September's Tips For Email Marketing

With all that is being written about email marketing, I tend to struggle with finding ideas and content to write about without restating the obvious or appearing too simple in approach.  Yet, there are times when returning to the basics is important. This is the time for checklists to counter all your great ideas.

 Top tips for September, given it's back-to-school season:

1.     Mine your list.  You've heard this a hundred times, but you would be surprised at how many companies really don't analyze their database accurately.  A couple of thoughts before you take this on:  If they haven't responded or had some interaction with your business in 12 months, spend your time elsewhere; size doesn't matter in this instance. And seek wisdom from interaction, not non-channel traits.  Segmentation is so valuable, yet you need another dimension of data for decisions, and behavioral data will tell you so much more about timing and cadence.  Put this at the top of your decision pyramid, we are creatures of habit.



2.    Own the point of intermediation.  Simply put, you should maximize and build messaging around all events important to you.  If it's that important and you don't have the resources to set up an API or some event trigger, do it manually. This will pay off more than any other effort you take this year.

3.    Have fun.  Creative should be an exercise in interrupting the inbox experience, and you should have fun developing it.  It can become so mundane over time with templates and production -- yet you really should test the limits of what you can/can't do and have fun with subject lines, have fun with creative messaging and know that testing is an exercise in making you better.  Have a contest with your team or departments for the funniest subject line or funniest metaphor to sell your widgets or services.

4.    Don't be lazy. We often get so artful in production we forget about the value or doing creative briefs.  These are so important in forcing us to lay out what we know and intend to do -- and the only form of archiving.  They make you think about whom you're talking to, the justification you have to communicate, making you write campaign and program goals and think about the experience you are intending to drive.  All great exercises for young teams.

5.    What you see is what you get.  With all the monitoring tools today, we can see the rendering of email in all the various ISPs --but I've found that this has become a so-what exercise.  Are you doing anything about it?  With images blocked in AOL, Yahoo and MSN, what impact does that have on your retails goals?  We can't optimize to all the environments, but you should consider picking a few ISP worlds and understanding really well what experience you are driving, potentially testing newer, simpler designs  or creative metaphors that get the consumer to "click to enable links and images."

6.    Report as if your job depended on it.   I talk a lot about measurement, which is really important, but if your job depended on performance improvement in the channel, what variables really show the value your efforts bring to the business?  Site traffic?  Revenue? Reach? Or do you need to craft this story into a couple of customer segments, to show the value you drive to identifiable customer sets that your management team can easily grasp?  Sometimes these measurement stories are more easily communicated in vignettes rather than a general view of a large database.

While I'm a big believer in checklists for many things, strategically they are really hard to take on. If you really think about this list and what you do day in and day out, putting on a few filters, you might pull out a few nuggets you didn't think about last year - and didn't think you had time for this year.

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