Make it Personal

Emailology #9

I sit down at my desk every Monday afternoon and create the copy for my email newsletter, Emailology.  This one will now go on Tuesday because it’s late on Monday night.
Emailmovers sells email lists and helps companies with their email campaigns so last week I had a great idea to send out a “list of lists” which generated absolutely nothing in terms of email response.  Nothing at all (and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years).

The week before however I sent out an email explaining that personal emails like “got time for a coffee” could really work and people read the first line and actually replied “yes” not realising that it was only an example of how email can work.  But it was nice to actually ”talk to people” and not just “write at them”, if you know what I mean.

From what I can see therefore I need to be more personal.  When I get too salesy, people switch off.  When I was personal - even by accident, people leaned in.

So, I’m now going to test making my newsletter “Emailology” more personal and see what happens.  If anything I’ll likely enjoy writing it more, which is good enough for me.

So here goes, my new mission is to “make email more personal”, I’m going to try and convince you to make your sales and marketing emails more personal.
I’ll start…

In 2003 I was working as an account manager for the now defunct Xpedite Systems in London. I found clients by cold calling.  I was given a laptop (old and pretty rubbish), a phone, a desk and a chair and told to make 100 calls a day.

My manager would stand behind each account manager at the end of the day and read out their call numbers aloud.  If someone wasn’t on target they’d peer up from behind their laptop with some feeble excuse.  This type of operation is often referred to as a “boiler room” and it could be tough but if you worked alongside good people it could also be fun and at times exciting.

Luck had been on my side when I cold called 12 Foot 6 for the first time after reading an article about them in New Media Age magazine.  Tom and his business partner Dave were running a creative agency called 12 Foot 6 and had won the contract to manage email comms for Virgin Mobile.

12 Foot 6 needed help with the email delivery aspect and so I got a coffee meeting with Tom on Denmark Street in London and won the account, practically on the spot.  We just kicked it off, almost immediately.

All in all they went on to spend about £600K with Emailmovers over the next few years.


It wasn’t an easy ride though.  There were difficult times and one such time in particular comes to mind.

Email was working well for Virgin under the guidance of 12 Foot 6 but Xpedite was a real corporate machine and as such, was at times difficult to work with.  After a while of this Tom called me to say that they’d had enough of the corporate thing and were looking to go elsewhere for better customer service.

Whilst I had a few other clients, my commissions were in large part made up from Virgin billing and with a baby on the way and a new mortgage to pay I really needed those commissions and I mean really really needed them.  That’s when the idea that I could go self employed popped into my head and without too much thinking I said to Tom:

“If I leave Xpedite and run your campaigns for you, would that work?”

I remember saying this to Tom and him saying “Yes, so long as you can promise us a good service”.

I left Xpedite that afternoon, bought a laptop from a store on Tottenham Court Road and very carefully delivered their first email campaign from my spare bedroom the very next day.

Since then Emailmovers has gone on to generate over £21M in sales and worked on over 24,000 projects, some have done very well for our clients and some haven’t (more about this below).


So that’s the personal bit.  Now for what could be the useful bit…

One thing that comes up, time and time again when working on campaigns with my team and our clients is the “offer”.  It’s one of the most important elements of most campaigns.  Put a good offer together and the campaign has a really good chance of performing well.  Put a terrible offer together or no offer at all and the campaign has a pretty good chance of performing terribly or not at all - ta da!  It’s like magic…

For example, if I sent an email to 1,000 people offering them all a Ferrari for free, how many do you think would reply with “yes please”?  100% right?  Well maybe not, my colleague Carl and I think there would have to be some level of trust first but if there was trust then it should be 100%.  If this is true then you could improve your email campaign results by building more trust and including stronger offers.

How do you build trust?  I guess you could start by making it more personal and see how that goes?

To summarise - if you’re selling something then build trust by making your emails more personal and include good offers.

How was that?  Better?

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