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The answer is 42

I continually run into companies that don’t really have a goal or understanding of their email marketing program. They’ve never really asked questions about how they’re using email or even why email is the right answer. Lots of companies are also diving head first into email marketing or the social media craze without having thought about what their goals are and what they want to happen.
What regularly ends up happening to companies that jump in without a clear goal is they get into a situation where their delivery is bad. Then they read a lot of best practice advice on the net and try to implement all of it. Sometimes that works, but other times it doesn’t. Finally they hire me or another consultant to help them sort out where it all went pear shaped.
My consulting isn’t about rote recitation of common best practices. Instead, I want to know about a client’s business and what they think about email.  The most frequent question I ask clients is: How does email fit into your business? What are your goals for your business? What is your value proposition?
Some of my clients can’t answer these question. They just tell me they want to use email and they don’t know what they’re doing and that’s why they hired me. Well, I can help them successfully send email, but I can’t help them decide what role email plays in their business. Those are the decisions my client needs to make. I can’t set their business goals for them.
When was the last time you actually sat down and just thought about your business goals? I know that sometimes it’s hard to find the time to look at your business and where it’s going. “Think about it? I’m too busy doing it!” But every business person needs to look at their business goals.
Once you’ve thought about your goals, think about your email marketing program. Is email helping you to reach those goals? How?
If you’ve reached your current business goals, what are your next ones? And how does email fit into those goals?
Sure, having an answer is good, but are you actually asking the right question?

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