Email Marketing: What Came First, the Campaign or the List?

EMail Marketing 101For many small business owners, email marketing presents a bit of a chicken and egg quandary. What comes first – a decent sized email list or your first campaigns?


Many marketers believe the big list comes first, deeming the sending of campaigns to a list of limited size as a waste of time and effort. They are wrong.

While it is important to grow your list (focusing on quality first), sitting on a list while you are waiting for it to reach the critical mass considered significant enough to send your first campaigns is counterproductive.

Email contacts do not age well. The longer you leave them before making first contact, the less likely they will yield successful results for you. Like the proverbial egg (or chicken for that matter), they are best consumed fresh.

This means, if you have collected email addresses in the run up to Christmas and you have not used them yet, you risk pushing their best before date beyond acceptable use. By Easter they could actually risk the health of your business reputation. Sending campaigns to old contacts is almost as bad as sending Spam (unsolicited commercial email). Spam, like rotten eggs, stinks.

No matter how small your list, you should start sending email campaigns straight away. Doing this will not only help keep your email contacts fresh and therefore usable, it will also help provide you with the discipline and structure in your working week to manage regular campaigns that will yield more positive results as your list grows.

Just like SEO, Paid Search, Affiliate Marketing, Content Marketing or any other online marketing technique, email marketing success will not happen overnight. You’ll need to hone your skills, learn how best to target your list and constantly optimize your strategies. Therefore, it is best to start your email marketing education in front of a small audience.

You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few eggs first. So stop thinking that list size is everything and concentrate on targeting your existing, high quality contacts first with regular, timely, engaging and informative campaigns before they go off.

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