25 Things Email Marketers Must Avoid in 2012

  |  January 26, 2012   |  Comments

Don't succumb to these traps.

With the first few weeks in 2012 in the history book, some of us may have already fallen back into bad habits or the email hamster routine that allows for little else other than tactical management of the next email campaign (and there is always, the next email campaign). Others may have big strategic initiatives and a laundry list of plans to evaluate for 2012. Getting them done is hard. Ignoring them is easy.

My recommendation: Have a list for big picture initiatives and blocking-and-tackling measures. Then figure out the best way and resources to accomplish both them and establish a reasonable timeline. Oh, and make sure you avoid some traps that strangle progress and end any chance for positive momentum. My list of things to avoid in 2012 is below. Avoid these and continue to navigate the path to success. Overlook them and it could be an uphill battle.

  1. Little to no exposure to the C-suite.
  2. Talking about your program exclusively in opens and clicks.
  3. Working with a partner or platform that has not elevated your email program at all.
  4. A welcome message or series that was created by IT six years ago and hasn't been updated since.
  5. No new acquisition tactics to grow your list and minimize subscriber churn.
  6. Lack of focus or coordinated efforts on how the social program can help email, not just the other way around.
  7. Not dealing with deliverability and list hygiene issues, assuming that problem will just work itself out.
  8. Knowing that your typical email campaign looks subpar on a smartphone and tablet but not understanding why or doing anything to address this.
  9. Refusing to revisit campaign processes and the parts of the campaign development that take away valuable time and resources.
  10. Improving your subscriber sign up experience at all touch points (website, retail, mobile, social, landing page, etc. ).
  11. Assuming frequency has no correlation to the success and monetization of your email program.
  12. Telling your subscribers way too much, all in the body of an email as opposed to a brief and compelling email that moves them through to the next point.
  13. Subject lines that suck.
  14. Not auditing your CAN-SPAM compliance and unsubscribe process beyond the link at the bottom of your email.
  15. Accepting inferior creative designed for non-email usage.
  16. Treating all of your subscribers equally.
  17. Not having exploratory conversations with some of the cutting-edge vendors that touch email and have recently emerged.
  18. Sending the exact same message more than once.
  19. Not doing any A/B testing.
  20. Assuming best practices are the status quo and can't be tested and challenged.
  21. Not asking more questions about why an email campaign is being sent and clarifying the business goals and rationales of each campaign.
  22. Not finding time to network, talk shop, and learn from peers in the trenches.
  23. Ignoring what your competitors are doing via the email channel.
  24. Keeping email in a silo and not bringing other internal groups to planning and operational meetings.
  25. Not tracking ROI or some kind of "killer metric" that will demonstrate the effectiveness of your email program and certainly related, the job you are doing in driving these important efforts forward.

What is on your list in 2012 and do you have any tips and practices that worked in 2011 that ensured a more successful program?


Simms Jenkins

Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.

Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.

Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.

He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.

Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.

Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.

Follow and connect with Simms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, The BrightWave Blog, and his book websites at NewInboxBook.com and SimmsJenkins.com.

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