Why Your Email Marketing Doesn’t Work

In this age of technology there is such an emphasis on building databases. The thought is that if you have captured their attention once, chances are you will capture their attention again in the future. And what better way to get that attention than to send them an endless stream of emails! Really? I’m not sold . . . yet.


Do you actually read your personal emails? If you are anything like me, then you are probably well oversubscribed to email database lists. Getting ten, twenty, or even fifty marketing emails a day, the amount of advertising noise which comes to your email account is akin to standing in the middle of Times Square. There is a quick impression of your brand from the brand name and the first thirty characters of the subject line before your audience has already moved on scrolling down the page. Only the cleverest of emails create thumb-stopping headlines.

So why are organisations still spending time on this overcrowded advertising medium?

Because it works so well for small business.

Email databases are relied upon by small businesses. Capturing the contact details for people who have visited your shop, come to your show or engaged with your service is an incredibly effective way to remarket as these people who were once interested in your product will, most likely, become interested at some point in the future. And hopefully when that interest piques you will have just sent out your monthly eNews with your latest products, discounts or news.

But when it comes to big organisations, there is one thing letting down the effectiveness. Most people haven’t subscribed because they want to hear more from your company.

This came to my attention this morning. A friend pointed me in the direction to get a free sheet music download from a show based in New York. The catch? In order to get the free sheet music, you needed to enter your email address which would be added to their database. I have no problem entering my email address because I have long passed the tipping point and one more email once a month isn’t going to make much of a difference. But do you think I am going to open the emails that they send me?

Probably not.

I haven’t joined up to their mailing list because I want to hear more about the show or get access to the latest discounts they are offering. In fact, I’m not even in a position to purchase a ticket living on the other side of the world to this theatrical Mecca. I signed up because they gave me something.

And therein lies the fault.

If you want your database to actually mean something, work on the sign up process. Sign them up when they engage and would probably want to engage again in the future. Sign them up when they are interested in your product. Sign them up with the tantalising offer of future discounts being sent out via email – illustrating the benefit of signing up is powerful! But don’t sign them up because they will get something for free. Then you are just filling your database with people who will expect free things in the future because they will continue with this free mindset for your entire relationship!