Litmus Live 2018.

Hi, my name is Alysha and I am in love with email. There, I’ve said it! To achieve complete fangirl status, I recently attended Litmus Live in San Francisco, (never going to get tired of saying that sentence). There, I heard talks by email marketing superstars: Pinterest, Grammarly and Trello to name drop a few.

Litmus Live is an event by Litmus (funnily enough), which covers sessions on data-driven email design, lifecycle campaign planning, cross-channel strategies and tools to automate email development. If you've not heard of Litmus, it's essentially a full suite email solution for your build, test and analytic requirements. If your email has been 'Litmus tested', then it's going to work!

So, what did I learn in San Fran that a quick trip to London couldn't have taught me? Firstly, that internet cafes aren't a thing anymore, they’re just cafes and they’re everywhere. Secondly, start-ups are as common as said cafes and if you have an idea then San Francisco is more than happy to accommodate your dream. Finally, I got to see how big brands made sense of big data and turned it into actionable insights, and that alone was priceless.

Here I will impart my fan girl wisdom and key takeaways to you…

1. Everyone knows what OKRs are and you should be using them too

OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results and are used to create business alignment and engagement around measurable goals to ensure everyone is heading in the same direction, with clear objectives, in a constant rhythm. This method helped the likes of Google taking their company’s value from $0 to $460 billion in a decade, give or take a few $s.

Just to add another acronym, LEWIS use the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) so I can confidently say from experience say that implementing either of these systems into your business requires tons of company buy-in but it is totally worth it.

The TLDR (too long, didn't read) version of both of these methodologies is the use of the following formula: "I will (objective) as measured by (this set of key results)".

So what’s this all got to do with email? Well, it’s all about deciding what to test and analysing what you’d like to achieve so you can make actionable changes that benefit your audience. If it's not a key number, it's not a key result because a key result needs to be a measurement, and that's what makes a goal a goal. Desires and ideas aren't measurable. Got it? Good! (I wholly recommend a much more thorough google search on the topic!).

2. Hurry up and fail already!

If you're not failing, you're not learning. But, to know when to stop and decide what’s working and what isn’t then you need to take a look at your OKRs (see above). There are a million books and quotes on this, so I won't harp on but this was THE recurring theme throughout the event. Leaders bravely stood up and were open and honest about the methods they'd tried, tested and failed at. Why? Because that's where the insights lie. Why something doesn't work gives you far more insight than what did!

In its simplest form, if you A/B test an email and one doesn’t change and the other fails spectacularly – the epic failure is where the true learnings lie.

3. If you're a rock, be the shiniest smoothest rock you can be!

No, it's not the jet lag, this is an extract from one of Obama's speeches and it's essentially what I felt the Litmus speakers were getting at when they stood up and presented all the things their companies had a team.

That's right, the most successful businesses rely on the expertise of their team to achieve their big, hairy audacious goals. The theme that came across was that you cannot, and should not, try to learn everything you need to know to reach the top. Call on the specialisms and passions of yourself and others then collaboratively, you can achieve what you set out to achieve.

So, if you're a rock, be the best rock you can be. Own your skills and expertise because by calling on those and the shiny skills of others we can build a path to success. Okay, yes, I'm jetlagged.

4. Hello <name>, have we proven we know you now?

If you're only using <first_name> personalisation and sitting back and waiting for the gains, we need to talk.

True personalisation is about using data intelligently to craft a unique experience that can hold your customer's attention and foster loyalty and long-term retention. It’s about showing that you know the customer, not about telling them that you know them.

Cool spiel, right? Okay, so how do we do this. Well, we need to step away from the email. I know this seems counterproductive but stay with me here as we talk data for a moment.

Look at what you know beyond the first name. What do you know about their behaviour e.g. do they open all your emails or just some? Maybe they have never opened an email, or have they recently dropped off? How about a location so we can serve geographically relevant content? Knowing this information can form the way you interact with your customers so that they're getting a personalised experience.

No faking it till you make it on this one I'm afraid, and if all this data talk has your head spinning then this next point is for you.

5. Accept your new robot overlords

Lastly, we live in a world where a computer can write better marketing copy than you. Yip a program can most definitely spit out the best 20 subject lines you'll ever need in your life and never write, the end.

It can also search the depths of the internet and re-target you with that new pair of jeans you said you weren't going to buy, but now they are in your inbox with a discount voucher and now you have no choice but to buy three pairs! Thanks, Robots!

I have a love-hate relationship with that kind of marketing, but I am fully on board when machine learning algorithms are used for good and help marketers to unlock the mass of data at their disposal in order to reach their key results and improve the customer experience.

Before you share these tips with your data team, browse online for an off the shelf solution or review your OKRs and think about your goal. Once you have it nailed, make it human!

To make it more human, consider empathy, ethics and morals. Just because something can be given to a consumer, should it be? Think about the worst-case scenario before you let your machine learning run wild. Let’s face it, it took Sophia the AI robot a whole 30 minutes to agree to destroy all humans – just saying.

Consider your worst-case scenario, if your OKRs are a success, then test in small batches until you're sure everything is running as expected. Monitor at a pace at which you can amend the emails/journey, learn, improve and trust the robots.  But watch them carefully.

And that’s my experience! Kudos for hanging in there. I got so much more than I expected from my visit to San Francisco and feel totally recharged and ready to implement some of my learnings into my work. I hope you’ve found something valuable from this and if you would like to find out more about my experience or want to discuss how we can shake up your email marketing, then help I’d be happy to chat,