The Public Relations BlogDigital PRDigital-FirstEmail Communications is Criminally Underrated (Still)

Email Communications is Criminally Underrated (Still)

As PR professionals, we could do much more with email.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Email com­mu­nic­a­tions are crim­in­ally underrated.

I think of email com­mu­nic­a­tions instead of email mar­ket­ing. The email inbox is a two-way com­mu­nic­a­tion chan­nel and should be con­sidered that way.

Still, email is far from sexy.

We’re all spammed by mar­ket­ing emails left and right. The ton­al­ity can typ­ic­ally be described as cor­por­ate cringe, filled with plat­it­udes. How do we make email work as PR pro­fes­sion­als?

Here we go:

No One Loves Getting Marketing Emails

We all struggle with main­tain­ing our inboxes and get­ting our email addresses abused by spam­mers. Email mar­ket­ing can’t be described as the sex­i­est of spaces to fight for. It’s like no one wants you there in the first place.

And it gets worse:

So many com­pan­ies are strug­gling to put out their peri­od­ic news­let­ters. So many mar­ket­ing depart­ments scramble to write news­let­ter con­tent that makes sense to the sub­scribers. Many tra­di­tion­al com­pan­ies have chosen the insanely bor­ing route of post­ing head­lines and snip­pets from their latest news­room or blog updates.

And with all of the hype around vari­ous social net­works, one might think that email mar­ket­ing should at least be a thing of the past. However, such a con­clu­sion couldn’t be more wrong. Email mar­ket­ing is still — and will likely con­tin­ue to be — the most potent of digit­al mar­ket­ing channels.

How can this be?

From a PR per­spect­ive, most social net­works have a massive dis­ad­vant­age; the brand doesn’t have pro­pri­et­ary audi­ence own­er­ship. Sure, your busi­ness can accu­mu­late fol­low­ers and fans across many social net­works, but when push comes to shove, we’re all at the mercy of just a few third-party algorithms. In email mar­ket­ing, this isn’t the case.

The Power of Permission Marketing

Both social net­works and email mar­ket­ing have the immense advant­age of being opt-in (pull rather than push). As Seth Godin described it, hav­ing an opted-in audi­ence could also be labelled per­mis­sion mar­ket­ing:

Permission mar­ket­ing is the priv­ilege (not the right) of deliv­er­ing anti­cip­ated, per­son­al and rel­ev­ant mes­sages to people who actu­ally want to get them.”
— Seth Godin

Still, email mar­ket­ing is prone to abuse. There’s noth­ing stop­ping any­one from send­ing out lots of emails to a lot of people. Organised spam­mers and mal­ware dis­trib­ut­ors have taken this the fur­thest, but many com­pan­ies are out there doing email mar­ket­ing all wrong. They’re dimin­ish­ing a per­fect mar­ket­ing chan­nel for them­selves and, more import­antly, for others.

10 Best Practices for Email Marketing

When people ask me after sem­inars or dur­ing work­shops, I have some essen­tial advice for com­pan­ies who are inter­ested in doing email mar­ket­ing right:

  • The list is your asset, not the send-outs. Treat your list care­fully and with the utmost respect.
  • Grow your list wisely and respons­ibly. Always go for qual­ity over quant­ity; hav­ing a small but busi­ness-rel­ev­ant list is better.
  • Don’t rely on peri­od­ic­al send-outs. Instead, do send-outs only when you have some­thing worth­while to com­mu­nic­ate or when a sub­scriber­’s beha­viour trig­gers a send-out.
  • Focus on con­tent, not on fancy HTML design. Strive to have your email send-outs look like emails should look. No one appre­ci­ates hav­ing their inbox look like a carnival.
  • No attach­ments, ever. You’re already tak­ing up valu­able space in vari­ous inboxes; nev­er push sac­red priv­ilege by adding attachments.
  • Use sub­scriber activ­ity to fine-tune cus­tom audi­ences. Some social net­works allow you to upload email lists to cre­ate cus­tom social media audi­ences for pro­gram­mat­ic advertising.
  • One email, one CTA (call-to-action). Each email should only con­tain one CTA. This way, you can avoid con­ver­sion cannibalism.
  • Manually unsub­scribe any­one who doesn’t belong. Your email list is your online liv­ing room; if someone isn’t behav­ing cor­rectly, remove them promptly.
  • Keep your list bounce-free. Your list’s repu­ta­tion with vari­ous senders will largely depend on your bounce rate. Clean your list at reg­u­lar intervals.

Affiliate: I use Mailchimp as my default email list manager.

Affiliate: I use Email List Validation to pro­tect my sender’s repu­ta­tion by keep­ing my PR email lists free from boun­cing emails.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has


Subscribe to Spin Control—it’s 100% free!

Join 2,550+ fellow PR lovers and subscribe to Jerry’s free newsletter on communication and psychology.
What will you get?

> PR commentary on current events.
> Subscriber-only VIP content.
> My personal PR slides for .key and .ppt.
> Discounts on upcoming PR courses.
> Ebook on getting better PR ideas.
Subscribe to Spin Control today by clicking SUBMIT and get your first send-out instantly.

Latest Posts
Similar Posts
Most Popular