Welcome to our round-up of the highlights and headlines from Inbox Expo 2023!

Our Chief Data Hero a.k.a. Managing Director of iota-ML, John Conway and the brilliant Tony Allen, CRM Implementation Lead at Volvo UK had the honour to speak at the fantastic Inbox Expo 2023 conference (organised by Andrew Bonar & Nely Bonar of emailexpert) in beautiful and balmy Valencia last week.  

Thank you again for having us guys! 😎

John took some time out from flexing his data muscles and rubbing shoulders (should that be craniums?) with some of the biggest brains in the email and CRM world to share the inside-scoop from the cutting-edge of the industry. 

If you weren’t lucky enough to be there for the sold-out event, here’s the dispatch and download for your digestion. Enjoy!

The weather in Valencia was balmy and the hotel was rather swish.

DAY 1 (Monday 27th Feb)

It was all kicked off by the awesomely talented Adeola Sole, VP of Customer Success at emailexpert UK and Ian Truscott, CMO of Spotler.

Later that morning Suzanne Reeves from Reload Digital gave an important talk on the essential need to future proof use of data as we enter a privacy-first era.

Suzanne underlined the importance of using different sources of data to begin to build your own first party data sets and use them in campaigns. She also spoke about how customer journeys can be used in your campaign strategy, acting as good summaries of all sources of data you may have access to.

Next a great discussion by Liana Tamse and Sabina Andriesse from Flowmailer on leveraging transactional emails in marketing to deliver marginal gains. Transactional emails (such as receipts or order confirmations) are the most-opened by consumers because they serve a clear function, so they recommend introducing in up to 20% of the content space a call-to-action (CTA) for the consumer to consider another product or service you offer.

Thirdly, a stunningly prescient presentation from Tom Blijleven, Composable Marketing Advocate & Marketing Manager at Flowmailer, who emphasised the need for marketing to retain composability.

Tom spoke about marketers building a “best of breeds” marketing stack that knits together the most high-quality and specialist tools designed to be excellent at specific tasks, rather than using large, off-the shelf, and very average marketing clouds.

This is a growing trend by the high-performers in the sector, who are seeking hyper optimisation of their martech stack to deliver marginal gains in an increasingly margin-intensive world.

During the Q&A Kath Pay of Holistic Email Marketing referenced some research she had commissioned a few years ago, where marketers were asked if they were happy with their martech stack. In short, those that go for a collated “best of breeds” stack are more satisfied than marketers who use a less diverse and larger marketing cloud.

DAY TWO (Tuesday 28th Feb)

Day two was particularly jam-packed with incredible sessions!

That morning, Mily Barnett from Paul Smith’s marketing team joined Chantelle Knoetze from Dotdigital to talk about weaving the Paul Smith brand story into communications and customer journeys. They made important observations about optimising email templates to improve storytelling and metrics, in particular moving the CTA above the fold.

Next our very own John Conway from iota-ML joined Tony Allen from Volvo UK to break down how Volvo Cars took a 180-degree handbrake turn and turboed CRM performance using the marketer-friendly machine-learning powered iota-ML platform. 

John and Tony explained how iota-ML delivers hyper-relevant audiences, discovers lookalikes that would previously have been missed and enables a much deeper understanding of the Volvo subscriber base.

The results speak for themselves… “Fika” is the way forward!

After that, Pavel Pola of Etnetera Activate took us through the AI backed multi-wave, multi-subject-line campaign strategy used to reactivate lost customers for retailer Rossmann. A fascinating presentation, Pavel explained how they delivered great results by running campaigns in tight 2 week cycles and using tailored targeting based on customer behaviour.

Then, Florin Armasu of Data Innovation dissected the hot topic of ChatGPT and the opportunities it presents, e.g. driving efficiencies by improving the starting position of copywriters, suggesting subject lines or content for marketing, or providing a solid grounding in a topic that a content specialist needs to write about.

Next, we caught Theresa Austin of Moët Hennessy and Beata Linz from AdBirds and emailexpert showcasing their “Dare to Be Different” tale of digital transformation.

They gave a great explanation on how they had started to leverage 1st party data in other channels, such as display advertising.

Last, but by no means least, the wonderful Matt McFee and Laura Sullivan of Inbox Monster gave a brilliant presentation on how to modernise email using inbox signals, driving up deliverability and enabling better outcomes.

Volvo UK’s Tony Allen (right) with iota-ML’s John Conway (left), getting their game-faces on for the presentation!

DAY THREE (Wednesday 29th Feb)

We delved right into the panel discussion with Anna Levitin Poskryakova (Powtoon), Riaz Kanani (Radiate B2B) and Jacques Prothon (Odicci) talking about the different strategies they had and how B2B is so different to B2C. 

B2B is a world of cold and/or variable quality data and very tight timeframes to engage your target audience; an interesting but unique landscape to play in!

The panel covered some hot topics including:

  • When to gate vs. when to ungate content. They concluded the approach depends on your marketing strategy i.e. demand generation vs lead generation.
  • Multi-message emails (newsletters) vs single message emails. The idea of using triggering messages based on contextual data (especially intent data) for nurture programmes. The panel concluded that there is still a place for multi-message emails, but that it’s best to weight content to 80% value versus 20% product messaging

However, our stand out highlight of the day was the talk from Kath Pay of Holistic Email Marketing, who presented her “holistic philosophy”. 

This a super-smart test and learn approach where copy, CTA and imagery strategies are experimented and played with via A/B tests in the cheap and cheerful channel that we all know and love: email! 

Kath contends that email testing should be the backbone of insights that are then pushed out into other channels across the business, or even product decisions (if you want to be extra brave).

As the cheapest, most effective way to test non-creative strategies, the results from email can inform copy, CTA and imagery for higher-cost channels such as paid banner ads or print.

If the results achieve better conversion, the cost savings make it worthwhile alone!


IN SUMMARY… The Three Hottest Topics! 

Let’s distil this smörgåsbord of fascinating discussions to the three hottest, most important topics that are capturing the imaginations or bamboozling the heck out of inbox warriors in 2023. 

We think these are:

  1. Future-proofing and experimenting with your data to get more value from it

Suzanne Reeves from Reload Digital gave some strong arguments on the need to future-proof your data by using different sources of data to begin to build your own first party data sets and use them in campaigns.

Kath Pay of Holistic Email Marketing presented her “holistic philosophy”, a super-smart test and learn approach, where copy, CTA and imagery strategies are experimented and played with via A/B tests in the cheap and cheerful channel that we all know and love: email. 

  1. Composability

Tom Blijleven, Composable Marketing Advocate & Marketing Manager at Flowmailer, emphasised the need for marketing to retain composability i.e. building “best of breeds” marketing stacks that knits together the most high-quality and specialist tools designed to be excellent at specific tasks, rather than using large, off-the shelf, and very average marketing clouds.

Critical in the age of shrinking margins! 

  1. AI / ML Adoption

Pavel Pola of Etnetera Activate championed the AI backed multi-wave, multi-subject-line campaign strategy used to reactivate lost customers for retailer Rossmann.

Florin Armasu of Data Innovation spotted the opportunities ChatGPT presents for copywriters and content specialist.

And of course our very own John Conway from iota-ML and the brilliant Tony Allen from Volvo UK explained how iota-ML helped Volvo UK turbo their CRM performance using the marketer-friendly Machine Learning iota-ML platform by delivering hyper-relevant audiences, discovering lookalikes that would previously have been missed, and enabled a much deeper understanding of the Volvo subscriber base.

The resulting metrics speak for themselves… 

How do we feel after all of this?

Frankly we need a sangria and siesta to digest it all!! 😆

But seriously, we are totally elated and grateful to the lovely Andrew Bonar & Nely Bonar of emailexpert for having us at their awesome Inbox Expo.

Our thanks to Andrew & Nely for organising a fascinating and vibrant Inbox Expo 2023.

Taking stock of the conversations, talks, presentations and discussions, we know iota-ML can genuinely help marketers seeking to drive their data future-proofing and experimentation, composability or AI/ML goals. 

And we’d love to help you, too, so please do drop our friendly neighbourhood Chief Data Hero a.k.a. Managing Director of iota-ML, John Conway a “hello” today, if you have a moment for a data discussion.

Looking forward to sharing again soon! 

John Conway & the iota-ML team