Email Marketing -What is it?

Psst….Do you know what email marketing really is?

Is it SPAM? Nope.
Is it blasting advertisements to make quick sales? Nu-uh.
Is it a big waste of time? Your competitor doesn’t seem to think so. Neither do the businesses that spent 1.1 billion dollars on it last year.

And as every business knows, there are mistakes to be avoided. There are opportunities to take. There are strategies.

So, let’s talk about what email marketing is and what it is not. And, most importantly, how to use email marketing to get results.

Email Marketing Defined

In its broadest sense, email marketing refers to every email sent to a potential or current customer. Every email, whether sent in bulk or not, should be considered a chance to market your brand and is a part of your identity.

Email marketing is not blasting advertisements to 100s of people with the hope of making a quick buck. Otherwise it would be called email advertising (which most think of as SPAM).

Week after week, we see businesses sending ads to recipient’s inboxes with the hope of inticing the recipient to purchase something. This strategy, which we call going for the hard sale, is fine in small doses.

However, it is not very nice, appropriate, or effective to use a hard-sale advertising strategy with recipients who are not familiar with your brand.

Nor is it smart to to use a hard-sale advertising approach every week, unless your recipients specifically requested weekly advertisements and offers.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of your email marketing recipient. He or she is sitting there, having a moment alone and checking email during their lunch break.

What do we find in that inbox?

A message from a coworker with pictures of cute kittens.
A quick hello from their sister.
A request for donations from their favorite charity.
The memo from the boss.

Their inbox, you see, is a personal space reserved for things relevant, meaningful, personal or of personal interest, confidential, familiar, business-related, and above all, timely.

Anything else is chatter and will be tuned out.

Remember Your Goal

Marketing is defined by the AMA as “the process by which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships, in order to capture value from customers in return”.

The overall goal of email marketing is the same as marketing in a broad sense — to build brand awareness and loyalty.

Your process, then, should center on giving the recipient a message that creates value. Do that with good timing and you’re miles ahead of your competitor, because your brand name stays in the recipients’ “mindbox.”

For Example

Let’s pretend we own a bookstore. Nice place, coffee, and comfortable seating. Our customers receive a 10% off coupon if they leave us their email address.

Later that week, we’re thinking about how to get them back in the door.

Well, we know that our target market likes to read, so, we send them a message about the latest update to our website – a blog post containing unusual facts about books:


Subject: 10 Exciting Book Facts From Chop Suey Books

Dear Frank,

This week, we’ve been adding some pretty weird and exciting book facts to our website. Did you know…

The largest book in the world is 150 meters wide?
The most expensive book in the world is only 13 pages long?

Check out the latest interesting book facts at our website.



Now, is our recipient Frank going to think we’re annoying him with adveritsements? NO. He’s going to think, “Oh cool, isn’t that interesting. I love this bookstore.”

I Need Sales, Now!

In this message, we’ve accomplished the goal of adding value to Frank’s life. But in a subtle way, we’ve done more than that.

1) We’ve kept it short and gotten the attention of the recipient to make them want more.
2) We’ve put our brand name in the subject line.
3) We’ve created some positive feelings.
4) We’ve included a prominent call to action, causing the recipient to interact with or respond to us.

Next, it’s up to ol’ Frank to visit the website, click on the links, see the sale ad and remember that he has a 10% off coupon to use.

By not putting the advertisement directly in the email, we’re not only just sending a message that will add value to the recipient’s life.

We’re also staying out of the recipient’s trash or spam folder. Spam filters — and email recipients — are pretty smart about filtering out advertising. So, by leaving the ad on the web page, we’re increasing the odds of staying out of the trash and in the recipient’s mindbox.

And we’re also leading Frank to the website, which is where the Buy Now button is, right?

So, it’s a win-win.

And It’s Fun!

Isn’t it more fun and exciting for you, too, to stretch your mind and think about adding value to a person’s life, rather than trying to get them to buy something with an ad every week?

Email Marketing builds brand awareness and loyalty — when it’s done the right way — by adding value to your recipient’s lives and focusing on hard sales only 20% of the time.

So, give in order to receive. Stay in the inbox.