Most email marketing sounds like a used car salesman trying to get you in bed. Is there a better way?

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I actually wrote something similar to this on July 6, 2016, but it recently re-occurred to me, so I wanted to rewrite the general concept. Let’s go step-by-step.

What is often the purpose of email marketing?

To develop leads into buyers, in the eyes of many. To “nurture” a relationship.

How does one “nurture” an in-real-life relationship?

Meetups, hanging out, being there for people, important life discussions, taking care of them when they’re sick, etc.

How do we tend to “nurture” over email?

Offer, offer, offer, sell, sell, sell.

Now, this works for e-commerce and some other brands, where maybe people are only even opening the email because of 30 percent off. I get it. But it most assuredly doesn’t work for lots of brands, entrepreneurs, startups, etc. Not everyone can sell a widget, or a piece of jewelry, and discount it by a bunch. Some of us are selling more amorphous, or consultative, stuff.

Can you build a relationship just via offers?

You can, but it’s inherently going to be transaction-based. Like, if you only get 2am text messages from someone and you keep going over to their place, that’s “a relationship via offers.” Is it marriage material? Perhaps not.

And what are your junior sales reps hoping to get from emails, anyway?

Conversations. The opportunity to move down the funnel, towards a demo, towards a pricing sheet, whatever the case may be.

Now put it all together…

Let’s say you sell consulting services for, I dunno, “how to communicate better at work.”

Instead of sending me an email about your course or your paid eBook or whatever, why don’t you send me an email and ask, “Hey, what’s your biggest communication challenge at work?” or “Hey, what’s the funniest communication gaffe you’ve seen at work?”

Then wait for the replies.

Instead of replying with a sales offer on email №1, nurture that thread for 2–3 emails. Then start mentioning what you can do.

Now you’re using email to learn about people and build towards a relationship. Previously you were just using it to push.

Unless you sell heroin or 2am hookups, no need to push. Build. That’s what email should ideally be.


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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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