Do People Really Want Marketing Emails?

Small businesses have enough to do. Is the time and effort of email marketing worth it?

Cynthia Marinakos
Sep 19, 2019 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Illustration by Cynthia Marinakos.

Why did you open your last marketing email? I bet you get as much annoying spam as I do each day.

Yet what triggered you to open and read that one?


  • The subject header made you curious

The reason you opened that last email is the reason your prospects and customers open your marketing emails (or would open yours, if you emailed them).

What are you doing with your mailing list?

Perhaps you don’t do anything with it. And that’s totally ok. There’s a lot to do as a small business, isn’t there?

Over the past 12 years, I’ve helped large organizations and small businesses leverage the power of their mailing lists.

Do people really want marketing emails?


These emails have led readers to buy gorgeous shoes, enroll in courses and workshops, score tickets to fun events, and buy investment properties.

These emails have led to millions of dollars worth of sales for my clients and the organizations I’ve worked for.

So I’m not surprised that Campaign Monitor found for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $44 in ROI — and email gets new customers 40 times more than social.

Will email marketing work for you?

I get it. As a small business, it sounds like a lot of work. It doesn’t seem worthwhile when you have used proven ways to get more leads and sales. Besides:

What would you write?
Who would want to hear from you?
Social media is enough — isn’t it?

That’s why I didn’t bother with my own mailing list for all this time — even though I do it for everyone else. Also, I didn’t want more clients.

But this way of thinking was a mistake.

I wasn’t thinking about the bigger picture. I didn’t want to waste my time. I didn’t think email mattered for my business. And deep down, I had imposter syndrome — and was afraid of getting rejected.

Now I’m doing this thing I thought was pointless for my business. For me.

What changed my attitude was a change in focus. I now focus on how to help small business owners instead of focusing on me— and that has changed everything.

Here’s what subscribers told me:

“Ooohhh what a good tip! Thanks. That’s a great way to do research too. And it will be so useful, when I need to come up with email campaign ideas other than tutorials. :)”

“XXXXX Love this!!! Very relevant and helpful”

I was even approached by an awesome new client in a fascinating niche industry. I couldn’t turn him away. And there it is again… a mailing list doing its thing. Giving back far more than expected.

And that is when I realized I’ve been missing the big picture all these years. With a mailing list, I can help more businesses than I ever could one-on-one.

I can share tips and tools that build confidence in small business owners to manage their own online communications. I can make a bigger impact.

This is the power of a mailing list.

Maybe you still don’t think you need to email your mailing list. And that’s ok.

Maybe it’s all too overwhelming when you hear about A/B testing, segmentation, automated emails, and all that jargon people toss around but means nothing to you. And you are too damn busy to find out. That’s understandable.

But perhaps you’re still curious — and wonder how to start doing more for prospects and customers on your mailing list. After all, DMA email tracking research found 99% of consumers check their personal email every day.

It’d be great to get in front of them, wouldn’t it?

So how can you begin — or do more with your mailing list?

Ignore all the jargon and all the complex strategies. Let’s keep it simple:

4 Common types of email campaigns

  1. Welcome: 1 email or a series of emails to say hi and get them familiar with your business (esp if a new prospect)

These campaigns use 3 types of emails

  1. Relational emails: educate, inform, entertain

How often to email

Campaign Monitor’s research about how often to send promotional emails warn us not to send too much or they won’t open or unsubscribe. Don’t send too little, or they won’t remember you.

As a guide, send:

  • Every 1–2 weeks


  • Choose a timeframe you’ll commit to and send regularly

What type of content to write

In the 2018 Adobe Consumer Email Survey, participants preferred less promotional emails — more information-based emails (slide 31 of 43).

I’ve found a mix of promotional emails with relational emails works well. For example a 50/50 mix. And I always write promotional emails with a relational approach. To sell without selling — be helpful and considerate, while sharing offers.

Putting it all together: 2 sample email strategies

Here are a couple of basic strategies you might set up when a new subscriber is added to your mailing list:

Sample Strategy 1

Day 1: Welcome email (this may include a sign-up promotion)

Every 2 weeks: Newsletter (include news and promotions)

Sample Strategy 2

Day 1: Welcome email 1(this may include a sign-up promotion)

Day 3: Welcome email 2

Day 5: Welcome email 3

Week 1 of each month: Newsletter

Week 2 of each month: Promotion

Week 3 of each month: Newsletter

Week 4 of each month: Promotion

Avoid this common mistake

These strategies are simple. Yet from experience, many small businesses — even many large businesses and organizations get one key aspect wrong.

The mistake they make is captured perfectly by Mufasa, The Lion King as he surveyed his kingdom from the highest peak:

Image for post
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Illustration by Cynthia Marinakos.

“While others look for what he can take, a true king gives back.”In your emails, don’t make it all about you. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your business — you can, and you should.

Your customers think “What’s in it for me?” — so consider what’s in it for them in every email. Show the same care, support, and consideration for your customers as you do in person.

A giving mentality is what will make your emails worthwhile for your readers.

You may not get a lead or sale from every email. But you’ll build trust that will build those leads and sales in the long run.

This is how you can justify spending the time and effort to put together email campaigns — when you have a crapload of other stuff to do.

This is how you’ll sell more by selling less: approach every email with how you can give back.

Summary: Do people really want marketing emails?

Research and my experiences in online communications have found emailing is worthwhile: for meaningful connection, leads, brand awareness, and sales.

Don’t be put off by all the overly complicated strategies out there. Focus on 4 basic strategies to keep in touch with your customers and prospects:

  1. Welcome
  • Choose how often you will email consistently

Do this and you’ll leverage the power of your mailing list. You see, when crafted with care and consideration, your email will be appreciated. People really do want marketing emails.

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Cynthia Marinakos

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Aussie Copywriter. I love rock climbing high ceilings and hiking amongst ferns >> 10 Proven ways to attract more Medium readers:

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Cynthia Marinakos

Written by

Aussie Copywriter. I love rock climbing high ceilings and hiking amongst ferns >> 10 Proven ways to attract more Medium readers:

The Startup

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