The 2 Most Important Things for Email Marketers in 2013

  |  January 24, 2013   |  Comments

What do you need to do to be successful and what is the difference between smart email marketing and decent email marketing? Part two in a two-part series.

In Part 1, I addressed the successes of the email marketplace while (hopefully) casting a light on the crucial need for people smarts and subject matter expertise to make your email program head toward the next level. I used the Obama email program success to prove that technology didn't drive hundreds of millions of donations, but smart and crafty people spending a great deal of time and energy on every last detail did.

So what do you need to do to be successful and what is the difference between smart email marketing and decent email marketing?

Clear Business Goals Drive a Successful Email Program

I have touted for years the crucial success factors of having executive buy-in and being able to articulate the business purpose of the email program. This is a chicken-and-egg scenario, but get 10 email marketers in a room and they can talk about their open and click targets and list size goals. Ask them what that means for their business and you may be in trouble.

As digital marketing evolves from niche channels with small budgets and low expectations to a fundamental part of most businesses, the ability to tie your email program to your overall business goals is of paramount importance. I tell my clients and internal team to just imagine being in the elevator with the brand CEO and when she asks why are we doing email and what is it doing for our business, you need to have the answer - a good one. Remember, CEOs don't care about opens and clicks.

Being a Mobile Marketer Who Happens to Be Leveraging the Email Channel

It's what mobile consumers are doing and they are the future of digital. According to Pew, email is the most popular activity on smartphones and tablets. Yep, not Facebook or search. The good old-fashioned warhorse of digital communications. Of course, some want to make this warhorse turn into a unicorn with mobile magic.

Email marketers are mobile marketers whether you like it or not (go ahead and add it to your LinkedIn profile right now). I often hear that our audience isn't reading on smartphones. Knotice says the number of emails opened on a mobile device (smartphone and/or tablet) during the first half of 2012 overall rose to 36 percent. My agency finds the number around 50 percent for some of our clients. Either way, it is increasing for everyone. If you are in the dark on your audience and their mobile readership, make that goal number one.

Changing your mindset would be goal number two. Ensuring that mobile doesn't just sit in the back of your head but greatly impacts all of your email markets should begin to be the reality in 2013.

New tricks, technology, and savvy testing can accomplish a lot on the mobile front. In addition to understanding your audience and building a game plan with that in mind, the execution of your campaigns to a mobile readership is crucial.

The right message on the right device can be the difference between a read, a click, or a purchase. Leveraging our agency's proprietary technology, check out our holiday card, which served up multiple versions based on how and where you were reading our email.

Desktop Version


Mobile Version


While the difference between a vertical and horizontal email may not seem like much to say, an e-commerce marketer, the user experience is what makes the difference. Your merchandising strategy is going to differ in a small, suburban mall vs. a large, pedestrian-friendly urban location. Shouldn't your email be the case for smartphone and desktop subscribers? Think about how you can place products and calls to action in a different manner on an email targeted to an iOS device vs. a more traditional templated approach in a desktop version.

A smart email marketer is going to explore what moves the needle on timing and segmentation of each campaign. Mobile email opens up a whole new can of worms - we have found response times increase greatly at certain times of day for mobile users. A sound segmentation strategy comes out of this kind of knowledge so you can consider segmenting groups based on behavior or device.

The possibilities are plentiful and strong as email marketers need to embrace this new way of thinking to become the best mobile and email marketer they can be. What's your prototype for this new mobile email marketer?



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 and, 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 and

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