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New Year’s Resolution: Build a Successful Email Program

  |  December 23, 2002   |  Comments

An effective email program starts with a firm foundation.

My last column offered tips on how to gain budgetary approval and assemble the right players to aggressively pursue a successful email program.

Once you’ve got that accomplished, it’s a great time to engage the team in a collaborative discussion to set goals, define objectives, compose a plan, and ready the troops for implementation.

Set the Right Goals

Goal setting is essential. Begin with the end in mind. Answer this question first: How will the email best align and drive company and/or departmental goals?

The bottom line, of course, is there are two ways to make money in business: decrease costs or increase profitable revenues. Consider how email can help to achieve one or both. The list of potential goals below can help jump-start a productive team discussion:

  • Achieve more profitable relationships

  • Reduce the costs of communications

  • Minimize customer acquisition costs

  • Deliver personalized messaging to a mass market

  • Improve purchase frequency and spending

  • Increase reach, cross-selling, and upselling

  • Improve customer satisfaction and retention

  • Build brand loyalty (lifetime customer value)

  • Spike the results of other advertising efforts

  • Maximize earnings via higher marketing return on investment (ROI)

Define the Right Objectives

Business objectives must be realistic and measurable.

The purpose of defining objectives is to lock your sights on a target that will guide you toward the achievement of your goals. These goals help you find your way, just as stars in the sky helped sailors navigate.

Also consider interim steps along the way. As an example, let’s presume a stated goal is heavily contingent upon your business’s ability to reach a larger percentage of your total addressable market via email. With this understood, you might elect to make opt-in list building a major priority this year by writing the following business objective on the wall (and, yes, take this suggestion literally so it’s always on display and, thus, serves as a constant visual reminder for everyone):Grow our opt-in list database to 50,000 by FYE 2003.

Keep it simple. Only focus on high priority items -- the vital few -- you’re confident will produce quick and significant wins. Remember, if you chase two rabbits, both will likely get away. Calculate risks. Play the best odds.

Once you’ve got measurable goals set, ask these questions:

  • Does everyone buy in and commit to these expectations? Who is accountable?

  • What metrics will be used to track progress weekly, monthly, or quarterly?

  • How do these goals tie into company and individual performance measures?

  • When will we reach milestones and celebrate our accomplishments?

Compose the Right Plan

Relax, you’re not writing the next best-selling novel. You are putting ideas down on paper that will serve as guidelines for others. Naturally, you’d benefit from seeking input and feedback, especially from those responsible for carrying out the plan.

Begin by finding a quiet place without distractions. Then cut to the chase by making sure your plan answers these open-ended questions:

  • Where are we now?

  • What do we want to be?

  • Where do we want to be?

  • How will we get there?

  • Who does what?

  • How are we doing?

Implement the Right Plan

Share the plan. Test the plan. Measure the results. Adjust the plan. Execute the plan. Measure the results. Repeat the process again.

Here’s some wisdom from Jim Collins, author of "Built to Last," who learned from watching 1,435 companies grow over the course 40 years:

The real path to greatness, it turns out, requires simplicity and diligence. It requires clarity, not instant illumination. It demands each of us to focus on what is vital -- and to eliminate all of the extraneous distractions.

In preparation for the new year, it’s important to reflect upon what has and has not worked this past year and learn from our mistakes. If we do that, we can grow smarter every day -- by building on the foundations of our previous successes and testing new ideas.

Please take time away from work this special time of year to refuel. This next year will be an explosive one, as more technologies hit the market and we find innovative ways to leverage them to solve problems and build businesses. Happy holidays!

For more information, questions, comments, or any other feedback, please feel free to drop me a line or two. Cheers!

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Barry Stamos

Barry Stamos is vice president of business development for Inbox Marketing, which specializes in permission-based, interactive direct marketing. He has handled multi-million dollar CRM technology solutions for Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies and was the co-director of strategy with a Big Five global professional services firm. Barry also performed services in London for the American Chamber of Commerce (UK) and the U.S. Embassy in London and against all odds, taught business to fifth graders in Chicago.

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