They say honesty is the best policy. Honesty, in its purest form, shows authenticity, transparency and trust. For our friends at Really Good Emails (RGE), honesty was—and always is— at the heart of their love letter to email, UnSpam 2020.
The second-annual conference, held in Greenville, SC, brought together a close-knit collection of the most ardent #emailgeeks you’ll ever find. And with them, a variety of no-bull conversations about all things email. From design trends to industry trends to paella, what more could email lovers ask for?
A Bit About Our Hosts
If you’ve missed out on all that RGE has to offer, that’s ok. They’re the types that won’t be offended. But now is as good a time as any to check out their stellar collection of emails. Built by three Matthews and a Mike, RGE showcases what the founders love: really good email design and code. Their collection of over 5,000 emails—submitted by users and fans alike—runs the gamut of the customer lifecycle to spark inspiration at any stage.
This sense of community runs through everything they do—culminating in UnSpam, the ode to email joy.
So, without further ado, here are some of the highlights from UnSpam 2020.
1. Think Outside the Rectangle
Being a company focused on email design, it only makes sense that design was a common theme throughout. Design experts and aficionados from the likes of Tattly, GitLab, Thinkful, The Beard Club, and RGE shared their thoughts and observations about what’s new and what has fallen out of favor in the world of design.
- Bigger, bolder type: attention-grabbing is the name of the game and more and more brands are adopting stronger typefaces to bring the message home.
- Overlapping blocks: images are no longer confined to small rectangles. Brands are looking to create a more fluid email experience with overlapping blocks for smoother transitions.
- 3D imagery and GIFs: the world of email is finally advancing to incorporate more dynamic animation possibilities. Again, bringing content out of a confined space.
- Gradients: color gradients are losing out to solid, bold colors in modern designs.
- Diagonals: email marketers are now looking for the smooth, straightforward view of their emails, moving away from diagonal lines to lead the reader’s eye.
- Neon green: beige is so hot right now.
Design is arguably of equal importance to messaging in the success of an email. You can say all the right things, but the overall look of the email is the first hurdle to traverse to get readers engaged.
2. What’s It Like for Email Marketers
Similar to last year, a focal point at UnSpam 2020 was how life has changed for the average email marketer. And like any good marketer, the presenters came with interesting data to tell their story.
Here are the top 5 takeaways.
- Email marketers wear multiple hats with 55% of those surveyed saying they have skills and responsibilities that extend beyond email. What about the rest? They specialize as analysts, designers, developers, writers, etc.
- Click rates topped the survey with 41% of survey respondents saying it is the most important metric. This is a good sign that marketers are looking deeper down the funnel beyond open rates for success markers.
- Passion and dedication is key to the email marketer. Just over a quarter of respondents (26%) say they have been in email marketing between five and eight years. And over 70% of respondents expect to still be in an email role in five years.
- Teams are growing as email marketing grows. Almost half of respondents (47%) are on teams of two or three and 28% are on teams of 4+. The number of respondents on teams of 3+ grew 300% year-over-year.
- There is no single ESP to rule them all as 70% of email marketers supplement their ESP with other tools. These marketers are looking for comprehensive partner ecosystems to fill out their stack.
Looking to the future, it is bright. Simple as that. Teams are growing. Marketers are passionate about their work—and they’re highly skilled to boot. Issues arise in organizing assets and finding the right solutions to fulfill all the creative ideas bouncing around in their heads. If only there was a simpler way to find out which system is right for your brand!
3. All Things Email
The remainder of the UnSpam 2020 conference focused on best practices that branched outside really good designs.
An open session about A/B testing brought a deeper look into the different parts of an email that are worth testing. In particular, The Beard Club showcased the oft-overlooked importance of the control group. They split testing between two experimental groups and one control group that received no communications.
The idea is to get the purest numbers to measure email lift. Control groups will still purchase after organically finding your business. Rather than finding out which subject line is performing better, your test is really looking at exactly how your email communications are driving revenue.
Achieving better deliverability goes beyond analyzing soft and hard bounce rates and finding out what lands in the spam folder.
Udeme Ukutt from the Email Sender and Provider Coalition spoke about some of the best ways to ensure your email finds itself in the right folder. Firstly, you need a clear call-to-action for opting in and out, especially with regulations like GDPR. Secondly, your lists and lifecycles need proper management. Sending out too many emails to lists of defunct addresses will hurt your deliverability. Finally, stay connected with the community like the one at RGE. It’s the best way to stay in the know about trends and new developments in the industry.
Engage, Engage, Engage
The goal of an email is to drive customer engagement. A common theme throughout much of the conference was how to foster more and more engagement with customers.
It’s always a good exercise to see what others are doing to make the customer journey a bit more enjoyable. A few of our favorites were:
- Be authentic
- Make surveys and polls fun
- Monitor buzz by looking outside the inbox to see what people are saying
- Help subscribers feel like part of your team
- Give away free stuff
Every business is unique. And judging by the speakers and attendees at UnSpam 2020, there’s no shortage of creative ideas to make the most out of email marketing. If you’re interested in hearing more from the experts at RGE, check out their session at Activate London 2019 where they did a live email review!
See you all at UnSpam 2021!