Stop Spamming Your Email List And Do This Instead

Time and time again, email is proven to be the most effective form of marketing. It’s also the cheapest, and amongst the least difficult to execute.

So why aren’t you paying more attention to email marketing?

We get it. It’s not sexy like social. It’s not stimulating like branding or graphic design. But you know what is exciting? Results. The best marketing ROI you’ll ever see.

But you still have to use email in the right way. We’ll point you in the right direction.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The 5 Email Success Factors
  • Why using your email list as a direct sales tool is a losing strategy, and what to do instead
  • The awesome power of marketing automation (when used by capable hands)
  • How a lot of hard work upfront will make your life much easier in the long run


Recorded Voice: Welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society podcast, bringing you best practices, advice, and insight from marketing experts from across the life science industry and beyond. To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society, please visit and grab your free membership.

Harrison Wright: Hello, and welcome to the Life Science Marketing Society podcast. I am Harrison Wright.

Kenneth Vogt: And I am Kenneth Vogt. And today, we’re going to hear a fascinating webinar from Declan Dunn of Simply Responsive, who’s a true online marketing expert who’s been there since the beginning of time. And the title of this particular webinar is “Qualifying and Closing in 90 Days with Email Marketing”.

So, Harrison, I know there was a lot of stuff in here, and we’ve had a little, brief chat beforehand. So, I’ll let you have the first shot. What are some things that stood out to you?

Harrison Wright: I’m trying to think of this, in terms of summarizing it for clarity before we dive into the details here. And one of the big trends of marketing and of, especially in the last few year. I guess you could go so far back as ten if you really wanted to look back at the innovators in the spaces of the increasing responsibility of marketing for things that used to be the remit of sales.

And we’ve had the presentation with Laura Browne, who talks about increasing accountability of marketing for revenue. Especially, there are so many things you can do with digital marketing, in particular, to, you know, make sure that what your sales reps are getting is people who are, if not ready to buy, they’re close.

And so many of these other things can be scaled, automated, and everything else, so that with the whole inbound marketing system, people are coming to you. You’ve got the big magnet attracting the leads and nurturing them.

You don’t have the microscope magnified to 100 times, trying to find the leads, and then go call them. They’re coming to you. And so many companies are doing a fantastic job of that. But a lot of them stop short of going all the way.

I know so many companies who they do such a great job of building a brand and getting content out there, and driving people to sign up so they can get their e-mail addresses. But then, what happens when they get their e-mail addresses?

Half the time, they just export them in a spreadsheet and send them to sales and say, “Here you go, give them a call again and again and again.” What they’re missing is this huge opportunity to qualify that lead and build the urgency of that lead before it’s passed to sales.

I think what Declan talks about here, “Qualifying and Closing in 90 Days with Email Marketing”, is the missing piece of the puzzle. And a lot of people still haven’t figured it out.

Kenneth Vogt: Sure. One of the problems is marketing has tended to talk to the masses, and sales talks to individuals. And how do you smear those together? It was always abrupt. And marketing did their thing to the group, and then sales gets a list of the group.

It’s the inelegant handoff. But e-mail is the perfect solution to that problem, because you do contact them individually. It’s not an ad that’ll be seen by a bunch of eyeballs. It’s one e-mail that will be seen by that one person, as far as they are concerned.

And there’s been a variety of studies done about this, and we’ve talked about it in other places. But it takes between 7 and 20 contacts before somebody buys something. And those contacts, they could be something like an e-mail.

But they can’t be something like an ad. That doesn’t cut it. And so, it used to be we would put all of those 20 contacts on a sales person who’s supposed to just dial and dial and dial and dial. But now marketing is stepping into that gap.

And e-mail is the way to do it. And e-mail is not sexy. It’s been around for a long time. And people get bored with, “Oh, well, you know, that’s old school,” except, it’s not old school. E-mail itself is just a tool.

So, the opportunity is still present to have cutting edge technique, using an old tool. There’s nothing wrong wit ha screwdriver. There’s nothing wrong with a hammer. They do the job. So, it just comes down to what you’re going to build with them.

And this is a big point that Declan was making about e-mail. But we do have to use the latest techniques. We do have to catch up, so that we’re not doing 1999 version of e-mail, where we’re just splattering it out there with no thought about individualizing, or assuming that they got an e-mail so they’re going to want to see it.

Those days are long gone. You know, now we’re talking about 20 percent of e-mail gets opened. So, you’re in a huge competition with other e-mail. And it’s other marketing e-mail. It’s e-mail from people at their company and their customers.

People aren’t opening 80 percent of their e-mails that come from their own people. So, we have to get in front of this and do it right. Declan broke that down about, “Here’s what you got to do.” And he talked about a number of different things that we can do to make sure that our e-mail is the one that succeeds.

And there’s multiple steps of succeeding. First, it’s got to get into their inbox. Second, it’s got to get noticed in their inbox. Third, it’s got to get opened. Fourth, it’s got to be read. And fifth, it’s got to be responded to.

Again, I’m going to keep talking here forever if I don’t let you interrupt. So, I’m going to let you weigh in now too.

Harrison Wright: You’re absolutely right, Ken. How long has marketing automation technology been around now? I don’t actually know. You probably have a better idea than me. But it’s got to be a decade, more?

Kenneth Vogt: Well, yeah, more than that. The commercial internet basically came along about 1995. So, that is shockingly recently. That’s only 23 years ago. So much has happened since then.

Harrison Wright: It has. I guess the point I’m driving at here is that, you know, you’ve been able to create automations for e-mail marketing for a long time now. And still, it’s just an estimate off of collective experience of all the conversations I’ve had over the past years, but I’d say at least 80 percent of my science companies still aren’t using it.

The most they do with e-mail marketing is send out a newsletter.

Kenneth Vogt: Right.

Harrison Wright: A bunch of missed opportunity.

Kenneth Vogt: And now, these tools are less expensive than ever. I mean, there was a time when, boy, you had to make a real commitment to marketing automation. I mean, a real budget commitment. And then, not anymore.

We spend more on silly other things. And yet we have these powerful, powerful tools. Here’s the downside of that marketing automation. Marketing automation will let you do a terrible job at scale, you know.

You could put out a whole bunch of garbage, and you can manage your e-mail list in a terrible fashion quite quickly and easily these days because of that marketing automation. You got to bother to get up to speed on this stuff.

You know, one of the points that Declan makes too is that this doesn’t require a bunch of programmers or a bunch of computer scientists to get it done. But it does require professionals. You’ve got to bother to learn to use your tools.

And there’s nobody else in the company that should be learning this stuff. This is absolutely the marketer’s responsibility.

Harrison Wright: It absolutely is. I read this great book, which many of you have probably heard of, especially if you worked in sales before. It’s a book called SPIN Selling. It’s by Neil Rackham. And it’s got quite an interesting story, Neil had.

He’s a psychologist. That’s been his line of work his whole life. It’s not like he had any particular investment in the sales profession, but when he was working in, I believe it was academia at the time, he thought to himself, “Who’s going to give me lots and lots of money to run a really big and interesting study?”

He thought, “Ah, big corporations will give me that money if I do research on how to make their sales forces more effective.” He got out of, you know, Honeywell and IBM and Xerox and all these major companies.

Got millions and millions and millions of dollars to conduct this study on specific things that made a sales call successful. And they literally rode along with all these sales reps, thousands of them, and counted, you know, the number of questions that were asked, the types of questions that were asked, all this data they collected.

And that took year and, of course, like you say, millions and millions of dollars. The beauty of e-mail is you can get that data immediately. It’s collected for you. Even HubSpot, I believe they keep the overall data of everybody that uses HubSpot, and they can bring it up at a glance to see what the trends are.

As you’re building this, you can tweak it. You can test it. You can reiterate it, as you learn more and you see what works and where the workflow is falling out a little bit. It’s so much easier to do than the old model of business where everything was on a phone or face-to-face.

Kenneth Vogt: Sure. When you send an e-mail campaign out, you know within days whether or not it succeeded. Whereas you put up billboards on the freeway, or you take out ads in magazines, it takes you six months to find out what’s what.

So, e-mail has really changed the game. And it is the standard by which all other online stuff is measured. So, it’s still the thing. And it still gets the biggest results. You know, one of the charts that Declan puts up, he compared a bunch of current things, and e-mail is still getting the best results, as ascertained by studies.

Harrison Wright: And if I recall, it was also the second least difficult to execute out of all the methods on that chart, as well.

Kenneth Vogt: Yeah, that was the great thing. It was like, “How well does it work and how hard is it to do?” When you have something that gets the best results and is easiest to do, well duh, you know, how is it that everybody isn’t doing this and doing it effectively?

The tools are out there to do it effectively. The knowledge is out there. This is not black magic, esoteric stuff here. This is well studied, and all the information is available. And in this particular webinar, Declan really digs into some specifics.

You know, he talks about obvious things that – well, they’re obvious when you start to think about it. But they are the obvious things that people skip all the time, like timing. When do you send your e-mails? Well, watch the webinar.

He explains exactly why you should do it at a certain time, and in fact, how you can find out how you specifically should do it. He talks about something I hadn’t thought about in a while. And this is the other thing about this, it’s there’s stuff that you probably already know, but you’ve forgotten that you should do every time.

Because it’s like, “I just got to bang out an e-mail,” and so you bang out an e-mail. But take a moment and think about, “When should I send it?” The second one that caught my attention was the from line, you know, what does it say there.

Does it say Mega Science Corporation, or does it say Joe Smith at Mega Science Corporation? It matters. It changes the results you get. And then, one that – this is one that I stand on a soapbox about all the time, the subject line.

People do everything wrong the subject line. And it’s not rocket science. The subject line is the ad for your e-mail. It is the thing that will, more than anything else, determine whether or not they click open.

So, you got to write your subject line in such a way that it compels them to open the e-mail. It is not there to be a summary of the e-mail. It is not there to say your company name over and over again, your product name over and over again.

It is there for the sole purpose of getting them to open the e-mail. I am just blown away by the e-mails that I get in my inbox that fail to recognize this reality.

Harrison Wright: I can only agree with what you’re saying about these elements, Ken. And something else that Declan brought up that I think ties in, which was a brilliant point was that he called it the 100 percent myth of e-mail qualification.

That the 100 percent of the people on my e-mail list are ready to purchase now or when I contact them. I don’t think it – I wouldn’t necessarily word in quite the same way as Declan. I don’t think many people actually believe that, or maybe they do.

But it doesn’t change the fact that many people treat their list in that way. You know, and all you get is a monthly e-mail about the latest offers or discounts or anything else. What Declan says is that the truth of e-mail qualification is, approximately, you’re going to have at any one time 60 percent of the people on your list are still going to be at the top of the funnel.

They are figuring out what the problem is and how to quantify it. Thirty percent are going to be in the middle of the funnel, they’re actively learning and they’re looking for a solution. And at max, 10 percent are going to be ready to purchase in the next 30 days.

And he said, “Often, it’s more like two percent,” which would drive my experience. So, if all you’re sending out is offers and things about products, then you’re ignoring at least 90 percent of the people on your e-mail list.

Kenneth Vogt: Exactly. And I think one of the reasons this happens is because of the way we have described our lists. We describe them as qualified. Well, there’s qualified, and then there’s qualified. If by qualified, you mean that they’re the right people, they’re the kind of people that would buy our products, they work for the right companies, they have the right job titles, yes, it’s qualified.

If you’re thinking qualified means that they are ready to buy something today, your list isn’t qualified like that. And the only way you get it qualified like that is by having an interaction because, yeah, you can know their resume. That’s static.

That’s kind of, like, a balance sheet thing. But if you want to know where they are in the process, that’s more like an income statement thing. That’s about what’s happening right now. You could have somebody who is very qualified.

They’ve bought your stuff before. But, you know, if they just bought it last week, they’re not going to buy it again this week, you know, depending on the kind of product you have. So, you have to be aware of what you’re dealing with.

The point that you just made too is that all of your e-mails can’t be about, “Buy this now,” because most of them, that’s not where they are. They’re in a different place. You got to serve their need now.

And if right now, they need to figure out what their problem is, help them with that. Or if right now, their need is, “I need to figure out a solution to the problem that I’ve identified,” help them with that.

So, that’s one of the things that Declan talks about in great detail in this. And when he talks about 90 days of e-mails, he’s telling you, “The first e-mail should be like this and about these kind of topics. The next e-mail should be X amount of days later, and it should be about these kind of topics. And the next e-mail should be X amount of days later, and it should be about these” – he just lays it out in a general enough fashion that anybody could take this and apply it.

It’s up to you to find the specifics, then. And, you know, that’s one of the problems that we run up against when we’re thinking, “I know I need to send another e-mail. I don’t know what it should be about.” And so, we make it about dribble.

And we make it about, “We’re having a sale.” Or we make it about, “We’re going to be at this show.” And, you know, all this stuff that nobody cares about but you. The recipient doesn’t care, whereas if you follow his format, his template, you will say something that will serve you and will be something they will care about.

You’ll get to feel good about it, and it will be effective. So, I just can’t recommend this particular webinar enough.

Harrison Wright: Yeah, me too. And another thing I wanted to touch on here is, if you watch this webinar and you think, “Wow, this sounds like a great idea,” you might also think immediately afterwards, “This is really intimidating. This is a lot of work. It’s so much to put together. And, you know, we’ve got targets that we need to meet today. I’ve got stuff that I need to do right now,” as everybody always does.

I like to think of any of these kinds of projects as an investment. There’s three ways you can live life. And I think it’s just as applicable to how you work as to how you manage your own finances.

You can either consume everything that you’ve created today, and live well now but not build anything for the future. If you spend your entire paycheck every month, that’s what you’re doing financially.

It’s the same sort of situation here if you’re only ever thinking about today’s challenges, today and not planning for the future. Or you could be an investor. You could take what you’ve earned and use it to funnel them into things that will pay much bigger dividends in the future.

But you might have to suffer a little bit now. Or on the other end of the spectrum, you could run up loads of debts and end up in a hole the same way you could just end up firefighting loads of problems everyday that you didn’t bother to fix six months ago.

And the way to think about anything like this, like this project, like anything that’s worth doing, it’s a long-term investment. Yes, it’s going to take a lot more work now than just waking up on a Monday morning and thinking, “What am I going to send out to e-mail today?”

But once you’ve built it, yeah, it might take you hundreds of hours and several months and testing and tweaking and refining it and involving other people. But once you’ve got this system that works, it’ll work for you forever.

I mean, maybe not forever because the market’s changing. Your products are changing. Your e-mails are going to have to change too. But you’ll have the framework in place; will know the framework works.

All you then have to do is add numbers to that e-mail system and occasionally review it, revise it, do some maintenance. But it’s a lot more work upfront. But it’s less work for more results in the future, like everything that’s worth doing.

Kenneth Vogt: Sure. And if you follow the format that Declan’s laying down, you’re going to take the shortest possible path through that upfront stage. You’re not going to just be casting about having to do things and redo things and redo things.

He’s setting out a method, you know, “Do these steps 1 through 20, and you will be done.” Whereas if you just try to do it without that kind of plan, you’re going to be doing steps 1 through 98. You know, so this actually will dial it in quite a bit for you.

Harrison Wright: And you know what, it’s something you can start today. You don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, you don’t need to spend anything. You just need an active campaign license or a similar system.

If you do this right – if you can’t even get your company to sign off on your active campaign license for $30.00 a month or however much it is, you might as well just buy it yourself because the impact on your career of getting this right will be more than worth it.

Kenneth Vogt: Yes, buy it for yourself if that’s what it takes, and get your resume out there and find a company that will appreciate somebody who wants to be a professional marketer.

Harrison Wright: Another excellent point.

Kenneth Vogt: Somewhat random, but this is another one of the points that he brought out that I just, again, soapbox moment for me. People write these e-mails, and they realize, “Okay, it’s not just going to be me talking. I got to get them involved somehow. So okay, I’m going to point them to our Facebook page, and I’m going to point them to our website. And I’m going to ask them to sign up for this for a webinar. And I’m going to ask them to download this whitepaper.”

And…no, you’re not going to do that. So, stop thinking that way. Your idea that, “Well, if I have six calls to action, surely one of them will appeal to them.” No, it won’t. That’s not how you get this done.

You’re going to be sending lots of e-mails. So, have one call to action per e-mail, and that’s it, one. And make that call to action easy to do. Well, what that means is to think about how people are reading e-mail these days.

And one of the points that he made was most people, the majority now, are reading their e-mail on their phone. And on your phone, it is easier to have a graphical button to click than underlined link. So, use buttons.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use underlined links also. But make sure there are buttons. Make it easy for people. And if you really feel like, “I do have to have multiple calls to action. I refuse to bow to this.”

Fine, have multiple calls to action, but have them all be to the same thing. Have a button that goes to your Facebook page and a link that goes to your Facebook page or, you know, whatever it is, is going to be the call to action for this e-mail, have it at the top and have it at the bottom.

That’s all cool, but focus on one thing at a time because that’s how people’s brains work. All you’re doing is diluting your power when you say, “Either do this or do that, or do this third thing.”

Harrison Wright: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Kenneth Vogt: Apparently not.

Harrison Wright: I think with all that said and done, all I can say at this point is our call to action is go and watch the webinar, and take notes. Wait, that’s two things. So, just watch it. The notes can come if you want them to.

Kenneth Vogt: Well said. If you want to do that, it’s quite simple. Go to, and you can see this webinar. And that’s, Declan is: D-E-C-L-A-N. And of course, you can sign up to see lots of free webinars and get other great content just by going to the Life Science Marketing Society site to sign up for not just Declan’s webinar, but for others.

But hey, start with Declan. It’s a great place to start.

Harrison Wright: That it is. We’ll sign off now. This is Harrison Wright.

Kenneth Vogt: And I’m Kenneth Vogt, and we thank you for listening into our presentation on this webinar today.

Recorded Voice: To get more insight from the Life Science Marketing Society, please visit and grab your free membership.

[End of Audio]

Photo Credit: Jeremy Noble

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