Allison Banko

Email Marketing: Necessity is the mother of invention

May 13th, 2014

Because it was our first year running the Media Center at MarketingSherpa Email Summit, we didn’t know what to expect. The plan was to plant a fancy set on the exhibition floor, let me play Erin Andrews and invite marketing guests to join me for some impromptu interviews.

The beauty of doing things freestyle is that unexpectedness – you don’t know what’s going to happen. Let’s not forget the real Erin Andrews’ infamous interview with Richard Sherman.

While none of our guests claimed they were the best marketer in the game, there were some surprises. Silverpop’s Loren McDonald did his “Gmail tabs” dance, Dan Ariely discussed dating and things got deep when Eventful’s Vice President of Operations Paul Ramirez quoted ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Translated from Plato’s The Republic, it means that when you must do something, you’ll discover a way to do it. It’s not as scholarly when you say it like that, though. This fit Eventful’s situation perfectly.


Eventful, our E-commerce Best in Show winner for this year’s MarketingSherpa Email Awards, had historically flourished in the realm of revenue, page views and user acquisition, but one day, everything went south.

“When Google released Panda and our traffic attributable to search tanked, that was like the necessity and we started talking about necessity being the mother of invention,” Paul said. “It was an external force that caused us to do something.”

The Google algorithm update had punished the Eventful site because it viewed the e-commerce company as a content aggregator. While Eventful once enjoyed a super successful search strategy, it was now as if the website was completely offline.

Paul was joined by Ryan Blomberg, Director of Engineering, also of Eventful, and discussed this on-stage during their Email Summit session, “How an e-commerce site transformed its email program to increase purchases by 66%.”

Watch Eventful’s full session from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014. View a brief preview below:


While page views overall were plummeting, the portion of Eventful emails contributing to page views was actually growing. Google’s Panda update wasn’t affecting email performance and Eventful’s email program was still highly engaging with solid metrics, with open rates from 20% to 60%.

Eventful had success running “Performer Alert” emails, notifying customers when their favorite artist was coming to town. But the Eventful team thought they could be pushing more Performer Alerts – not for the one artist they’ve already told Eventful they like, but with additional artists they’re fond of.

“Nobody has just one artist in their iPod,” Paul said. “Everybody has hundreds of artists in their iPod. So how do we get that data so that we can speak to our users with more personalization, with more relevance and with greater frequency to increase page views?”

Cue the invention.

Eventful developed recommendation and personalization technology to better predict other performers its customers may like to then craft new Performer Alerts around these findings. Eventful’s email campaign resulted in a 400% lift in the reactivation of inactive subscribers and a 12% increase in site visits.

If it weren’t for the necessity to increase page views, Eventful may not have developed the recommendation technology to reap those impressive results in the first place. The in-depth personalization piece has now become fundamental for Eventful.

“When you uncover that piece that you’ve never actually accessed, that you’ve never actually done anything with, and you see the improvement you can get from that, you wonder why it took you so long,” Ryan explained.

Rather than viewing your next pain point as a source of stress, try to look at it as your next opportunity for success instead – you may be on the verge of your company’s next great invention.


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