Like many parents with infants, I’m often holding my two month old daughter in one hand, half-touch-typing with the other. And I’ve noticed some surprising similarities between caring for a baby and managing an email list…

Safety is Job Number One

Parenting these days is really assigning yourself the role of Chief Safety Officer. You’ll suddenly see dangers everywhere and realize that things you thought of as good (e.g. airbags, blankets, peanut butter, etc.) could be hazardous. The best way to keep your child secure is to stay informed of the risks, always be on guard, and use things like car seats, sleepsacks, and peanut-free SunButter.

Likewise, as an email marketer, you need to be obsessed with the safety of your email list. As you’ve seen in the news, dangers of theft and data corruption are everywhere. The first defense is to stay informed of the risks, so be sure to review our Tips For Reducing Data Theft.

Introducing… Jealousy

Babies require attention – lots of it. And sometimes you just stare at them because they are cute or because you are too exhausted from lack of sleep to do anything else. Whatever the reason, when you redirect your attention toward the baby, it is inevitable that an older sibling, the family pet, or your spouse may struggle with feelings of jealousy.

Your email list is in the exact same situation – it competes for marketing dollars and attention, and its incredible ROI will no doubt make other departments and channels green with envy. So prepare yourself for the backlash!

The Importance of Hygiene

Ahh, the smell of hand sanitizer. The heat from boiling bottle nipples. The constant grind of the washing machine. These are just some of the hygiene rituals of caring for a newborn. But your email list also needs cleaning routines. If you aren’t already removing spamtraps, undeliverable addresses, role accounts (e.g. info@), bogus addresses, and wireless domains, it’s time to start!

There Will Be Drama

Sickness, blowouts, arguments with your spouse, leaking bottles – make no mistake, parenting is full of drama. But managing an email list is also an adventure. You should expect data corruption, spamtraps, bad merges, lost unsubscribes, etc. For both parenting and email marketing, the secret is to…

…Be Prepared!

No parent leaves the house without a diaper bag. It’s basically the largest vessel you are willing to carry, overflowing with items intended to conquer any potential baby-care issue life can throw at you.

Just like a parent, as an email marketer you need to pack your ‘email database contingency bag’. Do you have an offsite backup? Do you have a plan if your ESP gets compromised? Are you tracking sources so you can systematically purge a bad data upload?

You’ll Outgrow Your Infrastructure

Babies start small, but as they grow they immediately start taxing the physical infrastructure of your house and car. You’ll soon be rearranging your living room to accommodate a swing and re-evaluating your choice of transportation once you see that strollers are really big, even after they’ve done their magical folding maneuvers.

As an email marketer, perhaps you used to deploy your list via Outlook by bcc:ing people (don’t laugh… true story!). But as your list grows, you’ll realize you need an ESP or a real messaging platform, and later you may need dedicated staff with database skill sets and even more vendors.

The Best is Yet to Come

Someday, your helpless infant will grow up and can fetch you a glass of iced tea as you recline in the sun with a magazine (hey – let me dream, OK?).

And you may not be feeling it now, but the same is true for your email list. It has incredible untapped potential and is the most effective marketing channel. So stay strong, try to get enough sleep, and continue to plug away at ‘parenting’ your database. Its best years are still to come, I promise. :)

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