Getting comfortable with caring less when it makes sense.

My wife and I take our daughters to the park fairly often. At some point during each trip, both of them tackle the balance beam. Our six-year-old has little trouble with it. Despite it’s zig-zag design and narrow build, she (somewhat) gracefully maneuvers her way to the end.

Our two-year-old, on the other hand, has a more difficult go of it. On a good day, she cares enough to carefully navigate her way across the beam. On other days, we hold her hand as she stumbles along, miniature sneakers struggling to make contact on the next step.

In both cases, though, I’m always surprised at her shear exuberance when walking the balance beam. She cares enough about making it across to keep going, but doesn’t care so much to get discouraged when she slips and falls.

I think email is a bit like that, at least when done well. It’s a balancing act between caring a whole bunch and not really caring that much at all.

There are important things that every email marketer and designer should spend time on. They need to care about the subscriber experience, from signup to unsubscribe. They need to care not only about the design of an email but, more importantly, about the content within and the value it provides a subscriber.

But there are some things you shouldn’t really care too much about. Chasing pixel perfection is one of them. My daughter cares about getting to the end of the balance beam, but if there are a few rough patches on the way, it’s no big deal. Email design is the same way.

The same can be said for making mistakes. Email moves horribly fast and a lot of things can go wrong in the process. Mistakes are bound to happen, but you shouldn’t let them crush you. Subscribers have wonderfully short memories. You can send out a personalization fail or upload the wrong list. As long as you handle the situation like a decent human being, they’ll forgive you. I wish the same could be said for a lot of stakeholders...

I’m not recommending recklessness. But I do think that everyone needs to understand that email marketing is very much a balancing act. One between caring more and caring less. It’s just important to know which parts are worth caring about.

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