Litmus Picks: Our Favorite Talks at Litmus Live 2018

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Litmus Live 2018 wrapped about a month ago, but the ideas and talks are still swirling around our heads. While we’ve talked about the three mega-trends we saw come out of the conferences, we wanted to dig a little deeper into some of the talks themselves.

Litmus Live featured over 50 different talks from some of the brightest minds in the email industry. There were so many talks hitting on some of our favorite topics—whether it’s modular design, interactive email, automation and personalization, or collaborating more effectively—that it was hard for us to pick our favorites. All of them were exceptional and helped illuminate different facets of a complex and evolving industry.

But, pick we did. Here are some of the Litmus marketing team’s favorite talks—and some explanation as to why they’re our favorites—from this year’s batch of amazing sessions at Litmus Live.

Jaina Mistry’s Pick:

“Moving Beyond Campaigns: Creating a Flagship Email Product” by Drew Price

Drew’s session was incredibly empowering. However, it wasn’t the innovation and scale of what Drew accomplished at Grammarly with Grammarly Insights that inspired me but how he positioned the email itself—as a product. During his session Drew spoke about how we as email marketers need to elevate what we do and think like founders when it comes to creating email campaigns. They’re more than just emails and it’s up to us to change that perception.

Chad S. White’s Pick:

“Improving Engagement Through Feedback Mechanisms” by Leonie Jonker

This year’s series of Litmus Live conferences had some amazing sessions, including ones by Pinterest, Credit Karma, Grammarly, and Indeed that demonstrated what you can achieve when you bring tons of sophistication to email at scale. However, one of my personal favorites was much more down to earth. It was the Litmus Live London session by Leonie Jonker, Retention Manager at Paula’s Choice Skincare.

During her session, she talked about four different ways to collect feedback from subscribers:

By giving subscribers the ability to provide feedback on their experiences with Paula’s Choice Skincare’s emails, content, and broader experiences, they were able to get concrete suggestions that they could then test.

Besides being relatively easy to implement, what I loved about Leonie’s session is that it really drove home the value of talking directly to our subscribers and customers. Analytics are powerful, but can be rather Boolean in scope. On the other hand, feedback from customers are green field, potentially sending you in a direction you hadn’t imagined.

Jason Rodriguez’ Pick:

“Fixing Enterprise Email with Design Systems” by Fabio Carneiro

As I wrote before, one of the major themes that emerged this year was around using design systems to improve the consistency of emails, while allowing teams to scale their email production. There were a handful of talks around using design systems—and modular code to power them—but I think my favorite talk of the year was Fabio Carneiro’s.

On top of giving practical advice for what to include in a design system, Fabio mixes in plenty of theory, philosophy, and personal experience to round out the discussion.

A lot of his thinking informed my own during my workshop, Engaging Subscribers with High-Performance Design, which went into the use of design systems to aid email creation. I really liked his classifications for design elements, components and patterns, which are used to create the design system. Combined with the usual style-driven components—like grids, spacing, typography, and iconography—Fabio showed us how a massive sender like Booking.com handles email design systems.

A design system is a living repository of knowledge, evolving with the needs of a business.

What I especially loved, though, was Fabio’s frank discussion of the realities of building and using a design system at the enterprise level. On top of arguing semantics ad infinitum, you should prepare yourself to work hard on documentation and maintenance of the design system. And after all of that, you should prepare yourself for the reality that a design system is not a panacea. Design systems can help reduce complexity and increase the speed of email production, but it’s not going to solve all of an organization’s problems.

It’s a powerful point and one that email marketers can apply to nearly any new technology, technique, or process.

Bettina Specht’s Pick:

Live Optimization

It’s not your average conference session, and maybe that’s why it’s my favorite: Live Optimization. Instead of having one speaker on stage, we’re putting attendees’ emails in the spotlight. Attendees can submit their emails for review, and the Litmus team reviews them live on stage, crowdsourcing advice and best practices from the audience and fellow email experts.

We love this session so much that we’ve brought it into a webinar format, too. Check out our first Live Optimization webinar where we review welcome emails from your peers and provide hands-on A/B testing suggestions, design feedback, and strategic takeaways to help you maximize value, engagement, and response.

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