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2011 is firmly in our rearview mirrors. It’s more than two weeks into 2012, and all those well-intended resolutions which seemed so reasonable at the end of last year may have already fallen by the wayside. Whether you set out to tame the bulge, kick smoking or learn to Tango; you may not yet have had the resolve to follow through on those changes, instead relegating them to your 2013 to-do list.
While your master plan to put the fit in fitness may have encountered some delays, you can still score points on your self-assessment by deciding to adopt some healthy email marketing habits to improve your campaign performance for the year to come.
1. I resolve to begin my 2012 communications with an email marketing plan
Don’t dawdle for months before you figure out what you want to communicate and promote this year. Do yourself a favor and start setting specific goals. Now.
Why not set one big email marketing objective for the year? Or at least one for each quarter or month? You could, for example, consider goals for the amount of subscribers you want to add to your list in 2012 or get brainstorming in advance for specific commercial dates such as Valentine’s Day – which is just around the corner.
Keep your plans simple and make sure they’re realistic and reachable. Don’t waste time in 2012 on things that won’t help you. After all, it’s a lot more rewarding when you know your goals are within your grasp.
2. I resolve to make it a year of measurement
With the statistical tracking features provided by most email service providers (ESPs) there’s no reason to practice guess-marketing. But if that’s what you’ve been doing, then there’s no better time than the present to become a monster of metrics.
Record all your benchmarks and measure your successes this year.
Before you can set real goals you need an accurate baseline of figures and trends to project your annual performance from. Focus on what’s important to your business as you gather stats and set your goals accordingly. Whether that’s new sign-ups, higher open or click-through rates, more fans or followers, better campaign ROI or any other key metric improvement. Comparing your current figures against last year’s numbers, if you have them, will give you a better idea of how you are growing, what to expect, and let you anticipate high and low business periods before they happen — which also makes it easier to budget.
3. I resolve to become mobile friendly
Mobile will go from buzz to biz in 2012. With the growing popularity of smartphones and the increasing dependence on mobile devices, marketers will have to consider adding mobile to their communications mix and take their marketing strategies to the next level. This will be the year to catch consumers where they are, wherever they are — on mobile.
An increasing amount of people started reading their emails on a mobile device in 2011. As we move closer to the time when mobile web access eclipses PC web access, brands will realize they need a web offering optimized for the mobile environment. This has not yet happened within all businesses, but soon the time will come when consumers will be demanding it.
In 2012, give serious consideration to making your digital communications mobile friendly. Ensuring that you have mobile sign up forms and that both your emails and website landing pages render properly on popular mobile devices are top priorities.
4. I resolve to adhere to the “R” word
Relevancy is king. Email service providers, such as Gmail or Hotmail, continue to develop new ways to prioritize, filter and discard messages with a very individual approach. And so, unfortunately, newsletters no longer have to be marked as spam to disappear from one’s inbox.
Considering the ongoing emphasis on features such as Gmail’s Priority Inbox or Hotmail’s Email Sweep, senders need to work harder to ensure their messages are relevant to their subscribers, and that they maintain a healthy sender ID. 2012 is all about tailor-made offers matching the recipients’ preferences. Marketers who miss that will lose conversions and wind up in the junk folder.
The key to crafting outstanding email campaigns is to be in touch with what your consumers really want, and when.
According to Nick Eckert, CEO of a major international email service provider: “Relevance is a great concept, but for businesses it means digging deep into their data. Trying to achieve relevance is meaningless without the client data that allows you to do so. This is where most ESPs fall down. Rather than help clients collect and unpack this data they give them tools to manipulate the information – assuming they already have it. In 2011 we realized the emerging need to help our users in this regard, which is why we are aiming at offering new features to enhance the production of relevant and engaging communications in 2012.”
5. I resolve to respect my subscribers’ privacy
Consumers became more aware than ever in 2011 about the amount of information available online related to their purchases and interests, and about how behavioral targeting via cookies has become the norm.
Perhaps the biggest impact on privacy and deliverability in 2011 came from changes and additions to laws relating to consumer permission and protection, most notably through the passing of the new Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Closer to home, the new South African Consumer Protection Act (CPA) cemented less strict but nonetheless legally binding practices, such as clarifying the required use of opt-in/opt-out tools and limiting the times of day and dates at which marketers are able to communicate with consumers.
In 2012, you’ll need to show your subscribers that your company is trustworthy. It will be paramount to review your privacy and marketing policies to be sure they meet all legal requirements for every country that you send emails to.
Make it a rule to clearly display online how opt-in subscriptions will be handled and to what extent user data will be stored and shared. If you’d like to avoid facing grave financial penalties, keeping up to date with and adhering to spam and privacy laws is one resolution you’ll definitely want to keep.