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:
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!