Next Generation Email Marketing

Things go in cycles – we’ve all heard this. Email marketing isn’t new, far from it. It’s been through at least one cycle from being leading edge, to being a trend, to being abused. Many thought that spam filters would reduce the applicability of email marketing. Well, read on, because we’re in the next generation of email marketing – post learning – and the opt-ins are on the increase!

Why are opt-ins increasing? Well, here’s what I’ve learned from some of the greats…

Clean Templates

When it became normal for email clients to read HTML, email marketing seemed to go a bit mad. Some of the newsletters I received were so over engineered it was difficult to see the actual text though the multi-columned, flashing, pointy lookie here, more headline graphics please, layout. They were comparable to those first web sites that had discovered color – and put it everywhere.

The best use of HTML is to promote clarity and readability. The ability to put ugly web links behind text that explains them; to have bullet points or layout that emphasis the points. Such things that help the time poor reader get through the message quickly – and take action.

My own approach in using email marketing is to keep messages short and to the point. Use HTML for clear layout. And in early emails, leave out images and other content that might cause an email client application like Microsoft Outlook, to block the content.

Automated & Personalized

One internet duality is that it gives you the ability to address millions of people, yet personal relationships are the most effective sales tool there is. If you have a trusting relationship with a client or customer, they are more likely to buy your products. If you represent a company with huge brand awareness like Nike or Microsoft then the rules get a little skewed, but for most businesses, relationships are key.

Today’s modern sequential email autoresponder systems, that support the generation of personalized emails, are perfect for automated relationship building. When I receive an email that isn’t personally addressed, it feels old fashioned.

Even though I know perfectly well that personalized email can be automated, I still feel better about receiving it.

Permission Based

Certainly in the world of email marketing, buying lists, has become much less popular. Perhaps it’s because of the ease of reporting spam email. But building your own list based on permission marketing is much more ‘the norm’ in next generation email marketing.

In a permission marketing approach, prospects willingly provide their name and email address through an email opt-in box. It seems obvious that individuals who self select, giving their permission for you to email them, are more likely to be interested in your products and services than those who just ‘appear’ on your list.


Some of the emails I receive are great at compelling me to take action, and I still marvel at their creators. They tend to follow all these next generation email marketing guidelines, including the oldest one – having compelling copy.

We all receive plenty of email, probably too much. So, when your client reads yours, it better be good at delivering its message in way that makes them want to read it.

I like these simple rules:

  • The goal of title, is to compel you to open the email
  • The goal of the first sentence is to compel you to read the second (and so on, for a short number of sentences)
  • The goal of the last sentence is to get you to take action


Not all businesses are global. But many internet based businesses are. If you refer to a TV show or use colloquialism or anything else that assumes the ‘local’ knowledge of your country, you stand the chance of confusing or even losing a portion of your readers.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use local examples – just do it in a way that includes those that aren’t familiar with them. Here’s a simple example of using a TV personality that introduces the name and the context of the personality for those that aren’t familiar with it:

  • “There’s a well known talk show host here in the UK called Michael Parkinson, last night…”

These five simple guidelines are working in the next generation of email marketing and opt-ins are on the increase. The money, it seems, is still ‘in the list.’

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