Repeat after me: I will make my email better in 2018!

Each December I traditionally write a predictions blog where I look at what has happened during the outgoing year and look to the year ahead. It is a fun thought exercise that usually involves the team kicking around various ideas of what will happen in the following year. The challenge is always finding the balance between practical stuff that you know will come true, the things that you hope come to pass and the really interesting stuff that would only happen if life were a J.J. Abrams film. Back in December we did the thought exercise and I took copious notes, but it looked just like last year’s predictions and those from the year before that. So instead of predictions, let’s set some goals for 2018 that we will aim to achieve together.

Resolution 1 – Crawl, walk, run

Some of the emerging technology in marketing is really cool (AI, VR, Omnichannel, etc.), but this year we must resist our natural magpie instincts and not chase after the shiny new thing until we are getting the basics right in the channels we currently use.

Resolution 2 – Testing

That said, we want to be able to leverage these new technologies. Whether it is getting the basics right or deciding which new technology to employ, we need to get better at testing by following these four simple rules:

  1. Test the big things first
  2. Clearly define what you are testing
  3. Test one thing at a time
  4. Measure the test with a metric that is as close to your desired outcome as practical to get a meaningful result in a timely manner

Resolution 3 – Reporting more than opens and clicks

Opens and clicks are great process metrics. They are great at telling you how a particular campaign performed, and they allow for easy comparison between campaigns. For almost all of us however, we do not make any money from opens or clicks. In fact, of more than 4,000 dotmailer customers, I only know of one that makes money from opens (they are in publishing). The rest of us on the other hand, need to drive sales either directly or indirectly to make money. We need to start measuring the success of our marketing efforts based on how they are driving sales not based on whether a message drove the most clicks.

Resolution 4 – Write better copy

The reality is that most of us are marketing professionals writing our copy and NOT copywriting professionals. This has become the standard across all digital channels and while we could argue the whys, we cannot argue that our copy is not as good as it could be. Copywriting is a craft and like any craft it takes talent, skill and time to do well. I am not saying that marketing professionals cannot write good copy but, in 2018, we should commit to writing better copy. One of the easiest ways we can make our copy better is by following through on resolution 2 and testing different copy styles, lengths etc. We also need to spend more time working on our copy, from subject lines to alt tags.

Resolution 5 – Focus on what we can achieve with the budget and resources we have

The final resolution is going to be tougher. We need to change our view from ‘glass half empty’ to ‘glass half full.’ Let’s not dwell on what we cannot do but rather celebrate what we can. Let’s not get hung up on changes to consumer attitudes, changes to local regulations or political factors we cannot control. The 2017 Hitting the Mark report clearly showed us that both the brands with whom we compete and the brands we aspire to emulate are not smashing it. If we focus on the first four resolutions the foundations will be laid to allow us to go after the new technologies, channels and tactics.

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