Is Email Marketing Dead in 2018? No, You’re Just Doing It Wrong
Ahh, email marketing. Every company does it. It’s cheap (basically free), easy, and effective. But for some reason, in comparison to the rest of their marketing efforts, very few companies are putting any sort of real effort into their email marketing strategy.
Which is a shame, because of all the Internet marketing mediums, email is by far the most powerful.
A very valuable lesson I learned from Sumo founder Noah Kagan, is that in regards to your business, you should spend the majority of your time doing the things that get the most results.
From this graph, it’s very obvious that email is the thing that gets the most results (at over 3800% ROI).
Yet for whatever reason (probably because it’s not sexy), 99% of companies invest very little time into their email marketing strategy. Instead, they’d rather spend obscene amounts on cool, trendy marketing (Instagram, Facebook, PPC ads, etc.) that proportionally, get very little results compared to email.
When in reality, if they put even just HALF of that time, money, and effort into improving their email marketing strategy, they would make A LOT more money.
But even if they did that, they would STILL be leaving money on the table.
That’s because the marketing emails that 99% of companies send out aren’t optimized to SELL. They are advertisements, but no one reads them.
So today, I’m here to tell you that everything you know about email marketing is likely WRONG. Forget it. All of it. And in its place, I’m going to share with you the six principles for writing emails that SELL.
These are the fundamentals I use to create simple, fun, interesting emails that customers actually WANT to open, read, and buy from. They are what I’ve used to turn my clients’ email lists into push-button sales machines that produce revenue essentially at the touch of a button.
So without further ado, here are the six principles that will show you how to create effective email marketing campaigns.
1. Design doesn’t sell, words do
All the email marketing “speshulists” out there would like you to believe that emails with pretty pictures and abstract design sell.
After all, that’s what they’ve been doing for years! (Imagine the dissonance when they find out they’ve been doing it wrong all this time!)
These wannabe marketers have never studied the old time sales literature (Halbert, Kennedy, Ogilvy, etc). They know jack about sales, persuasion, and behavioral psychology. And worst of all, they think that the Internet completely changed the fundamentals of selling.
They couldn’t be more wrong!
The fundamentals of sales are based on HUMAN nature. HUMAN nature is static — it doesn’t change. Human nature didn’t change when the radio came out, it didn’t change when the television came out, and it certainly didn’t change when the Internet came out.
So that email you’re about to send out with a cute little GIF and creative caption? Scrap it.
The emails people actually buy from are the ones that read like a letter from a friend.
They’re not stuffed with pictures and GIFs, they don’t use fancy email templates, and they don’t use creative jargon to trick people into buying.
Effective marketing emails feel personal. They build trust. They use great copy (that doesn’t feel like copy at all) to give people a REASON to pay attention.
There’s nothing fancy about them.
They’re simple, fun, and interesting read. No more, no less.
2. Killer subject lines = killer sales
In some advertising publication from the 80’s, David Ogilvy said something along the lines of,
“80% of people will read your headline, but only 20% will read your body copy. For every dollar you spend, 80 cents goes to the headline.”
I’m paraphrasing, but that was the jist.
Replace ‘headline’ with ‘subject line’ and that makes your subject line the single most important part of your marketing emails.
It is the determining factor in whether someone opens your email (which they have to do if you want them to buy from it) or ignores/deletes it.
There are about a thousand different ways to write subject lines that make people open your emails, but all of them have one thing in common:
They all make the reader WANT to read your email.
This can be done by invoking curiosity, evoking emotions, offering something amazing, playing on insecurities, etc.
Whatever way you choose, you must give your audience a REASON to open your email.
You might be able to use some gimmicky subject line to trick them into opening it. But if they open it and immediately figure out you just tricked them — they’re going to either click off, unsubscribe, or worse — spread the news that you’re a no-good con-man just trying to make a quick buck.
Make sure your subject line actually ties into the body of your email, and don’t spend so much time on it that you forget to make your email fantastic too.
3. Stories make sales
You ever had a friend that literally EVERYONE likes?
They’re upbeat, can talk to anyone, and always seem to have something interesting to tell you about. Every time you bring them around you get an ear full from the rest of your friends about how great they are.
There’s a reason that person you’re thinking of is so likable.
It’s because they’re great at telling stories.
They’ve probably traveled or done some other cool things in their life, but what makes you (and everyone else) like them is that what they say is INTERESTING.
Interesting stories grab your attention, they pique your interest, and they keep you engaged.
If you know anything about the AIDA formula, you’ll realize that interesting stories fulfill the ‘A’ and the ‘I’ right off the bat.
So in your emails… TELL A STORY. ANY STORY.
It doesn’t even have to be related to your product! The story can be about LITERALLY anything…
For some great examples of this (and everything else in this post for that matter), get on Ben Settle’s email list. He uses stories that have seemingly no connection to what he’s selling to sell his products like Tai Lopez sells pipe dreams (and I learned a good chunk of the information in this post from him).
Tell stories that your customers will be entertained by and you’ll have them actually looking forward to getting your promotional emails!
4. Casual copy sells like hotcakes
I don’t know about you, but I HATE reading ANYTHING written in a formal tone.
I don’t care how “interesting” the subject is, if it sounds like it was written by Shakespeare himself, it’s automatically BORING.
So as you tell your stories, write in a tone that’s akin to how you speak. Akin? Wait… I’d never say that.
Write like you talk.
It’s more interesting, easier to read, and as a bonus, makes it feel more personal to your reader.
The easiest way to do this is instead of WRITING what you want to say, record yourself SAYING it.
Talk it out like just like you would if you were talking to a friend, then transcribe it into written words, and edit it from there.
This way you end up with words that people like you actually USE on a regular basis.
To learn more about writing casually, I’d recommend picking up Neville Medhora’s This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better.
It’s about the cost of a Starbucks coffee and can be read in under an hour. The title pretty much sums it up because it will definitely teach you how to write better.
And unless you’re selling to Nuns or preschool teachers, don’t be afraid to drop a few swear words, too. If it’s how people in your niche actually talk, it will be well received (and make you look more authentic).
5. Use your stories to plug your product
This is my favorite part of it all.
Because it doesn’t feel like selling at all (and ironically sells better than any “hard sell” in the book).
All you have to do is find a way to segue the little story you just told into something related to your product. There doesn’t have to be an obvious connection between the two either.
It could be something as simple as:
“And that’s the embarrassing story of how I lost a game of poker to a 12 year old. If you’re tired of being embarrassed (like I was that day) by Y because you don’t know how to X, check out Z; it’ll teach you A, B, and C, so you can X better than anyone out there.”
This should be the easiest part of the email, because all you’re doing is telling them where to go to solve a problem.
No hard sells here.
It should feel like, “Oh, and before I go, here’s this product I’m selling. You can check it out here if you’d like. If not, no worries.”
Again, Ben Settle’s email list is the best resource I can give you to get an idea of how to use stories to plug your products.
There’s not much else to say about this part because it really is that simple. But one thing to keep in mind:
NEVER try to plug more than one product.
Each email should have a single purpose (selling X) with a single call-to-action (a single link).
Plugging X and also mentioning Y only distracts readers from the true purpose of your email (selling X). It will decrease your sales numbers and serves no purpose other than to lose you money.
6. Konsistency is key
If plugging your product is the easiest part, being consistent is the hardest part.
In order for your emails to consistently make sales, they have to consistently reach your customer’s inbox.
Doing everything above will be pointless if you only send out emails once every few weeks. You must be sending out emails every single week, multiple times a week (if not daily) if you want to maximize your email marketing potential.
This is where 90% of people fall off the wagon.
They just can’t wrap their heads around writing emails every single day. They think they’re spamming customers, being a nuisance, and losing sales because of it.
But here’s the thing… when your customers actually want to read your emails, you’re not spamming them.
You’re creating value.
You’re not losing sales, you’re making them (and a whole lot of them).
Because when you’re reaching your customer in such a personal way, on such a regular basis, in a way that makes them WANT to read your emails… eventually, they’re gonna click that link.
It might not be on the first email. Or the fifth. Or the 62nd.
But eventually, they’ll come around.
All because you were consistent.
And those are the six principles of effective email marketing.
Notice that I made no mention of open rates, click-through rates, or any of that other technical jargon those email marketing speshulists want you to think is so important.
At the end of the day, there’s only one number that’s REALLY important:
Now I’m not saying those other figures don’t matter, because that’s not true either. What I am saying though, is don’t get bogged down in the numbers so much that you forget the reason you’re writing emails in the first place:
To make sales.
Elaborate sales tactics, open loops, A/B testing, and all that stuff can be great too, but only if you know these principles first.
So what are you waiting for?
Go write some emails that make $$$!
P.S.: Leave me a comment telling me how you plan to implement these principles in your email marketing strategy (I read and respond to all of them).