Email marketing: It’s our duty to practice what we preach

A confession… I claim to offer ‘top of the funnel content’, and yet I’ve failed miserably at the first hurdle because I don’t currently offer email marketing.


Because I hate email marketing.

It’s my dirty little secret – but let’s be honest, there’s always something we loathe.

I dislike email marketing because it feels like a spammy way to generate leads, it comes across as shouting to the masses and is essentially lazy marketing because (as my university lecturer would say) you’re ‘throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks’.

My negative feelings are based on my experience of trialling email marketing in the worst possible way. They’re born from an age where email was just taking off when ‘best practice’ was about buying long lists of names and using email to try and warm them up before selling to them.

It never worked. I’ve learned from my mistake. I promise this will never happen again.

A lot of my IT and tech clients, who are based in the Thames Valley, invest in email marketing today and clearly it does work because they’re generating quality pipeline from the activity. But in order for it to work, it has to be done right – it can’t just be another email thrown to the masses.

I’m a huge advocate of ‘practising what you preach’ and so if I really do offer top of the funnel content, I need to learn to love email marketing…

Which means I have to start one for my own business.

Here’s the plan…

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a control freak and I have a spreadsheet for pretty much everything in my life. Therefore, it should be no surprise that I have a detailed plan to either:

  1. fall in love with email marketing and sing its praises at every opportune moment, or
  2. prove to myself that I was right and vow to never send another email in my life.

Step 1 was committing to spend 3-months upskilling, and then a further 12-months to test my lessons learned.

The second step was to make a public announcement on LinkedIn so that my network will hold me to account for making it happen.

Step 3 is to get to work! By running my newsletter, I can put the lessons learned into practice through my own business, testing what does/doesn’t work. By continuously learning about email marketing I can refine that skill over time. Then one day, I can add it to the services I offer to my clients, safe in the knowledge that they’ll receive a good return on their investment.

I’m now 1 month in and already I’m feeling excited about this new venture – something I never thought I’d say.

Initially, I set up a sign-up page on my website, which is a lot easier said than done. As I had to fiddle around with APIs to integrate the data collector with the email marketing system. And of course, update my Privacy Policy in line with GDPR.

Then I started to analyse the emails I’ve subscribed to receive – Rock Rose Digital, Gold Stag Accounts, Work notes and Pearson Insight – to identify if there was any commonality. From this exercise, I determined that a ‘good’ email is personal and offers the subscriber something of value.

Hardly an earth-shattering discovery I know, but it has focussed my mind on what’s really important.

I then read 2 interesting books to get the basics down – “Email Persuasion” by Ian Brodie and “300 Email Marketing Tips” by Meera Kothend. But in making copious notes I quickly realised…

I’ve already made one big mistake…

The lead magnet.

If you’ve not heard this phrase before, it’s essentially the little incentive you offer someone to provide an instant reward for signing up to your newsletter.

I thought, “Well what could be more valuable than a book“. So I offered a choice of “The Little Book of…B2B Blogging” or “The Little Book of…Thought Leadership Content“. But the problem with a book is that someone gets their hands on a copy, realises they don’t have enough time to read it at the moment so they file it away for later – where it never sees the light of day again.

So I instantly scrapped that idea and created something new. This time, a short, snappy piece of content that’s exclusive to my subscribers, giving them access to a content framework, where all the planning has been done for them.

…and lots of smaller mistakes

As a copywriter, I should know better – words matter.

Using ‘email newsletter’ within the title has very negative and spammy associations. I removed it in favour of ‘receive more than words via email’.

Then rather than ask people to click a ‘Subscribe’ button, which again makes people fear you’re going to inundate them with promotional rubbish. My button simply says ‘I’m in!

And of course, what better way to reassure people about my intentions than with links to my Privacy Policy. Not to mention badges to highlight the member organisations I belong to. Once launched, my intention is to update this again with some specific testimonials about the newsletter.

Define the value you deliver

As a trained marketer, it’s drummed into you that you should always focus on the value that you offer your clients, so you don’t end up as ‘just another…’. So when I’m looking to learn something new, I’m always thinking about how the lessons learned will impact my clients.

Deciding to embark on this journey to eventually (hopefully!) love email marketing has not only given me an opportunity to learn something new, but it’s also given me the opportunity to engage my audience in a new way. Having been very open about what I’m doing and why, I’ve had ‘lurkers’ within my network come forward to message me and ask for advice, my list of subscribers is growing every day ready for the big launch in September, and I have a new piece of the content framework to talk about.

If you want to join me on this journey, please sign up to receive more than words via email…

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Continue Reading: 3 Email Marketing Mistakes You Should Make!

About the author

Alice Hollis is a B2B copywriter for small IT and tech companies in the Thames Valley, UK. Under the brand More than words®, she creates interesting and engaging top of the funnel content – such as blogs, thought leadership white papers, reports, guides, and case studies – to clearly position and differentiate her clients in the market, as well as create the tribe that ensures a constant drip-feed of leads into the sales funnel.