Fellow Deliverability.com blogger Andrew Kordek started a provocative conversation among a group of email marketers when he asked "If you had one wish in email marketing, what would it be?"
Andrew's wish (education for marketers, ESPs and clients alike), which echoed Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, inspired me to take a page from John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural exhortation: "Ask not what email marketing can do for you. Ask what you can do for email marketing."
Many of the comments to Andrew's "Dream" post wished for things like getting Microsoft to dump Word as the HTML engine in Outlook 2007, or better video rendering, or standardized bounce codes and email metrics. Rather than throwing a penny into the proverbial wishing well, however, what are you going to do in 2010 to actually make a positive impact on the industry?
Here are three places to start:
1. What you can do to help yourself: Take your career seriously, and educate yourself on all the aspects of email marketing that make it different from other marketing channels. Learn the best practices that have worked for leaders in the industry, and try to do the right thing instead of the easiest or the quickest.
Attend conferences and Webinars, read blogs like this one and take advantage of all of the free resources on the Web that provide the knowledge and tools to guide you toward delivering a world-class email marketing program.
2. What you can do for your employer: Educate your managers and C-Suite on the role, value and ROI of email marketing. Show them what proportion of your budget email actually consumes and present facts and figures to back up your requests for more resources.
Also, show how email can be much more than a sales channel. It can build brand awareness and affinity, customer loyalty and retention, reduce costs and help other departments solve problems and achieve its business goals.
3. What you can do to benefit the industry: Email continues to suffer an image problem not just from spammers but also because legitimate marketers do stupid things, like buying mailing lists instead of building their own house lists and pounding them to death with indiscriminate volume and irrelevant messages.
Get involved in industry associations (the eec, ESPC, MAAWG for example) that strive to raise the bar for effective and ethical email practices.
Practice what you preach. Be willing to brainstorm solutions to problems instead of just complaining about ISPs blocking your emails and being overworked.
Join in the conversation about email on social networks like Twitter, Email Roundtable, Email Marketers Club or LinkedIn (where this discussion originated).
To revise yet another famous adage: "Be the change you want to see in email marketing" (Mahatma Gandhi).
What are you going to do for email marketing in 2010? Please share your thoughts.