Prediction for Email in 2017: A More Measured Approach >

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If 2016 was the big year of “what if,” 2017 looks to be the year of “what works?”

The 2016 Forrester Wave report stated that 70% of brands will increase investment in email strategy to operationalize efforts towards customer obsession,” but there are bound to be missteps. Those brands that flew too close to the sun with complex, budget-busting programs will seek a more methodical and value-driven approach in 2017. Marketers pleading the executive ranks for greater budgets for multi-channel integration or granular progressive profiling should come to the pitch table prepared with an equally impressive analytics strategy tied to business KPIs.

For many brands, a shift from best practices in marketing automation to more advanced tactics requires a significant increase in budget and resources. Without proper tracking codes and reporting metrics in place, it can be hard to defend the good thinking that goes into your advanced multi-channel programs.

Despite the assurances of platform sales personnel, nothing is quite as “drag-and-drop” as it seems when building campaigns. Yes, there is immense potential for evolving communications to be more one-to-one, but there is also a significant increase in the volume of creative that must be created and the time needed for quality assurance to ensure all the bells and whistles in your new program sing in harmony and on key.

Give KPIs Business Meaning
For 2017, we’re predicting more attribution modeling to show how different channels affect each other. This gives brands a clearer sense of the overall value of each channel and the additive effect they have on each other by being coordinated through various marketing platforms.

The easiest way to bring more meaning to your campaign’s KPIs is to look for low-hanging business value metrics that align to the traditional email metrics you already track. If you’re seeing a greater volume of opens and clicks, look for a lift in key conversion metrics within the time frame of the campaign and in the geographic areas most likely affected. If over the year you’ve managed to win-back 5% of dormant customers, go find out the lifetime value of the customer and make a few assumptions for the net effect. Directional metrics will do just fine until you get permission to put a BA on a mission to uncover statistically significant ones.

Take Small Steps Towards Awesomeness
As an agency, we often find our clients’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs. At the onset of a relationship, the client might express a ravenous desire for revolutionary campaigns with journey mapping, integration of beacons and countless data sources. However, the first contract might end up being an incremental step above their current state. Just like our industry is charged with earning the right to sell to customers, those advocating for greater sophistication in automation must earn the right to be amazing by proving business value at each step.

The tone of 2017 is likely to be more guarded, but don’t mistake this for apathy. Email is still one of the most defensibly effective marketing tools on the planet. The recent shift towards caution is simply a natural part of a larger innovation cycle.

Brilliant ideas beget new possibilities, and those still blessed with imagination find the potential for these ideas to bring new value to business. But just as a teenager with a new car shouldn’t unleash the full potential of an engine the first time out of a driveway, we must be methodical with the new marketing tools at our disposal so that we can move from point A to point B undistracted and with a clear roadmap.

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