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Why ‘Good Enough’ Is Better Than Perfect

We’d all like everything we do to be perfect. All the time.

While we should always strive to do the best we can, it’s I think it’s important to realize that perfection is an aspiration, not a destination. In reality, it’s never achievable in marketing. You are never going to get a 100% open rate or click-through rate.

Yet all too often, I’ve seen people (clients or employees) let the quest for perfection prevent them from getting important work done. We just put out our first newsletter, for example, and it took way longer to do than it should have because we tried too hard to get it perfect.

With that in mind, today I want to give you seven reasons why ‘good enough’ is better than perfection.

1. It’s better to get a message out than not be heard

We’re marketers, and part of our job is making ourselves known to customers.

Knak’s specialty is helping clients reach their customers through email.

At one point in our history, we got into the habit of sending out an email, every week on Thursdays, showcasing a marketing template and explaining how it worked.

Having a predictable email routine worked well for us. A lot of our customers got into the habit of expecting something from us on ‘Template Thursdays.’ And when they got the email, they often shared it with others, which helped us grow our database.

But the at one point we stopped sending regular emails. Why? Because we had developed new products that were less constricting than templates and more amenable to creativity. All the new features and functionality of the new products added increased pressure that our emails needed to be even better than before.

When we stopped sending regular Template Thursday emails, we lost an important connection to our clients. At first they ask where the email was; then they stopped looking for it. We were no longer on their minds.

The lesson here: It’s better to get a message out there, even if it’s imperfect, than lose the opportunity to make yourself heard.

How to do that?

Give yourself a deadline for getting things done. Deadlines work.

And consistency is good, for example sending an email on the same day every week with the same look and feel. Readers will get used to the structure and that will make it easier for them to digest the information quickly.

2. Nobody gets to ‘perfect’ on the first try

No golfer hits a hole-in-one the first time they pick up a golf club. No baseball player hits a home run the first time up at bat. Every athlete knows that the only way to success is talent plus practice, practice, practice.

So it is with marketing. The more you do, the more practised you become.

Strangely, I think sometimes more is expected of a marketer than a top-flight athlete. A skier won’t be removed from the national team because they won bronze instead of gold. But marketers face incredible pressure to deliver. As a result, ‘perfection,’ which is by definition is impossible to reach, become the Holy Grail.

We should know: We’re a bunch of marketers selling a marketing product to other marketers. As a result, we sometimes place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves.

That can limit us at times; every email we send is an extension of our brand.

I think it pays to step back and realize that most people get better as they gain experience.

When you look at the latest thing you’ve done, you’ll find things you could have done better. But think back to what you were doing a few years ago. Chances are, you are better than you used to be. And you’ll likely be better a few years from now than you are today.

What’s important here is to learn from the emails that work.

Study the metrics – things like open rate, click-through rate, subscription rate – and strive for improvement, not perfection.

3. It’s more efficient to send six OK emails than one really good one

Most people generally look at marketing email for a couple of seconds before moving on.

The reality is, you are better off sending six emails over six weeks and getting a total of 12 seconds of viewing time, than one amazing email that will be seen for only two seconds by the customer. Repetition and regularity are very powerful. Your email doesn’t need to be perfect to get people to look at it.

4. A ‘good enough’ email is not the same as a mistake

Every single one of us sent an email and then wished we could immediately recall it.

And I have seen too many marketers haunted by the fear of making a mistake.

That fear can be paralyzing and keep people from getting work done.

Some perspective is in order here.

A broken line or a small slip-up in layout is regrettable but it’s not the end of the world. Very often, people receiving the emails won’t notice them. The best thing to do about a minor slip-up is figure out what happened, find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and move on.

If you make an actual mistake, the best thing to do is own up to it.

And mistakes do happen; I’ve seen even the world’s top brands make them.

The best response is one that gets attention. I’ve seen some good ‘oopsy’ emails sent out after a mistake.

5. You are your own harshest critic

Most people will almost invariably be much more critical of their own work than anyone else (including their peers) will ever be.

Marketers put so much time and effort into a marketing email, they will notice minor imperfections (for example a small difference in font size between two lines) that no one else will ever pick up on.

Yes, marketing is a high-stakes game. People’s careers can be on the line if something goes bad. But again, give yourself some perspective. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. One good hook is all you need

If your email contains one single thing that’s memorable, people will look past other elements that might not be of the same calibre.

So what if you don’t have the best picture?

Yes, maybe the headline could have been catchier.

The fact is, people will remember the one really good or catchy thing.

So focus on doing the best you can. If you do 80% of things well, the remaining 20% will not make or break you if they are just ‘OK.’

Besides, there’s a law of diminishing returns on these things. You’re better to get the email out on time than spend two extra days agonizing over a minor detail like the placement of buttons or whether to send the email Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon.

7. Good material can be re-used

There’s no rule that says you have to reinvent the wheel every week. A lot of good material can be re-used, and marketers shouldn’t be afraid to rinse and repeat – within reason.

So stop looking for perfection. Just do your best work, learn from your success as well as from your mistakes, and all will be well.

Pierce Ujjainwalla has years of experience as a CEO, entrepreneur, and marketing leader. He has lived in the marketing trenches at companies like IBM, SAP, NVIDIA, and Marketo, and he launched Knak in 2015 as a platform designed to help Marketers simplify email creation. Visit his personal blog, Unsubscribed!, for more of the insight he’s gained as founder and CEO of Knak.

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