How to Prepare Your Email Marketing Program for the New Year


Key tips for launching the new year on the right foot with your email marketing program.

With Black Friday a few weeks away, it is hard to believe our focus is about to turn to 2022. At this point, your holiday strategy is locked in and well underway. When the holiday season comes to an end, there is often a sense of a break which is essential, but don't let that break go into January. January is the perfect time to review and reevaluate your email marketing program.

We hear the words "cleanse" and “resolutions” a lot starting in early January. For some, that might mean a juice cleanse or maybe dry January, but for me, it has also meant a time to cleanse and reset your email program goals and objectives for the coming year. In simplest terms, it means looking at what worked and what didn't in the previous year.  But it is more than that!

Here are a few things you should consider about your program starting in January:

Analyze your holiday campaigns

During that first week in January, I know the last thing you want to do is think about all the holiday campaigns. Trust me; I get it! But this is the best time for analysis, not just because it is fresh in your mind but because your holiday analysis will guide the direction of your email program for the year.

You likely picked up many new subscribers. Ensure that you are tracking this group to see if they joined your list because of the holiday offers or if you can turn them into loyal customers. Determining their engagement level with your brand will help drive your segmentation strategy.  

Now, what about your lapsed subscribers and customers? No matter how well you segment, it is inevitable that your list has them. If subscribers don't engage during the holiday season, it is time to engage them or purge them. If one day they come back, great, but if not, there is no reason to let them harm the deliverability of your list. 

Analyze your holiday cadence to determine:

  • Whether you emailed too much or not enough.
  • Once people purchased, did they stop engaging with emails? If they did, you likely need to email them less during the next holiday season.  
  • Determine which campaigns saw the highest engagement and conversion rates. They likely have elements that you can use for your ongoing campaigns.

If you set goals for the holiday season, match up reporting to those goals to determine if you achieved the desired outcome. If you didn’t set any goals, don't worry, we will cover setting goals for 2022, and there is no better time than the beginning of the year.

Once you have finished your holiday analysis, put it away but take out the analysis for whatever your next holiday season is. Remember, "holiday" email is more than just Black Friday and Christmas. There are other holidays such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Easter, in which your holiday analysis will come in handy.


Set Your Goals

Let’s go back to resolutions and cleanse.  January is also a big-time for resetting goals and is the perfect time to reset your email marketing goals. Defining your goals gives you measurable ways to ensure your email marketing is meeting your business objectives. Goal setting might include the following:

  • Determine your email marketing revenue goals per quarter for the year (utilize last year's numbers and determine what increase makes sense) as well as the percentage of total revenue that email marketing drives.
  • Increase email engagement- depending on your type of business, that might be increasing click rates or conversion rates.
  • Increase personalization! Every year, subscribers expect more and more personalized content. Subscribers expect that the brands they engage understand who they are and what they want. The easiest way to increase personalization is through click behavior or a survey of your subscribers, allowing them to provide valuable insight into what will engage them the most.
  • The more important goal or objective you should set is to define the specific role email marketing plays for your business. That might change over the years, but this is a key one. We don't just send emails for the sake of sending emails. Make sure there is a clear objective.


Evaluate your data

The term data cleanse tends to scare people. No one wants to remove subscribers proactively, but what good are those on your list that aren't engaging? They are harming your list more than helping. Start with those who didn't engage at all during the last quarter. With the launch of IOS15, using open rates as an engagement metric likely isn't going to last long, so think about other metrics (click or conversion). Once you have determined your unengaged audience, you can utilize a service such as Webbula to determine which of your engaged list is a threat and who is worth trying to win back. Once you know who the threats to your list are, purge them. When you know which of your inactives aren't a threat, determine if there are ways you can win them back. Think social targeting or even direct mail if you have the data. Just because someone doesn't engage for a while doesn't mean they are lost forever but continuing to send them the same email marketing will not provide you results. 


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Refine your segmentation strategy

Segmentation is a big one and one that is easily missed. Segmentation is key for a successful email program. Yes, you will see results from batch & blast, but the best email marketing results are about hitting the subscriber with the right message at the right time. Here are few segments that you can try for 2022:

  • New holiday subscribers- thank them for joining your list and nurture them.
  • First Time Purchasers- this might mean having a customer journey for this segment but then continuing to nurture and grow the relationship. 
  • Customers- you know exactly what they want so ensure that you are providing relevant content to them.
  • Clickers or Click Frequency- This group might not yet be buyers, but they are highly engaged with your brand.
  • Location (with the launch of IOS 15, this might be a data field that you need to collect from subscribers to ensure its accuracy)- There is nothing worse than getting a “snow day email” when you are sitting in 80-degree weather.  
  • Purchase Frequency (this is entirely dependent on the nature of your business)
  • Most loyal customers or subscribers- You will always want to reward the best in one way or another. If you don't provide offers or discounts, consider sending them a sneak peek or early access type email.


Check Your Automations

While this is part of your January cleanse, make sure to check your automations regularly. Automated campaigns should be checked for the following:

  • Content, especially if your content is seasonal.
  • Analysis- are these campaigns still meeting your primary objective?
  • Confirm they are still running- while this sounds silly, I can't tell you how many people have told me they have a welcome series and when I sign up, I receive nothing. Automation is excellent, but they aren't always as "set it and forget it" as we would like.

Much like the January cleanse and resolutions we set for ourselves, our marketing programs deserve the same attention. As you wrap up this holiday season, make sure you add this to your to-do list for January.  Happy and fruitful holidays to all!


Meet the Author


Elizabeth Jacobi,

Digital Marketing Brand Strategist, MochaBear Marketing

Elizabeth Jacobi brings over 20 years of email marketing, digital marketing strategy, and program management experience.  She is the founder of MochaBear Marketing at a small boutique consulting firm that successfully works with clients to design and execute strategies that consider all areas of digital marketing (email, social, web). At the core, it is still about email marketing, as that is the most effective marketing channel to retain a customer. However, with the complexities of the digital space today, an email strategy must work with all areas of marketing.

 Before starting MochaBear Marketing, Elizabeth led the marketing technology efforts for a CRM agency, spent 8 years at CheetahMail, and launched the email marketing program for Paramount Digital Entertainment. 

 Elizabeth served on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce and is an active member of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and LAX Coastal Chamber.   Most recently, Elizabeth joined the OI Email Metrics Project.


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