Everything You Know About Email Marketing Is Wrong


As you probably know, emails give you the best ROI of any medium – up to 4,300% says the US Direct Marketing Association.

But I bet you aren’t seeing that kind of return. Very few people are.

In fact you can divide email marketers into three groups. Those who haven’t the ghost of a clue. Those who are doing OK. And the tiny few who are coining it.

I’ve used emails to generate business for my agency and our clients very successfully since 2007.

Yet recently I learned something new that made me think I’m doing it all wrong.

It’s a radically different approach that could utterly transform the way you think about email marketing. Let me explain.

An $80,000 lesson

A while ago I agreed to chair a teleseminar for Daniel Levis, the remarkable Canadian marketer.

It was a disaster.

Everything went wrong with the technology.

I couldn’t log on for 10 minutes.

When I finally did I sounded like I was speaking from the sea bed.

The seminar lasted four long hours.

My contribution was almost zero.

I apologised to him, and he said, “Oh, that’s OK. We took about $80,000.”

$80,000 in four hours? How does he do it?

I’ll tell you.

He does it by ignoring most of the rules you hear – and following his own

During the seminar he showed you in detail the results for two clients in two utterly different businesses on two sides of the world, one a man, one a woman.

Neither were doing that well. One was quite desperate.

And just in case you were sceptical, there were interviews with both of them confirming what he had achieved for them.

“I found money I never had before,” said one.

During those hours he noted the techniques he used.

So how does he do it?

Let’s look at one of these examples. A woman in Australia was selling fitness DVDs over the net.

This woman had built a successful, profitable business and had a large list of email subscribers. Unfortunately, her sales had started to slip, and nothing she did to try to stop this decline worked.

Her biggest problem was that her subscriber list was producing fewer and fewer sales for her.

Daniel revamped the product and advised his client to sell it at a slightly higher price. He went to work researching the client’s customers and looking to work out why they would buy.

Then he put together a complete email campaign – 20 emails sent out over two weeks.

Each email was a self-contained little story, and when you read them all together they had an over-arching theme.

This meant each email worked – and those readers who read them all were entertained by a story that ran through the whole campaign.

Doesn’t that sound uncannily like a traditional advertising campaign?

Breaking the rules for higher profits

Are you concerned about boring people with too many emails?

If you’ve paid attention, you’ve noticed 20 emails over two weeks means that some days recipients got more than one a day.

One day Daniel sent out three.

That’s the first rule broken – “don’t send too many emails for fear of turning off prospects”.

But there were more. The shortest email was 650 words long. The longest was just over 1200 words long.

And there was NO relationship between length and success.

So that’s a second rule broken – not to send long emails, again for fear of turning off prospects.

And Daniel also showed that the lower his open and click-through rates, the higher his conversion rate.

To put it another way, the fewer people clicked through, the more money he made.

By the end of this campaign, Daniel had made his client over $50,000 – or £31,000.

Some naive folk still think open rates matter. (I know one of my big clients – a name recognised worldwide – does)

Well, they don’t. And Daniel’s sales figures proved it.

Others think you should be looking at click-through rates.

Well, you shouldn’t. And he showed the sales figures that proved it.

(My business partner Al always says “Clicks cost you money; conversions make you money. When you pay your supplier for clicks, you’re encouraging wasted money. Your money.”)

Maybe you think people won’t read long emails, especially now so many read on phones.

Stop worrying. He showed the numbers. On average long copy worked better than short.

But surely you should worry about complaints?

Not really.

His figures proved that low clicks + high complaints = high profits.

And that $80,000 extra revenue showed they worked.

You can’t sell to everybody – so don’t try

You’re probably thinking “a four hour seminar? Surely people wouldn’t sit through that.”

This is the big fallacy about long versus short.

It may be the most important thing you ever learn about your marketing messages.

You can’t sell to everybody. Don’t even try to sell to everybody. If you do, your sales will suffer.

You only want to sell to somebody.

Somebody interested.

In this case, somebody interested enough to keep listening.

If you just try to do what everyone else does, your business will not stand out.

Know your market, know what motivates them to buy, and then use email to convince them.

Don’t be afraid of breaking those ‘rules’ along the way. It’s only by standing out that you can become more successful than your competitors.

Two weeks ago a lady wrote to me saying “You write to me more than my son. I love you. Keep going!”

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