Your Marketing Communications Spring-Cleaning Checklist: Part Two

We’re now into the first week of April. In just the last few days, baseball season has officially begun, and a few runners have appeared along the riverfront. Based on their visible breath and slightly frostbitten faces, we still have a ways to go before it truly feels like Spring here in Minnesota. We are getting closer though (I promise), so it’s time to get back to Your Marketing Communications Spring-Cleaning Checklist.

We began the Checklist last week by sharing ways to clean up, organize, and revitalize your brand and content strategy. Starting with brand and content strategy makes sense because those two components form the foundation of all marketing communications. If you don’t have your brand and content strategy in order first, everything else will fall apart no matter how much time you spend trying to clean it all up and make it look pretty.

In Part Two, we’ll shift our focus from the foundation to the specifics of your website and email marketing.

Website

Clean up: Find and Fix Broken Links
Broken links are a natural part of the decay that occurs as websites age and grow. Unfortunately, these broken links frustrate website visitors and search engines. If left unrepaired, they lead to a poor overall user experience and diminished search engine rankings. There are several tools, however, that make the process of finding and fixing broken links manageable. Check to see if your content management system has any built-in, or plug-in, link-checking functionality. If not, find a third-party tool and start thinking about link checking as an essential part of ongoing web maintenance.

Organize: Optimize Your Navigation System
Speaking of things that frustrate website visitors … You may have the greatest content on the internet, but no one will know or care if you don’t also have a well-organized and streamlined navigation system. Your site’s navigation system should be designed to provide the best possible user experience while facilitating business objectives. If your visitors can’t find what they’re looking for, or don’t take the action that you want them to take (e.g., viewing additional pages on the site, making a purchase, or filling out a registration form), it’s probably time to take a fresh look at your navigation system. If the prospect of overhauling your site’s navigation sounds intimidating, choose one component – like the order of your top-level navigation links – and analyze it to see what could be done more effectively.

Revitalize: Make it Responsive
If you’ve already embraced the power of responsive web design, congratulations! You can skip this item feeling confident that your website is ready to face the future. If you’re still questioning the value of a responsive approach, consider these three things:

  1. Responsive design is the only way to ensure an optimal user experience for the rapidly growing mobile audience.
  2. Responsive design is much more cost-effective than designing and developing separate sites for different devices.
  3. Desktop, tablet, and mobile versions of a responsive site all share the same code and content, which simplifies site maintenance.

You don’t have to totally redesign your website to make it responsive. Just making a few small changes to improve your visitors’ experience across all devices will make a big difference in how they perceive your website and your brand.

Email Marketing

Clean up: Make Your Emails Responsive, Too
As important as a responsive approach is to website design and development, it may be even more important to email marketing. If you own a smartphone, you almost certainly use it to access your email on a regular basis. In fact, according to a recent report, 41% of emails were opened on a mobile device during the second half of 2012. Given the size of that mobile email audience, it’s essential to send emails that adapt to the unique needs of a mobile or desktop environment. If you want to improve your campaign’s clicks and conversions this Spring, make your emails responsive.

Organize: Build Your Subscriber List
What is the most important factor in an email newsletter or campaign’s success? Is it the email’s design? Is it the brand or content strategy? Is it a brilliant subject line or an impossible-to-resist call to action? Well, if you don’t have anyone to whom you can send your amazing email, none of those factors will matter. Start building your subscriber list today, even if you aren’t quite ready to send emails on a regular basis. Many email marketing services have subscription forms that are relatively simple to integrate into a website. Drive visitors to your form, or give them the ability to opt-in through other registration forms, and your audience will be there waiting once you’re ready to start email marketing.

Revitalize: Start Analyzing the Emails You Receive
I admit that I’m often reluctant to subscribe to email newsletters, and I rarely opt-in to receive email promotions. It’s hard enough to keep up with the email I already receive, and there’s always a chance that my address will end up in some spammer’s database. If your job involves email marketing, though, there are benefits to receiving these emails. Pay attention to how others handle their email marketing. What gets your attention? What triggers your delete-immediately response? When do you scroll down through an email? When do you feel compelled to click? Metrics and data are essential, but carefully analyzing your own behaviors may provide an insight that takes your email marketing to the next level. By the way, to avoid cluttering up your inbox, you can always create a separate email account specifically for these types of messages.

Next Week: Print and Social

That’s it for Part Two. In next week’s Spring-Cleaning Checklist conclusion, we’ll look at ways to get your print collateral and social media marketing ready for Summer.