The Truth About Email Marketing

The intimate nature of email marketing is founded on trust

He was one of the most beloved and gifted broadcasters in history…

He entertained, informed and enlightened in a mix of reportage, commentary and sales promotion…

His voice was that of a trusted friend in American homes…

Paul Harvey, the incomparable broadcaster, whose radio career spanned more than 70 years, predating television, was the embodiment of what we now call customer relationship marketing.

How? Paul Harvey had credibility and influence with his radio audience because his messages were always personal — even intimate — and sincere. He never promoted a product that he did not own and use himself — and his listeners believed him.

That’s the epitome of customer relationship marketing.

And customer relationship marketing is a fundamental component of email marketing.

There was no conflict of interest in his “advertorial” messages. The audience always knew precisely what Mr. Harvey thought about his advertisers. He wouldn’t allow them to sponsor his radio programs if he didn’t believe in the quality of their products and services.

Paul Harvey’s example is instructive to those of us who want to excel at email marketing because the intimate nature of email marketing is founded on trust, just as his radio programs were.

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Is there a line separating editorial content from advertising and advocacy?

Is it somehow improper for email newsletter editors to support audience development efforts? Is it wrong for bloggers to promote a product from an advertiser, or from themselves?

In a word, the answer is indubitably “no.”

It’s not wrong or improper; it’s expected and welcomed. Your subscribers look to you for guidance.

While other media may require a separation of church and state (reportage and advertising), the intimate nature of email marketing requires advice, advocacy and activism. Your readers expect it.

Mequoda System editorial guidelines require taking 100 percent responsibility for every word you use in your emails and blogs.

It has been our experience, from years of conducting focus groups, research and usability testing, that consumers regard email as a very personal communication medium. Banner ads and editorial copy command equal respect and enjoy equal credibility.

Unlike television programming, whose advertisers are separated from the content, your email messages endorse the advertisers whose banners you run. Your email is a reflection of your integrity.

Whether you use third-party sponsors or advertise your own books, freebies, videos and events, the reader/user believes you are recommending and endorsing the products and services included in your email.

Your email content, delivered regularly, arrives with the user’s permission, because you have established a relationship built on trust. There is no hard line between the editorial content and the ads. Both of them carry your imprimatur, both require your authentication.

Email marketing is customer relationship marketing. It’s fundamentally different from advertising because it provides trusted information and personal advice.

Paul Harvey set the gold standard for customer relationship marketing in a different medium. If he were alive today and using the communications tools of 2015, I believe he would be a blogger and an email marketer with the same credibility and high standards of integrity.

And now, in true Paul Harvey style, let me add this. Won’t you please come spend some time with me and the Mequoda Group at our Spring Digital Publishing & Marketing Intensive in Boston? This is really not to be missed!

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