Q & A with John Harms: Does Email Marketing Really Work?

Q: John, my spam box is filled with e-newsletters. I don’t open them - and tend to think no one does. Does email marketing really work?

 A: When so many marketers are doing email marketing wrong, it’s easy to believe that email marketing doesn’t work. Email marketing only works if you do it the right way, and clearly, the spammers in your inbox are doing it all wrong.

 In the past, traditional marketers pushed their messages to the masses providing a very intrusive experience for the consumer. Today’s world looks much different. People don’t want to be marketed to anymore. They want real relationships that provide real value.  Spam blockers will kill any irrelevant email sent for the masses. That’s why marketers have to be smarter about when/what they send to clients/potential clients. Here are seven tips to engage your audience with email marketing and get them opening your emails.    


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 1. Be human.

People like to buy from people.  Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with people. As a result, today’s consumers want to establish trusted relationships before they buy what you are selling. So, tell your story. Your story should move and connect with people and bring value to your customers.

 2. Personalize it!

Yes, you should, when you can, personalize your emails with “To consumer name,” but that’s not what I’m referring to here. Today’s consumers want you to cater to their specific needs. They want you to understand exactly who they are. 

Who are the different personas that you cater to?  A persona is a representation of goals and behaviors of a group of people.  Build a list of personas so that you can generate relevant content to those people.  Here is an example of a persona: 

Busy mom Jen - a 32-year-old working mom of 2. She has fine hair. She wants to be trendy, but has trouble staying on top of the latest trends because she has very little time. She goes to the gym four times a week and tries to eat healthy to stay fit.

By building this persona, you can easily think of targeted emails that would get your “busy mom Jen” persona group to open your email. As a salon owner, you can start targeted emails regarding Health Tips or Quick Out-of-Bed Hairstyles for the Busy Mom or What’s Trending in the World of Makeup and Hair?  Creating relevant emails that cater to your personas will increase the likelihood of your emails being opened.

 This is a great way to create a healthy group of engaged consumers that will be looking forward to your emails.

 3. Give, give, give, then…ask.

In a world where relationships dominate, you have to be willing to give your audience something before asking them for something in return.  A give, give, give then ask mentality is a good way to earn trust with your audience and ultimately make them feel comfortable giving you something in return.  It’s like being in a real relationship—a valuable relationship isn’t one-sided.  So, providing three or so emails with relevant and targeted content would warrant the fourth email to ask them to come in for an appointment, or to try a new product, or to rate your salon on Yelp.       

 4. Good content wins.

When you send highly relevant content to your subscribers, they recognize that you truly “know your stuff” and are more likely to purchase your products or services. So, here is where you have to leverage the persona of your group. What are their interests? Do they have a problem that you can help them solve? Your content strategy has to resonate with your audience or else they will opt out and ignore your emails. Ultimately, you should shoot for 90% educational content and 10% promotional content.

 5. Make sure it’s mobile/tablet-friendly.

According to a consumer device preference report, 66% of emails are opened on a smartphone or tablet. So, you really need to test your emails and make sure that they are mobile/tablet-friendly or you will lose more than half of your market. You should also make sure that you have a clean and friendly layout with a simple and clear call to action.     

 6. Quality over quantity.

 MORE emails isn't the key...it's sending BETTER emails and creating more valuable lead magnets.

 7. Analyze. 

Analyzing time of day, day of week, and subject line are all vital keys to ensuring that your emails are successful. The best way to understand what’s best for your market is to test it out. Does your open rate increase or decrease when you send it over the weekend? What about morning versus evening? Once you understand that, you can maximize success!

John Harms
Millennium Systems International, Founder and CEO
About: John Harms, Founder & CEO of Millennium Systems International, creator of Millennium Software, has been designing industry leading salon scheduling software and educating the beauty & wellness industry since 1987. Today Millennium is utilized in thousands of businesses in over 38 countries and operating with approximately 150+ employees worldwide.  Millennium currently runs its corporate headquarters out of New Jersey and its international office is based in the U.K.