Start 2020 right with email strategising

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January is traditionally a month of reflection and aspiration. Which makes it the perfect month for getting your email strategies into shape. Take all of that fresh, shiny, hopeful and analytical New Year’s energy and channel it into making 2020 your best year yet by looking back at your past strategies and putting what you’ve learned into your future strategies.



Take stock of your efforts in 2019.

You may well have already done this as 2019 was drawing to a close. But, if you haven’t yet done so, the best place to start in the new year is by reviewing the old one. If you set goals and objectives for the year as a whole, now is the time to assess how well those were achieved.

Reviewing something as long and complex as an entire year’s worth of strategies and campaigns often isn’t as simple as reviewing a single, time-limited campaign. So consider your objectives within the wider context of the year as a whole. How well did you respond to things like challenging events, changing technologies, things within and without of your immediate control? Were you creative enough to inspire your audience? Were you in-touch enough to respond swiftly to relevant events? Did you maintain a good relationship with your customers or did you experience an increase in unsubscribe rates? Do you truly understand what you did (or didn’t) do to influence your 2019 results?

If you’re not quite sure about how you got to where you are now, that’s ok. That’s an interesting finding in itself. What it means is that, when setting up your 2020 strategy, you should concentrate more on making your metrics measurable, and injecting an element of human insight into your data analysis.

Set goals and objectives for 2020

If you’re struggling to find focus and direction within your strategising, then the first thing to do is to define your goals and objectives. This is an excellent way to channel that bright, fresh, hopeful New Year’s energy into something productive for your brand.

When setting goals and objectives, it’s important not to do what most of us do when choosing New Year’s resolutions - i.e. be far too ambitious and give up before spring. Instead, make sure that your goals are SMART:

  • Specific - Specific goals are like firm landmarks when you’re navigating your strategy. Vague goals are hard to steer by. If you’re not sure of your ultimate destination, it’s impossible to know whether or not you’re going in the right direction.
  • Measurable - As you may have discovered when reviewing last year’s achievements, goals and objectives which can’t be measured also can’t be analysed or evaluated. And its through analysis and evaluation that you gain the insights you need to improve.
  • Achievable - If your goals are not achievable in a real and practical manner, you and your team will quickly become disheartened.
  • Realistic - ‘Achievable’ and ‘Realistic’ are tied together. If your goals are not realistic, they won’t be achievable. There is a saying ‘aim for the stars and you might reach the moon’, but reality does not work quite like that. Make sure that your goals remain firmly grounded in reality.
  • Timely - ‘Timely’ is related to ‘Specific’ and ‘Measurable’. Goals without a specified achieve-by date are hard to work towards, and even harder to measure.

Review your current strategic plans

Chances are that you’ve got some campaigns already on the go. Having reviewed your performance in 2019 and defined your goals and objectives for 2020, it’s time to put these under the spotlight.

This idea is similar to the year review we mentioned above, but with a focus on individual campaigns. Any issues that were hinted at when you reviewed your year as a whole may crystallise when you drill down into specifics. If your campaign strategies now seem a little loose or misdirected in the light of your new goals and objectives, fine-tune them to bring them in line with what you’re hoping to achieve.

Do some contextual analysis of the year ahead

No strategy exists in isolation. Strategies must work with the wider context in which they will be operating. While it’s impossible to predict the entire course of 2020 with certainty, now is still a good time to check the prevailing winds and ascertain what you can about the year to come.

PESTEL is a good framework to start with:

  • Political - How might political factors affect your campaigns, messaging and organisation in the coming year?
  • Economic - Are your customers or the industry you are operating in likely to experience any significant economic changes which could have an impact on your success?
  • Social. - Socio-cultural factors are often the hardest to precict, but it’s worth trying nonetheless. You can predict a surge of interest around certain topics on certain dates - for example, enhanced interest around romance on Valentine’s Day, and so on. Look for social trends on the rise, and cultural events which may influence your strategies.
  • Technological - Are there any new technologies which could aid your campaigns? Is technological change likely to disrupt what you’re trying to do?
  • Environmental - This factor ranges from the basic (how people’s interests and spending patterns may be influenced by the weather) to the more complex issues surrounding environmental morality.
  • Legal - Is there any legislation coming in which could impact your brand, or those of your competitors, such as the CCPA.

Analyse your email subscribers behaviour

This may be the most important step of all. Your audience is always the most important factor in every aspect of strategising. Email marketing is all about building and maintaining a relationship with your customers. What’s going on with them? What has hit your segments hard, and what’s working? Start by analysing your email performance data, drilling down into your customer base. As a starting point, if you have a segment that contains high value customers – what pages did they view on your website? Is there anything from that content that you could leverage in your email campaigns this year or may be include more within their email journey?

Take the start of the year as an opportunity to set aside time to spend reflecting and use that newfound insight to drive the year ahead.