6 Tips for Surviving Your First Week as an Email Marketer
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
- Locate resources
- Ask questions
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.
The email marketing industry is full of people who publish ideas, proven findings, and opposing viewpoints. I have found the best way to learn about this ever-changing business is to keep current on these conversations. Following what is happening here at Only Influencers is a tremendous start. However, the Internet is full of so much good content about the industry, you owe it to your future success to find and bookmark some good blogs to keep up with.
Local resources can offer amazing things as well. I helped run the Denver user community for a large ESP for several years. The networking opportunity at events like that is tremendous. You often meet people who are facing similar challenges and are happy to help you when you have questions.
The single most powerful thing you can do to help yourself is asking questions. This might seem obvious on the surface, but as you go through the steps above, you’ll start seeing names pop up on a regular basis. The well-respected luminaries of our business. People you might never think would want to have a conversation with you. I make no secret of the fact that I owe my career to a few of these people, simply because I took the time to reach out to them, ask meaningful questions, and respect their time. Some of the most gracious business people I have ever met are in email marketing, and it doesn’t matter how much experience you have, they love to talk about the channel. More importantly, they want to help you solve your problem. It doesn’t matter if you use their employer’s tools, or if you retain them as an agency -- they understand that if more of us are successful, we all do better. Huge thanks to Joel Book, Andrew Kordek, Alex Williams and Loren McDonald for all the chats early on.
And now it’s your turn -- are you new in the email marketing world? Have a question and don’t know who to ask? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org