Three More Topics For Your 2014 Email Agenda

Besides the usual rush of campaign organization and planning, I hope you'll take time to investigate ways to help your email program deliver even more value in 2014.

I outlined several initiatives in my last Email Insider column that I'll be working on with clients this year. Below are three more topics that deserve your focus this year.

Rethink mobile design and context. Mobile now accounts for 51% of email opens, according to Return Path and Litmus. Also, 28% of all online purchases in the opening weeks of the 2013 holiday season came from mobile, up from 20% in 2012.

Responsive design is becoming a popular option for making email more mobile-friendly, but it's not the only one, as I explained in this Email Insider. Sometimes, a simple redesign can make your traditional email more manageable on a smaller screen. Your first step is to understand what your emails look and act like on mobile and learn what percentage of your viewers sees you on mobile screens.

Don't forget context in your assessment and redesign: where and how your readers are viewing your emails, and what could distract them from your message and call to action.

Further, find out whether readers are capable of doing what you want them to do when they read your emails on their smartphones or tablets.

Clicking a link to buy something using a stored payment source probably works for many people. Asking them to fill out forms or view a non-mobile landing page probably doesn't.

Renew your commitment to content. I can't be the only person who finds educational and entertaining emails more engaging than a steady stream of discounts and incentives.

Granted, "white space" emails may take more effort to create. However, you already have a storehouse of material on your website, in direct mail, video channels, customer reviews and comments, customer support scripts and the like.

Your regular broadcast emails aren't the only ones that can benefit from upgraded content. Targeted or automated messages, such as onboarding, cross-/upselling and birthday programs, can deliver more impact when expanded to a series of messages using business rules, "if-then" steps, and incorporating personality and helpful content.

Add location to your opt-in plan. If you operate retail locations as well as a Web business, consider retiring your birthday club fishbowl and using email and mobile technology to increase your email database.

Suppose you have 100 stores, and each one contributes 10 addresses to your database each day. That's roughly 350,000 new addresses a year just from your stores, not including Web or social media opt-ins nor the higher number of names you'd collect during the holidays or other major buying seasons.

How to collect those opt-ins without using paper forms? Offer these more modern solutions:

  • Option to opt in at POS.
  • Option to receive a purchase receipt via email.
  • Add a check-in program through Foursquare, Facebook or other location programs that also incorporates an email opt-in option.
  • Position a kiosk with a tablet computer, or station an associate near the door, as shoppers leave the store.
  • Promote SMS-to-email opt-in with store signs, bag stuffers and printed receipt reminders.
  • Use a QR code on table tents and other store signs that take shoppers to a simple email opt-in form and social sign-up option.

What's on your agenda?

Let's talk about the things that you plan to focus on in 2014. Tell me in the comments whether I overlooked any burning issues -- or what you changed in 2013 that is making email more valuable both for your customers and your company.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

Tags: email, mobile
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3 comments about "Three More Topics For Your 2014 Email Agenda".
  1. Bill Kaplan from FreshAddress, Inc. , January 24, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
    Great overview, Loren. One more critical recommendation to add: Companies collecting email addresses at POS should be using a real-time or automated batch (nightly process) email hygiene, correction, and validation service to remove spamtraps and other damaging but deliverable addresses, correct inadvertent hygiene errors, and validate the deliverability of all email addresses that make it through the initial two screens. From our experience cleaning and validating tens of millions of email addresses collected at POS each month, the problematic and invalid rate ranges from 20% to 50% or more. Smart retailers ensure they have an email hygiene and validation service in place prior to jumping into these waters. To learn more about how leading retailers maximize their collection of email addresses at POS that are safe to send, see http://www.freshaddress.com/services/email-validation/
  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 24, 2014 at 1:58 p.m.
    When some clerk asks me for my email address I feel like they are handing me laced cool aid. It is this mechanical following orders leading the little lemmings. They are being controlled by their superiors to make sure the customers can be spied on and expect us to reply in kind. It is all a matter of time that if you don't do it, you can't buy their products without a penalty. People are giving up their social security numbers to these "clerks" too.
  3. Merri Grace McLeroy from Integrated Marketing Strategies LLC , January 26, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.
    Great resolution/reminder list, Lorin.