Katya Andresen and I were invited to speak this year on the topic of why non-profits are so far behind the industry as a whole in the email marketing arena.  They are, by the way.

Herewith a few preliminary thoughts, reactions, and notions:

  • When they say email they mean email.  This conference is 100% web 1.0.  I don’t know if they are saving RSS, viral marketing and the like for a separate conference, or if this agenda has just grown long in the tooth.  Very very well organized though.
  • There are lots of exhibitors, but the swag is very disappointing.  I thought i was actually going to have to buy breath mints.  Thank you, Zrinity for the free ones.  Mostly it’s just cheap pens.
  • On to practical matters — the art of getting people to sign up on your site is still emerging, with the two best practices considered to be either providing all fields on the home page or providing an email field and submit button that then continues to a second page where you complete registration.  No mention of the fact that AJAX seems likely to make this issue go away.
  • Spam filters that the big ISPs use are almost entirely “reputation” based, meaning they are not filtering the content of your emails, but, for instance, whether you have an unusually high number of spam complaints.  Organizations with state chapters or local affiliates beware — the ISPs will not distinguish between your affiliates’ spammy practices and your squeaky clean ones.  You are only as strong as your weakest link.
  • Marketers report that, of all the testing they do, they get the highest ROI from landing page optimization.  For the slow learners among you: LANDING PAGE OPTIMIZATION.  Most non-profit landing pages are painfully bad.
  • Use of preview panes is growing so rapidly that the preview pane-visible part of your email (with images blocked) should be considered part of the “envelope information” — From, Subject and pane copy — that drives opens.
  • Use of image blocking is highest among 35-54 year olds, precisely the demographic that is most likely to be donating to you.  Either create a powerful incentive to get folks to grant blanket permission to unblock your images, or say it with text.

More to come…