The Third Pillar of Digital Marketing – Email

Is email marketing a relevant communication medium in 2020?  Have privacy laws such as GDPR, CASL, and CCPA had an impact on email marketing?  What does it mean to personalize and segment an email list?  In this episode, Chris Casale and Ryan Smith break down the third pillar of digital marketing – email, where they discuss why it’s still important, how to cultivate a strong subscriber list, and how to build campaigns that generate results.

Podcast Highlights

Chris Casale: [00:03:17] This is the conclusion of a three part episode where we’ve been reviewing the pillars of digital marketing. Two weeks ago during episode 29, we talked about search and search engine optimization (SEO). Last week during episode 30, we talked about social media. Today is the third pillar and we’re going to talk about email marketing.

Ryan Smith: [00:03:38] We hear a lot about email and sometimes you hear a lot about email and the negative connotations of email. One of the things, of course, you hear about is ”email is dead. I mean, if there’s one thing that has more click bait than email is dead, and we talked about in episode 29, it’s that CEO is dead. So we’re big on death, apparently in the marketing world. One of the top things, of course, that we hear and you can read is that email marketing is dead. So I personally just kind of went in and I did my own little research. So I did a Google search for is ’email marketing dead’? 

Well, Google gave me the results that there were 180 million results for the search query ‘is email marketing dead’, which I knew there’d be a lot. I didn’t quite expect them to be that much, 180 million results. Now, I went and changed it and I said, OK, I did a Google search for just ‘is email dead’ just that ‘is email dead’. Google came back with 1.2 trillion results of people writing about ‘is email dead’. So clearly that is something that people are writing on. I think a lot of it is just click bait trying to get you to read their content. But this is a topic that has been discussed for a long time now. 

Chris Casale: [00:04:52] Yeah, you know, those stats actually don’t surprise me, and I wish they did. But it’s interesting being marketers. I think we’ve maybe taken email marketing for granted a little bit. 

Chris Casale: [00:06:09] You have to be very careful what messages you send over social because people look at their social platforms as sort of their private space and they don’t want to be pushed. Advertising, too. And email today is a formal channel of communication. So when you need to send out important information, important communication, email is a very, very effective channel. 

Ryan Smith: [00:06:30] And data is big, right? That’s one of the pillars here. Digital marketing Happy Hour is we always like to look at the data. And when you’re making marketing decisions, make marketing decisions based on the analytics, based on the data. 

So we’re gonna start with some stats and some data.

  • eMarketer reports that 81% of retail professionals say email marketing is a successful way to acquire new customers, compared to 51% who think the same about social media. That makes email more than 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers than either Facebook or Twitter.

“email is more than 40x more effective for acquiring new customers than either Facebook or Twitter.”

  • You are 6x more likely to get a click from an email than from a tweet (Source: Campaign Monitor)

Campaign Monitor says that’s due, in part, to the high number of people who read the emails in their inbox, compared to the low number of people who see your social media activity. 

  • You are 6x more likely to get click-throughs from an email campaign than you are from a tweet, and a message is 5 times more likely to be seen in an email than in a Facebook post. 

Ryan Smith: [00:08:06] Now, these are averages. Are there exceptions to these? 100%, absolutely. So if you’re the person saying you get way more interaction from your Facebook posts than email, that could happen.

  • According to a report by MarketingSherpa, 72% of those surveyed prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to only 17% who prefer social media, such as through their Facebook feed.

“email marketing drives more conversions (66%) than any other channel”

When it comes to sales, the DMA reports that email marketing drives more conversions (66%) than any other channel, including social media, online search, and direct mail. The average order value from an email sale is more than three times higher than that of social media too.

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you're going to expect an average return of $42

“The average order value from an email sale is more than 3x higher than that of social media”

Ryan Smith: [00:09:30] For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you’re going to expect an average return of $42. That’s massive. Again, all results are going to vary, but through their analysis and through their data and their research, this is what they’re coming up with. 

So you’re not going to get these types of numbers in return, just for emailing, just for the sake of emailing. You have to understand how spam comes into it, what types of spam laws there are around the world and the regulations. You have to understand a little bit about segmentation, the different types of emails that you can do and even how do you acquire email addresses. 

So we’re going to touch on all of this through this episode. But we at first wanted to go over and squash any thoughts that you might have about email marketing being dead and is email marketing even worth it? In short, it is very much worth it. 

Chris Casale: [00:10:26] There’s no question, but like all of the other pillars of digital marketing that we talked about, you have to do it right. You have to use the strategy and tactics behind it the right way. Right. If you’re just spamming people that. Your email marketing strategies are not going to be successful. 

So speaking of spam, we figured we would start with some of the privacy laws concerning email marketing, because there are laws that govern the use of email and you need to abide by them because the fines can be very, very hefty. 

I think most of us at this point are familiar with The CAN SPAM compliance, and that basically means that somebody has to have the ability to opt-out of email communication and you have to honor that opt-out and stop communicating with them based on their permissions. However, there are also some privacy laws. 

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. 
  • Canada’s Anti-SpamLegislation (CASL) – protects consumers and businesses from the misuse of digital technology, including spam and other electronic threats. It also aims to help businesses stay competitive in a global, digital marketplace.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – enhance privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California

Under the GDPR, you must have a legal basis (e.g. consent) for collecting personal data. Under the CCPA, you must enable users to opt-out of your personal information collection practices. The GDPR protects any individual located inside the EU, whereas the CCPA protects California residents.

How do emails end up as Spam or Junk Mail?

There are several reasons for this including you Didn’t Get Permission to Email and You Have Low Engagement Rates. Spam filters are triggered by certain words in the subject line or the body of the email.

Some examples of words are:

  • free
  • guarantee
  • increase sales
  • order now
  • risk-free
  • special promotion
  • this is not spam

TIP: Go to and send a test email. IsNotSpam is an online spam checker that was created to help you test email and newsletter content, and it will alert you if it is likely to trigger spam filters.

TIP 2: Only sending emails to subscribers who have opened or clicked one of your emails in the last 6 months will help you decrease the number of emails that end up in the spam folder 

What is Personalization and Segmentation?

Chris Casale: [00:17:54] And in order to make sure that individuals don’t flag your emails for spam, we really need to talk about personalization and segmentation. Personalization is basically how you personalize an email to a recipient. So that might include demographic information, their age, their gender, the title they have within the company. 

Usually, the easiest form of personalization is simply starting the email with ‘Dear [first name]’ and whatever email tool your and you’re using will inject their first name into the email. It can include geographic information. If you know they’re from a particular city, state, country that works very well for brick and mortar locations, engage users. 

Ryan made a point of talking about this just a minute ago, but segment out users that are engaging with your emails more frequently, or perhaps more importantly, remove users who are not engaging with your emails because they’re showing that they’re not interested anymore. 

And previous customers is another key form of personalization. Send them coupons, send them new offers, referrals, opportunities to leave reviews on places like Google and Facebook and other social media outlets. Those are all key elements of personalization. 

Segmentation is considered separate of personalization. But I got to tell you, Ryan, I really consider the two very tightly linked. And the reason I say that is segmentation is your ability to boil down a subset of your list of prospects or customers. 

So, for example, it might be give me anybody in my pool that is female, that is between the ages of 24 – 49 that has purchased a product from product line X in the last three months. Those are the individuals that I want to send this email. 

In large businesses, you wind up sending out emails to a much bigger grouping and the reason for that is you’ll have sales people or you’ll have executives or other marketers that come and say, no, I want this message to go out to as many people as possible. And right there is the fallacy. 

You want the email to go to as many people as possible. If you’re looking at it through that lens, you’re not looking at it through the lens of your customer. What does your customer want? Focus on their needs and wants. 

And if the offer that you have or the email that you need to send is relevant to them, then and only then should you consider sending it. That will help you get better engagement. And that will also reduce the amount of times you get flagged for spam by individuals that are receiving your emails that it is not relevant.

“Don’t be selfish with your marketing. Focus on your customers’ needs personalize and segment effectively.”

chris casale

Segmentation Examples:

  • Demographic – Information such as age, gender, company position, and income level can tell a lot about a person’s needs and interests.
  • Geographics – Works best for Brick-and-Mortar locations
  • Engaged Users – Segment out users that open and/or click past emails
  • Previous customers – delight them with offers, referrals, opportunities to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, etc

Automation/Lead Nurturing

Ryan Smith: [00:21:12] One of the great ways we can use email marketing is to push people through the funnel that comes through lead nurturing, if you recall, and or if you haven’t listened to it. Go back to Episode 24, How to Choose the Right Content for Each Stage of the Marketing Funnel. That’s really important. 

When you have that content, you need a vehicle. Now, a vehicle could be a blog post. It could be a social media platform. And it also is email marketing when you get somebody’s email address and we want to push them down the funnel, one of the ways you do it is through marketing automation, it’s lead nurturing, so that you’re peppering the prospective customer with informative information via email marketing. This works really well. 

And through that, it’s important to understand that a the different types of content. And Episode 24, we talk about that. The next is go back and listen to Episode 27, which we’ve got a lot of positive feedback on that. It was 3 Tips for Simplifying Your Marketing Automation, where we get a little bit deeper into some of the marketing automation, some tools to use for this. So listen to both. You can understand the types of content to use and some tips on marketing automation that will really benefits the segments of email marketing. 

Why is an email list vital to business? Unlike social media platforms, you own it.

Ryan Smith: [00:24:21] I think it’s also important to remember why it’s vital to have somebody’s email address list. It’s because you own that email address as opposed to social media platforms that you’re promoting on, which by the way are fantastic. They’re great of reaching a broader audience. 

You can also get very niche down and target people based on their interests. It’s fantastic, but you rent on those spaces. When you have somebody’s email address, you can control the information that’s going into their inbox. 

So it’s important that you do collect email addresses. You’ll hear sometimes the money is in the list. With the list they’re talking about is the list of email addresses you have. 

How big is your list?

Using a Lead Magnet to collect email addresses

Lead magnet types:

  • Cheat Sheet – easy to consume document that displays examples and steps to decide on something (think Pros vs Cons) or how to quickly navigate and develop a strategy
  • Worksheet – helps your audience take action and narrow their focus so they get the results they’re looking for.
  • Guide – an overview document that leads them through a journey with tips and helpful hints (tons of value can be added here)
  • Whitepapers/Reports – popular in B2B marketing
  • Video training
  • Challenges – audience participates in a 5-day challenge of some sort
  • Quizzes – basic questionnaires. Could be as simple as what Kardashian are you? Or What is your spirit animal? To what type of digital marketing are you? 
  • Free mini-course – an extended version of the video training. Gets the prospect to dip their toe in the water.
  • Ebook – made up of previously published blog content 

Chris Casale: [00:33:53] I think the key to remember here is when you’re asking somebody to fill out a form and hand over their email address, their email address is an important commodity to them. How likely would you be to hand over your email address to somebody that you know is going to email you if they’re not giving you any value in return? Probably not very likely, right. 

Well, your lead magnet forms need to do the same thing. You need to be providing them with something that is valuable enough for them to trust you with their email address. It’s kind of like Jay Baer always says, ‘make your marketing so useful that people will pay for it’.

And this case, you’re giving it away and all you’re asking for is an email address so that you can continue to communicate with that person. 

One Takeaway on Email Marketing:

Chris Casale: [00:35:40] The first is make sure you’re abiding by privacy laws. It’s such an easy step to overlook or something that you feel maybe isn’t as important as capturing the lead information, but make sure you are complying with privacy laws that will save you so much trouble down the road. 

The very act of ensuring that you’re following the privacy laws ensures that you’re safely storing your customers’ information and following their best wishes. And that’s going to do more to create trust in the long run, which will do more to create a long term customer. 

And then the second takeaway I’ll give you is personalize and segment for the love of God, personalize and segment. Make sure that the email is relevant to the individual you’re sending it to at the time that you’re sending it to him. And if you do that, then you will find, to Ryan’s point, that email is very much alive and very, very effective.  

Ryan Smith: [00:36:33] So, Chris, not only is email marketing one of the most effective tools to increase revenue, but it’s practically in every single industry that we all use email. And for those who always say, you know, email is dead, how much you want to bet they have at least one email app on their phone and they probably use it. 

So it is very much alive. It’s just how you use the tool. 

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