Does mass email marketing work?

There are no shortcuts

Asking if mass email marketing works is a bit like asking does dieting work?Assuming you know your goal, then yes it will absolutely categorically work. The problem is that too many people try to find shortcuts, aren’t consistent or they have the wrong goal.

Don’t buy data

Speaking of shortcuts, please refrain from buying email lists. It might seem like an inexpensive investment upfront. But it just doesn’t work. They can be useful for things like remarketing and potentially cold outreach if you are highly targeted. But most people’s objectives with mass email marketing are:

  1. Write an email
  2. Send an email
  3. Watch the sales roll in

If that’s your goal, fantastic-I absolutely believe that that’s achievable. But it’s not going to happen if you buy an email list.

Test your messages

When it comes to mass email marketing, one of the principles of success relies in knowing your market. What this means is that the tool of mass email marketing, isn’t inherently the success or failure in the method. Rather in how people use the method. If you give a toddler a wood chisel, don’t be surprised if they cut themselves. But in the hands of a master craftsman chisel can be a delicate tool.

In order to get the best result out of mass email marketing, and to make mass email marketing work for your business, you need to know your market. The rule of thumb is that a badly written message to the right audience will always convert better, than a beautiful well crafted message to the wrong audience.

All too often I see people using mass email as a way to make quick money. When in fact it is closer to dieting or painting. It’s about the small consistent tests that you build up over time, to see what works with you and your audience. One of the benefits of mass email marketing, is being able to quickly and accurately test your messages and ideas.

If you treat each section of the email as a separate entity, the subject line, the email and the call to action. You are able to start making tests, gases, and hypotheses based on what you are looking to achieve.

The sooner you move away from trying to make money from an email list immediately, the faster you will eventually make a serious income from an email list. More haste less speed I believe the saying goes. Try to move away from getting a result, and start getting comfortable testing your message and testing how the audience responds to those messages.

Email often, sell rarely

In my opinion, email is a better researched all that is a sales tool. I believe it is a hell of a sales tool, and a good chunk of my income is reliant upon emailing my list. But I rate it as a research and data tool before sales tool.

There are so many different types of emails you can send to your list, that aren’t sales emails. They also don’t have to be the dull-as-shit Company newsletters that tell your list about company picnics awards or charity fun runs.

Your email list is an ability to test new product ideas, ask questions, get feedback, share blog content, write blog content, Promote training, share stories, give opinions, and much more.

If you are looking for email ideas, I have a video here which talks about how to generate hundreds of content ideas, especially for email lists.

The trick with email marketing is to email regularly, and sell rarely. You might argue that the entire process of emailing regularly and building trust is the sales process. I don’t really care how you cut it up, but you need to give way more than you ask.

This it’s like any relationship. You can’t ask someone to marry you or move in until you’ve laid the groundwork for the relationship. Spend time and enjoy the process of getting to know your list. Understand when they like to open emails, do they like to open them over the weekend? Try to learn the types of topics, subject lines, and calls to action that they enjoy. Look at the types of subjects they’re asking to learn more about.

When was the last time you asked your email list what they’re struggling with? Or what their biggest problems are? When was the last time you shared a personal story about failure or being a human? It’s very easy to continue keeping the barrier raised when you are the email sender. The person reading the emails is a human being, and they want to know that you’re a human being too.

My advice would be to send a daily email and try to sell in 2/7 emails. Or if you spend a month just giving free content and advice, then spend a week or 10 days running a clear sales campaign with the sales objective.

What does “work” look like?

In answering the question “does email marketing work?” We need to really understand what your definition of work is. What is it that you are looking to achieve? What’s the goal?

For many businesses it will be tied to revenue, or sales.Which is great. However it’s important to know that email marketing is not a magic bullet. Like any tool it takes time and commitment to reap the benefits of any investment. If you are hoping that mass email marketing will magically save your business or 10X Your revenue just from sending a few emails, you’re sorely mistaken.

Pick one product and pick one goal. Or pick one objective or metric. Mass email marketing could be used to drive more attendees to your webinars. When you ask does mass email marketing work? Do you mean using mass email marketing to increase your Facebook group, launch new products, sell tickets to a live event or sell products on automation?

When mass email marketing works for me and my business, it’s in research and data collection. As I mentioned, sales are of course important and our email list generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. However the insight and understanding I get over my audience, through using mass email marketing, allows me to make better decisions.

You can’t outsource or skip the relation building part of the process. If you want to make sales with email marketing, great! It’s absolutely a tool that can enable that. But it’s not going to yield results overnight. Yes, you absolutely could make a few sales as soon as someone joins your list. Or if you have a list of customers and you start offering them new products and services, you almost certainly will see an uptick in sales.

But it’s not a well or a tap. You don’t just turn it on or off. You must develop and nurture that relationship with the list, before capitalising on your final or furthest objective. If you want to know if mass email marketing will work for you, find out what “working for you” means. How would you know if email marketing was working for you?

Build trust with your list

This should come as no surprise, and hopefully you’ve picked up the theme of building trust with your list. But it is absolutely critical that you embrace the trust building process.

Trust isn’t just about whether they trust you. The trust is a question of is your email even worth opening? Are you going to be around in the next three months for the next three years?It’s not just a case of helping them trust that your products are good, and therefore the sales you are trying to make it worthwhile.

It’s a question that you understand their needs, problems and desires. It’s a question that you empathise with their mistakes and failures. It’s showing that you are listening and not just in it for the short haul.

Trust is an incredibly valuable and powerful resource. It’s also a renewable resource, and almost unlimited, but it can be damaged. If you spend time talking to your audience, learning from them and listening to them, before making an offer to help them. You are more likely to generate more sales. Interestingly, after generating that sale the trust level is increased, rather than “cashed in”. I think a lot of people feel trust is like a commodity that you “pay into” the customer, before withdrawing for a cash payout.

Trust is more like a threshold or a lock on a river.Sometimes customers can’t get to the next stage until enough trust has been built for the process. That doesn’t mean that trust can’t disappear like a leak in a canal where the lock is, because trying to focus on sales and revenue from your customers too much, will begin to diminish trust.

Trust isn’t depleted when you make a sale, it’s depleted when you don’t. And if you continuously try to just send sales emails, even if you send them less frequently, your trust will be eroded. Whereas if you spend the time to generate trust and a relationship with your leads, the strength of the canal and the trust will be far greater.

More haste, less speed. Stop trying to rush the end result, and start building a better foundation.

Stay consistent

Like most things, consistency is key to the process. If you send an email, send it regularly. Keep your from name and company name and reply-to address the same period

Don’t change up designs or overcomplicate layouts too frequently. Testing of course is fine, but inconsistency will destroy conversion rates.

Perhaps most importantly of all, keep the focus of your email marketing consistent. Talk to the same audience, and solve the same problems.

No one ever complained that their gym keeps helping them work out. No one ever complains when a sports team keeps winning tournaments. The only person to listen to when you’re sick of repeating the same message to the same audience is your accountant. They’ll tell you when the message started to do not die off.

When you found messages and topics and problems that convert, and connect. Double down on them. Don’t spend too much time going into other areas, and trying to solve too many problems at once.

No one is ever going to turn around and say “oh my god I can’t believe this email it’s another message about how to save money with airline fees.” If you’re solving a core question it’s usually something that people want to be answered repeatedly.

My biggest problem with the concept of branding and branding experts is that they focus all too frequently on immediate gains. They look at what the projection outwards is, of the colours and look and type and font of the business. Every single branding expert I know constantly says “it’s more than just a logo”, but then immediately goes into logo design and branding guidelines.

If you want a killer brand, that stands for something above your competition, regularly and consistently do the same actions again and again and again. Erik Seidel Isn’t considered one of the best poker players and all-time leading tournament champions, because he worked really hard on his logo and brand. He is considered one of the best because he repeatedly won.

If you want to be known for something, do it over and over and over. And your email newsletter is a fantastic way to deliver on that consistency.


Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.