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For most marketers, January is a time to look back and wonder, “How did I make it through last year? The pain is over!”

You know that you’re going to start thinking about Christmas again right about the time you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, right? But, for a while, let’s think about something else besides the next Christmas battle.

That means coming up with ways to make more money for your company with email, and get more subscribers and potential new customers, again through email. How can you give that needle a big shove?

I have four suggestions for 2017 that I hope you won’t ignore, because they will work for any marketer regardless of industry, vertical, brand or perspective.

1. Become a First-Person Marketer

This is the most crucial thing I can think of for you. Hang a sign where you can see it every day that says “I want to be a First-Person Marketer.”

Why is this so important? Because it’s where digital marketing is moving, and you don’t want to be stuck back in the pack.

A First-Person Marketer thinks of email marketing as sending messages to individuals and segments instead of deploying a single message to a group. This type of marketer keys into big data and privacy issues, and treats email as a discipline to be mastered for excellence and not a task to check off a list.

First-Person Marketers don’t just find five or 10 minutes a day to educate themselves and become smarter marketers. They make the time to increase their skills and level-up the email voodoo they do so well.

You won’t suddenly morph into a First-Person Marketer, like Clark Kent bursting out of the phone booth as Superman. You get there in increments, building on each improvement until one day you can look back and say, “Wow! Look how far we came!”

2. Focus on automation this year

Here’s how to frame it in your mind: “I’m going to find ways to make my life easier one month at a time.”

Automation is the money tree of email marketing. You develop a trigger, test it, evaluate it, automate it and go on to the next one. You check your revenue reports and see how much money you made without having to do anything. Genius!

Look at not just new automation programs based on common customer behavior but also at the automation programs you already have. What do you need to change, to optimize, to update to make them more useful for you and your customers alike?

This is the best time of year to get your projects on the tech guys’ radar. And speaking of IT …

3. Make friends with everyone around you

Develop a monthly plan to take doughnuts or some other special treat to your tech team. When you take the doughnuts down, take something else with you – something you can educate them on, such as a copy of your tech needs for 2017. Add a little love note: “Help me, Obi-Wan … you’re my only hope!”


Reach out to the rest of your marketing team and to other departments that you partner with.  Invite them to “lunch & learn” sessions, webinars or conference calls where you can brief them on email, what it does and what it could do for your company. Or, brag about your accomplishments and talk about your goals.

One reason email doesn’t get the respect it deserves is because people don’t know about or understand it. It’s your responsibility as the in-house email marketing expert to educate these people.

Spread the word and show some initiative, too. Record your session and post it on your company’s intranet.

4. Institute authenticity

A First-Person Marketer thinks about how the individual customer feels. Not just what and how she buys, but how she feels about what she’s buying and what she sees in your email messages.

Review your email program and ask yourself, “How authentic is this program to our brand performance, or to what we as a company are trying to accomplish?”

When you think about introducing new automation programs (see No. 1 above), look for new functions and make website changes that communicate authenticity, that tell your customers “We know you, we appreciate you, and we thank you.”

Saying “thank you” is an authentic way to let your customers know you appreciate their business, particularly if you market big-ticket products that have long consideration cycles.

The takeaway

In these early weeks of 2017, you’re going to hear a lot of people like me telling you what to do. You can ignore a lot of that advice, because “the experts” don’t know you and your industry and your vertical and what your specific needs are. Only you know that.

However, I do know you as a marketer and what you’re up against and how you need to change your way of thinking and evolve. My suggestions will give you a path to follow throughout the year.

If you’re a First-Person Marketer, you’re thinking about your list as individuals and not as a group. What can you do this year to change your little corner of the world?