What Coupon-Cutters And Email Marketers Have In Common

Financial freedom has been a hot topic on the blogosphere for years. A philosophy of frugality drives most: strict budgeting, limited luxuries, extreme couponing, DIY. “Freedom” sure sounds like a whole lot of work. And not much fun.

But my favorite bloggers send a message of abundance: Don’t waste your time penny-pinching — instead, focus on making more. Get a better job. Hustle on the side for extra cash. Then put that money to work for you. Invest it. Implement passive income streams. Let your money make money so you have the time to maximize life enjoyment.

Now, that’s the kind of freedom I can appreciate.

Email marketing can be approached in the very same way. Many marketers I’ve worked with are mired in tedious day-to-day tasks. Just as the last message goes out, it’s time to do it all over again. Fresh copy. New creative. Segmenting. Scheduling. There’s barely time to look at KPIs.

These are the coupon-cutters of the marketing world. They’re spending a lot of time doing repetitive work, but are they ever making meaningful gains?



Alternatively, extra hustle on the front end, aimed at clearing productivity drains, can liberate marketers from the mundane so they can focus not on squeaking by, but expanding, improving and adding successful campaigns.

We’ll call those that fall into this camp the maximizers. They’re doing the fun stuff that led them to become email marketers in the first place: deeper dives into analytics; multivariate testing; fresh acquisition strategies; more sophisticated personalization.

Maximizers are making things happen. They have the freedom to explore new ways to contribute to the bottom line.

The email marketer’s path from coupon-cutter to maximizer can be boiled down to three simple steps:

Implement a template system. Repeat after me: I will not send messages made from Photoshop slices. There’s absolutely no reason designers and developers need to be involved with every one of your messages. With a great email template system — a single header and footer with mix-and-match sections sandwiched between — marketers are enabled to turn around new messages with ease. Yesmail’s Matt Caldwell presented a fantastic Webinar that better explains the advantages of template systems (a lead form is required, but worth it!).

Establish CRM integration. Manually pulling lists from your CRM and uploading them to your ESP is a waste of precious human resources. Integration is a must to set a higher productivity bar. Andrew King from Campaign Monitor just wrote a great article on what data you should be sending to your ESP, along with details on the common ways the data can be delivered. It’s often incredibly simple to set up an FTP or API, and most ESPs are pleased to work directly with your IT team when necessary.

Automate everything. Email marketers have fantastic tools at their disposal to automate campaigns, but never seem to fully leverage these tools. Most often, marketers have a welcome message and transactional messages, or perhaps a simple abandoned cart campaign. But the rest? Usually batch ‘n blast.

Folks, you can automate darn near anything with a little creativity. Ideally, your campaigns should address every step in your customer's lifecycle, from the moment of email acquisition all the way through to loyalty and re-engagement. Also consider birthday and anniversary messages, refer-a-Friend, recurring and seasonal offers. Depending on your vertical, there are probably many other opportunities as well.

I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve heard it often: This all sounds great, but we just DON’T HAVE THE TIME. So how can you make the leap? Outsource as much as possible — template systems, for example, are best left to the pros. Don’t obsess over perfection — projects that languish in limbo aren’t delivering value. It’s better to live with something simple that can be optimized and expanded at a later time. And make concessions when necessary. You may have to pause or limit your manual campaigns, and work a few late nights in the office to make time. It will be worth it!

This is exactly the same approach my favorite financial-freedom bloggers take: an upfront investment of energy to generate the desired returns of the future. And in both cases, the ultimate return is time — time to do more of what really matters.

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