As 2017 finds itself in your rearview mirror, ask yourself a question. What changes did I make to my email program in 2017 that had a significant impact? It’s a simple question, but I bet many of you won’t have a good answer. Some of you are likely doing the same thing now at the end of the year that you were at the start of it, possibly due to the rush of day-to-day execution or limited internal resources.
But email continues to be a powerful marketing tool. According to Econsultancy, 73% of in-house marketers worldwide said that email marketing provided a strong ROI, the most of any marketing channel. Yet, it’s too often overlooked or taken for granted.
While you may be planning to grow your email ROI in 2018, it will require some reflection and careful planning. Take a good hard look at where your program started and ended the year, and why you did or did not accomplish your goals.
Here’s a checklist to help you plan for 2018:
Review your previous goals. What were your 2017 email marketing initiatives? If you didn’t commit to any specific goals in 2017, keep reading. Now’s the time to start planning and setting goals for the coming year.
Document major accomplishments. Look at your program from the top down. What were your major accomplishments from this past year? Did you implement any new email programs, such as browse recovery? If so, how are they performing?
Optimize your messages. If you made an effort to optimize your messaging in 2017, how has it performed? Did the changes work as intended? If not, why? If so, how can you apply these principles to other messages in 2018? Don’t stop there. How can you further optimize your messages in 2018?
Assess incomplete goals. Which initiatives are left undone, and why? What roadblocks prevented you from accomplishing your goals, and how will you overcome them in 2018? And here’s another question. How much revenue did you leave on the table by not reaching these goals?
Plan for 2018. What key initiatives do you want to achieve in 2018? How much will each help your overall email program?
Analyze your resources. If you realize that you simply can’t get things done, ask for help. Find someone internally who can lend a hand. Look for partners, such as your email provider, who might be able to guide and assist you with executing your vision. Find outside, third parties who may be able to help. There’s no shortage of help out here.
Don’t set it and forget it. Always look at the numbers, and identify areas for improvement. If you don’t change the oil in your car, it will eventually stop working. The same goes for your automated messages. Consider editing subject lines, freshening up hero images, changing verbiage, updating template layouts and split-testing multiple versions of your messages. What looked good two years ago may be stale and out of date today.
Don’t stop with best practices. Just because you implemented new programs this year doesn’t mean they can’t be improved. Remember: Best practices are not the endpoint, but rather the starting point. How can you make these messages more relevant for your subscribers?
Doing the same thing but hoping for better results is not only impractical, it’s not a sustainable model for success, particularly now that consumers are more in control and expect more from retailers. If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to come up with your roadmap for improvement. Perhaps you’ll focus on product recommendations, behavioral segmentation, optimized automated messages, user-generated content or a combination of them all. I recently wrote about several strategies for doing just that.
With so much available out there to help you improve your email ROI, you should be asking yourself not “What can we do?” but “How much can we do?”
Greg Zakowicz is Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst at Oracle + Bronto