Is email marketing dead

Is email marketing dead?

When Sam Parr, an ex-hot dog vendor from Nashville, Tennessee, shared with a CEO of a huge news company that he wanted to start a media empire on the back of email, the big wig thought he was out of his damn mind… telling Sam that the business would never make more than $2 million a year. 

Today, The Hustle, a business and tech newsletter of sorts, is one of the fastest growing media companies on the planet, currently going out to more than 1,000,000 email inboxes (every single day) and is on pace to eventually do $100 million a year in revenue. 

Stories like Parr’s and the other massive successes of email-based media companies like Morning Brew and The Skim are silencing a whisper happening around the world… is email marketing dead? 

Long live email marketing. 

With dozens and dozens of ways to communicate nowadays, questioning whether or not email has room left to run is by no means idiotic. 

But, when you look at the statistics, you realize that email isn’t just alive… it’s thriving. 

For starters, CampaignMonitor reported that there are over 3.9 billion active email users across the globe. And, if that doesn’t blow your mind, OptinMonster claims that 99% of these folks check their emails every single day… some of the more addicted (we mean attentive) rifle through their inboxes as many as 20 times a day. 

Now, take these numbers and pair them with email marketing sporting an ROI of 4,400% and, suddenly, The Hustle one day pulling in $100 million a year in revenue doesn’t seem all that crazy. 

But, enough with the fancy statistics, let me share some of my own experience with email marketing and how it has grown my business. 

Why marketers like myself are going long on email marketing. 

In addition to running SaaS Mule with my friend and business partner Andrew Holliday (the guy who started both Harvest Creative and  Special Sauce branding), I have my own business. 

It’s called Honey Copy. It’s a creative writing shop that works with brands selling their products and services with words that aren’t boring as hell to read. 

That said, when I was designing my business, one thing that was really important to me was keeping it small. I wanted to be what Paul Jarvis calls a “Company of One”.  

I knew I was a better writer than a manager so the last thing I wanted to do was find myself in a position where I had to do more managing than writing. 

But, being a one man shop comes with it’s own set of challenges, especially when you’re looking to scale. 

To grow Honey Copy to the size I wanted it to be and to have a pool of potential customers I could regularly stay in touch with (versus having to send cold emails out the ass), I needed to figure out some way to build an audience quickly. 

That’s when I decided it was time to start an email newsletter. It’s not big (nothing like the size of The Hustle)… only 6,180 subscribers. 

But, while modest in size, I’ve seen some monstrous returns.

Each week I send out an email sharing writing and marketing nuggets to the list above. Between crafting the actual email and writing the articles I share within the email, I’d say on average I spend 10 – 15 hours a week running this side of my business. 

While, yes, I will be the first one to say this is a hell of a lot of time. I’d argue it’s a bit absurd to not invest a decent chunk of your time and money marketing whatever it is you do. 

Not to mention, it’s been lucrative. 

Last year, this newsletter brought in $25,000 in leads for my copywriting and marketing services and sold $43,000 of my copywriting guide

Now, when you consider that with MailChimp, it costs me $85/ month to have this many subscribers (EmailOctopus is way cheaper, by the way)… this adds up to $1,020 a year in email expenses.

No. I’m not seeing a 4,400% return but a 65x return… which I’ll take, I guess. 

My business partner Andrew Holliday, has found similar returns with a newsletter he sends out every Friday called The Recipe. Last year, he sent out 52 emails to his list, one a week. And, trust me, if this branding guru has the time to write a weekly email, you 100% do. It’s ridiculous how much he has on his plate yet he still finds time for marketing. 

But, enough about Andrew and I, here are a few other folks going long on email marketing. 

Marketers, entrepreneurs and freelancers doing email marketing really well. 

Being that we’re so bullish on email, we subscribe to more newsletters than we’d care to admit. Some of them are good. Most of them are bad. We know you don’t have time nor any more room for shitty newsletters in your inbox. So, here are a few gems hiding on the web… 

Laura Belgray at Talking Shrimp is the reigning queen of creative copywriting and has been a massive inspiration to the work I do over at my one person creative writing agency, Honey Copy. She has built an entire business through email marketing… such a lucrative business that she no longer offers her services… she just sells courses, products and coaching through her gargantuan email list. 

Zat Rana, the mastermind behind Design Luck, is proving to the world you don’t have to write about business and marketing to make a living with email marketing. Zat is a modern day philosopher with a fat following on Medium. He’s clever. Realizing the platform won’t be around forever, he’s building an email list –– a 60,000 person email list that allows him to spend his days writing about the shit he loves, philosophy. 

And, we can’t forget about the American author and artist Bill Bishop, who is proving to the world that you can write about something super niche and garner a massive audience. Bishop runs a newsletter called “Sinocism” where he writes about one thing and one thing only… China. His punchline? Get smart about China. 

But, perhaps email marketing’s greatest strength?

Email marketing’s greatest strength is its scalability. It can serve the freelance writer or graphic designer or photographer looking for a way to stay in touch with prospective customers, as well as the huge Fortune 500 company trying to reach the entire planet.

Email marketing isn’t dead. In fact, it might just be the most scalable marketing medium out there… 

Everyone is using it. They’re just not talking about it. 

By Cole Schafer. 

Like what you read? Let’s play Grab SaaS next week.


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