Gary Thuerk’s Email Marketing Strategy
I started my digital career in email marketing. It was a natural transition for a traditional marketer who began as a copywriter. I’ve always had a soft-spot for email marketing and continue to champion its impact on customer acquisition, conversion, and revenue. That’s why I wanted to share Gary Thuerk’s email marketing story.
Back in 1978, Gary, a marketing guy at Digital Equipment Corp, sent an email blast to 400 recipients introducing the newest members in the DECSystem-20 family. Now keep in mind there was no Internet as we know it today, only the ARPAnet, which was used by leading research universities or institutes and U.S. Military labs.
Gary needed to connect with hard-to-reach West Coast ARPAnet * users and invite them to a product demonstration of the DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, and 2060T computers. So, he went through a paper directory of 2,600 users and highlighted 400 decisionmakers – one from each possible West Coast user organization. The user emails were added manually and deployed one at a time through the email system.
Now granted, it’s plain text and all caps with no personalization, but the copy spoke to the target audience, and the call-to-action was clear. There was no way to track opens, but Gary estimates about 200 folks read the email, and 40 attended the demos. Did I mention that even without tracking codes and dashboard reporting, Gary was able to show the email generated $12 million in sales? Not a bad ROI.
Gary is considered the “Father of Spam,” but his approach was much more defined and targeted than the usual spray and pray campaigns. He had an email marketing strategy – a plan of action designed to achieve a significant or overall goal. He didn’t have marketing technology or some kick-ass HTML email template, but he made the connection allowing the email to impact customer acquisition, conversion, and revenue.
Does your email marketing do that? If you lost your email marketing platform, had to rely on identifying your audience from a sheet of paper, and had to write a plain text email that resulted in direct revenue, could you do it?
You could if you followed Gary’s email marketing strategy:
- Have a clear goal
- Define your audience based on that goal
- Create a clear and concise message
- Use a single, measurable call-to-action
As email marketers, we tend to get caught up in the technology, the data, and the creative leading us to overthink what we need to do. Maybe we should think more like Gary…
“Now that I think of it, I just wanted to show our product to the market.”
Why Overcomplicate Marketing?
I get a couple of calls a week from marketing directors, marketing VPs and CMOs reaching out to see if we can help with a plethora of B2B marketing challenges they are facing. I welcome their calls, but after we hang-up I find myself wondering why is that we feel the need to overcomplicate marketing these days.
Is it the glut of MarTech, the overwhelming amount of unactionable data or the appeal of shiny new marketing concepts that muddy the effort? Is it the fierce level of competition for today’s buyer or ever-growing revenue expectations that drives marketers to fiddle and tinker with virtually every aspect of their program to the point of frustration and confusion?
I think it might just be that it’s all become a bit too much, we’ve strayed a little too far from the foundational building blocks of good marketing – and even sales for that matter.
When I think back to the early days of my marketing career, there weren’t so many choices for engaging and connecting with prospective buyers. There wasn’t this level of technology and automation demanding investment and attention. Most importantly, there wasn’t so much noise from “experts” promoting themselves and their shiny new marketing concepts as there is today.
All of that overcomplicates marketing. Worse, it’s distracting and causes marketers to lose sight of their most critical deliverable – influencing revenue.
Influencing revenue isn’t something that should be overcomplicated. It starts with setting an efficient revenue strategy in place and then layering it with people and process to execute efficiently and effectively. This roadmap to revenue keeps you going in the right direction reducing the frustration of wrong turns and the confusion of “where are we?”
Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting marketers ignore new channels, trends or concepts. I’m also not suggesting you throw your technology to the curb. But, I do think the primary focus of a marketing team should be on building the foundation for influencing revenue on a consistent basis before chasing something new. Get it working, get it right and then improve on it.
Are you overcomplicating your marketing to the point of frustration and confusion? If so, let’s connect and talk about getting you back on track.