Asking what events email designers and marketers attend is a bit like asking where pigeons hide their eggs. To many, it’s all a bit of a mystery. However, with the benefit of having attended some great talks, I’d like to share some of my favorites, before asking you: what email-related gigs would you recommend?
The other day, the question of what conferences to add to the calendar came up while lunching with an email designer friend of mine. It stuck with me, as there are really very few email-specific shows of note. For better or for worse, most email design practitioners find themselves adopting (or being adopted into) other disciplines in order to get fresh ideas. For example, I learnt much of what I know today about responsive email design from applying things I’d seen UX and web personalities like Luke Wroblewski and Ethan Marcotte present on; the latter in particular was reportedly amused when told once what an email visionary he is.
Perhaps this spirit of inventiveness is why the email design community is flourishing today. But while we’ve created online hangouts, share email rendering results over Twitter and ask questions incessantly, there’s no denying the value of face-to-face collaboration. To start the conversation around recommended events, here are some of mine:
Email design & marketing events
Without a doubt, the annual event for email practitioners is Litmus’ The Email Design Conference in Boston, MA. While at first glance, it may seem to be the realm of “guru” marketers and coders that have remarkably slipped into email’s bizarro world, the truth is that it caters for every level. On top of this, everyone is exceptionally friendly.
One of my favorite bits of #TEDC14 was the people; everyone was passionate about their work, great to chat with, and excited for the future.
— Fabio Carneiro ) August 22, 2014
Despite the name, this isn’t purely a design-oriented conference. Interesting (and effective) A/B tests are discussed, as are big-picture topics such as the role of email alongside other marketing channels and where we stand as an industry. Much of the event feels community-led – with “email speed dating” breaks and the incongruously-named TEDCNTACC (think networking bingo) encouraging you to seek out and mingle with people that share your interests.
TEDC14 may have come and gone this year, but video packages of the talks are available.
For those who prefer metrics over media queries, there’s MarketingSherpa Email Summit, which brings together the top end of town, or big brands using big data to send big email. For “C-level executives looking to maximize ROI”, there are loads of case studies, opportunities to meet industry veterans and insight into how people are using customer data to send highly targeted campaigns. Amongst it all, you will find some great examples of email design in action. No surprises, this show is held annually in Las Vegas, NV.
As mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s the web designers and design events that give the most to email design as a craft. Two conferences which this year featured excellent email talks included Artifact in Austin, TX/Providence, RI and SXSW V2V in Las Vegas, NV (slides below).
— Beyond Marketing ) July 17, 2014
Sometimes, it’s worth looking at local design events and seeing if there’s someone speaking on a topic that you find interesting. If there’s a CSS, design or marketing-oriented meetup in your area, there’s no harm in asking the organizers if they can find someone to talk about email… Or why not give it a shot yourself!
Finally, live events are not for everyone. Many of us have pets to walk, air plants to tend to or just don’t enjoy a heavy pat down at the airport. That isn’t to say that you can’t up your email game. Our friends at Zurb University regularly run training courses that teach email coding and responsive design fundamentals, as well as the nuts-and-bolts of executing campaigns. Featuring a live Q&A and lots of opportunities for student-teacher interaction, they have all the benefits of real-life workshops, without the high price tag.
The email event hitlist:
- The Email Design Conference, Litmus
- MarketingSherpa Email Summit
- “Responsive Email: It’s Not As Bad As You Think“, Justine Jordan, Artifact
- “Customer-Centric Email Marketing“, Justine Jordan, Ros Hodgekiss, Colin Nederkoorn, SXSW V2V
- Introduction to Responsive Email, Zurb University
Enough from me, it’s now over to you: What events, talks and workshops have really helped you as an email marketer or designer? Let us know in the comments below – your recommendations will likely help someone, too!