Online Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2012

In 2011, merchants explored ways to establish a cross-channel brand presence and user experience and examined how best to best collect data, acquire customers and communicate effectively in this quickly changing landscape.

With the peak holiday season wrapping up, let’s look at a few New Year’s resolutions to bring success throughout 2012.

Make new friends
Acquisitions tactics of years past are simply not enough. This is the time to audit every email opt-in location and identify gaps and opportunities. Here are a few tips for the top acquisition locations.

Website: Many sites have pushed the opt-in form below-the-fold to make room for social icons. While this helps drive social adoption, some marketers have seen email list growth rates decline as a result. Place your sign-up form above-the-fold and ask for email address only to gain the initial opt-in. Encourage subscribers to complete their profile on a post-submit page or in the welcome email.

Social media: Most emails contain an option to “Like” or “Follow” a brand on Facebook or Twitter, but finding an email opt-in form on social networking sites is not so common. Add an email sign-up form as a Facebook tab and occasionally tweet the value of opting-in.

In-store: Many stores rely on handwritten or keystroked data which is prone to human error. Add the ability to opt-in via QR codes or mobile short codes so the more connected 2012 consumer can have a user experience that is more familiar. Writing is so last century.

Print: Connecting print pieces to email acquisition has always been a challenge. 2011 saw a steady climb in the use of QR codes and mobile short codes in print linking to an opt-in form. These highly flexible and usually simple to implement options will continue to become a larger part of the consumer experience in 2012.

Reconnect with old friends
In 2011, email accounts continued to be used less for personal email. Social networking and photo sharing sites have become the primary forum for many of these conversations. Many marketers have recently executed pre-holiday reengagement efforts. Extend this concept into 2012 by developing a regularly scheduled reengagement program that automatically triggers a reengagement series when customers become disengaged or inactive.

Master the art of conversation
The influence of a consumer’s peers on a purchase decision will continue to grow in 2012. In 2012, drive additional engagement by adding a voice to the conversation. Have a brand expert or multiple category specialists who can provide content beyond the product description. Have them explain how the product can be used or how to get started with the product. Let this expert lead the conversation to a conversion.

The data diet
Your data is flabby, overwhelming and near impossible to use effectively. The New Year is an ideal time to determine which existing data points provide insight and which ones should be removed. Making room for behavioral and profile data from social, mobile, web, and in-store sources will be essential to monitoring customer trends, communication planning, and providing relevant content and offers. Key areas to have covered are:

Location: Zip code, city & state, and preferred store can help target communications and provide better planning for speaking to cross-channel customers by promoting local events on Facebook and Twitter or running check-in contests.

Channel: Begin sourcing acquisition by channel in 2012. This data will become more valuable over time and will be nearly impossible to retroactively assign. Understanding list growth and buying trends based on source will help define customer value and better targeting.

Jim Davidson is Manager of Marketing Research for Bronto Software ( Jim can be contacted at

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