Email insight: how are your basic email marketing skills?

Recently I had the privilege to meet and dine with Loren McDonald: he’s one cool email marketing VP from California USA. During the dinner we discussed many things including timezones, red light districts and modern tech but of course email marketing as well.
We got to the point where we discussed some advanced email marketing tactics, but also both came to the conclusion that quite some marketers are ‘blinded’ by high end features and email marketing tactics but don’t even have their basic stuff set up right.
That is just a waste of good email marketing space and time, I believe. In this case it is time to bring those basics to the attention of the audience: simply because it’s necessary.
So what are the email marketing basics anyway? Let’s get the other parts out of the way after which the basics will be left. What part of email marketing would be advanced or high-end? I’d say that anything involving automation is in the advanced department, as well as dynamic stuff (content, send times, subject lines).
In the high-end we would be talking about seamless total integration of email marketing into both your crm of choice and other marketing channels. Any prospect or client can cross over from one channel to the other without a glitch and you would be able to follow every single move.
For basics in email marketing I would consider the following:
– Email marketing plan
– Content plan
– Signup form(s) + welcome campaign (single primary automation falling under basics, imho)
– List management
– Email design & rendering
– Personalization
– Publishing schedule
Rule number one should be: get permission. Just recently I learned from an email marketing consultant she had a client who bought an email list for several  thousands of euros, with zero as a result. Luckily now they are learning to do it the right way, but they could have started out right straightaway.
Putting the email marketing plan and content plan into action as part of the overall marketing plan will help everyone involved at your company to understand where this is all going before even a single email has been sent.
After that the contacts come into the picture: setting up signup forms and a welcome campaign, and correct list management. Personalization is something that goes wrong so many times, while it should be one of the most simple parts of basic email marketing. Nail it and keep nailing it until it becomes natural like driving a car or swiping your atm card.
Finally the email design and rendering as well as a publishing schedule should be set up and continually monitored and adjusted accordingly. Email clients change, your audience wants (re)fresh designs and you don’t want to lag behind. Stay in the loop on what’s good and bad with Outlook, Hotmail, GMail and the main browsers as well as mobile email clients.
At this point some would say: pah! I know all that. Why no cool funky techniques here? Because these basics get lost (or worse, never learned properly by online marketers) so often that they need and deserve attention. That’s why.
If you got all 7 of the above noted basics perfectly in working order, then you can give yourself 70 points and you’re fine. But if you’re lagging with some of them, or doing a half-assed job and only scoring 35 points or less then it’s time to get down to business and get your email marketing basics right. It is definitely worth doing so before you get to the more advanced email marketing stuff.

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