Email Marketing Is Like...

I was recently struck by all the analogies used by my fellow Email Insiders: Email is like the Olympics, like baseball, like a newborn.

I knew there were even more great analogies out there that would help us better appreciate and understand email marketing, so I asked folks on Twitter for their best #EmailAnalogy. Sixty tweets later, we had some great ones. Here are some of the ones that stood out to me:

@rorycarlyle: #EmailMarketing is like speed dating. Stay interesting & attentive. Lose focus or talk 2 much & you'll never see them again #EmailAnalogy



Rory Carlyle of Carlyle Inc. reminds us that as much as we might want our email marketing programs to be about us, they're really about our subscribers. Show them that you're listening to their issues and interested in having a relationship, and they'll stick around. If you talk too much about things that don't interest them, you'll get dropped and they'll move on.

This speed dating analogy is particularly powerful when thinking of subscription forms, preference centers, and welcome emails and series. These are key early points in a relationship that can demonstrate that you care about subscribers and aren't just an automaton that's going to ask them to buy an endless list of things.

@eDialogLiz: E-mail blasts are like junk food. Satisfying in the moment, but bad for you in the long run. #EmailAnalogy

Liz Lynch of eDialog points out that so many unhealthy email practices may perform great on a campaign basis, but erode the performance of your list over time. If you're analyzing your campaigns on a one-off basis to see what works, you may suddenly realize that your program is morbidly obese. Keep your email program strong by making decisions that look at the lifetime value of your subscribers.

@ryanpphelan: People believe that #emailmarketing is just like a Geico commercial. So easy a caveman could do's not #EmailAnalogy

Ryan Phelan of Blue Hornet reminds us that while sending an email is easy, running a good email marketing program is not. And unfortunately, the bar is being raised at a steady rate, thanks in part to the direct and indirect impact of social media. Over the next few years, the gap between those with simple, mass email programs and those with sophisticated programs that use segmentation and triggers will become a huge chasm. Decisions that are being made right now will decide which side of the chasm each marketer will be on.

@LorenMcDonald: Email marketing is like building a house, it starts with a solid foundation (the list) #EmailAnalogy

Loren McDonald of Silverpop reminds us that you need solid permission and acquisition practices to have a successful email program -- that email marketing is as much about what you send as who you're sending it to. In many organizations there is certainly an unhealthy focus on list growth, with quantity trumping quality. I like to think of list growth as having three components: (1) acquiring new subscribers, (2) reducing churn, and (3) increasing engagement among existing subscribers. Those last two goals will keep you honest as you pursue that first goal.

@j2g:  Email Marketing is like sex. You don't know you're doing it wrong til you try something else and get better results #EmailAnalogy

Jon Stanesby of Responsys colorfully reminds us that experimentation is the key to an exciting and fulfilling email program. For me, a healthy testing program is the hallmark of a good email marketing program. If you're not convinced of the need to test things both big and small, check out Anne Holland's Which Test Won, which shares the results from A/B tests every week.

A few of my other #EmailAnalogy favorites:

@KNLorenz: Email mkting "blasts" are like binge drinking: Feels good at the time, but comes w/a hangover & 50 "wtf" texts the next day #EmailAnalogy

@DATAbuddy: #EmailMarketing is like a haircut - get a professional designer or be stuck with a bad look! #EmailAnalogy

@andrewkordek: Email Marketing is like a fire hose. If you turn it on full blast...your customers won't/can't drink from it. #EmailAnalogy

@alexcwilliams: Email Marketing is like an iPad - No Flash and proud of it. #EmailAnalogy

@randydunning: Email marketing is like the Force - it has a powerful dark side to which many business leaders unwittingly succumb. #EmailAnalogy

Do you have a great email analogy? If so, please add it to the comments.

5 comments about "Email Marketing Is Like...".
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  1. Rita from FreshAddress, Inc., June 8, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.

    Email marketing is like Sesame the point, brief, engaging and carefully targeted. It all begins with deliverability and a clean list.

  2. Jordyn Haas from NetElixir, June 8, 2010 at 11:33 a.m.

    Email Marketing is like jumping out of a plane...if you would rather not end up with a mess, go with someone who's done it before.

  3. Chad White from Litmus, June 9, 2010 at 9:16 a.m.

    Thanks, everyone--here and on Twitter--for all the great email analogies!

  4. Jason Klein from Selligent, June 10, 2010 at 2:09 p.m.

    Email marketing is like a guitar. It needs to be continually tuned to produce the desired results

  5. Lee Rappaport, June 13, 2010 at 12:37 p.m.

    Email marketing is like the Pony Express. The message eventually gets delivered 1860's style, but that's so last century.

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