How to Succeed at Email Marketing

Don’t Overlook or Dismiss This Proven and Stable Channel

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Email marketing is a cost-effective and straightforward way to reach out to touch prospects. But just because it’s cheap and easy doesn’t mean it’s always the best idea. When done wrong, email marketing can alienate the audience you’re trying to cultivate.

Here are five tips for successful email marketing:

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Send Only Useful Messages

Several years ago, I had the grand idea of using an email-marketing program to inform and engage advertisers and potential advertisers for my magazines.

When I began working on the next issue, I emailed them with the theme and deadlines. A week before the due date, I sent a reminder. When the magazine went to print, I dashed off an update, and when it mailed, I let them know.

This lasted for two issues.

Although sending the messages seemed free, it cost me time. I also worried about becoming a nuisance. And in those early days of email marketing, I couldn’t tell who was reading what I sent.

I scaled back my messages to one per issue. That email let them know the theme and deadlines. It’s what mattered most. Besides, if I emailed less often, I hoped they’d be more apt to read what I did send.

Only send the messages that matter to your audience.

Segment Your Audience

I quickly fell into a rhythm of sending out one email as I prepared each issue, but it wasn’t as smooth as I hoped. It seemed that no matter how carefully I worded my message, someone would be confused. This resulted in more communication to clear up my miscommunication.

The problem was that I tried to make one email work for everyone: regular advertisers, occasional advertisers, and potential advertisers. A message for regular advertisers might confuse the occasional ones and vice versa.

Alternately, a message encouraging potential advertisers to run an ad might cause regular advertisers to make wrong assumptions about their status. To solve this, I divided my list into three groups and sent specific messages tailored to each audience.

Your biggest customer is different than your smallest, and both are different from your prospects. Segment your list appropriately.

Send Only Wanted Messages

As a result of inquiring about a product or service, I often end up on a company’s email list. I’m okay with them following up with me or sending more information—as long as it’s relevant. Just because I inquired about one thing, however, doesn’t mean I’m interested in everything they offer.

If they do this once, I’ll overlook it. If they do this twice, I’ll unsubscribe. Then they lost the ability to connect with me.

Allow Unsubscribes

Even though it’s a requirement to let people unsubscribe, I’m shocked at how many email marketers don’t. Plus, a few let you try to unsubscribe, but they don’t follow through.

Allow for and honor unsubscribes. It’s the right thing to do.

Don’t Spam

Though I have no firsthand experience in this regard, it’s easy to buy an email database. It’s also common for companies to harvest contact information and send you messages you don’t want. These messages are spam.

In your zeal to market, make sure you don’t spam your list or look like a spammer.

Marketing Management Success Tip

Send useful messages to your segmented list, allow for unsubscribes, and avoid spamming. This will put you ahead of most companies. Then provide the right amount of contact, and your email marketing is poised to succeed.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Sticky Series books, including Sticky Customer ServiceSticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Leadership and Management featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an entrepreneur and businessman who has managed, owned, and started multiple businesses over his career. Common themes at every turn have included customer service, sales and marketing, and leadership and management.

He shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights through his books to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.