How Watching ‘Groundhog Day’ Can Make You an Email Marketing Superstar

If I woke up and realized I was in a Groundhog Day-like loop, I would optimize the same email over and over again until I got a 100% open and click-through-rate, promote my latest blog post until it goes viral, and wait to get called in to the boss’ office to receive compliments and a bonus check that I would cash that day after leaving early.

For marketers, the 1993 movie Groundhog Day might sound like a nightmare to many and a dream to others who would love a redo — it’s part of the film’s wide appeal.

Luckily, we don’t have to live it to learn some important lessons from the movie. (BTW it’s on Netflix.)

Understand your audience

In the movie, Phil (Bill Murray’s character) calls the townspeople “hicks” and is generally unhappy about his assignment to cover the Groundhog Day holiday. That’s the biggest mistake a marketer can make: feeling disdain for the audience.

Phil finally breaks the loop when he understands the townspeople. As a marketer, you need to understand your audience, because if you don’t, you risk alienating them.

The Takeaway: Don’t underestimate (or overestimate) your audience. Get to know the people who’ve subscribed to your list as you build and develop your buyer personas so you can provide optimal personalization.

Learn from your mistakes

Phil incorrectly predicts that a snowstorm would pass. But this isn’t the only place where Phil changes direction.

Once Phil realizes he’s in a loop, he responds with the expected antics if we got a pass to be reckless. Then he shifts and changes his perspective.

An email sent prematurely, a blog post with the wrong photo or a glaring typo presents the same opportunity for a marketer to have a do-over and over again: the chance to improve.

The Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to break out of the marketing routine. Mistakes happen – they’re not the end of the world.

Stick with it

This didn’t work for Phil in the movie, but here in the real world, Phil’s attempts to break the cycle is a reminder to marketers to do the same.

One thing that Phil demonstrates perfectly: it’s not easy to break a routine. Sometimes even after you think you’ve done everything you can to get different results, you wake up to find you’re in the exact same position you were in before you made all the changes you could think of.

Keep trying. Never give up. Sooner or later, you’ll solve it. Learn more about the problem; ask your colleagues for help; or revisit the problem after a walk to clear your head.

The Takeaway: Don’t give up and never stop learning!

Pay (more) attention

Phil had to know he was in an endless loop before he could do something about it. Unfortunately for most of us, the message is not as obvious.

Knowing that you’re in a Groundhog Day loop will require deep analysis of your data. Consider these questions:

  • Why are you sending out that email every Wednesday?
  • Should you be sending your coworkers that update?
  • Why are you including some information in your newsletter and not others?
  • Why are you writing this blog post?

If the motto for your sales team is “always be closing,” make your personal motto always be asking “why.”

The Takeaway: Routines are dangerous because they make us complacent. Don’t just accept a routine because “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate.

ARE YOU HAVING FUN YET?

I think one of the most important lessons for marketers (and pretty much everyone) from Groundhog Day is to have fun.

Look at Phil: After going a bit crazy, he decides to take a more positive approach and do some good in the world. He reaches out to help others, communicates openly with his love interest Rita, acknowledges what’s happening is real, and even picks up a hobby or two.

The Takeaway: It doesn’t take anything drastic to break out of the routine. We’re creative types who get paid to come up with our best stuff. Make a commitment to play and what you do will happen naturally.

Feel like your email marketing is in a Groundhog Day loop? Download Neil Patel’s Guide to Email Marketing to take your game to next level: