Editor’s note: Happy Throwback Thursday! This is the first of two articles providing a framework to define your ‘perfect state’ future marketing program — and taking the first steps to get there. This was originally published as part of my email marketing column for ClickZ back in March 2015. I’ll publish the second part next week. Enjoy! 

Today I’m issuing a challenge to you – yes, you! And everyone else who reads this column.

I’ll tell you what it is in a bit. First, I have a question to pose to you:

If you could wave a magic wand and instantly create the email marketing program of your dreams for your organization, what would it look like?

While I am a bottom-line girl, don’t think of this in terms of quantifiable goals. Think of things you could do that would help you reach or exceed whatever your quantitative goals are.

And think in terms of things that are internal to your organization. It’s not about waving the wand to make 100 percent of your recipients take the action you need to reach your business goals. It’s about what you could do that would get more of them to take this action – that’s what the wand would do.

You have no limitations with regard to budget, resources, personnel, or anything else internal to your organization. But be realistic – offering every subscriber $1 million to do what you ask is not realistic for most business entities.

Think in terms of content, data, automation, and technology – and how you would leverage these things in a no-holds-barred environment to make your email marketing program more effective and more profitable. Consider how you might:

    • Improve the quantity and/or quality of content available for inclusion in your campaigns
    • Use data to significantly increase the relevance of your communications – and deliver more of the right messages to the right people at the right times
    • Develop a stable of automated programs which would be triggered by customer or prospect behaviors – a “set it and forget it” portion of your larger marketing program

Define the technologies you need to get the program of your dreams – think in terms of functionality and integration, not specific “name brand’ software

And these are just starting points. Everything is on the table while you have the magic wand. What would you do with your email marketing program if you could do anything?

Sound crazy?

It’s not. Welcome to the world I’ve been living in the past few weeks with a client. They are a highly regarded trade association with more than 75,000 members. We’re undertaking a digital transformation project with them – it’s a highly collaborative effort. And our discussions with them over the past few weeks have had to do with:

  • what they’re doing now
  • what parts of this they’d like to be doing better (more effectively or more efficiently)
  • what they aren’t currently doing but would like to

It gets better. We’re not just talking email marketing. We’re talking website, social media, search engine optimization and marketing, all email missives (transactional, editorial and promotional), and other public- and member-facing communications. And we’re talking about the backend systems that support and feed them as well as the processes currently in place to make all happen.

It’s an amazing exercise.

Digital moves fast – new technologies, new channels, new user preferences. It’s fine to put together three- or five-year plans. But in reality, if you plan for where you want to be three years from now today, you’ll likely be three years behind the times when you get there.

So we’re not necessarily defining a desired or “perfect” end state for each – it’s an iterative process and we’re looking to what we want to do in the next three to 21 months to move things forward. And we’ll continue to do this throughout the project.

We’ll adjust our plans accordingly. All the while launching new campaigns, features, and functionality every one to three months. It’s the perfect balance between having a long-term plan – and having the flexibility to change when you need to.

So what would you do if you could do anything with your digital marketing? Blue sky, no limitations.

Here’s my challenge to you: think about this and write it all down. Everything and anything you can think of. This is brainstorming – there are no bad ideas.

Set aside time to do this for a few minutes every day over the next two weeks. Each day start by reviewing your previous notes – fine-tune the ideas you had previously and add new ideas to the list. It may seem foreign at first but once you get into the groove they’ll be no stopping you.

Short on ideas? Look at what your competitors are doing. Look at the companies you enjoy engaging with online – and figure out why the experience is so enticing to you. Look at successful, best-in-class companies like Amazon and Apple – even if they aren’t in your industry there are things they are doing that you could make your own by tweaking for your target audience.

Talk to your colleagues within your organization – ask them to undertake the same “magic wand” brainstorming. Order in pizza once or twice, eat lunch together, share your ideas, and fine-tune them together – new ideas might even come from these discussions. Create an umbrella “magic wand wish list” for your organization’s digital presence.

Then come back in two weeks and read my next column, when I’ll talk about how to prioritize and turn your wish list into reality. No magic wand required.

Until next time,

Jeanne

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