Sending out emails made me a better marketer

Emails are plain, emails are boring, emails are so 2019.

But did you know that emailing will improve skills that are crucial to becoming a good marketer?

That was what I discovered when I was in charge of cold emailing for my previous company.

For those who don’t know, cold emailing is basically similar to cold calling – you email complete strangers to see if they are interested in buying your products or using your services. It is one of the most effective methods for acquiring customers in the B2B space, and I might bet it might be one of the most popular methods too.

In any case, here are the valuable lessons I’ve learnt from cold emailing and how they made me a better marketer.

Sending emails taught me about targeting: Who you email matters A LOT!

One of the biggest marketing lessons that I have learnt from cold emailing is that the target audience matters a lot.

No matter how catchy your subject line is, or how beautifully crafted your email is, an uninterested buyer simply would not be moved enough to do business with you.

This lesson is applicable to any type of marketing – target the wrong segment and you won’t sell no matter how perfect your product is. You can lead a horse to the river, but you can’t make it drink!

Apart from simply targeting who to send your emails to, I’ve also learnt to identify and speak the “audiences’ language”. In short, your audience have a preferred set of verbs and lingoes. It is your job as a marketer to communicate to your audience in a way they understand, that includes using their “language” to describe your product to them.

Nothing illustrates the importance of “speaking the audiences’ language” better than this scene from the classic Rush Hour film.

In case you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it!

Sending emails taught me about attention, and how capture it.

Crafting email subject lines is in my opinion, one of the best exercise for marketers.

Not only does your title have to be enticing enough to get people to open your email, you are also competing with countless other emails in your target’s inbox to be notice by the receiver. There is also a good chance your prospect would simply skim through all the unread email. To top it off, you would have to do all that with just text.

These challenges are similar to what marketers might encounter on any channels.

It does not matter whether your company sells shoes, clothes, or business solutions. All marketers are essentially competing for the attention of the audience.

From experience, I’ve found that most subject lines that are out of the norm tends to receive higher open rates – Emojis, quoting the receiver’s name in all caps, special symbols (*,[],{},%,# etc.) all seem to generate higher open rates compared to their plain text variations.

Personally, I feel that attracting attention is one of the most overlooked skill in digital marketing. Marketers think that simply by mentioning a couple of keywords or following a template (does using list for blog posts sound familiar?), that they will instantly be more likely to engage their audience.

Put into context of any other marketing channels such as social media, the first objective would be to hook the audience. My personal rule of thumb is to introduce something “out of the norm” for anything that is first to face the audience (titles, meta description, first sentence etc.).

The caveat here is that your novel opening must still have relevance to what your final content is going to be.

Case in point, I’ve once tried something along the lines of “[ERROR] 7983578” as a subject line. That got me about a 70% open rate! Enough to make any email marketers eyes pop. Although I soon learned that despite the high open rates, response was mostly negative. With many requesting that I stop emailing them.

The big, big lesson learnt here is never mislead your audience just to get their attention, they might notice you, but it will only give them a negative image of you.

Crafting email subject lines is in my opinion, one of the best exercise for marketers.

— Jeremiah

Sending emails taught me that repetition is key, but not always.

In cold emailing as with any cold outreach methods, most people would learn to follow up.

The rationale here is simple. Your email might be buried under heaps of other emails, or your contacts might be interested but got distracted and forgot all about it, they might have raised your offering to their boss/colleague and they might have forgotten about it, or your contacts might be on the fence and simply need a little nudge.

Following up addresses all those situations.

Similarly, for marketing, repetition is a powerful technique. It subconsciously builds trust and keep you top-of-mind. But what’s the catch?

In marketing, similar to in cold emailing, there will come a point whereby repetition gets annoying – Remember that annoyed feeling when you see that awful ad for the 10th thousand time?

The key to get around this is to introduce variety and to constantly deliver value with each new exposure.

In the context of cold emails, I’ve learnt to stop sending follow up emails and start sending “thought this might be useful for you” emails. In the context of ads, this can be in the form of a series of ads. I think this series of commercial captures my point very well.

I’m ordering myself a box of Chaindrite!

It is fascinating how much similarities and transferable skill there are between cold email and the marketing discipline. I hope these timeless lessons are as insightful to you as they are to me.