May 18, 2016

The lost email sequences

This is an aerial view of the medieval high street of Trellech, located near the border between England and Wales.


Click image to enlarge

Trellech was a large English military supply base in the 1200’s. Census information indicates the town had 378 taxable buildings in 1288, making it larger than Cardiff at the time.

Then for 800 years the town disappeared from historical record, including knowledge of its exact location.

Archaeologists spent years trying to locate the site without success. In 2005, young archaeology graduate Stuart Wilson privately bought a field in which he was convinced were remains of the lost medieval town. Wilson had developed a hunch from looking at the shape of the modern-day fields.

Further excavation has revealed that Trellech was once a wealthy iron-making town. Fragments of decorated pottery were found in one of the buildings; an unusual luxury in medieval Britain.

The question is how did a town so large vanish so quickly?

The probable answer is simply that the environment changed. The Welsh threat eventually subsided, and within 100 years famine, plague and civil war all reduced demand for iron, the town’s core industry. Without modern systems of transport and distribution the town was simply no longer needed.

Whenever I review somebody’s email marketing systems I come across emails that you might call ‘lost relics’. Emails that were once built as part of thriving autoresponder sequences, but have long since been neglected, abandoned, and in most cases forgotten about.

This happens because your business environment changes. The people you were writing to four years ago may no longer be the same people you are writing to today. The message you were communicating four years will have evolved between then and now. Your products or services will have evolved.

You know you have uncovered a ‘lost sequence’ is you read through an old email series and your heart sinks. “Oh no,” you mutter. “I need to rewrite all of these…”

In most cases it is easier to just abandon the old sequence and start again from scratch, like the people of Trellech did.

This I believe is one of the dark sides of email marketing. Various people will sell you the dream that you can build out your email sequences, kick back and watch the orders roll in indefinitely.

It simply doesn’t work like that.

Every email series you create has a shelf-life, and caters to a need at one specific moment in time. Sooner or later the environment will change and you will have to start over.

You increase the shelf-life of your email sequences by writing about more fundamental topics. Tactical how-to knowledge of the day might feel more exciting to write about, but it becomes obsolete very fast.

Your ‘twelve tips’ to get to the top of Google might make a splash today, but adding it to an evergreen autoresponder sequence probably isn’t sensible.

We think that the fundamentals of what we do are too boring. We think that everybody already knows them.

Only you are bored of your fundamentals.

Your job in your email sequences is to find interesting ways to re-tell them again and again.

We’ve been talking in the last week or so about email marketing basics. I thought today might be a good opportunity to recap, before we finish the series.

In Email Marketing Basics #1 we were talking about the perils of sending marketing emails through your regular internet service provider. Email #2 looked at deliverability, and getting your emails through to your recipient’s primary inbox.

Email #3 looked at attention. You’re in the inbox. How do you jostle for attention among 150 other emails?

In email #4 we discussed tools. We talked about the difference between the lower priced email delivery platforms, and the more expensive marketing automation platforms. We talked about the importance of considering integration to back end systems.

Yesterday in email #5 we looked at metrics; how to measure your email marketing success.

Tomorrow we’ll look briefly at the six-step production process, before taking a final look at editing.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.