Brian Says, It’s Time to Get Your Email On

This contribution is courtesy of Brian Massey. Brian is the Conversion Scientist™ at Conversion Sciences. He also writes about behavioral marketing at ClickZ Network.

Would you believe that e-mail marketing is still in its infancy?

A couple of graphs from MarketingSherpa drive an important point home about the use of e-mail for marketing. It works, it has always worked, and it will continue to work. You just have to know how to use it.

House List Email (as opposed to purchased list email) continues to get results for marketers.
House List Email (as opposed to purchased list email) continues to get results for marketers.

In this graph, “Emailing to house lists” falls behind “Web 2.0 (social network marketing).” However, since fewer marketers are reducing the use of house list email, it should be #1.

I’ll go so far as to state this:

If you don’t have your email marketing efforts nailed, you have no business investing in social marketing.”

Social marketing has its place, and is not a fad. But, we know so much about good, permission-based email marketing, that it is criminal to ignore it. Don’t let superstitions drive your marketing strategy.

The more sophisticated a marketer you are, the more likely you are to use house list email marketing.
The more sophisticated a marketer you are, the more likely you are to use house list email marketing.

MarketingSherpa has some choice interpretations of this graph:

“Those that see the effectiveness of their email programs diminishing are much more likely to have short-sighted organizational attitudes toward the tactic.

Organizations with investment-oriented views of email reap the rewards. They have higher open, click and conversion rates. In addition, they are much more likely to have a metrics-based grasp of how email works for them. Those with the “email is free” view, on the other hand, are more likely to fall into the group that doesn’t track conversion.”

It is so easy to measure email’s effectiveness, that I would argue that you can’t call yourself a marketer if you’re not watching your results. We call you a spammer.

You’re not marketing if your not measuring.

Essential for any Considered Purchase

If all of your customers buy spontaneously on their first visit and never buy again, then you may not need to invest in email marketing. I don’t know of any business like this.

If your customers take weeks or months to come to a purchase decision, you cannot ignore email. Email is the biggest social network on the planet. Even retirees use email.

Your House List is the list of people who have given you permission to enter their inbox. This means they want what you have, and should be given every opportunity to opt out.

Email Isn’t Promotional, It’s Social

Don’t use email purely to promote sales and discounts. Use it to educate, inform and entertain. If you have a blog, send your most interesting posts via email. Most of us aren’t using RSS. Email is your ticket to growing your blog readership.

Then simply advertise in your own emails.

Get Started Now

It does take time to build your house list, so start now. Email can be fun if you’re sending content that reflects your passion for your company, your industry and your brand.

Then you can start investing in the smaller, less intimate social networks out there.



  1. Great content, well researched and (appreciatively) supported with corresponding charts/graphics.
    I continue to find confusion and resistance among my client base to understand the differences and needs between developing email tactics and using social media for marketing purposes. My challenge is understand them all well enough to encourage their adoption of the appropriate campaign. Thank you.

  2. Useful information. Do you have anything more on ‘ Subject Lines ‘ ? I think thats where the planning starts. Since most of our email campaigns are offer driven ( e-commerce ) , they are a major challenge.

    1. We’re working on a subject line post now. However, as you’ll see in the post, we generally craft the subject lines last, following audience, frequency, offer/content and creative.

    1. Hi Annette – Thanks for your thoughts. As for email deliverablity it is an ongoing challenge. In fact it’s getting tougher. However there are many fine services and tools that will improve the odds of your messages hitting the inbox. But deliverablity is directly affected by the reputation and and practices of the sender. Factors such the mailing domain used, the volume of mail being sent, the content of your email, and the actions performed by your subscribers will severely affect if your email hits the inbox, junk box, or it’s blocked altogether. If you’re interested in learning more check out the ( I contribute there from time to time.

      As for email overload, for me it’s a non issue. I simply unsubscribe to emails that are no longer relevant to me and my email client and ISP do a good job of blocking the ones I didn’t ask for to begin with. And the delete button (or worse the unsubscribe or ‘mark as spam’ button) is never good for marketers, however, if you provided solid, useful content, and what you have to offer is still of use to your subscriber–the churn rate should be minimized. Thanks again!

  3. I agree with this article. The B2B Marketing Insight Survey showed that B2B Marketers are increasingly relying on email marketing as the cornerstone of their strategy for 2009/10. The Insight Report showed that 44% of the market is looking at increasing their budgets on this medium, which will rise further as e-newsletters become more prevalent channels.

    This channel is going to become frequently used by more and more businesses with similar address lists, so it is important that you stand out with the right message that’s well delivered.

  4. I LOVE this statement:

    “If you don’t have your email marketing efforts nailed, you have no business investing in social marketing.”

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