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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.

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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.

Talks

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).

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!

Live workshops/courses

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:

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!

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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