19 June

Kristen Haines on industry trends and their impact on email marketing strategies and tactics

Alina Samulska-Kholina
Alina Samulska-Kholina Copywriter at Stripo
Table of contents
  1. How did MailCon become a great email marketing conference and start a community?
  2. How emerging email technologies influence event strategies
  3. Email marketing trends for 2024: Interactive and gamified emails, personalization, and AI-powered email
  4. Wrapping up
How did MailCon become a great email marketing conference and start a community?

We continue to write about email marketing trends and how they impact the strategies companies implement in their email campaigns. Today's conversation with Kristen Haines, the CEO of MailCon and the chief events officer of Phonexa, touched on the development of interactive emails, personalization, and AI-powered email technology. We really value Kristen's opinion as a practitioner who applies the latest trends to her own email campaigns. In addition, her thoughts largely overlap with the directions that we are developing in the Stripo product.

Interview Expert

Kristen Haines
The Chief Executive Officer of MailCon and the Chief Events Officer of Phonexa

Kristen oversees MailCon’s and Phonexa’s event strategies, marketing, and operations in her interconnected roles. With five years of experience in strategic event management and planning, she has a proven track record of navigating complex situations with lean resources and budgets.

She also has over ten years of experience in public speaking, leading MailCon’s events and webinar series, bringing awareness to cardiovascular health, and teaching life-saving skills to the American Heart Association.

How did MailCon become a great email marketing conference and start a community?

Stripo: Please tell us how the idea of holding MailCon came about and what this event means to you. How has the scale of the event changed since 2018? Can we talk about an email marketing community created on its basis?

Kristen: MailCon had its roots in 2017, emerging as a dedicated email deliverability conference with a sharp focus on the performance marketing industry. The journey took an exciting turn when we (Phonexa) acquired MailCon in December 2018. Our vision was clear: To nurture a vibrant community within the email space.

A pivotal moment came in 2021 when we orchestrated a virtual conference, marking a significant shift towards encompassing the broader email market. This move was a testament to our commitment to adapting and evolving in the ever-changing email marketing landscape.

It wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support of the email community, allowing us to extend our reach to a diverse array of email marketers and brands. This is just the starting point for us, and we're looking forward to bringing even more to the email community with our upcoming event in New York City on July 28, 2024, and for years to come.

S: What aspects of your roles at MailCon and Phonexa are you most passionate about?

K: As the CEO of MailCon and Chief Events Officer at Phonexa, I oversee our event initiatives and strategies, including conferences, internal events, speaking engagements, media partnerships, and more across our portfolio of companies. What I love the most about my role is witnessing people come together and connect at the events we produce. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing businesses, attendees, and colleagues enjoy themselves and find genuine value in our work.

The people are our business — their enthusiasm and engagement fuel my motivation and give me the desire to improve and create unparalleled experiences that resonate and endure consistently.

S: As someone at the forefront of email marketing conferences, what's one change or innovation you anticipate becoming central to the discussions at MailCon next year?

K: I think a few key themes will dominate MailCon discussions:

  1. Deliverability concerns involving Gmail and Yahoo’s new bulk sender requirements, the evolving data privacy and regulations, and marketing compliance standards will likely be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

    Ethical data usage is a priority, and balancing the hyper-personalized experiences customers crave and user privacy can be challenging.

  2. Customers crave personalized experiences, pushing email marketers to deepen their understanding of preferences. Expect a shift to advanced personalization, driven by AI and machine learning analyzing vast datasets for targeted contextually relevant content.
  3. Think dynamic content adapting to user behavior and predictive analytics foreseeing preferences — hyper-personalization redefines our email approach.
  4. Additionally, immersive technologies like interactive elements and augmented reality in emails will grab attention. Marketers are set to pioneer engaging, dynamic experiences within emails.

Get ready to unravel these trends, shaping the future of email marketing strategies at MailCon New York 2024 in July.

How emerging email technologies influence event strategies

S: With Phonexa's emphasis on cutting-edge solutions, can you share how emerging email technologies might influence future event strategies?

K: Many exciting developments in email and event technology will drastically impact how we experience and interact with events, both virtually and in person. The continuous development of AI and machine learning algorithms can help create more personalized and interactive event experiences from the attendee’s first touchpoint to the onsite experience to post-event engagement. Examples could be utilizing AI to analyze attendee preferences and behaviors for more targeted email communication or including interactive email elements, such as embedded event surveys, polls, and registration forms.

Another aspect is including Augmented Reality (AR) elements in event emails. Examples may be virtual venue tours, interactive event schedules, AR sessions, or content teasers. We may also see enhanced accessibility features, such as voice-activated devices integrating voice recognition software into email communication. This would allow event organizers to offer voice-activated registration, interactive voice content, and so much more.

S: Reflecting on your journey, what has been a “lightbulb” moment for you in understanding the power of email marketing?

K: Email’s unparalleled ability to build and nurture relationships has been a “lightbulb” realization for me. Recognizing that every email is a unique opportunity to deliver personalized value, share valuable insights, and engage with subscribers on a deeply intimate level has completely shifted my perspective and approach to marketing.

Email marketing is more than just sending messages to people; it's about meticulously crafting content that provides real value and addresses a particular audience's needs. The emphasis here is building a genuine dialogue, fostering rapport, and cultivating trust and connection with each interaction.

Kristen Haines

Kristen Haines,

The CEO of MailCon, the Chief Events Officer of Phonexa.

S: Tell us about the differences in the email marketing strategy when holding a large-scale event. What should an email marketer be prepared for when launching such a campaign?

K: Launching an email marketing campaign for a large-scale event requires careful planning and execution to ensure its success. Detail and accuracy are of utmost importance when preparing for such an event.

Some key differences when building campaigns are audience segmentation and personalization; carefully segmenting email lists based on relevant criteria helps ensure the right message gets to the right audience.

With that, the right timing is also important. Timing and frequency matter in ensuring your audience is engaged without overwhelming; it is easy to do too little or too much, but finding that balance makes all the difference.

And, of course, compelling content is key. Including relevant content, such as event details, speaker information, exclusive content, and sneak peeks, gives the audience helpful information in an engaging way. Leveraging helpful visuals, clear CTAs, and persuasive language also goes a long way.

Email marketing trends for 2024: Interactive and gamified emails, personalization, and AI-powered email

S: What email trends do you think will rule in 2024? Name the three most significant, please, and why they will.

K: Envisioning the landscape of email marketing for 2024, three trends are pivotal: Interactive email experiences, advanced personalization, and AI-powered email.

The popularity of interactive and gamified email elements, like surveys, quizzes, and shoppable content, is something I believe will continue to dominate. These features make emails more engaging and create a sense of immersion, ultimately boosting click-through rates and enhancing the overall user experience.

The continuous development of AI-powered email technology is another trend that will shape the email marketing landscape in 2024. AI algorithms can analyze user behavior, personalize content, and automate decision-making processes. This results in more efficient and effective campaigns and opens up possibilities for applications such as predictive analytics, A/B testing, and even content creation. Advancements in AI also allow marketers to dive deeper into subscriber data at a more granular level, paving the way for advanced personalization, which contributes to an improved user experience and is likely to lead to better conversion rates.

Email content and design trends for 2024

S: How do you see the evolution of interactive and gamified emails? What interactive email formats will gain popularity in 2024?

K: As interactive and gamified emails become the new norm, I expect more personalization, mobile optimization, and integration, among other advances. Companies that customize their messages to the individual see higher engagement; people value personalization, and I think it will soon be necessary for email marketers to see any valuable engagement.

Mobile optimization will also be crucial as more people engage with email on their phones. Designing with mobile responsiveness ensures that users have a seamless experience regardless of their device.

Marketers must continually innovate to capture the attention of their audiences; what was engaging last is old news this year. Gamified emails, as well as interactive quizzes and surveys, will likely become more prevalent in email. Popular formats that were not previously interactive are also expected to emerge, such as choose-your-path storytelling, embedded product carousels, and video, to name a few.

S: Why is email personalization a big trend, and why should marketers consider this approach? Do you use personalization for event email campaigns? If so, what benefits does it give you?

K: Email personalization continues to be a significant trend for many reasons. Personalization offers individuals an enhanced and tailored customer experience based on their interests, behaviors, and preferences. This, in turn, helps to establish and build a stronger relationship with the customer, which creates better engagement and enables marketers to optimize their campaigns to ensure the recipients receive the most relevant content, leading to higher conversions.

We utilize personalization in various ways for event campaigns. Personalization helps us provide a better experience for attendees, from registration to onsite event attendance. It also helps us collect valuable attendee data to enhance their experience for future events.

S: How do you think the intersection of email marketing and AI will shape the future of digital events?

K: The intersection of email marketing and AI holds immense potential to enhance the future of digital events in several ways. We have discussed in depth the importance of personalization. AI-powered email marketing platforms can analyze vast amounts of data about individual subscribers, including their preferences, behaviors, and past interactions with your brand.

This enables highly personalized email campaigns tailored to each recipient's interests and needs, increasing engagement and conversion rates.

AI can also automate the process of personalizing email content and recommendations, saving marketers time and effort while still delivering a personalized experience to each subscriber. In addition to that, I think we will see improved behavioral targeting, as AI algorithms can measure and analyze behavior across multiple touchpoints. This, along with real-time optimization, will further expand marketers’ abilities to develop relevant, personalized content.

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S: How do you approach continuous learning and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in your field?

K: I prioritize staying in the loop with the latest trends and continuously expand my knowledge using various sources. Being both an auditory and visual learner, I enjoy tuning into podcasts and attending webinars. My inbox is filled with subscriptions to newsletters like Only Influencers, All Things Email, the Bizzabo newsletter, and many more — they keep me informed about upcoming events and industry updates.

I carve out dedicated time each week to absorb content, but what truly expands my knowledge is attending industry events and connecting with people. The most valuable insights and lessons I’ve learned have come from my amazing colleagues and the individuals I've had the privilege of working with.

Wrapping up

Here are some insights into email marketing trends and strategies that we have gotten from this interview:

  1. The continuous development of AI and machine learning algorithms can help create more personalized and interactive event experiences from the attendee's first touchpoint to the onsite experience to post-event engagement.
  2. Three major email marketing trends that continue to strengthen and develop are pivotal: interactive email experiences, advanced personalization, and AI-powered email.
  3. The developments of these three trends are closely related, and technological innovations and new privacy policies also influence them, as do email security and industry ethics.
  4. The main trends always become the leaders of discussions at conferences. MailCon in July 2024 will be no exception and promises to raise all these issues.

We are grateful to Kristen Haines for the interview in which we discussed topics important for the email marketing industry.

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