The Truth about Email Marketing: Q&A with Simms Jenkins

The Truth about Email Marketing, an email marketing book by Simms Jenkins, eec member and the CEO of BrightWave Marketing, will hit book stores on Aug. 1. Ahead of the release, the eec’s Chad White had the opportunity to ask Simms about the book and the truths he reveals:

Chad: What is the most surprising “truth” in your book?

Simms: This will depend on the reader but for many email newbies making the transition from direct marketing or another world, Truth 21: Length and Your Call to Action may be surprising to some. So many emails I receive these days are brutally long and bury the calls to action. I think many major retailers are guilty of taking their offline ad campaigns and forcing them into email templates. Frankly, that doesn’t work, so hopefully this truth sheds some light on optimizing layouts and messaging.

I also cover what the future of email (Truth 49) and what it may look like. This may have surprising thoughts for many. Here’s the complete list of truths.

What are some of the email marketing myths that you debunk?

One of the most important and obvious to you and your readers may be the notion of permission email and how that draws a line in the sand of where you stand in utilizing email marketing. It must be a part of any conversation about email marketing regardless of your knowledge and experience. I think some people forget and that is an important part in setting up this book as an end-to-end guide about what makes a successful email marketing program.

On the other end of the spectrum, I address how email marketing can exist within the current world where social media grabs much of the spotlight (Truth 48: The Impact of Social Media on Email). The truth is we always hear about how email is on its deathbed but it still acts as the communication hub for many companies and specifically, should get a major boost because of the popularity of LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

Email marketing is evolving quite quickly. To which recent change have people been the slowest to adapt?

I am still utterly shocked about how email marketers fail to change and adapt to a world where 50% of consumers block images. One would think that companies would change their messaging strategy, optimize their creative and deal with this very significant and real challenge. However, many are not.

Your recent study that cited tangible revenue that is left on the table should get people’s attention, but I have my doubts. I speak quite frequently to diverse audiences and meet with some of the top corporations and many are flying blind or clueless when it comes to how their emails render in many of their subscribers inboxes. What if their TV commercials were showing up blank during prime time? Do you think they would address that?

The most shocking aspect of this issue is when I am told that the company is aware of their emails showing up as a red X with no links, branding and messaging but they have their hands tied due to political and organizational issues. That screams to me the need for more education, awareness and participation with groups like the eec.

What’s your best advice for folks that are new to email marketing?

The best part of our industry is the amount of great thought-leadership and free resources. Whether it is your blog, the eec newsletter, Email Marketing Reports, EmailStatCenter.com—the list goes on and on. You can find many of the best listed on the book’s companion website’s resource center. The amount of places to learn and network from peers is incredible. It is pretty unique to have an industry where so many high-level executives blog frequently—and not just fluffy PR-related blog posts.

The other exciting thing about diving into our industry is because it is still relatively a young one and changes so frequently, the opportunity to have an impact on your company and the industry is a very real and attractive one. We need so many more passionate and energetic professionals, so it is a place that one can enter today and become a leader rather quickly given the right situation. That can’t be said for all industries.

Email marketing’s reputation as being “cheap” often leads to budgets that are undersized compared to email’s ROI. Do you have any advice for helping marketers communicate the value of email to their bosses so that they can get larger budgets?

The Truth about Email Marketing has two entire sections on budgeting and ROI and organizing a proper email team so this is covered in depth and is one of the most frequent issues that I tackle on a daily basis. We in the email marketing industry are certainly a victim of our own success, at times, as the depth of measurement and efficiency of email often overshadows the potential for deeper investment and greater sophistication, all of which lead to more relevant and valuable emails for subscribers.

I am a believer in using your metrics to champion your success and your potential. Not enough email marketing pros use their email analytics outside of showing open and click-through rates. The biggest breakthroughs we see with our clients is when we can show the impact email has on broader business goals, like product awareness, loyalty and revenue. CFOs don’t care about open rates but you can have their ear when you show the crossover impact and power email can have on a business.

Thanks, Simms.

My pleasure, Chad. And as a special offer to the eec community, I’ve arranged an exclusive deal through the publisher to make The Truth about Email Marketing available for 25% off, plus free shipping. Just purchase the book through the FT Press store and enter the discount code Emailmark01 during the checkout process.

–>For more books on email marketing by eec members, check out our listing of Books on Email Marketing.