I remember when I learned I was going to be responsible for email marketing for a new employer. My first reaction was “ok, what did I get into?” After the first bit of panic wore off, I developed a plan to educate myself and get immersed in the channel. Hopefully the tips below, which are based on how I learned the business, will help those who are new to this wonderful industry.
- Make a full commitment
- Check your fear at the door
- Find out who your Email Service Provider (ESP) is
- Identify your competitors
Email marketing is not easy. Sure, there are all kinds of Top 10 lists that tell you the best day to send, what kind of content people want, or what you should be testing. That makes it seem as though email marketing is more of an exact science than an art. And that could not be further from the truth. You need to commit to learning as much as you can, and be prepared for it to consume you. To succeed in this business, you have to have an amazing thirst for knowledge, and a time commitment that falls outside the normal 9-5.
Mistakes are going to happen. You are going to feel terrible when one does. A few years into my career, I made a mistake that resulted in our company being in the news for days. I was hoping for a foreign invasion or some other event large enough to move us out of the news cycle, but it never came. Did I think I was going to get fired? Absolutely. Did I? No. The people I worked for took it for what it was, and we moved on. The sun came up the next morning, and it didn’t take long to get back in the groove. But the simple fact is that if you’re constantly playing it safe, you’re not going to learn anything. You can’t be afraid of testing different ideas, exploring different platforms, or even of having a conversation. Note: this is not an advisement to embrace recklessness. That is a different kind of thing entirely, and will have consequences.
Every ESP is different. Find out, as soon as you can, what platform you’re going to be using. Get onto their support website and start learning the basics of the tool, and what its real potential is. Most of these platforms also have a wealth of online research, case studies, and other information you can use to learn how other companies have solved business problems through email marketing.
Locate the online properties for your competitors and start asking yourself questions. “How hard is it to sign up for offers or a newsletter?” “What value are they delivering to their subscribers?” “How often are they sending messages?” Sign up for their campaigns and be aware of what they are doing. You need to differentiate yourself from them, and you cannot do so unless you know what their value proposition is....