Effective Email Marketing by Herschell Gordon Lewis

Effective Email Marketing by Herschell Gordon Lewis

Just to be clear, this book is not about or for spamming. It’s to help legitimate businesses use the most effective way to reach their prospects and customers — email.

Lewis starts out with the premise that email ranks with the Gutenberg printing press and television as a marketing communications revolution. Some readers may cringe when they read him describe it as having the power to create mass numbers of “pseudo” relationships, and that part of the trick is to avoid letting prospects and customers realize the relationship is indeed “pseudo.”

I call it refreshing honesty. I know that some of the people who get autoresponders from don’t realize that those emails were pre-written and sent by a computer on a specific schedule, not directed at them personally. I get emails from marketers I know personally, but I realize they were sent out to their entire lists, not directed solely to me, and a computer software program added my first name into the email — even though they actually do know me.

However, there’s no denying the power of email to transmit the writer’s personality. This is true of all writing, of course, but somehow it does seem more personal.

I’ve never met Matt Furey and Matt Furey doesn’t know me from Adam, but I have a strong sense of his unique personality from reading his emails. Since he claims to do sell a million dollars worth of product a month, he’s doing something right.

However, this book is aimed primarily at businesses — especially those with the means to capture not only email addresses and names, but demographic information. They have the databases and software to customize offers based on those demographics. They have advertising budgets.

Small entrepreneurs will find helpful hints here, but it’s not really for them.

For example, he has a chapter on getting opt-ins, and it mentions delivering some content of value, it does not explain that, but devotes pages to sweepstakes.

Perhaps what bugged me the most about this book is that so much of its advice assumes the emails you will send out will look, sound and read like… advertising.

So, much of his advice focuses on this. It may apply to many businesses, but aren’t those the emails we routinely delete unless we’re really really really interested in buying flowers right now.

I’ve bought a lot of books from Amazon, but I delete every email they send me with new book announcements. I admit that an email from Travelocity will catch my attention if it’s offering a bargain to a place I’m going to anyway, but that’s staking the success of your email campaign on coincidence.

The marketing emails I read are from those who interest, educate and entertain me. I don’t go online to read ads in my in-mail, and I doubt you do either.

Lewis holds that the key to relevance is knowing the prospect or customer. That makes sense. But Matt Furey knows nothing about me except the products of his I’ve bought through him, and therefore my name and address. And none of that information shapes his emails. He sends the same ones out to everybody on his lists. Many are useful. Many are entertaining. Some are controversial. Some are more promotional than others. Yet all of them say something — even to people not interested in fitness, wrestling or self-improvement. Many online copywriters subscribe to his lists just to see what he’s doing.

If you’re a big enough business, by now you probably have consultants or in-house experts to massage your database and don’t need this book. If you’re a smaller entrepreneur, you can learn a lot more about getting opt-ins, writing autoresponder series and writing emails from other sources online.