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Valentine’s Day is the time of year when I urge email marketers to show their customers how much they appreciate them by sending better emails.

This year, I started thinking about the email marketers I work with, speak with and write for. Who’s sending them a little love?

So, even though Valentine’s Day itself has come and gone, take some time to think about how you can show yourself some love, away from that box of choccies that you sneakily bought yourself (yes, I look for any excuse too!) In other words, how you invest in yourself to become a better email marketer.

Better email marketers send better emails

I’m a big believer in the value of strategy days: taking time out to look at your email program and brainstorm ways with your team to lead from strategy rather than tactics.

This time, I want you to think about the things you could do to take care of yourself so that the ideas you generate and the skills and knowledge you build will cascade down to benefit your customers, users and subscribers.

Set aside the first 45 minutes of your workday to read what’s going in your world. Don’t sort your inbox unless you’re looking for articles about email marketing, or whatever disciplines you work in. Look for news about your market niche, your customers and how they think and buy.

Put a little structure around your reading. Make the time to read. If you just try to find it in an overcrowded day, you never will. I block out my reading time on my online calendar. This makes me unavailable for drop-ins or last-minute meetings.

Use an RSS reader to follow headlines, publications and authors in one place. Or, create a separate inbox for your readings.

How to create your daily reading list

Adestra’s blog is a great start. If you don’t have a go-to reading list, keep reading to see what’s on my daily list.

Don’t know where to start? If you search “email marketing tips,” you’ll come up with a bottomless list of names and publications. Not all of them are worth pursuing. (I explain why below.)

Here’s how to develop a quality list of daily news and inspiration to help you become a better email marketer:

  1. Write down 10 things you believe as a marketer.

What are your core beliefs about email marketing? If you’re a marketer, one could be that email marketing must be permission-based and you would never buy a list. Another could be that you’re going to use data to be a First-Person Marketer when you send email.

As a designer, one of your beliefs could be that you’re doing everything you can to create messages that accelerate your brand but also appeal to your readers.

Writing down your 10 beliefs about email will help you pick out the writers who will help you put those beliefs into practice.

  1. Define how you absorb information.

Your “reading list” could include anything from newsletter articles to podcasts, Twitter posts to links shared by people in online discussion groups.

Defining how you read – or otherwise consume information – helps focus you and define where to find the content in formats that are most relevant for you.

  1. Pick the people who align with your marketing beliefs and your information mode.

These first two exercises help you align your values and your faith in email in the places where you consume the best information. Now, where do you find people to follow?

I check a wide range of sources for information. Here are five I visit daily:

  1. Marketing Land: I hope you follow my monthly columns on Marketing Land, along with others whose names you see regularly in this space.
  2. LinkedIn: Changes in this professional network have made it more valuable. My daily wall is full of interesting content shared by people I’ve known and connected with over the years.
  3. Only Influencers: This online community of email marketers, vendors in email and marketing automation and other allied fields also sponsors an annual conference. The group fee is $20 monthly or $200 yearly. Many of the sharpest minds in the business are members. The weekly newsletter features an expert opinion, industry jobs and other news you should know.
  4. Twitter: Use these hashtags to connect with other marketers, get in on great email conversations, ask questions and see and share links: #email, #emailmarketing and #emailgeeks
  5. The Adestra Blog: I check in daily here, not just because it’s my company blog but also because it’s written by people who know what they’re talking about, who are up on industry events.

One caution: Digital marketing has a lot of voices. Not all of them are worth hearing.

In email alone a new so-called expert pops up every day. I’ve been around email long enough distinguish between true leaders and self-appointed ones. How can you tell the difference?

Use your judgment. Look at their qualifications. What have they accomplished, and where have they been? Does their message and voice align with your values and goals?

Wrapping up

Creating a reading list and making the time (not finding the time) to read daily is not brain surgery. You’re probably thinking, “No kidding, Ryan! I could have thought of that.”

But the reading list isn’t the only valuable thing to come out of these writing exercise. Take your lists of values, sources and people and put it up someplace obvious where you will see it. (That’s why you write them down!)

To grow as an email marketer, read what others, those who have accomplished more or who have a different perspective, have to say. Their views challenge us. What you do with what you’ve learned helps you define your strategy and vision as a First-Person Marketer.

So, go ahead! Find some intelligent voices and read or listen to what they say. Let me know what you find and what you think!

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