One of the great perks of attending Insight, SparkPost’s annual user conference, is sharing best practices and learning from the expertise of the pros who build, manage, and use next-generation email infrastructure on a large scale. No small part of that is the hands-on sessions led by members of our product team and longtime expert customers who know how to make the SparkPost platform sing.

Three of these technical boot camp sessions dug into powerful SparkPost features: finely-grained tracking of user engagement, the rich capabilities of advanced templates, and the intelligent business logic of multi-channel email, SMS messaging, and app push notifications. Though nothing beats being there for the technical deep dives, here’s a chance for the next-best thing: notes from the sessions and the boot camp leaders’ presentations. Dig in, and enjoy!


First off the blocks was “Using the Engagement Tracking and Metrics APIs to Bring Insights to Your Business.” This informative session examined the ways SparkPost allows senders to get the most from the fine-grained information about customer behavior and interactions with messages. Engineer Steve Tuck demonstrated using SparkPost’s web user interface for interactive queries, APIs for pulling data into external systems, and Webhooks for streaming events data in real-time.

Insight User Conference Bootcamp – Use the Engagement Tracking and Metrics APIs to Bring Insights to Your Business from SparkPost

Next up, SparkPost’s Fiona Snoddy and Isaac Kim used “Advanced Templatization” to demonstrate how to use the powerful templating features of our service. SparkPost templates can incorporate substitution data, conditional statements, looping flow controls, and dynamic content pulled from other systems. Together, these features enable a sender to personalize text, optimize offers, or deploy other business logic.

Insight User Conference Bootcamp – Advanced Templatization from SparkPost

One final bootcamp discussed how to incorporate “Multi-Channel Messaging with SparkPost Elite.” Using one platform and set of APIs to generate email, SMS, and push notifications means it’s possible to send a customer the right message at the right place at the right time, whatever the medium. SparkPost’s Ewan Dennis and Bruce Nowjack teamed up to give a really compelling demonstration of building a multi-channel app in real-time.

Insight User Conference Bootcamp – Multi-Channel with SparkPost Elite from SparkPost

If these power features make you want to learn more, it’s easy to get started with SparkPost. And if you’re a developer looking to get your hands in some code, the SparkPost Developer Hub is a great place to begin.

 

—Brent
@brentsleeper

Nobody can argue against the pervasiveness of mobile and how it has come to shape life and behaviors in the 21st century.  Mobile marketing has become a core component of marketing strategies, and who better to talk about optimizing customer interactions through SMS and push messaging at Interact 2013 than Stacy Adams, Vice President of Marketing from mBlox!

Stacy Adams

During her session, Stacy spoke about the importance and role of SMS in ensuring that messages are read and supporting email marketing. She also highlighted the short lifecycle of most mobile apps – 80 to 90% are downloaded once, then never used or discarded entirely. Adding push, however, increases lifetime engagement with an app, and is a necessary consideration for most business launching mobile apps.

Many businesses buy into the myth that since customers do not want to share, push and text are too intrusive and all you need for mobile engagement is a great app.

Here’s where these businesses are all wrong. A Millward Brown survey on mobile consumer attitudes published the following fascinating facts:

  • 68% of respondents find push and text messages to be valuable
  • 88% believe they should have an option to opt-in to communications
  • 80% of worldwide mobile app users want location-based messaging
  • 59% prefer to receive an offer or coupon via SMS or push
  • 57% feel SMS or push notifications drive their purchase decision

In a world of dramatic mobile market growth, where customers are willing to share their locations, mobile apps need to be able to engage customers and multi-channel capabilities are critical.  A mobile customer support ticketing system for problem resolution accelerates satisfaction and encourages repeat purchases. Mobile however, does have extremely strict guidelines and opt-in regulations, so businesses looking to invest in mobile marketing must take heed. At the end of the day, multi-channel is here to stay and mobile is a key component.

Find out more about how to incorporate push and mobile messaging for an effective mobile engagement strategy when download The New Communications Standard white paper!

The New Communications Standard

Email Marketing News Digest

The latest Google Analytics and Adwords updates have a focus on multi-channel attribution and providing marketers with better clarity on what’s driving conversions. These features and the increasing emphasis on both cross-channel and multi-channel marketing strategies highlight the increasing complexity of getting the attention of customers.

The Key to the Inbox is Subscriber Love

The key to the inbox? Strong permissions and relevant emails. ISPs measure user feedback based on how many people are hitting the “this is spam” or “this is not spam” button. Here are four factors to examine when trying to determine why you are not making it into the inbox:

  • Permissions
  • Relevancy
  • Frequency
  • Behavioral Targeting

Of course if you want to hear directly from the ISPs themselves and pepper them with questions, there’s always our all star ISP panel at Interact 2013 – The Digital Messaging Industry Conference. If you have a burning question on deliverability in your mind, register today!

Email design change driving a 61% click increase

Or is it? The DMA recently tested two different email designs in a split test and found that the skinny design had 61% more clicks. But wait – there’s more to the story. While on the surface the mobile optimized version seemed like a clear winner, it seemed that the copy and call-to-action from one particular link was driving the increase since the copy was not standardized between the 2 versions. In a second test where the copy was the same, there was no discernable click rate response difference.

Email Split Testing

Boom Times Still On for Emailers

Experian’s Quarterly Email Benchmark Study shows that email volume in the seond quarter was 17.9% greater than in Q2 2012. Unique open rates rose 7.2%, while unique click rates declined slightly by 0.2%. People who opened only on their mobile device averaged 10 cents per transaction while those that opened on mobile with another device averaged $1.28 per transaction. The results of the study present much food for thought when it comes to multichannel attribution. In the words of Bill Tancer, GM of global research at Experian Marketing Services,

“The path to the consumer is getting increasingly complex… We’re just now at the tip of the iceberg in knowing how to get from the initial contact to the end of the transaction.”

4 Easy Questions: Understanding Engagement to Survive and Thrive in Email and Beyond

How do you define engagement? A one-off spike from a seasonal campaign or ongoing long term interaction from subscribers? Margaret Farmakis from Return Path says it should be the latter. Here are four important questions to ask when evaluating how engagement applies to your email program:

  1. How do you define engagement? Goals need to be clearly stated and the difference between an engaged and disengaged subscriber should be clear.
  2. How do you measure engagement? Define metrics such as those from social, user-generated feedback and those from surveys as well.
  3. How do your engagement metrics compare with the competition?
  4. What is your strategy for improving engagement?

Email: Wanted Dead or Alive [Infographic]

Email Wanted Dead or Alive

Find out more about cross-channel banking and how to make shifting customer behavior work for your bank in our webinar!

Cross Channel Banking Webinar

This week I’ve been lucky enough to be in Seattle, WA, attending MozCon, the advanced SEO and inbound marketing conference hosted by Moz.com. While I expected to learn a lot about what’s new and exciting in the world of website optimization, I was struck by something else that I “knew”, but hadn’t really grasped the magnitude of at all: the whole world is suddenly multi-channel. And it happened overnight.

Roger looks at the Multi-Channel World before him

I know it sounds silly that I’m only realizing this now – we’ve been saying this at Message Systems for some time: consumer’s expectations about how we communicate with them have changed, and if you don’t stay ahead of their expectations you will be left behind.

But I was still looking at this future through email-colored glasses, and by the end of the first day of the conference I was struck by how pervasive mobile — with its text messages and apps — has become, and how it is changing the way we communicate with everyone. And its not just us US-based, early-adopters I’m talking about. The statistics on Internet and messaging access via mobile in emerging markets are staggering. For vast numbers of people around the world, mobile phones are the Internet.

Once that realization set in, it became clear that a lot of the important knowledge and best practices that I was gaining at this inbound marketing conference also applied to how businesses need to approach their communications as a whole:

  • Your customers, prospects and community will respond best when you engage them in meaningful two-way conversation that makes them feel appreciated and valued.
  • They are everywhere – and on every device – imaginable, and they expect to communicate with you easily, no matter where they are or what device they are using at that moment.
  • Marketers, community managers, client support teams, and everyone else who communicates with them need to ensure that they are providing consistent, quality content across all of those devices, optimized for each channel, interchangeably.

As a marketing professional, it will be no easy task, and I found myself madly scribbling to-do’s and lists of all the things we need to accomplish to keep up with this massive shift that’s already well underway. But I also find it fascinating, and even a little thrilling, to be in this industry at this time, and have a front-row seat to watch everything about the way companies do business with their customers change.

 Learn more about what marketing in a multi-channel really means when you download The New Communications Standard White Paper!

The New Communications Standard