Only Good E-Mail is Good

Gartner recently published a study comparing marketing tactics and how technology companies were using them to effectively build relationships and brands. In short, their research concluded by saying “for more effective demand generation, tech marketers should use a balanced multichannel marketing mix, instead of investing in limited or too many channels.” Lovely. 

Now lots of digital marketers (many of whom have no actual credentials in the field of marketing) jumped on this study and wrote up post after post saying “Email is still king”  “Keep sending out emails—they work” and “Email leads the charge according to Gartner”. Here’s the problem — Most email is pure garbage written to satisfy the marketing automation software’s insatiable desire for ANY words and images so it can then bludgeon the poor humans into submission. Marketing automation (designed no doubt by Satan himself) is the big bad in this scenario because MORE marketing never equals BETTER marketing.

Here’s what I’ll say about it. Yes, email works…WHEN the email is good. By good, I mean good for THEM — instructive, value-adding, opening up a cool story loop that draws them in, etc. And again for every decent email sent out, there are thousands that lead with the subject line: We Really Miss You! which is equal parts creepy and needy at the exact same time. If that subject header doesn’t earn you an unsubscribe, I’d be stunned.  

Speaking of that fact — I unsubscribe all the time and let the companies know their choice to email me was a poor one and cost them a potentially lifelong relationship. And that decision is forever by the way.  There is no way back from “unsubscribe” land. You’re done. It’s over.  

Since so few companies know how to create great emails I thought I’d help out. Follow these rules every single time and you will be fine.

  1. Have a story that stars your CUSTOMER as the hero and you as the GUIDE helping them get what they want.
  2. Be useful to them and keep your urge to sell them buttoned up. You will have your chance later.
  3. Be INTERESTING. If you aren’t interested in the stories you’re telling, stop emailing your customers about it.
  4. Have FUN — Most people’s days are consumed with work they don’t enjoy, paying record prices for everything and secretly hoping the next NASA-spotted asteroid will connect HARD so none of us limp away from this thing. So get in there and make their day a little more fun.  Don’t know how to do this? — then HIRE someone who can.
  5. When in doubt, DO NOT send it out.  I tell my clients, we will earn every touch of the send button we do and if our stuff isn’t go enough, it’s simply not gonna go.  

I create fun, interesting emails for my clients that EARN their place in the inbox. My clients experience high (40 percent) open rates and next-to-nothing unsubscribe rates and that isn’t luck or chance either. It’s about the quality of the work and my emails do just that. My emails prove Gartner’s research to be correct. But most of what I receive does not come close and the marketers behind it couldn’t care less because they are just measuring the bottom of the funnel in desperate need of “conversions” from their “targets.”   

Doing that is inhuman and exactly what is wrong with the entire profession today.

We can do better and that begins with YOU doing better. You have the rules and the tools to do so. Or if you have other things to do, you can always hire me (or another StoryBrand Guide) to get the words right for you.

I’m always happy to help—and from what I see on a daily basis in my own inbox, that help is sorely needed. 

More on the Gartner Study here