Your Back-To-School Email Supply List

Well, it's that time of year again. This year, the school supply list was surprisingly long and detailed, much more so than in years past, down to a very specific pencil sharpener that my twins were required to have for second grade and the 4GB thumb drive my daughter had to have for fourth grade. Initially, I was slightly annoyed by the specificity and length of the lists. I knew at a glance that I would have to go to at least three stores to get everything knocked out.  And I’ve waited too long to order anything online. To complicate matters, the kiddos wanted to join me in my hunt because they wanted to pick out their own stuff....ugh.

As I was crossing things off the list, it dawned on me that this teacher really knew her stuff. She has been a teacher for many years, and over time has identified the specific supplies that make children successful in her classroom. So, in honor of back to school, I thought I would share my must-have email marketing “supply list” so that you too can be a successful email marketer in your classroom -- or rather your organization.



There are three supplies that every email marketer must have:

Good email addresses. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but a solid program starts with solid subscribers. This is a true case of garbage in, garbage out. Too often organizations focus on acquiring a certain quantity of email addresses versus gathering quality addresses. Part of gathering quality email addresses means using a good source. And with the tracking tools that are available today, there is no reason to use an email subscriber source that is anything but reputable. After all, bad sources of data can have long-term, negative impacts on your email marketing programs and your brand. Quality email addresses should be the goal -- always.

Program purpose. Again, seems obvious, but the purpose of an email marketing program can sometimes be difficult for brands to define. Many times email marketing serves as a bolt on to other marketing programs, replicating efforts to provide nothing more than additional reach. But for you to achieve real success with your email marketing program, you need to define a purpose for the program complementary to your other marketing programs, ensuring that email is not merely a replication tool.

Interest to others. It’s critical that the content you deliver appeals to more than just your internal organization. Too often brands build a campaign around an inside joke that the brand "gets," but is less clear to those not privy to the punch line. Find someone outside your department, or even outside your company when possible, to quickly read through your email content to ensure it makes sense to outsiders. The difficulty in checking this off the list is that many brands don't even recognize they are doing it, so it is a good practice to have a rotating, outside group of folks review your email marketing content each week. If you use the same people over and over, they too become part of the "in crowd" and lose their impartial perspective. But rotating through four groups, one each week, is a good way to keep the eyes fresh and the feedback valuable.

Clearly this list could go on and on -- much like my kids’ school supply lists did -- but these three items are as critical to your program success as any other tactical best practice. Now get back to school,!

1 comment about "Your Back-To-School Email Supply List".
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  1. Bill Kaplan from FreshAddress, Inc., August 20, 2014 at 4:20 p.m.

    Cute and apropos theme, Kara. With regard to your first required supply - Good Email Addresses - I'd also recommend that no company should start their marketing courses without an email hygiene, correction, and validation service in hand. There's nothing worse than putting together your entire marketing program only to find that your emails are getting blocked or blacklisted, which will certainly result in your getting a failing grade or worse yet, getting kicked out of work altogether.

    To see how leading companies and nonprofits are ensuring that their email lists are fresh and safe to send, see

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