Hotdog on forkHas your business changed, yet you’re doing the same old, same old with email?

Did your hot dog stand grow into a restaurant? Did you go from being a breakfast place to serving three meals a day? Maybe your product line used to consist of five gadgets, but now you sell 500.

This is what a business is built to do: It is supposed to grow. That’s the point. But with growth often comes change and complexity, and your email marketing must keep up.

For an extreme example of business growth and the resulting complexity, look at the Gap. If you’re old enough, you’ll remember when the Gap was where you went for blue jeans–only for blue jeans. Now Gap has added not only all kinds of clothes and babyGap and GapFit to their brands, but also Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix. Do you think they have one generic Gap message they send to all subscribers across all brands and genders?

Over time, customers can grow in complexity too. Ecommerce and social media have drastically altered consumer expectations. Your customers used to go to your brick-and-mortar stores, until they started buying from you online while at a computer. And now some of them want to buy from you directly from a smartphone. Many of them want instant access, instant answers, and instant gratification.

And that also contributes to the complexity of your business.

As you grow in size, you grow in complexity

As your organization grows, it can become exponentially more multifaceted:

  • You offer more products or services.
  • You have more customers…and types of customers.
  • You have more prospects…and types of prospects!
  • Business systems are added.
  • The infrastructure grows.
  • More data is collected in more places on more people.

In addition to all of that, you probably have a bigger number of employees, suppliers and partners too. The end result is an organization that grows in complexity all the way around, selling to an audience that has also become more multifaceted.

Your simple email strategy no longer works

As your business changes (and your audience too), a simplified email marketing strategy likely won’t cut it any longer. Your email must adapt to these ever-changing demands on the one hand and expectations on the other. To do so, you’ll need to consider customization of your ESP, advanced segmentation of your audiences, and integration of your email with your other business systems.

  • ESP customization: When you’re going to raise the level of sophistication of your email marketing program, first take a hard look at your ESP and make sure you’re using the best email service provider for this new direction. You want the ability to customize the ESP and not all ESP platforms can be modified in that way. (You’ll also have to determine if you’re doing the customization in-house, using a third-party email technology expert, or having the ESP’s team do it.) Customization matters because you can hardly expect to create a sophisticated email marketing strategy using a generic platform. (Read an example of one client’s customized email marketing approach.)
  • Advanced segmentation: A complex business begets a complex marketplace, with a variety of types of prospects and customers. Using advanced segmentation enables you to get closer to the one-to-one goal of email marketing, by breaking down your audiences into smaller, targeted groups rather than sending generic messaging out to all. With segmentation, you can market women’s boots to women and men’s boots to men, mysteries to one segment and romance novels to another, and even do a drip campaign targeted to new subscribers that’s specific to their interests.
  • Email integration: It’s imperative that your data can be cross-pollinated and shared, preferably with relational databases that won’t restrict the integration of information the way a flat database does. This makes email integration a critical component of any sophisticated email program. Your email should be able to draw from—and contribute to—your CRM, web analytics and ecommerce solutions, at the very least.

Email is the most effective and efficient way for a business to communicate a large number of diverse messages to a large number of subscribers. And as your numbers of subscribers, customers and products grow, so does your need for the sophisticated ability to segment your messages, ensuring you’re sending relevant, targeted emails to various groups and not lumping everyone together in a modern day version of the batch-and-blast approach of the early days of email.

So be sure your email marketing strategy keeps pace with your growing complexity as a business.

Published On: November 13th, 2013Categories: ESP customization

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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