Having an email marketing strategy is a very important part of a successful business. Here are some clues that you may not have a developed strategy in place.
As a professional services organization, my team is called upon to help solve a variety of email marketing challenges. A missing email strategy is one of the most common, and perhaps the one that causes the most widespread damage, while also being particularly complicated to solve.
"Strategy" is often overused and incorrectly applied, so I will rely upon a few business experts here to clarify the definition. Richard Rumelt, author of Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, provided a very succinct one in an Inc.com interview: "Strategy and power derive from a clear-headed understanding of what the dilemma is, why it's hard to do, and then the coordination of forces of energy to deal with that dilemma."
Another useful definition comes from Lawrence Freedman in his book Strategy: A History: "It is about getting more out of a situation than the starting balance of power would suggest. It is the art of creating power." But how? Patrick Lencioni created a specific model in The Advantage that lists the six critical questions healthy organizations need to be able to answer. These questions are just as relevant for marketers who need a plan for optimizing the email channel. I've simply rephrased them:
If you can't answer these questions about your email program, and there's no alignment across your team or the organization as to what the answers should be, that's a sure sign that you don't have an email strategy. Here are four more:
While incredibly important, strategy is still only the first step. The second, third, and 100th steps are all about execution and creating an actionable road map of the tactics you're going to implement to bring your strategy to life. To quote Sun Tzu: "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
As vice president of professional services at email intelligence company Return Path, Margaret Farmakis oversees teams of specialists helping global brands improve the deliverability, response, revenue, and ROI of their email marketing programs. Prior to her six years at Return Path, Margaret spent 10 years producing and managing multi-channel integrated direct marketing programs for Fortune 100 companies, focusing on the financial services and technology sectors.
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