Email Marketing: “I’m not dead yet!”

In a darkly amusing scene from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a character hauls a cart of deceased plague victims down the street, shouting, “Bring out your dead!”. This disturbing scene is rendered amusing when a supposedly dead man raises his head and cries feebly, “I'm not dead yet. I'm feeling much better, actually.” Just like that character, email marketing may have been pronounced dead by so-called experts, but is actually “feeling much better.”

Computer knowledge

Back in 2007, I wrote a blog post entitled Email Marketing: Dead or Alive? At that time, there was much debate over whether email marketing was still viable or not. It's interesting to me that the post could easily have been written today, as the same debate still rages, and my answer is similar to what it was then. Similar, but not exactly the same, which is why I am writing this updated post.

Even today, you can significantly increase your profits and the effectiveness of your marketing by applying these three principles of good email marketing.

This is true, even though many people still seem to believe that email marketing has died. It's death has been greatly exaggerated.

Yes, spam and the spam filters it has given rise to, make it harder than ever to get your email delivered.

It’s even hard to receive email we want. How many times have you been frustrated because a friend, co-worker, or relative was supposed to send you an email that never arrived… only to discover that email in your “junk mail” or “spam” folder?

More sales are made on the Internet because of email then because of any other communication channels.

3 Keys to Successful Email Marketing

  1. Keep a clean “confirmed opt-in” email list. What this means: if someone signs up to receive email from you, get them to confirm that they actually want to receive the email. Most email marketing providers, (like Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.) automatically require people to confirm their opt-in to any email list. In some cases this confirmation, or “double opt-in” feature is optional… but I think it’s the best way to manage your email list. Single opt-in (no confirmation required) may yield bigger subscriber numbers (it does), but that list will be less responsive to your offers.
  2. F.R.E.E. content. No, I'm not talking about adding periods in weird places to try and “trick” the spam filters. And I'm not even specifically referring to sending no cost information. What I am suggesting is that you send Frequent, Relevant, Entertaining, and Expected (F.R.E.E.) content to your list. I plan to expand on this idea in a future post, but for now let me focus for a moment on the frequency of emailing your list. Emailing your list frequently will get your emails delivered more easily, and result in fewer spam complaints. Why? Because if you send frequently, people will either read your emails, or unsubscribe. They will know that they either want to hear from you or not. If you email less frequently, you run the risk that they will forget who you are, or even forget that they subscribed to your list… and that will generate spam complaints.
  3. Educate your customers on how to “white-list” or authorize your emails to get through to their inbox. This is especially true because of Gmail's recently introduced “tabs”, which reroute messages from your inbox to less obtrusive (and thus less visible) tabs. It's easy to miss emails you actually want to read-and the same is true for your subscribers, who may want to read your emails but may never see them. There are steps your subscribers can take to ensure that your emails end up in their inbox, where they want them. Teach them how to do that, either using text and illustrations, or with screen capture video.

While our understanding of these three principles has matured over the last seven years, it's interesting to note that the truth behind them has not. Email marketing is still alive and well.

Use these keys to successful email marketing and watch your list, and response rates, grow.

Question: what steps have you taken over the last few years to improve your email marketing response rates?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at