The chaos of the fourth quarter is over, and 2015 has come and gone. It's time to take a breath, step back, and focus on what updates you can make to your email program in the new year. Here are a few of Shaw + Scott’s best tips for getting your email house in order in 2016.
1) Take a look in the mirror.
Give your email program a holistic assessment, identifying its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Try not to focus exclusively on past performance, creative, or your mailing calendar. Look more in depth at items like current processes, data and segmentation strategy, acquisition and retention efforts, frequency, and multichannel integration. Take the time to ask yourself, “what’s going on now?”, so you can best inform strategic and tactical efforts going forward.
2) Re-define your objectives, goals, and KPIs.
Looking in the mirror should also involve making sure you’re clear on what your email program is trying to achieve, and knowing how to best measure your successes. Most marketers are good at having high-level objectives—such as driving revenue or increasing awareness—but may focus only on one or two success metrics. There’s more to email marketing than just open rate and revenue per email—take the time to develop detailed objectives, and create a robust set of KPIs. Consider, for example, whether metrics related to longitudinal channel engagement might be appropriate to include in performance measurement.
3) Assess the extent and quality of your customer data.
Better data leads to better marketing. It’s not so much about pure quantity of data, as marketers often struggle to apply just a small subset of the data they have available. Try to focus instead on having the right data for your marketing efforts, and being able to access and apply it easily. Defining desired customer experiences first will help you to figure out which data is essential to your goals, and to move forward from there.
4) Add more triggered programs.
Many marketers are seeing tremendous success by implementing a robust set of triggered programs. Don’t limit yourself to just the basics, such as abandoned cart and welcome series. Think creatively about how to implement more advanced programs that leverage your data and work even harder for your brand. Retargeting emails based on site browse or email click behavior are great examples of triggered programs that can bring your email strategy to the next level.
5) Develop a content strategy across all channels.
It’s common for email programs to be defined by the marketing needs of various groups within an organization—merchandising considerations, for example, often drive which emails retailers send out. But this type of approach can quickly lead to an email program that’s bolted together from a number of parts, rather than presenting a unified brand strategy. It’s critical for modern marketers to gain a thorough understanding of who their customers are, and then develop an email content strategy that best serves those customers. At the most basic level, a content strategy is a matrix that prioritizes content type by segment. Keeping a strategic focus on your customers makes it easier to get started improving messaging relevance.
6) Revise your test plan.
Testing often falls by the wayside when things get crazy—we understand. But testing is absolutely essential for knowing how well your overall program or individual campaigns are performing. The start of the new year is a perfect time for revisiting your testing strategy, taking stock, and defining a plan for 2016. Then, most importantly, be sure stick to it!
These are just a few ideas for maximizing your email program in the new year. The entirety of 2016 is ahead of us, so get started now on improving your strategy. Here’s to making this one your best email marketing year yet!