remain, the better your outcomes will be. To get this under your scope, remind people of their earlier “yes” while also escalating your asks. \tUse social proof: We do what other people do, especially if they’re like us. So show your target audience that others have already done what you want them to do. This creates a sense of trust and relevancy, so your offering sticks with these targets far longer. \tLoss aversion: Negative can deliver positive results for consumers because they are twice as motivated to avoid pain than to achieve results. Speak to your customer’s pain points and help them avoid “making mistakes.” \tAvailability bias: This is the human tendency to rely on information that comes readily to mind when evaluating situations or making decisions. Reversing this back to marketing and emails, think about personal relevance. If it can be recalled or imagined, it’s more likely to allow it to happen, turning doubters into buyers. To be effective at this, stir people’s memories or imaginations before you ask them to respond. \tThe authority principle: Always think about what can immediately make you look better than your competitors and make a play on that without bashing them. When done right, people will recognise and respect the authority you instill in your offerings and positioning. \tThe journalist’s rule: Use the 5Ws and 1H (who, what, when, where, why, how) in question format to generate curiosity and offer to fill an information gap. 3. Debate: What is the Best Channel for Lead Conversion? Kassandra Urias, COO of Channel Automation (Moderator) Vic Sun, CEO of Channel Automation (#TeamText) Lisa Jones, CEO of EyeMail (#TeamEmail) Teddy Liaw, CEO of NexRep (#TeamVoice) During this unique debate and interactive session, the panel actively involved the audience in their discussion to help them determine the best marketing channel for conversions. Is it calls? Email? SMS? As each panelist took sides in the discussion, they uncovered critical data and insights about each channel. Sun represented team SMS and discussed the immediate benefits SMS yields for brands. When it came to SMS versus email, it was uncovered that text messages generate a whopping 98% open rate, with only 10% of them being reported as spam. Regarding click-through rates, SMS generated 45-to-98% open rates, as opposed to 2.78% with emails. Response time with SMS is only 90 seconds as compared to the 90-minute window with emails. Ultimately, SMS yields ease for users and nearly instant results for marketers. A suggested way to accomplish better SMS activity is by following these tricks: \tUse Instagram Stories to opt-in for SMS \tSend content with promo codes to your email list to get mobile numbers \tUse QR codes or hashtags for CTA \tUpsell with a discount code \tGet reviews and UGCs \tProvide instant gratification to users on tasks \tEngage conversations via auto and manual As a contact centre solutions provider, Teddy Liaw put all his bets on voice and calls being the most conversion tools. Liaw dove deeper into the intimacy and personal connection that direct phone calls with prospects and clients allow that sometimes SMS or email can lack. Then there was the debate around email. Jones spoke on interactive or AMP for email and video-in-email experiences that have elevated the traditional concept, making emails a simple and instant channel to send and receive messages, information, and files, creating a trustable paper trail. The audience then participated in an online poll, where 64% of voters said email was the most effective channel for lead conversion, while text messages were second with 27%, and voice or calls took the least favoured position with 9%. A Bright, Omnichannel Future for the MailCon Community On day two of the event, MailCon CEO Kristen Haines headlined a panel keynote with Phonexa Chief Creative Officer Armen Karaoghlanian and Chief Marketing Officer Talar Malakian as the trio unveiled the future vision and plans for the email marketing conference. With new programming, tracks, topics, and workshops, MailCon’s operations will focus on offering more value and opportunities to keep the Community engaged and learning throughout the year with carefully-curated events, each unique to a distinct marketing specification. “The MailCon Community is in for a great surprise in the coming months and years as we expand our event operations and focus on new event programming, tracks, topics, and more. The 3.0 version will offer more value and opportunities to keep our community engaged throughout the year with carefully curated events, each unique to an area of focus, with MailCon being the tentpole event,” said Haines. “Email marketing will remain the essence of MailCon, but now at a larger scale, with an expanded event programme covering more marketing channels and customer interactions; and Phonexa’s growth and resources fuelling it.” More announcements about new event programming will be made in the coming months. Stay tuned and connected with MailCon to stay in the loop.