25 Things Email Marketers Must Avoid in 2012

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?

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