My Email Hopes for the New Year

Have we all become puppets? Being an email marketer, I realize the question itself is not overly popular – but it is something many of us struggle with. As owners of the email programs, many marketers I speak with express the acknowledgement of needing to send fewer, more valuable email communications; however, that admission is always said with the anticipation of the “but.” And a big “but” it is! “BUT, my executive team (business owners, advertisers, take your pick) insist that we send more email, against our recommendation.”

This statement, while expected, never ceases to amaze me. Have we really become an industry of puppets? Are experts no longer hired for their expertise and knowledge to create, drive and manage the best email program a brand can hope for?  Have we been forced in to a “yes-man” role? Ugh. I don’t like the sound of that at all. Can’t we just find a way to co-exist – a little compromise here and there? As we move in to 2010, I share with you my Email Hopes for the New Year:

  • Mastery of the Basics
    There are so many things we could talk about here, but we really need to take a step away from the new and shiny email “toys” and really get good at the basics. If you have a 7% open rate, I don’t think that plugging a video in to your email campaign is going to help. Clearly – you need to think about why you only have a 7% open rate and what you can fix about your email approach or strategy to improve. Poor program performance isn’t going to make anyone happy – not you, not your boss, not your advertisers, and certainly not your customers.
  • Send Less, More Relevant Email
    Achieving relevance is often a daunting conversation for marketers because it means having to dig deep in to data, that you may or may not be able to access. Are the days of asking customers what they want really gone? Do we have to rely on behavioral data to get relevant? Sure, it is definitely the “holy grail” dream, but it you can’t get your hands on that information then why not just ask. Some of the most successful program optimization efforts I have seen with clients are those that asked some very specific questions around products/brands that were then applied to the email program. If you don’t know, try asking – instead of guessing.
  • Have a Real Email Plan
    Do you have a 2010 email calendar? If you said yes –you are in the minority. Just like other marketing efforts, you should have a 2010 email calendar denoting messages you intend to communicate with your customer-base throughout the year. Even the best laid plans have to be revised based on things happening in the market, but accounting for those outliers becomes more manageable when you have the other communications planned. If you do not have a 2010 plan, I beg you, at least make it your first quarter goal to build one. I promise that the work you do on the front-end will really help to drive the vision through the organization the rest of the year – at least it should.
  • Make Your Email Social
    While socialized email was a new topic for email marketers in 2009 – it is definitely something you need to pay attention to and determine how it may enhance your email programs and brand as you move into 2010. It isn’t going anywhere, so you should start considering ways to test and integrate it with your email marketing efforts. Just like anything else, social components have a place in your email communications and don’t necessarily have to be leveraged in every communication – but determining how it could benefit your business and your email program in the coming year is definitely something to be mindful of.

As you all enter in the holiday-state-of-mind, be ready to enter Email 2010 head on. Stand your ground, sell the email vision/strategy through the organization, be ready to compromise a little (but don’t give up) and most of all, have a real plan. The best way to be the expert within your organization and to get the attention and support of your decision-makers is to paint the picture – long-term considerations and all.

Happy Holidays everyone! Go get ’em!

– Kara Trivunovic
Sr. Director of Strategic Services
StrongMail