Email MarketingBy Joe Cardillo

The recent redux of Gmail had a lot of people worrying about where their marketing emails were ending up.

Did that important, four-alarmer crisis email get buried in the Promotions tab or get flagged as spam?

What about the beautifully designed newsletter your team spent days editing and laying out? Where did it go?

Once the alarm bells rang, most people got around to agreeing that the real effect is what it always is: Dependent on your overall email marketing strategy.

I can’t provide any Dumbledore or Gandalf-level strategies, but I can give you two easy, scalable tactics you can build into almost any digital email marketing strategy.

Email Marketing is a Conversation

Both come from one deceptively simple truth that many salespeople, public relations professionals, brandeers (is that a word? I hope so!), and marketers intuitively know, but often forget.


Ok here it is: Every single interaction you have is part of a conversation.

If you respect that idea, you’ll do well. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter where you end up in someone’s email inbox because in their head they’ll be muttering, “Ugh, THESE people again?!”

Know this: The first time you contact someone should never be a pitch. Share something they wrote on social channels, comment on their blog, be in their brain already. If you are a marketer running multiple channels, make sure they are already giving you mindshare that you can use for your email channel.

Tactic #1 – Cut the Perfect Grammar

This is one of my favorite tactics because you can use it with both work and personal networks. Even when someone knows you’re doing it, they’ll still be happy to get the email from you. At its core, it’s really just a language hack, but you’ll need to execute it very carefully.

Here’s how it works: Think of the way you interact with people you want to hear from. Whether you know them super well or not at all, the basic rules of interaction are present.

A real conversation contains sentence fragments and half-formed thoughts. A peek into someone’s brain, it’s less about presentation and more about connection.

Take that idea and turn it into a series of emails. In your personal life, you’ll probably scale this manually or maybe using templates.

If you’re doing it at work, you’ll want to use some sort of marketing automation (freemium or paid).

If you’re skeptical, give it a try and run the data. It’s surprisingly good. This tactic is especially powerful if you’re in the sales or partnership process, and you have content that relates to the conversations you’re already having.

Tactic #2 – Constantly Give Value

There’s a reason sites like work. (And no. That’s not a live link. It’s junk mail!!)

Barring a large annual budget for free iPads, you’ll need to find something else to give away. What’s better than some of your own thoughts on subjects that interest you?

What’s remarkable about this tactic is that it is infinitely scalable.

Create an email marketing campaign with tons of this content, keep the unsubscribe button in there as normal, and people will still respond with “Huh, interesting” or “Cool, thanks for sending!” Occasionally, there’ll even be a “Hey! This is really awesome. Do you have fifteen minutes to chat tomorrow?”

Honest and useful.

It’s also a great way to keep momentum going by letting people know you care about the relationship you have with them.

Do both of these things well and you’ll increase your chances of having conversations that matter, moving from the Promotions to Social or even Primary tab in someone’s Gmail (and trust me, a lot of people forward all of their work or personal email to a Gmail inbox).

Now it’s your turn – what tactics or ideas do you have about email marketing that get readers from ‘Boring Emails-ville’ to the ‘United States of Awesome(mail)?’

Joe Cardillo

Joe Cardillo is a product/ops guy turned marketer and digital evangelist for San Francisco based design marketplace Visually. He digs writing, journalism, media, PR, design, rocanroll, startups, anything science-y, and thinking about how to become a better human.

View all posts by Joe Cardillo