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Email Marketing: The First Email

Devil’s In the Details

In our last post, we talked about how Email Marketing is a marketing medium that has a low-cost entry, high rate of return on investment, and basically pays for itself… when done right.

The devil, of course, is in the details so I thought for today we’d take a deep dive into an example email marketing campaign and what the first email might look like.


Before we dive right in, let’s set some parameters about what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’re using.

First, we’re going to be using an email marketing platform like Campaign Monitor, for example, but there are others like MailChimp (another fav of mine), Constant Contact, etc. We need specific things that only email marketing platforms can provide: metrics and automation. Metrics to get an idea of how our email did but also how engaged your customers are to your emails. Automation for the next part.

Second, for the sake of this conversation, we’re going to refer to the series of emails that we’ll be creating (over subsequent posts because we’re only focusing on the first email here today) as a Journey. Some email platforms call them different things but basically, they are the same: a series of emails designed to achieve a specific response. This is where automation comes in because we’ll be sending different emails to different customers based upon their actions (or inaction) to emails.

Third, our fictional business is Rose Bros Heating and they sell and service stoves and fireplaces. In the summer months, Rose Bros service calls are slower since most folks aren’t thinking about heating their house when it’s 90 outside. However, getting more service jobs in June, July, and August means freeing up the schedule in the winter when they are tons of repair calls and bringing in more money when things are lean.

To the Email!

If you think about it, we’re really emailing two sets of customers here: current and past. Since we’re using data from their customer files, the bulk of the people that we’re emailing has done business with Rose Bros Heating in the past. How far in the past, is a whole different story. So, in some cases, we’re almost going to be reintroducing ourselves to customers as if they were new customers. We need to remind them why they did business with you in the first place.

You might be saying, why don’t we just offer them a deal. What if we sent an email saying “Hey folks, the summer is super slow for us so if you book during June, July, or August, we’ll take 10% off your normal service costs!” While that might work in increasing business in say June, if every single customer that you provide service for in June is someone that you normally provide service in say December, then you just lost revenue because you did all of the normal work for 10% less. If only your customers are reading your emails, then they’re going to be the only ones who act on it.

Instead, that first email should be about seeing how engaged your customers are. To try and make an awkward sports analogy: that first email is a throw to a batter to see what they might do with it. Are they going to take a swing (open the email) or not or, better yet, hit the ball (click on a link). I realize that in an actual sports game, the pitcher doesn’t really want the batter to hit the ball so… hence the awkward part of the analogy.

This email should just be trying to remind the customers who you haven’t seen in the past couple of years why they did business with you in the first place. It’s also reminding your recent customers how awesome you are and all the things you do.

This email starts with a section that tells about how Rose Bros Heating provides a variety of services that customers’ heating units running efficiently and how they are dedicated to keeping a safe and clean workspace in customers’ homes. It includes a professional-looking image of one of their current staff (this is key here) cleaning a stove. It includes a button to the services page on their website.

Below this section, is a section with two customer testimonials. They are short ones that are focused on service. There’s also be a button to more reviews on their website.

The last section shows a photo of their service techs sitting around reading the newspapers and magazines in their shorts. It says that in June, July, August, the Rose Bros Heating techs are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs and how it would be awesome if you’d give them a job to do then. It also includes how booking in the summer means Rose Bros Heating can book them for the times that fit their schedule now vs later when you’ll only have certain times available. Lastly, there’s a button that takes users to a form on your website that asks them for the user’s contact information, what kind of service they are looking to do, what days of the week they are available, and what times of the day they are available.

That’s it. That’s the first email!

What next?

As I said before, the first email is just about seeing what the user does. Do they open the email and click on anything? Do they not open it? Do they open but do nothing? This email is just a gauge of how engaged they are with your company. It’s not an exact gauge, at least, not yet.

The next couple of emails will tell us who your engaged customers are, who are on the fence, and who are in no way engaged whatsoever. But that’s a conversation for another day…


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