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4 lessons from a small-scale email campaign

4 lessons from a small-scale email campaign Spencer Kollas

An interesting thing happened over the past couple of weeks. My wife, who has owned her own business for the past six years, took a big step in her business -- she sent out her first email marketing campaign. Let me first say that her following all the best practices for sending email wasn't the interesting thing that happened. Given my profession, there was no way that wasn't going to happen.

As director of delivery services at StrongMail, I work with a lot of individuals who are new to the email space. However, on this occasion, that individual happened to be my wife, and that experience made me think about how email experts need to approach and address the needs of each unique client.

First, let me give you a little background on my wife. For those of you in the space that have met her, I'm sure you noticed that she is a very strong woman who goes after what she wants. She is a former attorney and has faced a number of challenges head on in her professional career. She is the type of person who won't show a hint of nervousness in nearly any situation. However, as she sent out her first marketing email last week, she was as nervous as I have ever seen her.

Watching her go through the process was enlightening. It gave me unique insight into how important email marketing campaigns can be to a small business owner. I have been working in the world of email deliverability for a number of years, and most of my clients work with email lists that have anywhere from 100,000 to several million records. In contrast, my wife's list included 623 people.

Marketing to such a small list is quite a different experience from my normal daily routine. By reaching out to these 623 people, my wife is trying to take her business to the next level. The funny thing is that for most of my clients, 623 users could easily be the number of failures at the smallest of ISPs represented on their lists.

Normally, if a customer comes to me with an issue that involves 623 messages failing, it's usually such a small percentage of the mailing that I'm able to tell them it's not anything to worry about. However, going through this exercise reiterated how important it is for email delivery experts to incorporate the following perspectives into the services they offer on a daily basis.

1. Just because you've been working in the email industry a long time, don't assume that you will instantly understand your customer's point view. You need to take the time to figure out their unique challenges and try not to automatically associate their issues with the experiences of past clients. Every company is unique, and what worked for one may not work for another.

2. It's only by understanding clients' goals and initiatives that you can help make them be truly successfully. Without that understanding, it's too easy to recommend solutions that might not meet their needs and expectations.

3. Remember that each client will have varying levels of email marketing experience and expertise. Being responsible for email marketing doesn't automatically make someone an authority on the subject. Make sure you tailor your discussions and recommendations to their experience level.

4. Don't lose sight of your clients' overall business goals. Any recommendations to improve their email programs should not be made in vacuum, but instead map to key performance indicators specific to their businesses.

If you don't focus on your clients' overall business goals, you can lose track of what's important from their perspective. It's too easy to forget to go beyond the typical stats from a campaign, such as opens, clicks, and unsubscribes. But a cookie-cutter approach to analysis will cause you to miss the bigger picture. How does each message play into the overall marketing plan and goals of the business? Do the campaigns convey the brand identity sought by the client? Does the client understand the value of seeing the big picture?

As email experts, we need to first understand our clients' businesses and then help them understand the changes they can make to get the most of out their programs in a way that meets their unique goals and objectives.

Good luck and good sending.

Spencer Kollas is director of delivery services for StrongMail Systems.

Spencer Kollas is a recognized industry leader in email deliverability and subscriber engagement. For more than a decade, Kollas has worked with the world’s foremost email marketers to help them connect with their customers and increase the...

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