When Email Newsletter Message “Success” Leads to Failure

communicationTaking old school direct marketing tactics and applying them without alteration to email is a popular practice that is doomed to fail.  Applying the old school tactics without considering the change in media will lead to a never ending cycle of “successful” email-marketing newsletters that fail to convert as effectively as they should.

I wrote recently about the many “new media marketing” mistakes a former “sales training guru” I once admired is making as he tries to transition from “old school” to “new school” selling strategies. I shared how signing up for his newsletter has resulted in a never-ending onslaught of product pitches. Since his marketing techniques are sound, I haven’t unsubscribed. Instead, I have chosen to “learn” from him these days based upon what he does – or doesn’t do –  instead of purchasing the products he’s selling.

Recently, one of his emails caught my eye and I opened it.  This action immediately makes that particular message a success.  This message continued to rack up “wins” as I read the message and then clicked on the link to learn more.


While this message chalked up several wins – making it a technical success – it didn’t win on the most important point which was making the sale.

How can an email-marketing newsletter be a success but not result in a sale?

There are many reasons that a successful email-marketing newsletter message might not “connect” and make a sale. In this case, it was the lack of understanding about how the “prospect” is connecting with the message.

If this particular marketing message had been delivered “old school style” – via direct mail marketing – I probably would have purchased the product.  However, this message wasn’t delivered “snail mail” – it was delivered via email and that changes everything.


There are two serious disconnects which have taken this campaign which I’m sure was a “winner” in the direct mail game and turned it into a “loser” in the email marketing game.

DISCONNECT #1: Lack of Responsive Design

I opened this message on my “smart” phone and I’m not alone. According to eMailMonday,

Mobile email will account for 15 to 65% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. eMailmonday – “Party safe mobile email stats” (2013)

When someone clicks on an email message on their smart phone, it’s critical that the landing page is created with mobile in mind.

In this marketer’s case, my successful email newsletter “click”  landed me on a page which was a mobile nightmare design wise.

GOOD NEWS: Many, many WordPress themes are now mobile responsive – so if you’ve been creating content in WordPress, redressing your content in a mobile friendly design is as easy as installing and applying a new theme.

Consumers expect your pages to display properly in their smart phones.  You can’t expect to sell anything to someone who is playing “let’s try to read the content” on their mobile phone.

Mobile responsive design is now a “must have” not a “nice to have” feature if you expect your website to “sell”.  You can’t expect consumers to run home and sit down at their desk top computer in order to purchase your product or services.


DISCONNECT #2: Price Insensitivity

Like other consumers, I have been “conditioned” to find the best value using the tools at my fingertips – the web.  When I saw the $197 price point on the product offered, rather than click to purchase – my first instinct was to check to see if I could find the product at a lower price.  I quickly discovered the “info-product” offered is actually an audio book – offered for as little as $30 on eBay – and for $44 on Amazon.  I also learned that  the audio-book doesn’t live up to the hype – thanks to the many reviews left by others who have previously purchased this product.

The web has brought price comparison shopping to a whole new level.  On the web:

Price Comparisons Are the Rule Instead of the Exception

Don’t insult your valuable email newsletter subscribers by inflating the price of products you offer them.  Instead, you should offer them discounts that can’t be found ANYWHERE else on the web.

Even though this message only had two New Media Disconnects, finding the product at a fraction of the price – with poor reviews to boot – put an end to my pursuit of the knowledge contained within.

Essential Takeaway: Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to your business.  However, it’s only powerful if used correctly.  Share your thoughts below.

Question #56: Should I blog?

money making business

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.  Og Mandino”

James Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and serial entrepreneur who recently shared his  “Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Starting and Running Your Own Business.”  It’s presented like an FAQ for people who want to start their own business.

Probably the most powerful tip was the final one:

RULE #infinity:
You create your luck by being healthy and not regretting the past or being anxious about the future.

Inspired.  There are 101 other great questions and answers in the blog post.   One that caught my eye was this one:

56) Should I blog?
Yes. You must. Blog about everything going wrong in your industry. Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers. They won’t. Customers will be attracted to honesty.

I won’t dispute the truth of the statement, however I’ve worked with enough business bloggers to want to raise my hand and offer a bit of advice on the subject.

You must blog: Check.

Don’t be afraid to blog about what’s wrong in your industry.  Check.

Angela Hoy of  the self publishing company Booklocker shares her concerns about how many self publishing houses engage in less than ethical tactics in the weekly newsletter.  She  and her husband also maintain a forum – the “original” web 2.0 app – which includes a “whispers and warnings” section.

Blog personal stories that you think will scare away customers.  In the words of Ralphie’s mother in “A Christmas Story” when her husband set up the leg lamp in their front window – “Ahhh, ohhh, uhhh…”

I’ve worked with business bloggers since 2006, and I feel I need to add this disclaimer to this bit of advice.

If you’re in the business of solving problems, it’s not a good idea to blog about how you can’t solve your own current problems.  For example, if you’re a marriage counselor, it’s probably not a good idea to blog about your own personal issues with infidelity.

There is of course and exception to the exception and that’s creating a “here’s how I’ve overcome this obstacle, I can help you overcome it as well” style blog post.   Even better is to create a series of  “I overcame this obstacle,  I’ve helped others overcome it as well” style blog posts. These types of post are by far the most powerful “marketing tool” you can create for your business.

Customers will be attracted to honesty.  Double, triple, quadruple check!

Another word for honesty is authentic – and this is where business blogging can get ugly for some people.  If you think your customers are mindless sheep then it’s probably best if you don’t blog because for some reason, blogging tends to put your “shit on blast.”

Instead of being afraid of the “putting your shit on blast” properties of business blogging, get your attitude adjusted then put on your big boy (or girl) pants and start blogging.


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