Planning for 2019 — what have you learnt?

26 November, 2018 Analysis

It’s cold outside, December 1st is just around the corner and there’s a slight smell of mulled wine in the air. That means, no more avoiding it, the countdown to the Christmas & New Year period is officially on!

But even with a new year fast approaching, it’s not quite time to slow down your paces just yet. Remember back to this time last year when you were looking ahead to the months to come, and setting out your all-singing-all-dancing email marketing strategy? Well, before you try to do the same for 2019, you need to reflect. 

Among many other things, the end of a calendar year is a great time to look back on the past 12 months’ worth of activity and really analyse what’s gone on this year, so that you can inform the coming months.

Here are our top 3 questions to ask yourself at this crucial time;

1. What’s new from this year?

It’s been a crazy year for the world of marketing, let alone for email — the introduction of the GDPR back in May of this year saw the biggest shake-up to our industry in a long time, and the changes won’t slow down going into 2019.

Taking time to analyse what’s been happening in not just the wider industry, but your own sector, will provide you with the insights you need to ensure you stay relevant to your market in the coming year. You’re the experts in your field, so pull together your best teammates and start by making a big list of what’s been going on — look at new products, new developments, your competitors’ activity, memorable campaigns and, most importantly, any changes in your customers’ behaviours. 

You need to stay in tune with your audience in order to keep up, so looking at the changes that impact them and their interests will keep you in the loop with what they’re responding to and what they’re not. Think about new audiences too — have you launched a new product this year to cater for a new market? Are your efforts reflected there?

For the ‘always on’ consumer, the email inbox is now a 24 hour luxury, coming at the simple touch of a screen. More brands are tapping into this new mentality, and the brands that don’t think consumer-first or mobile-first are the ones who’ll fall behind. 

2. What would you have done differently? 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially when we’re sitting with your results in-hand. Ask yourself: if you’d had double the time, what else would you have done? 

Thinking in this way will help you and your team hone-in on the top priority areas, informing the areas you should be spending more on time in the new year. Simple extra steps like ensuring you’re testing your work, or making time for the tasks you usually rush, have the potential to make a massive difference in conversions. For example, jobs like writing your emails’ subject lines, which can often be a last-minute, slap-dash thought just as you’re about to press the send button. But in real-life, optimising your subject lines can increase your open rates because your subscribers will be judging your email before even opening it - can you afford to miss out on this extra ROI?

Think about these areas in the context of the objectives you set at the start of 2018. Did you stretch yourself far enough? Were they enough of a challenge? And were they focussing on the right areas — mobile devices, engagement, content. It’s not just about vanity metrics like open rates, dig deeper to tap into the minds of your recipients. 

Use these findings to highlight areas you now need to make a priority — whether it would have been taking time to segment your mailing lists further, or putting more effort into getting creative with your content; the things you could have focussed more on are key going into 2019, and these are the things you can commit to making time for in the coming months to maximise your ROI from email.

3. How do your results stack up?

Email marketing reporting has travelled far beyond the open rate for many years now, but we’re still seeing so many brands get it wrong when it comes to measuring the success of their campaigns. 
Reviewing your performance against the objectives you set at the start of the year is the ****

With 53% of consumers saying they ‘too many irrelevant emails, it’s not surprising that 44% state that receiving too many emails is the biggest inbox turn-off, now really is the time to think about your engagement figures for the year. Take these, along with a suite of stats like click rates, delivery rates and device information, and group them with your subscriber knowledge base in order to highlight the gaps in your audience insights. This process will enable you to enter 2019 with a clear plan of what you need to find out about your subscribers, in order to tailor your communications further.

At the very least, you should be able to answer basic questions about your audience — like the products they’re most likely to purchase, the content they like and the content they’re not interested in — making this effort will ensure you stay a cut above your competitors in an increasingly-competitive inbox.

So, what’s next?

In summary, before you dance into 2019, reviewing your email marketing strategy is just as important as setting it. Ask yourself;

What’s been happening this year? What’s new with your business, your competitors and your wider industry? 
What would you have done differently? Where would you have spent more time, if you’d have had it?
How do your results compare to the objectives you set at the start of the year, as well as new industry benchmarks? 

Only with thorough analysis of the facts and figures can you gather the level of insight you need, to then apply your learnings and progress your email marketing in 2019.