WSJ Calls Email Marketing A “Dark Art” [VIDEO]

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This morning, as I was combing through all of the DM-worthy news on the web, I found a video that made me chuckle. Actually, it was the headline, a great headline, for a really dull subject that got my attention… “The Dark Art of Email Promotions.”

Let me start by saying that I like the Wall Street Journal, in general. But it typically doesn’t do a very good job at making jargon-heavy, business concepts seem accessible, much less entertaining, to normal folks. That’s probably not what the WSJ’s audience wants anyway.

For most non-marketers, email marketing strategy is about as interesting as watching PBS at 4AM. It’s an endless sea of unmitigated boredom…

By using a fear-based headline, they got me hooked in. What annoyed me is that they did so by making email promotions seem complicated — which it’s not.

If anything, most consumers would probably say that email marketing is extremely annoying — that they’d like it stopped. They might even write their congressman about it if they get mad enough.

As email marketers, it our job to keep that from happening… So how do we do that?

There’s no secret formula. And it’s certainly not a “dark art.” Hell, it’s not even complicated…

There are just three rules:

  • Be honest.
  • More content than offers.
  • Don’t be spammy.

In the past, a handful of email marketers have given the entire industry a bad name. The funny thing is, all of your favorite, most trusted brands, retailers, charities, even churches do it. So, they can’t all be bad. Right?

Still, the prevailing notion is that companies that send out emails are somehow practicing a “dark art!” That they’re sneaking into your inbox and “tracking” your every move!

It’s so stupid that it’s funny. But it’s also irritating to have news outlets like the WSJ (which emails aggressively, BTW) act like good, responsive email marketing is something that only major retailers can pull off.

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That strategies like writing compelling subject lines, hitting inboxes first thing in the morning, trackable coupon codes, etc. are anything more than things you learn in Digital Marketing 101.

Heck, if there was a Digital Marketing Kindergarten, you’d learn these things there…

I’m not trying to be defensive here. That’s not the point of this post at all. If there’s one thing I really want to communicate here, it’s that being scientific CAN and DOES improve your marketing efforts.

Tested subject lines, best send times, tracking links… these are things that you absolutely SHOULD be using. If you’re in business to make money, by all means go with what works!

To do anything else is just dumb. Seriously, don’t listen to people who try to make it seem like optimization is a bad thing… If the WSJ didn’t focus on email optimization (and they DO) they’d be out of business. Period.


About Josh Loposer

Josh is the managing editor of Digital Marketer, as well an aspiring novelist. Find out more about what Josh is working on on Facebook, Google, or on his website.
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