As any of you who have read my blog know, my wife’s about to give birth to our first child. And in thinking about all of the work, sacrifice, sweat, tears, and exhaustion I’m about to endure (with more than a fair share of help from my beautiful wife) to raise my daughter, I began to laugh a bit–because email marketing is much the same… at a MUCH higher level.
Email marketing done right is similar to the steps for raising a child, and here’s why:
(Stay with me here, it’ll all make sense in the end.)
You have to nurture the relationship.
Email marketing is about establishing and nurturing a relationship until you reach the ultimate pay-off: a sale, a new customer–some form of ROI. It usually takes a long time and a lot of love to get that ROI. Raising a child isn’t really any different (although I really hope you don’t have an 18-year relationship marketing–not exactly the best way to maintain profitability). You spend a long time providing the child what he/she needs in the hopes that by the time they go off to college or whatever they do in adulthood, that they’ll make a noticeable difference in society and provide emotional ROI (and in some case, monetary ROI as well).
You have to set expectations.
“They” say the best way to raise a baby is to establish a routine and stick to it–setting up proper expectations for when a baby will be fed, will play, and will sleep. Email marketing is no different. Subscribers want to know exactly what they are going to receive you in terms of messaging, service, etc. Establishing and maintaining those expectations up front can go a long way towards nurturing a strong, profitable relationship.
You have to introduce new people (or voices) properly.
In his great post “Don’t Play Sender Roulette,” John Caldwell rails against the practice of using multiple names of people in organizations yet sending from a central email address. This roulette can be dangerous in that the recipient can feel like they’re being passed around, and can never quite get comfortable with one “voice” over another. I equate a voice in email to breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and formula feeding for a baby. If you’re going to breastfeed (as my wife intends to do), you can’t really switch to formula or go half-and-half, because it can upset the baby’s stomach. You also can’t go to bottle-feeding too early because the baby could establish a preference for the bottle, and going between can create an upset baby.
You have to adapt to the demands of the baby/consumer.
This one should be straightforward. As the baby ages, or becomes ill, or just plain changes, you have to ready to adapt to ensuring the baby gets what it needs. Same with consumers. Buying intentions change all the time. If you don’t adapt content or frequency to match the needs of your consumers, you’re toast.
See, it all made sense, right? This could be a stretch, but it makes sense to me. You have to find what your baby/consumers need, and ensure that your care/messaging hits the sweet spot to ensure the greatest results.
Am I totally off base? You can tell me I am. I won’t mind.