THE BLOG
01/10/2014 05:42 pm ET | Updated Feb 17, 2014

Hit The Ground Running in 2014 - Your Guide to Maintaining Email Marketing Momentum

Congratulations, you survived the holiday frenzy! It's time to relax, right? Nope.

In January, most small businesses take their foot off the gas pedal, and some even get out of the car. It seems like everyone is suffering from email fatigue, including those who send and receive it.

I get it: you've worked your tail off and now it's time to rest -- you have the next 12 months to meet your goals. Wrong. It should start now.

A fresh start in January is prime time to use the precious data you've gathered over the last two months of the holiday rush to optimally plan your year, meet your goals and strengthen customer relationships. You don't have to keep the engine revving, just make sure it is purring (and ready to go.)

Here are a few tips to ride off the holiday high, maintain that momentum and start the year strong:

Don't Just Love 'em and Leave 'em
Show respect to your customer base. You've just sent more messages to them in the last two months than you have all year -- you can't just go radio silent. It's like having an amazing date and then never calling the other person again. If your campaigns were successful, your customers were enjoying hearing from you, so don't leave them hanging. Reach out, wish them a happy New Year and kick it off with a great promotion or announcement.

Look Before You Touch
Now, I've just told you it's a good idea to keep reaching out to your customers but you need to do it wisely. Fortunately, you have the key ingredient to this success: data.

With the huge abundance of data you've collected during the holiday frenzy, it's the perfect time to evaluate your program from the outside-in, determine what is working (and what isn't) and identify the best ways to prompt your customers into taking actions that result in your desired outcomes. This should really be done throughout the year, but the fresh start offered by the New Year provides a great opportunity to analyze your data and programs with timely information.

Take the time to analyze your data based on relevancy and low hanging fruit (male versus female; time zones; age range; etc.) Use this data to take advantage of email marketing campaign tools, like segmentation -- which can help you successfully target your audience and send relevant content specific to their demographics and interests.

Don't Budget Blindly
Contact centric marketing is touting the ever-elusive "secret sauce" to monetizing the hidden revenue in your existing data. But that strategy is not necessarily helpful when it comes to planning. Big budgets can sometimes just result in big data, which can ultimately result in bigger problems if you aren't careful and don't know how to analyze effectively.

The issue isn't the amount of data but rather the quality of data (an entire mass of 50 data points is probably not going to increase your revenue significantly -- it's going to be those two pieces of gold that truly make the difference). Unless you have the right tools to mine and analyze this information, the more data there is, the more cost, time and complexity of wading through it goes through the roof.

In November and December (aka the holiday rush), you have gathered customer data that is gold. Now use it. Understand what drives conversion and revenue, and plan accordingly.

Holy Mobile!
A friend of mine owns a Cadillac dealership in a small town. He approached me about sending out some holiday messages to his customers, and wanted to include a JPEG. I explained that people can't see JPEGs on their phones, and that he needed to incorporate responsive design into his email strategy, as many of his customers would view the message on mobile devices. He was hesitant and explained that most of his customers are older and presumably not tech savvy.

So what happened after he sent the messages? More than 50 percent were opened on mobile devices, and he saw a sizeable increase in foot traffic during his three-day sale.

There are more than 345.2 million cell phone users in the U.S., and it's not just Millennials and Gen Y. Successful email marketing campaigns should now all leverage responsive design and have layouts that are mobile-friendly, such as big Call-To-Action buttons for easy clicking and fonts larger than 11 points.

You've worked hard all year, especially in the last quarter, and you feel like it's time for a break. Though I don't want to take away your much-needed and well-earned down-time; now is the time stake out your competitive advantage. With the right strategies and the right data, you can easily get a jump on the rest of the year and possibly make the last quarter of 2014 a little less chaotic by achieving some of your goals sooner rather than later.

Seamas can be reached at seamas.egan@j2.com.