Oh, of course there are all of those things that I and every other email marketing pundit preaches that you should do in 2011: Make your emails more social; design for mobile and touch; deal with inactive subscribers; use more triggered emails; update your preference centers and on and on.
This time I'm talking about something different: what you must do that not just takes your program up a notch but also helps to make email marketing more visible in your company, enhance your career and advance the industry.
Here are my 8 musts:
1. Raise Hell: Within your company, others probably view email as non-strategic and the boring sister to those way-cool channels social and mobile.
Stand up and yell from your cubicle or office: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore! Email rocks, and I can prove it."
OK, so you don't need to re-enact that scene from the movie Network. But do raise some hell in your company; enough to make the people who matter understand email's strategic role and value.
2. Demand Budget for Attending Conferences: Do whatever it takes, but get to at least two of the following conferences this year: A national or regional email-marketing or digital-marketing conference, your email technology provider's client conference, a local/regional association event or vertically focused event.
3. Become a Sponge: Don't be lazy. Quit asking what the average open rate is. Read everything you can get your hands on to expand your knowledge, such as industry columns (Email Insider, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, MarketingSherpa, etc) and blog posts. Follow industry leaders and marketers who know their stuff on Twitter. Attend Webinars.
The content you need is out there, and much of it is free. You just have to dive into the stream.
4. Get Involved: Join a group like the Email Experience Council or a regional marketing association like MIMA or NEMOA. Join committees, and help make a difference.
5. Join the Conversation: Join communities like OnlyInfluencers or the Email Marketers' Club. If you're on LinkedIn, check out email-focused groups such as Email Geeks or Email Marketing Roundtable.
Dive into Twitter conversations. Once you join in, ask questions or contribute to the conversation. Don't just be a lurker.
6. Tell Your Story: Everybody has a success story, no matter how small. Share yours. Blog about it. Write a case study and plan a Webinar with your ESP. Say yes when you are asked to be on a panel at a conference. You'll be better for it.
7. Mentor or Be Mentored: If you are an email-marketing veteran, make yourself available to up-and-comers. Tell them the secrets to success in email and a career, those things you wish someone had shared with you many years ago.
If you are a newbie, find a willing email-marketing "big brother" or "big sister" and leverage their wisdom. Everyone benefits.
8. Become a Guardian of the Channel: Resist pressure from management or peers to deploy questionable tactics that might generate short-term revenue but also damage consumer trust and your brand and jeopardize longer-term revenue.
Yes, one of the best things you can do for email is to take your company's program up a few notches in sophistication and performance. But make sure you also give back to yourself and to the industry at large.
What are you waiting for? What else are you doing this year?