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There’s Nothing Free or Easy About Email Marketing

Posted on November 4th, 2010 by Jeff

To those who think email marketing is easy; you're wrong.


Email marketing is awesome.

I love reading (maybe more like skimming) as many emails and newsletter as I can get. Although I don’t subscribe to that many, I follow Twitter & Campaign Monitor closely for what other designers / email marketers deem as worthy emails. But for as much as I love it, it has some falsities attached to it: it’s free and it’s easy. Too often C-level folk just assume this and want to get their email marketing going and expect the $$$ to roll in.

It just doesn’t work that way however.

It’s Not Free

Strike that. You can get an account (thanks to the folks at Mailchimp) and send up to 6,000 emails a month without paying a dime. So, in that sense, it is free. However, it takes an employees time to do all the things necessary to create a successful email marketing campaign. From the content creation, to list building & segmentation, to the design, to the build (or updating templates), to testing (via my fav Litmus App), to sending, and finally to reputation management; there are clearly a lot of moving parts for sending one email. Sure, you batch & blast (fyi, I HATE that term!!!), but any returns you see right away will quickly was away with each subsequent send. Plus, what happens when you get labeled as a spammer and you account gets shut down. Try moving to another reputable ESP; not gonna happen.

It’s Not Easy

Getting great, good, or even a decent ROI with email marketing is hard work. This, and the items above are pre-supposing you actually HAVE a list that you can send to. But how do you go about getting that list? That also takes time and effort. You need to setup an account, setup your website so users can join, create a welcome email (or series if you rock), and then you need to start segmenting. Who’s opened what? What gets clicked on? How many people are actually receiving your emails? Just because you push that shiny ‘Send Campaign’ button doesn’t mean that Recipient A got the email.

Don’t get me wrong however, I really believe in the power of proper email marketing. Done right, it can give you some, if not the, best ROI of any of your marketing efforts. But, it not only takes money, effort, it also takes time.


It can’t be stated enough. Just don’t do it–it’s a waste of money. Best case scenario: you’ll have wasted the cash you spent to buy it. Worst case scenario: you’ll look like a spammer and have to spend thousands to rebuild your reputation with ISPs and ESPs. Does that sound like a good idea just to boost revenue for a week or two (also, best case scenario)? To me it does not.

Take the time to get all the pieces in place, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and really think about how your marketing efforts would be benefiting you if you were to receive them. If you can’t answer that, then it’s not time for you and email marketing to get acquainted.

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