I don’t have to be forthcoming with examples for you to identify the prevalence of bad email marketing. We all experience it in our own inboxes, and if you are anything like me, the first thing you do when you hit a full mailbox is incinerate the stuff that even looks like junk, thus lightening your work load by notable proportions.

But then there are the cherished few; the emails you relish and look for among the drab list of meeting requests and CCs that earn little intelligent or emotional interest. These are the emails you signed up for while you were researching an idea you wanted to pitch to the boss, planning your Memorial Day weekend or looking for that special Valentine’s prix fixe menu.

You signed up because they are relevant to who you are, what you like and what you do. You expect them because they come regularly. You look forward to them because the sales tips, hiking destinations and haute cuisine are always something new and exciting. You create a special folder for them, forward them to friends, and betwixt their anticipated arrivals, you visit their websites to see what you may be missing out on in the meantime. Yet, the one thing that above all they implicitly share is Goodness.

They are the marketing efforts of some guy or gal who is either so savvy or so lucky to have earned your loyalty. But since we have little influence on luck, and since luck in marketing is as rare and mythical as thepainted cat, let us address the former. Let us address the Goodness; the things that these marketers are doing to distance themselves from the spam button; the things they are doing to distinguish themselves among the unbridled influx of junk into your digital mailbox, which unfortunately, never seems to get too full for one more piece of crap.

In order to expound upon this further, and since the term “Goodness” is founded in the realm of ambiguous emotion, I would like to use some simile and metaphor. I would like to compare email marketing to a woman’s perspective on dating. You see, a good date has certain qualities, like-abilities that slink their way past the female armor; nameable qualities that will later allow the male candidate to pass the proverbial “friend test.” And it is these qualities that root themselves in the watery feminine psyche forming bonds never to be broken; a heart and soul loyalty that when equated to marketing, equals nothing less than dollars and sense.

Likewise, a bad date will get your number blocked and every girl from Cali to East Jersey will hear the gory details. Likewise, bad email marketing will not get you to second base, in the sack, and certainly, it will not earn you any loyalty. What it will do, however, is rob you of any second chance to make an impression, and inevitably, flush any previous half-brained efforts or hopefuls down the old poop jacuzzi.

And the remedy, you ask? With a little demystification you’ll see that the answers are simple. Like so many aspects of business, the application of common sense exposes a befitting approach. And to any male readers on the dock, you may just get a little something extra with the ladies. So listen up:


1. Keep Your Nose Clean

Some guys get a bad reputation for their antics, and though it is often blamed on inexplicable gender qualities, we girls know better. They just didn’t try for Goodness, and frankly, if they had, they wouldn’t be so bad.


The same goes for email, only the scoring process is a lot more elaborate and deliberate. In fact, there are whole companies dedicated to grading your reputation as an email marketer and issuing what is called your “Sender Score.” It works a lot like a credit score insomuch that other companies, namely those who stand at the golden gates of in-boxes, check that score when they are deciding who to let in and who gets the boot.

If you are not already dedicated to maintaining your sender reputation, or you didn’t know it exists (God help you), then stop reading this article and go straight to senderscore.org. And when you’re done there, google“sender reputation” and get plugged in. You have a lot of catching up to do.

2. Arrive Alive

Getting blacklisted by a large email service provider is about the worst nightmare for a marketer, but once you’re in you have to make a good impression. Unfortunately, all you have going for you at this point is punctuality and a subject line. Don’t keep your reader waiting for weeks after getting her info, go ahead and make contact while she’s interested. And remember, pushy or drab subject lines lack enough Goodness to entice or finesse your reader into actually opening your email.

If you were smart, you got some specific information about your reader in the beginning. You know why she signed up, and when your email shows up in her inbox the subject line says, “Hi, I listened to what you were interested in and took some notes because the last thing I want to do is waste your time or be completely useless to you. And based on what you told me, I was able to find this really cool thing that I know you will just love. Everything you are looking for is just inside. Come on in.” Obviously, you will have to paraphrase. And one more thing? DO NOT USE ALL CAPS!! (It feels like yelling).

3. Be Reliable

Nothing is worse than not letting a girl know where she stands. You went on a couple of dates, you said you would call her, but she hasn’t heard from you in a month. Your friend asked her out, and she is considering it, but she doesn’t know if she should just hold out. Forget it. She values her time more than that.


If you actually gain interest from a reader and don’t take measures to maintain the relationship, she will likely find what she is looking for in one of your competitors.

So send regularly. How can you gain loyalty if you don’t send loyally? But there is an art to the timing. You want to be available, but not over bearing. Your emails will be discredited if you send erratically or if your material isn’t useful or new. And if you send too often, your reader will feel harassed or as if she just can’t keep up. Try to strike a balance and be consistent.

4. Be a Good Listener


No girl wants to date a guy who talks about himself all the time. As a matter of fact, no one in any situation wants to hear someone talk about themselves. This is especially true in marketing.

As an email marketer, you can be a good listener by using any data or demographics to target your audience. Use open and click data to form a relationship with each reader by creating segments and following up with material you know the reader is interested in. For example, if you sell furniture, and you have data showing a reader opened four previous emails and only clicked on links for dining room furniture, you would do well to make that fifth email about dining room furniture.

Sounds simple, but the challenges here are finding and using the right tools to parse data and segment lists. It is best to take the time to use these tools correctly, even if it means you send less frequently.

A common misconception among email marketers is that blasting subscribers with the same message over and over is bound to elicit some response eventually, and if not, who cares? Email is nearly free. But really, that path ends at the spam button, and in the end you only lose subscribers and opportunity costs. In some cases, this can mean a revenue difference of millions annually.

5. Buy a Few Dinners Before Asking her to Bed

Seriously. How many “Buy Now!” and “Don’t Miss This Opportunity” emails do you answer? These compelling pushes have you leaping for your credit card, don’t they? Yeah, I didn’t think so. And few girls are leaping into bed with their dates just because the guy says he’s that good.

Before a big push, you want to lure the reader in, let them get to know you and build some loyalty. Handing out tips and free info can earn you the respect and name recognition that will later earn you the sale. As a general rule, if you give them the Goodness they want, they will remain loyal. And when it comes time to buy, guess who’ll be thought of first?