Top 10 Resolutions for Email Success in 2022!
Don’t Drop the Ball on Your 2022 Email Resolutions!
Success within email requires practitioners to be technical, strategic, creative, and tactical, all at the same time. But we rarely stop to think about all the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into achieving true success within email, beyond simply hitting the inbox.
The start of a new year is a great time to focus on the future. Not necessarily the future of email, but the future of YOU as a practitioner within the email industry.
So let’s take a step back and review 10 things you should consider doing to have a more successful year in 2022: both as a marketer/coder/developer/strategist, as well as a professional working at a company within the email industry — within any industry, really.
The point is not to tackle all of these resolutions. 10 is a lot! Instead, focus on a couple of these (or even just one!) to improve the way you work with your teammates, bosses, and clients to increase your organization’s efficiency, transparency, morale and overall ability to make email more awesome.
#10 – Reflect on what you have: Do an audit on all your processes
#9 – Break your tech addiction: Lead with strategy, not shiny new tool syndrome
#8 – Learn something new: Plan for the Unexpected
#7 – Get organized: Get your data house in order
#6 – Lead with respect: For your email audience, and so much more
#5 – Meet new people: Increase your network, internally and externally
#4 – Spend more time with family and friends: Strengthen existing relationships
#3 – Be less stressed: Reframe your perspective
#2 – Spend less, save more: Be thoughtful with your time and resources
#1 – Stop procrastinating: Take baby steps towards success
So, let’s get started, shall we? 2022 won’t wait any longer.
#10 Reflect on What you Have Now: Start 2022 with an Audit
The audit process should include a review of everything from your strategy to your processes, the tools you use, and more.
Start by re-assessing your goals with email:
- Do they still make sense?
- Do they align with your company’s larger business goals?
- Is your full team on the same page about what your goals are?
- Is your process properly set up to measure and achieve those goals?
Next, take a closer look at your configuration.
- Are your emails properly authenticated?
- Are you sending from the IPs you think you are, with the right sending domain?
- Do your automation workflows look correct, and are they aligned with those business goals you just reviewed?
The same way you would double check your sending address before making a purchase online, check that everything looks correct with your configuration.
Then, go test your subscription process and resulting workflow!
- Does it work the way you expected, based on your configuration check?
- Does the user experience align with reaching your email goals?
- Are there any issues with coding or content that could be fixed to improve the user experience?
All these things are important to check during your audit process, so plan on adding this to your to-do list in January if you’re hoping for success in 2022.
#9 Break Your Tech Addiction: Lead with Strategy, Not Shiny New Tools
It’s incredibly important to lead with strategy, not shiny tools. Otherwise, you’ll end up chasing tactics that are possible within your tech stack instead of focusing on what’s really going to bring you success in 2022.
Refer back to your actual goals with email here! Build a strategy for how you plan to achieve your goals, involving all key stakeholders in the conversation — from marketing to sales, customer-facing teams and product development.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone create a plan inside a vacuum only to later have another team delay progress or put a stop to that plan entirely because of how it impacts them. Or because it requires development that simply is not able to be prioritized based on other projects.
It’s SO much wasted time for everyone involved. So, get all your potential stakeholders to the table up front so you can identify the resources you’ll need (tools, people, time, and budget) and create a realistic plan for success.
And speaking of planning for success… plan for the unexpected!
#8 Learn Something New: Plan for the Unexpected
If the past 2 years have taught us anything, it’s that planning for the future can be a bit like rolling the dice. Which is why thinking about what could go wrong and figuring out a contingency plan — or several contingency plans ahead of time is so important.
Even if we overlook the changes we’ve seen happening all over the world from living through a pandemic for 2 years, I’m pretty sure none of us had Apple Mail Privacy Protection on our BINGO cards going into 2021. But it took up a LOT of our headspace for the second half of the year. Email works that way, often.
So, spend some time thinking back, again, on your email goals. Figure out what is most important to you achieving them, and what potential pitfalls might prevent you from hitting those goals. Get all your stakeholders involved for this and use the data you have available to inform your planning and help you identify ways to mitigate unforeseen risks.
Create contingency plans that help you avoid putting all your most precious eggs into one basket and come up with some back-up plans that you can put into place if all hell breaks loose. Knowing that email is fundamental to success for a lot of businesses, one example of a contingency plan would be to have a back-up email provider already set up, so you can keep emailing as usual, even if your ESP’s having a bad day.
#7 Get Organized: Get Your Data House in Order
Why is this important? Well, privacy changes (such as CASL in Canada, GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California, as well as Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection) are here – and more are coming!
My prediction is that Yahoo will be the next provider to go in this direction, but they will not be the last. And the implementation of each of these initiatives will be different.
Depending on where your business operates, and how you run your email program, these changes may require you to adjust some of the tactics you use (such as Send Time Optimization and engagement targeting) and they may also impact the way you measure and monitor email performance. So, get ahead by inserting privacy-by-design into everything you do going forward. Make it part of your planning process.
One way to overcome some of the challenges we’re seeing is to connect to data points outside the email channel such as website and purchase history or zero-party data collected through progressive profiling to increase your ability to personalize the user experience for your audience. But only collect and store data you need to make that user experience great.
And get started now! When it comes to data, any changes you’re considering are not trivial. Data management comes with a high cost at scale — budget for tools or additional head count in marketing operations, dev resources, planning, execution and training.
Getting your data house in order is admittedly a bit of a beast, so I would recommend getting your audit and planning started in January, and then making steps towards cleaning up your data to make it more reliable and useable as you continue through 2022. Remember to get all your stakeholders involved here.
#6 Lead with Respect: For Your Email Audience, and Everyone Else
I won’t spend time preaching to all of you about why respecting other human beings is important. You either embrace that concept or you don’t. But when it comes to email, respect is essential, because without it, you will face deliverability issues stemming from spam complaints and other negative reactions from recipients.
So a few tips on how to set yourself up for consistent inbox placement by respecting your email audience (and everyone else).
- Get permission and set expectations about the types of content you’ll send, the frequency, and maybe even let them share some of their interests so you can better personalize their experience. Starting your email relationship off on the right foot is so essential.
- Remember that Legality does not equal recipient interest or inbox placement, so do not send to people who aren’t expecting to hear from you. Even if it’s technically legal. Mailbox providers don’t care about legality when they’re deciding what goes to the inbox.
- Email with Consistency. MBPs and recipients like this, which means your deliverability will thank you. Note that you want to be consistent not just with your sending frequency, but also with the types of content you send, the styles and tone of voice.
- Follow the data to know what content and frequency they like, and make it easy to opt-out! Enough with the small fonts, hard to read text, tiny hyperlinks, 8-steps to finally get off the list. If they can’t unsubscribe, they will mark your message as spam, or do worse. Legally, it may be required to make the unsub process easier than signup. But even if it’s not legally required, it’s the right thing to do.
Alright, switching gears here a bit, to more resolutions you can apply to improve not just your email program, but yourself! And your ability to get shit done, leading to an even more successful year in 2022.
And the first of these, coming in at countdown spot #5 – is to increase your network, both internally and externally.
#5 Meet New People: Increase Your Network, Internally and Externally.
When it comes to making new email pals, there are a lot of options because this industry is so collaborative and welcoming, and the work we all do requires us to work together.
So how can you make some friends? There are many industry groups already established:
On the free side, there is:
- The Emailgeeks slack channel
- Women of Email
- Plenty of special interest groups on LinkedIn and Slack, Reddit and more.
If you or your company are willing to pay for it, you can also join groups like:
- M3AAWG (Messaging, Malware, Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group)
- Email Experience Council
- Only Influencers
- ESPC (Email Service Provider Coalition)
Not only will you personally benefit from new relationships, but your business likely will, too! Growing your email network can lead to partnerships, co-marketing opportunities, new business referrals, or maybe even your dream job within email.
So, explore ways to contribute to the conversations happening with our industry —attending (or speaking at) industry events, partnering up for a webinar or to tackle some new abuse vector through one of the many working groups many of us are members of — all of these are great ways to learn from your peers, gain exposure and help make email more awesome.
But don’t just look externally! When we’re talking about meeting new people, this applies to your internal organization as well. Consider how you can build bridges internally between teams that work cross-functionally by finding allies in sales, operations, product dev and marketing. Be aware of what’s happening in their worlds…
- What are their biggest challenges in 2022?
- What are their priorities?
- How can you or your team help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals? This will lead to trust and better collaboration on their part in the future.
- What tools are they using (could you consolidate, or take advantage of knowledge/process-sharing)
Understanding your own company’s challenges and stakeholders can go a LONG way to helping you succeed in business, and in email — during 2022 and beyond.
#4 Spend More Time with Friends & Family: Enrich Existing Relationships.
So, now that you’ve increased your network, I’d like to recommend exploring ways to enrich your existing relationships as well.
If you’re heading to an industry event, make plans to connect with people you’ve met in the past, and make sure to find them and spend at least a few minutes in passing while you’re at the event. Volunteer for those special interest groups I just mentioned. Or partner up on some content based on mutual interests!
Just last month, my colleague at SocketLabs, Brian Godiksen, teamed up with Travis Hazelwood from Campaign Monitor to write about an emerging spam trend impacting customers on both of our platforms. They didn’t really know each other before, but the foundation is now there to collaborate on other topics and enrich that relationship in the future if they so wish.
- So, can you join a sub-committee or working group?
- If you’re already a member of industry groups, how can you be more vocal?
- How can you contribute your knowledge to the industry at large? What do you have to share? Get it out there. We really do want to hear it.
And let’s not forget about that internal focus — we want to enrich those relationships as well.
Because marketing is not just an external practice! Getting what you need to succeed and supporting your customers in the best way possible requires you to work collaboratively with your coworkers, bosses and internal teams.
No department within a company should live on an island. You need to be aware of what they’re working (and vice versa) because it likely impacts you in one way or another.
Your goal here is to be the center of transparency — the glue that keeps your company together. At SocketLabs, we’ve been working hard on this, which has led to many positive outcomes that increase transparency:
- Product briefs to communicate what’s new, why it’s important, and how it might impact a variety of teams from Support to Customer Success, Sales, Marketing, etc.
- Sprint pages and a dashboard to access updates related to sprints for more transparency around what Product is working on and timelines for releases. This is so important for product releases so your company can coordinate marketing efforts, education of employees and clients, contingency planning, etc.).
- Monthly All-Hands meetings: these are not just a chance to hear how the business is doing! Get involved — talk to your manager about sharing updates related to your workload/projects/future needs
The main point here is to get involved in cross-functional communication and when possible, volunteer for projects giving you a wider breadth of experience to add to your resume, and greater exposure with upper management and/or clients.
#3 Stress Less: Reframe Your Perspective.
Now that you’re meeting all kinds of new people, much more aware of what’s happening within your own company, and involved in cross-functional projects, you’ll be more equipped to be confident in what you bring to the table.
By increasing your network, you’ll not only realize that to some extent, we’re all pretty much just winging it and doing our best, but you’ll also have more allies who can help you succeed.
This has positive anti-burnout benefits of feeling closer and more connected to your colleagues, which allows you to become more comfortable asking “dumb questions” or throwing out random brainstorming ideas.
Overcome imposter syndrome by realizing your perspective is unique and has value. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or worry that you’ll “sound stupid”. You’re not, and a lot of others were probably dying to ask the same question. You basically did everybody a favor by speaking up.
So, take a page from my email pal at SocketLabs, Skyler Holobach, who recommends using affirmations to pump your email-self up.
I am confident.
My perspective is unique.
I have a lot of value to add to a conversation.
#2 Spend Less, Save More: Be Thoughtful With Time & Resources.
While aggressive targets are great for planning, unrealistic expectations can lead to anxiety, stress, mistakes, desperate measures to catch up with unrealistic goals, and employee burnout.
Being thoughtful is about caring for your team, your workload, and yourself.
So, consider everything that will be needed to reach your goals.
- What’s the strategy?
- What tools & resources will you need?
- How much time do you need to implement?
- When can you expect to see returns (oftentimes not immediate)
Before considering new technologies to add to your stack, look at the bigger picture, and do your research:
- What challenges does this tool aim to solve?
- Do a Cost/benefit analysis
- Consider what other teams could benefit or be impacted by using this new tool? Are they already using a tool that could suit your needs?
- Does it pose a security or compliance risk?
In addition to being thoughtful about your workload and your coworkers, don’t forget to be kind to yourself! I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to email, it’s not just a job or career — email has become a part of who I am. But it’s incredibly important to remember that most of us aren’t saving lives here, folks. It’s just email!
Do your best to be excellent to each other (and yourself!) and follow the steps I’ve outlined, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful year in email during 2022.
But hey, if you happen to hit send with broken links or faulty segmentation, give yourself the grace to know that it WILL be ok. I promise.
#1 Stop Procrastinating: Take Baby Steps
Aaaand then last but certainly not least, my final resolution for you to consider is to stop procrastinating! Continuing to do something simply because it’s the way things have always been done is a cop out, and it won’t work forever.
So, start taking baby steps towards progress and success today:
- Avoid trying to boil the ocean.
- Follow the data to identify what requires your attention first.
- Consider the full scope of any project you’re considering, including timelines, resources required (financial and otherwise) and potential impacts on the business (customer confusion or need for training, an increase in support workload, change in process for other teams, etc.).
- Then get to work! The point here is to stop procrastinating and get going! Just make ONE improvement at a time… baby steps.
Time to Take on 2022!
And with that, we’ve reached the end of our countdown! I’d like to take a quick moment to thank all of you for making this email community so wonderful. As you head into 2022, I wish you nothing but success – both personally and professionally. 💌