Why email marketing doesn't work
I’ve got a theory…
Email marketing doesn’t work.
Check this out:
I’m signed up for so many email newsletters it’s impossible to keep track. I have some 51,000 unopened emails in my inbox, for example.
(And I’m a stark objector to the whole “Inbox Zero” idea. It’s a way to pretend to be busy without doing anything productive at all. I like being able to see emails from 7 years ago. And “Inbox Zero” is especially brain ded as an email marketer. Onward…)
There’s a bunch of reasons email marketing doesn’t work. I’m gonna give you 7 reasons right now.
1. Most emails use too many graphics and give too little info.
If you’re a fashion brand, then okay. It makes sense to provide no info in your emails and lead with graphics only. Or if you’re a super-mega-star.
Kanye is a hilarious example of the latter.
His Yeezy emails are one giant picture with one giant link. No info at all. But that’s okay because he’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man. (Or wait, was that Jay-Z?)
But unless you're Gucci or Kanye, you’re gonna need to persuade mfs to buy your stuff.
2. Running discounts every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
I don’t mean your typical Black Friday/Cyber Monday emails. There are too-many-brands-to-count who run a different promotion every other week.
Because their emails don’t make sales otherwise.
The cringiest of these discount emails is when they lead with a hard deadline. They say you have until Friday or the deal disappears. But then you check your email on Saturday. And like magic, they extend the discount. And they have an even cringier reason for doing so — spouting out some reason like “they got approval from their (fictitious) manager to extend it.”
Ya ya, sure you did, bud.
3. Many of these brands use cringey emojis in their subject lines.
This is proof that their emails don’t work. I’ve seen one example of a well-placed emoji in a subject line. It was for a relationship coach I worked with who used the classic eggplant emoji instead of typing “you-kn0w-what.”
Every other case?
A cringey and needy example that the brand in question has shyt open rates. (And a deeper lack-of-sales problem.)
4. Most brands don’t understand the point of email marketing.
You have no chance at succeeding if you don’t understand the point of it.
It’s like running a Twitter ad. Have you ever seen those? People “promote” the dumbest shyt. I have no idea why they do it. But they do.
What’s the point of email, you ask?
There are two:
The first one’s obvious: make sales. Email is one of, if not the, “closest” marketing activity to the sale.
The second one’s not-so-obvious: to develop a diehard fan base. The oft-mentioned email goat Ben Settle is the #1 example of this. That mf could lead a war of his fans tomorrow. Because he understands this point.
5. Swimming upstream, away from the sale.
Here's what this one means:
Remember how I said email was the “closest” marketing activity to the sale 3 seconds ago? (If’n you forgot… idk what to tell you, but you gotta get your memory checked.)
This is an “obvious” truth about marketing. Yet, how many emails do you see where people promote a blog post, a YouTube video, or their social media? Happens. All. The. Time.
And brands don’t realize this steals their sales. It takes up pointless “real estate” in their emails. And adds confusion. (The best emails have one call-to-action.)
Of course, rules are meant to be broken. There’s a time and a place to break every rule. Especially when you do it strategically.
But most people and brands don’t do it strategically. They do it because everyone else links to their social profiles in their email.
Which leads me to my next point…
6. Every email looks the same.
I can open an email and instantly know if it’s a Clickbank offer. A CBD ecommerce company. An affiliate promotion. Etc.
Because every single email looks the same!
The only difference is the color of their “pretty links” and their HTML template.
But lemme learn ya up on sumtin:
If your email looks like everyone else’s, it blends in. And becomes nothing. Just another box someone on your list has to click and delete. Ouch.
7. Not sending enough emails.
Email is the most forgiving marketing method you can use.
Make a typo? It’ll probably get more opens. Weird, but true. Send the wrong link on accident? You can send another email and get more sales. Again… weird, but true. Say something batshyt crazy which makes people unsubscribe? Oh well, you’ll replace them with more qualified folks. And people who jibe with whatcha said will become more magnetized to you and your “persona” or brand. Not to mention, the more you email, the more direct feedback you get. It’s a cheat code for understanding your audience, what makes them tick, and most importantly, what makes them whip out their credit card and buy your stuff.
But there’s one lil caveat to this:
None of this works if you don’t send emails enough.
Some brands send a monthly newsletter. They work really hard on it all month. It’s full of a bunch of helpful info (even if it’s boring — which most of it is).
But here’s what happens:
By the second month of your “monthly newsletter,” everyone forgets who you are. Now they unsubscribe. Or worse, mark you as spam. Or worse, don’t engage with any of your future emails, tanking your deliverability and domain health.
Sending a monthly newsletter is the classic case of playing “not to lose” instead of playing to win.
They’re afraid to “win,” because they might get unsubscribes. Or nasty replies. (Ironically, both of these help your deliverability and sales.)
So they become milquetoast. Water down their message. And never press “send.” At least that way, they don’t have to worry about offending someone. Or worse, making a sale.
Alright, one quick bonus point…
BONUS: Not having fun.
Email should be fun. I have a blast writing my emails and emails for my clients — especially when I know I have a “zinger” on my hands.
I can tell most people sending emails don’t have fun. It’s as obvious as a crackhead searching for their next fix.
This is an underrated point. Because the more fun you have with something, the more likely you’re gonna keep doing it. And the more you keep doing it, the more you improve. And the more you improve, the more sales you make. And the more sales you make, the more motivated you are to keep sending emails. And the more motivated you are, the more fun you have writing and sending emails.
Talk about a positive feedback loop.
Those are some of the reasons email marketing doesn’t work. There are plenty others. Maybe I’ll do another email like this down the road.
If you want help avoiding these mistakes, so your emails build a rabid community of mfs who will go to war for you…
I’m accepting new clients. But I don’t know how much longer this will last.
If you have a proven offer and need help “jimmying up” your email sales and influence, book a discovery call. And let’s get the ball rolling.