Forget The Resolutions -- Just Do It!

You've probably seen lots of suggestions for email-related New Year resolutions, like launching cart-recovery or targeted messaging programs.

Either is a worthy goal, but let's get realistic. What was on your 2010 list of resolutions, and were you able to deliver on any of them?

What's Needed: A Change of Thinking

Instead of just listing vague or overly broad resolutions, find ways to visualize and bring about change through concrete steps that address all the ways resolutions get derailed.

This column's inspiration comes from a few sources, including a Tweet from @icowboy, who advises, "Dump your resolutions and just get it done," and a recent Wall Street Journal article in which Sue Shellenbarger discusses why resolutions go off the rails ("A Cheat Sheet for Keeping Resolutions" ).

Below, I adapted her advice into tips that can help you move from resolutions to measurable progress.

1. Change your thinking and behavior first. Lasting change happens when you find ways to maintain it. It's easy to cast dreams overboard at the first hurdle. Focus instead on the rewards that the change should bring you through a "carrot and stick" lens.

Here, the carrot, or the pleasant aspect, is the benefits you receive by sticking to your goal.

Suppose this is the year you resolve to add a cart-recovery email program. What does this change mean for you?

Sure, your company should prosper by recovering potentially lost sales, but altruism isn't enough to stay motivated. Ask yourself the million-dollar email question: "What's in it for *me*?"

The obvious rewards are perks, benefits and job security: a raise, bigger budget or nicer office, plus the satisfaction of scoring a big win.

The stick becomes the pain you'll keep suffering under the status quo: stuck in the same position, at the same salary, maybe even passed over for promotion.

2. Set realistic goals and a timetable. Resolving to implement a three-step cart-recovery program by the end of your fiscal year can be as intimidating as trying to lose 30 pounds in a year.

Taken month by month, however, you need only lose 2.5 pounds each month, less than 1 pound a week.

In the same way, break the cart-recovery program into its component parts and begin with a goal to launch a single reminder email by the end of Q2.

This way, it's easier to measure progress on the steps needed to reach it, such as integrating your Web analytics and ecommerce programs and writing and testing your message content.

Once you begin to see results, you can ask for more resources to expand the program to your three-step cart-recovery program.

3. Secure the tools and resources you need to succeed. Here's where many resolutions run aground. This is why starting small and generating measurable results can encourage more investment. Alternatively, you might have to get creative and find another way to approach it.

A cart-recovery program needs access to customer data such as the email address and cart items abandoned. You might have to upgrade your Web analytics contract, seek a specialized cart-recovery service or have your IT team integrate your company's ecommerce platform with your ESP. Do you have the budget and/or IT support and resources this requires?

If the going gets tough, remember the benefits that can accrue to you by this improvement to stay motivated.

4. Spread accountability far and wide. Accountability keeps you on track in three ways:

• You can measure your progress incrementally and adjust your strategy if you hit a roadblock. Instead of having one big Q4 deadline hanging over your head, your timetable sets specific deadlines, such as having contracts signed and a new system ready to test in Q3.

• Resolutions fall by the wayside when nobody, including you, is tracking progress. Involve all your in-house stakeholders in your program, including your team, your department and your boss.

• Hold yourself accountable. Remember the benefits that can happen if you stick to the plan (more budget resources) and what could happen if you don't (no raise or bonus).

5. Reward yourself and your team when you succeed. Figure out what will motivate you to stay on track. For example, your boss agrees to send you to another email marketing conference.

Reward your team members, and not with a break-room cake. Foot the bill for a party; take everybody out for lunch; or declare the next Friday "early dismissal day," whatever works for your group.

Toot your own horn, too. Announce incremental successes in-house on an Intranet or company newsletter. Once you reach your goal, talk it up via social media (corporate blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, trade discussion groups). Agree to be a case study for your marketing service providers (email, analytics, data, etc.).

Don't Resolve to Improve; Just Do It

It's time to ditch the excuses and take your first step.

What will be the project you pursue this year to take your marketing program to the next level? I'd love to hear about it and will volunteer to be your accountability partner. Use the comment form below, and keep us posted.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

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1 comment about "Forget The Resolutions -- Just Do It! ".
  1. Rita Allenrallen@freshaddress.com from FreshAddress, Inc. , January 14, 2011 at 3:28 p.m.

    Great to hear your offer! Bring it on and keep me accountable to take it up that notch. My project? Extensive planning, deliberate week to month project 'chunking', working smarter to use the tools available and not ending any quarter without an assessment and tweaked strategies!