I attended the 10th Annual MIMA Summit last week and a lot has changed since the last time I attended in 2009. Mainly, the number of presenters and attendees has steadily increased though one thing remained constant: the presenters did not divulge their top secrets. After going to close to 2-4 conferences and workshops a year for the past 4-5 years I have learned that the people presenting will rarely offer their specific marketing formulas to success. Which is fine, because I also would not give away my secret tips and tricks unless there was an opportunity to work together, so I look for presenters to offer different ways to approach basic themes and topics… bottom line, I enjoy the thought provoking presenters. If the presenter can make me re-think something I previously had a firm opinion on, I appreciate it.

Re-Thinking Email with Dela Quist Headshot of Dela Quist for 2011 MIMA Summit

That is the main reason I enjoyed Dela Quist’s presentation at the MIMA Summit. Dela is the founder and CEO of Alchemy Worx in London which, according to its website, is the only digital marketing agency with a 100% focus on email marketing. Like most presenters, he did not give specific details on what his agency does to drive results for their clients; however he did present the theory of the Nudge Effect, which is the influence of subject lines in unopened emails on recipients.

The Nudge Effect

Since most emails go unopened, subject lines should be viewed as opportunities to influence future consumer behavior through on and offline channels. The challenge in optimizing the subject line for future behavior is to provide enough information that the subscriber retains in and acts on in. Some examples are: “Best deals in store all week” and “Huge savings this weekend only online”. The recipient may not open the email but knows to go to the store or online for savings, promoting future engagement in both off and online channels… and what I particularly like the most, you can attribute the email back to an increase in online and in-store sales.

Another example of subject lines influencing future behavior is to include a certain phrase or word in every subject line. For example, if you are promoting recipes, why not include, “Best recipes - …” at the beginning of every subject line? The point is that even though the recipient does not open the email, they continually see Best recipes next to your brand name in the from-address and will think of your brand when they need a recipe in the future. I have to be honest that initially I was a little skeptic on the idea because the repetition lacks any creativity; however I warmed up to the idea after thinking about it and applying to a testing scenario. Why not apply it to a historically less engaged segment? It may not necessarily spark opens and clicks on that email, but it may drive traffic to the website or store?

Reflection on Dela Quist's Presentation

So how did this provoke thought in me? Like I mentioned above, perhaps incorporating a repetitive phrase in the subject line in less engaged segments will generate interaction, but more specifically it could be another testing or segmentation strategy. The bottom line is that the Nudge Effect is not a silver bullet for email strategy; however it is something to take it into consideration when developing email tactics.

Did you attend Dela Quist's presentation at the MIMA Summit? We'd love to know your thoughts! Feel free to share in the comments below.

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