Is email marketing all about tactics? No, of course not. But you might think so if you looked at the inventory of speeches, articles and blog posts from throughout the industry. Tactics are worthless unless they are based on a solid strategy, but poor execution of a solid strategy is just as problematic.
Successful email marketing doesn't have an "easy" button. Dozens of elements come together to deploy a world-class email program. Ignoring or not optimizing one aspect can sabotage other aspects of your program that you've done well.
The single most important way you can improve your email performance is to increase relevance through greater use of segmentation and dynamic content. So put this at the top of your "2009 To-Do List."
Following that, as you look ahead to 2009, consider tackling some of the following tactics to take your program to the next level. To view more detail behind these tactics and find links to earlier columns, read my recent Email Insider column, "Your 2009 To-Do List: There Is No 'Easy Button.'"
1. Focus on business metrics.
2. Instill trust.
3. Communicate. Don't just sell.
4. Lift engagement with a new-subscriber welcome program.
5. Incorporate behavioral data into your email program.
6. Turn the frequency question into a customer-touch strategy.
7. Reduce unsubscribes and spam complaints.
8. Minimize list churn and inactives.
9. Incorporate social media, user-generated content and social networks into your email program.
10. Optimize for blocked images, preview panes and multiple devices.
11. Improve your deliverability.
12. Minimize stupid mistakes and oversights.
13. Focus on retention and engagement.
14. Enable subscriber choice with preference centers.
I've obviously left off many other email tactics, so let me know what's on your To-Do List for the coming year.