My General Email Marketing Approach For 2018

By Jamie McSloy / January 11, 2018
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Email Marketing 2018

The next in this series of “My thoughts on business in 2018” is email marketing.

To address the folks that are coming here straight from Google or Twitter or wherever with the simplest of questions. Yes:

Email marketing still works in 2018.

It will still work in 2019.

It will still work in 2020.

Let me tell you why email marketing still works in 2018, because that ties into everything else I’ll give me thoughts on in this article.

Why Is Email Marketing So Effective?

Email marketing is effective because it turns marketing to a mass audience into a one-to-one conversation. (Well, it does if you do it right. More on that soon.)

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)

Imagine you’re watching television. The advertisements are on, and there are some perfectly pretty people advertising something you don’t need. Let’s say it’s a pair of actors, one male, one female and they’re in some steamy romantic embrace.

This is designed to play to your senses, but you know in less than thirty seconds they’re going to fade out and some stupid slogan is going to pop up on the screen with a weird foreign accent clumsily mentioning the name of the perfume you’re supposed to buy.

You know that you’re not an impossibly perfect person and that the perfume isn’t really for you – it’s for the people who fall for that romance stuff. It doesn’t click.

That’s why we copywriters and internet masterminds are taking over the advertising world.

But imagine, you’re watching these actors, and the pretty one to your tastes turns around, looks out of the screen at you and says, “Hey [Your Name]… Let me tell you about this perfume. It’ll be good for you because…”

… and then he or she lists all the reasons that you personally should buy this perfume.

More powerful, right?

That’s why email marketing will always work.

You deliver a message direct to your customer in a one-to-one scenario. You engage them in a conversation and you build a relationship with them.

Powerful Email Marketing Is All About Small Scale Interaction

Here’s the crazy thing about email marketing. Some of you will undoubtedly look at the above and think, “But Jamie… I have a list of 5000 people! How is that a one-to-one conversation?”

It is, because it’s not like the old days where if you sent a group email you’d see hundreds of emails in the “sent to” section.

Image is important, and the image given by an email is that it’s direct from one person to another person.

You as a marketer need to treat it that way too. Luckily, this benefits you.

Here’s the thing. In business, there’s the idea of 1,000 true fans. It goes like this.

If you have 1000 true fans that’ll spend $100 a year (or just over $8 a month) on your service or product, then you will never go hungry. As a base calculation, 1000 fans X $100 a year = $100,000 a year.

Now, the numbers and ideas behind that are for another day. But let me emphasise something: If you have engaged people on your list, they are “true fans.”

Or, you could think of them as acquaintances, friends, co-conspirators… whatever floats your boat.

The point is that your email list is your first and best step towards building relationships with people who resonate with you strongly.

1,000 people is not a lot of subscribers in email marketing terms. In terms of the true fans model, it’s a lot. Plenty that you’d never have to worry about making a living.

This brings me to the real gist of how to approach email marketing in 2018 and beyond.

Your Goal Is NOT Subscriber Numbers Or Profit Per Email

If you think short term, you can blast your email list and get ads run to your opt-in lists and get thousands of subscribers and quick sales.

A lot of people do this and think in terms of their subscribe/unsubscribe ratio per day. If they gain five subscribers and lose four, then they’re one up so that’s great.

I approach it in a different way. I’d rather have subscribers that stick and engage. In fact, where I can I’ll prune my mailing lists for people who don’t read the emails and engage when I ask them to.

This isn’t me being a dick or a bad business decision. It’s a strategy with the aim in mind of creating people who want to read what I have to say, buy what I have to buy and engage with what I want them to engage with.

If someone said;

“Hey Jamie. I’m quitting my business, have my email list of 100,000 people.”

I would send a short campaign. I’d see who engaged and who didn’t even open the emails.

If 900,000 of those people never opened a single email… they’d be gone straight away. All they’re doing is costing money.

If the remaining 100,000 was split into people who opened emails but never clicked anything and a smaller minority who all emailed back and said, “Hey… I want to buy your stuff and be your buddy” then I’m really only interested in the latter.

If people aren’t interested in opening your emails, then they aren’t going to be interested in anything more strenuous like pulling their credit card out.

It’s better to have 1,000 people who are true fans than 100,000 who won’t ever be interested in you.

How Does This Apply To The Real World?

In the real world, you are emailing to make sales. You’re also going to have some people that are super-engaged, some people that are engaged sometimes but not others and it’s all more shades-of-grey than I’ve written about above.

But your email marketing approach reflects what you want to achieve.

Do you want a loyal, hungry base of subscribers who share your vision?

Because if you do, you use a different strategy than if you just want to boost your list to as big as possible. (This is a goal if you sell advertising to your list. Not my thing.)

To get a list as big as possible, you might:

  • Have loads of opt-in offers
  • Run competitions and giveaways
  • Aggressively use pop-ups, pop-unders and those types of things
  • Push your list heavily on your site and across media platforms
  • Buy shout-outs, share lists and all that

If you’re building a smaller, more engaged list:

  • Send opt-ins only if and when they’re useful
  • Concentrate on longer emails with a focus on how-to or course material
  • Respond to as many emails as you can and engage with people
  • Prune your list for engagement
  • Make it a little harder to subscribe (than aggressive marketing)
  • Ask the opinion of your list as to future directions you might go in

The above also depends on your offers. If you’re running an authority site, it’s a bit different to an e-commerce store. But the general strategies are the same.

What You Should ALWAYS Do

You should always write as though you’re writing to one person. In reality, you’re not, but you’re writing to a small audience in any case.

You should always make clear on your opt-ins what you’re going to do with their details and give them what you promise them. (So if you say you’ll email once a week, don’t email every day. If you promise an ebook, make sure it gets delivered.) This is basic courtesy and it puts people on edge.

Don’t subscribe people yourself or buy lists on SEO sites or whatever. It should go without saying, but I keep getting subscribed to lists I definitely haven’t signed up for, and they go straight into the “not even deleted but reported for spam” folder. Nobody will ever become a friend of your work if you trick them before your first interaction.

Final Thoughts

That gives my general update on the 2018 Email Marketing state of affairs.

It’s good news. The whole thing still works. It’s still cheap to do effectively. There’s next to nothing stopping you creating a list, delivering value and building relationships with your customers that brand relationship gurus in creative agencies could only dream of.

The benefits of doing this are massive seeing as you’ve got an internet of billions of people and it takes a tiny fraction of a percentage of a percentage of those to provide you everything you need as far as business and marketing goes.

So take heart, build a list and help yourself and everyone else.

Until next time,


P.S. You should probably sign up for my list.

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