Email Marketing in a Digital World

What is email marketing?  According to Mailchimp, “email marketing helps you connect with your audience to promote your brand and increase sales.”

When I think about email marketing, the first thing I think of is campaign fundraising emails.  I’ve had previous political jobs and I am still politically active.  I subscribe to several political candidates who fill up my Gmail “Promotions” daily.  However, this is one of several types of marketing emails from marketers/businesses.  There are so many that most, if not all, are stigmatized as spam.  I think what makes the ones that I engage with interesting is if there is an influencer that I respect or a product that I have considered purchasing.  The easiest example of this is a fundraising email from Bryan Steil.  He is a candidate running for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.


This email appears to be sent by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  The marketer who sent this email is hoping that his influence is enough to peak the interest of the email recipients.  I understand that influencers are mainly used in social media marketing, but I think this is an example of an email using an influencer to boost opens and possibly conversions.

Usually, I do not take action as a result of the marketing emails I receive, and this example was no exception.  I think the main reason that I don’t is because I am so immune to them that I always ignore them.  I thought that I was in the majority on this opinion, but it turns out I’m not.  According to Forbes,

email marketing is still an extremely cost-effective way to generate leads and make sales for businesses.

After learning more about this topic, I decided to interview three people around me to dive a little deeper.  I interviewed my father, Jon – a small business owner who struggles with technology, my girlfriend Brittani – an avid online shopper, and my friend, Garrett – a graduate student.  Their results were surprising to me:

How often do you receive emails from marketers/businesses?

Jon: I think I receive multiple emails a day from different businesses and marketers.

Brittani: I definitely receive more marketing emails than I would like.

Garrett: Too many to count.

Do you ever open on the emails that you receive?  If so, do you ever take action?

J: Yes I open about half of them, but I take action at a far less rate.

B: Yes I open a decent amount of them, and I do take action.

G: I rarely ever open marketing emails, and I never take action.

What makes them interesting or worth your time to open/read and take action?

J: Sales interest me, as well as anything I think might potentially be able to help my business.

B: The biggest thing I look for are stores and brands that I like.  If either or having sales, I usually shop on their websites.

G: I don’t really open or act on any marketing emails.

I was surprised by how much Brittani interacted with marketing emails.  I was also surprised that my dad used them, even though he isn’t very tech-savvy.  I was not surprised that Garrett did not interact with them.  He and I are very similar, so it would make sense that both of us are not interested in email marketing.

As future digital marketers, it is important that we understand CAN-SPAM and why it is important to our industry.  CAN-SPAM is a law that establishes rules for commercial email messages and marketing practices.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you violate the following rules you could be subject to penalties up to $41,484:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Identify the message as an ad.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located.
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

CAN-SPAM is very important to remember.  If you are ever tasked with email marketing for any kind of business or organization, it is vital that you remember and adhere to these rules.

Email Marketing in a Digital World

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