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34 min read

HubSpot email marketing strategy + best practices 101 (HubHeroes, Ep. 27)


When we talk about email marketing, we have to acknowledge that we've all come a long, long way since ...

youve-got-mail-email-marketingUnlike dial-up, AOL chatrooms, and AIM profiles packed with lovey-dovey lyrics from Dave Matthews, email marketing has never quite gone out of style. In fact, you might stay email marketing's swagger has gotten stronger than ever:

However, just because email marketing is still alive and kicking β€” particularly for those of us devoted users of the HubSpot Marketing Hub and HubSpot Sales Hub β€” doesn't mean a lot hasn't changed. 

So, this week β€” in the first of TWO episodes about email marketing in the HubSpot and inbound universe β€” we're going to unpack how far we've come with email marketing, how you need to be looking at it differently in your business, and what real email marketing success looks like in 2023.

And yes, we hit some pretty big points about sales emails, too! There's something for everyone in this episode ... 

Here's what we cover in this episode ...

  • The good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly cold outreach email strategies.
  • How to actually delight prospects in emails when you don't even know them yet.
  • How Gmail has actually positively impacted open and engagement rates with the introduction of Updates and Promotions folders.
  • A brutally honest sidebar about folks who are frustrated because they're not trying to create genuine value through email, but rather are trying to game the system.
  • How has HubSpot evolved in the email space over the past decade?
  • Yes, we get into the nasty business of buying email lists.

And a heck of a lot more! 



George B. Thomas: Yeah. That's right. No representation of the employer on this podcast. I'm just saying, I am super excited. Listen.

First of all, we gotta address the issue in the room, the issue for our tissue, and that is we have no Liz today. Liz is out like galavanting. See, I'm gonna use all the old words that I can right up at the get go here. She's out galavanting across the countryside doing Liz things. So it's just Highfalutin'

Devyn Bellamy: Liz things.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Highfalutin'

Max Cohen: Nomad Liz stuff?

George B. Thomas: No no mad stuff. So Yeah. It's it's gonna be it's it's gonna be an interesting episode, though, because we are we are choosing to pick a precursor conversation to our next conversation, which is the fact that it may be time. It just may be time to start buying lists. Well, we'll get into that later.

We'll get into later.

Max Cohen: Today, we're gonna talk George.

Devyn Bellamy: I straight out. Like, I I will we will square up.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Let's let's I'm telling you,

Max Cohen: it's a strategy. At the beginning was very important.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. We're we're gonna we're gonna talk about virtual eating lists.

Max Cohen: Yeah. Yeah.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. For sure. The yeah. The disclaimer. We have our own thoughts.

But today, we're gonna talk about an honest HubSpot. We're we're gonna talk about an honest HubSpot email marketing conversation. See, this is what happens when Liz isn't around. It's just like cats all over the place. But but here's the thing.

Get ready, Hubby Heroes universe, because we're about to dive into one of the most lasting and powerful marketing and sales tools in your company's arsenal, email marketing. It's interesting to me how many people would believe that statement or live in the camp that email's dead. We'll talk about that as we kinda move forward. But here's the deal. How long, has email been around?

Does anybody on this panel of humans who have been using HubSpot know when email actually was invented and the first email was sent?

Devyn Bellamy: I wanna say it was in the seventies or eighties, but it could've even been in the sixties. I know that email as a concept has been around the official norm nomenclature. But I remember it was usually used just in academia at first. Right?

George B. Thomas: So my thing is, how in the world is it still around? The rotary phone is dead. The mini disc player is dead. Like, there are things have the the I mean, they're just gone. But email is still around.

And, honestly, if done right, maybe isn't even gone out of style at this point. Right? Incredibly powerful, lead nurturing, education, communication. Like, what is your take on why email just doesn't go away?

Devyn Bellamy: Correspondence and the need there for it will never die. We're always gonna need to communicate. And until a better tool comes along that's more widely adopted than email, their email is always going to be there. Now how it's used, and the effectiveness of the different ways people wanna use it, that's a different conversation. But I mean, mail has been around almost as long as people have.

And we still have the, you know, rain, sleet, or hail. They'll be there. Right? Yeah.

Max Cohen: I think I think also

George B. Thomas: too They'll be there.

Max Cohen: It's it's also kind of been like an advertising medium that, like, I think as a society, we've, like, tolerated to an extent. Right? You know, like, phone phone has kinda died. Right? Everyone hates cold calling because no one likes talking to strangers, but at the same time, these days, no one likes picking up phone numbers that they don't recognize.

Right? So, like, you know, the kinda you you could say, like, before there was email marketing, there was probably I don't know if telemarketers came before email marketing or what. I'm sure they did in some way, shape, or form. Right? But that's easily mutable.

Right? You can choose to not pick up the phone. You can choose to go on the do not call list. You can choose. And people, I think, are probably more likely to take those routes because a phone call is so much more invasive and so much more personal than, like, an email that, like, even if you are that person that I mean, there were some people that love to be at inbox 0, and there's other people like my wife who when I looked down at the mail app on her phone, it just says, like, 999 plus dot dot dot.

You know what I mean? And, like, people can kinda easily ignore that. But I think also there's just so much there's so much of an industry around it too. Just like there are, like, any other advertising mediums is that kind of exists for that. But, you know, also, it's just in today's, like, digital age.

It's a tool that we kinda continue to use to, like, passively communicate things that aren't as urgent but still are important, but we don't need to deal with now, but they can kinda just be deal dealt with later, and it's faster than regular mail. So, yeah, it's still there.

George B. Thomas: It's interesting to, like, dream about if it ever will go away. And and by the way, Max, you just made email sound real sexy. It's passive, things that you really don't you know, no action Yeah. Which, by the way, if that's the kind of emails you're sending, maybe you should just Slack everybody or something instead. I just I I just don't even know.

But but here's the thing. Email can be really dope. It can be like the Nirvana place for your marketing, but it can also sometimes you look at what people are sending. And, man, do I have a story later of the wild, wild west, man. It is just craziness.

Like, people were in the middle of street gunslinging just, like, straight up from the hip, and you you open your inbox. Pow. You're like, not you're you're out. Like, they got you, and then you're like, what is going on here? So that's that, ladies and gentlemen, we're digging into this story of email, but with the hint or tone of HubSpot email marketing, what that means as far as HubSpot, what it means for your strategy.

And so let's just go ahead and get into this. And the first question that we have here is what changed about how people should be looking at their email marketing? So if we think, right, the beginning of even HubSpot, let's just go that far back, 2010, 2011, 2012, the early days. What has changed that right now if you were to talk to somebody about their email, email marketing strategy, you'd be like, hey. This.

Max Cohen: I'm really interested in hearing your guys' thoughts on this because because I wanna make I wanna I wanna pop up another quick disclaimer on this discussion.

George B. Thomas: Uh-oh.

Max Cohen: I do not consider myself at all educated when it comes to email marketing in any way, shape, or form. I have done approximately close to 0 research, nor do I consider myself any sort of expert on the subject. I go off of what made sense for me. Right? And how I experience and interact with email marketing, I think there's probably gonna be a lot of, like, email marketers listening to this that are gonna think I have some pretty dog shit takes on it.

But you know what? I probably do. A lot of it just is gonna come from the heart. So I forgot what the original question was, but Devin and George, I consider you guys experts on this subject. So I'd love to hear your answer to this question first, and then maybe I'll throw a few cents in thereafter.

Devyn Bellamy: Well, I think your point of view is exactly what's needed on this particular episode because marketers ruin everything. Yeah. And it's hard for us to see what we're ruining it as we're ruining it often until it's too late. So Yeah. I'd love to hear the you know, it really grinds my gears.

Max Cohen: It's

Devyn Bellamy: just But the the biggest difference to me with email marketing is now email marketing should be done with a mindset of opt in and warmth. Yeah. If it's not a warm contact, if it's not someone who's been engaged with your brand or been engaged with you before, cold emailing is is is rude.

Max Cohen: Yeah, dude. It's rude.

Devyn Bellamy: And it's like I remember my first email marketing campaign quote unquote that I ever did was when I was 17 years old and I learned how much college costs. Back then, this is in the mid nineties, you were able to go to the bookstore because that's where most books were sold back then, and then you were able to buy a book with nothing but rich people's email addresses. And this was like a 300 page book with just the 1%. It was like a 1% rolodex. And so I sent every email address in that book a sob story about how I needed help paying for college, and a shocking number of them well, a shocking number of them went through.

Almost a 100% deliverability Wow. Which is scary enough.

Max Cohen: Take that zoom info. Oh, my goodness.

Devyn Bellamy: But some of these people Oh,

George B. Thomas: shots fired.

Devyn Bellamy: Some of these people actually responded. Now no one gave me money, of course. But the fact that it was so easy to get in contact with the wealthiest people via email back then. Wow. Where now it's virtually impossible.

I work at HubSpot and there are some HubSpotters that I can't send an email to knowing that they'll get it unless I go through their executive assistant first. That's that's how email is now. So if you're thinking you're gonna send this magic bullet email or that you have this lightning in a bottle lead, nurturing email, chances are your strategy is old enough to vote at this time. You need to start you you need to move ahead and think about better ways. Email now for marketing at least awareness type stuff where it's cold, man, you you don't want that to be the center of your, of your strategy.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I don't want people though to hear that and not think that it shouldn't be part of the strategy. Maybe not the center, but but huge definitely huge part, not the center. Like, there's there's something else there. But but here's the thing.

What I think about when I hear you, Devin, it's literally this thing of, like, back in the eighties, you were you were excited to be like, yeah. I'm green jeans 754 Like, just hit me up, man. Like, you because it was new and it was fresh, and now you're like, yo. Only only the right people.

Right? To the point where a lot of us humans have created, like, an email that we use for all the stuff that we sign up that we really don't care about and an email that people can get to if we like, they're close to us. Right? So we have to remember that us as humans have created these strategies to cut the marketers and the sales teams off at the past before they even think that they've got something that might be valid or not valid just because it went through NeverBounce. Right?

But it's but it's my it's my, like, shade, my protector, my shield email, if you will, that you actually got that I don't even open. It's the one, by the way, Max, that probably has 9,999 dot dot dot dot emails in it. And I don't care if it's in promotions or spam or junk or whatever. Who cares? Like, I got my 20% off coupon.

Now just I don't care. Yeah. But here's the thing. What I wanna say also is that there comes a time where you have to look at for your business, how do most people communicate. And this can take you down a whole bunch of different roads.

I have a ton of people who love to communicate via email. I have a ton of people actually who want to call me and I'm like, bro, what what are you doing? Mhmm. But and I'm talking clients. Like, they just they wanna call, and whether it's a Zoom call or a phone call or a they want that voice even for what could potentially be an email.

And so there's this think about the phone and the the conversation we talked about the phone right now. There's this curve that's happening kind of with email. We used to go by the longest cord ever so that we could attach it to the phone, wrap around the hallway, and go to our bedroom and have a phone call because being on the phone was that cool. Yep. Right?

So think about, like, the correlation that's happening. But what I will say is most of these strategies that humans are coming up with is because of bad email. Yeah. Bad actors. Bad strategies.

And so, Max, I'm gonna go back to your original, like, I'm gonna get myself out of trouble before we even start as a marketer, how do you lean into your human side? In 2012, HubSpot was preaching, don't call me customer, call me human. I never lost that. I never left that. Like, I run business and teach in, the human way.

So, Max, when you think about, like, what's the, like, crappiest, nastiest, like, email thing that ever happened to you versus maybe something that was like, oh, man. That was, like, gold. Like, is there a story that your brain goes to? Because I know I have I have one where I was like, oh, oh, I oh, oh. And I didn't know how to act, but where does your brain go?

Yeah. I

Max Cohen: I don't know if it's, like, one necessary story just because it's more of, like, a 1,000,000,000 micro experiences, like, over time. You know what I think? I think, like, people don't well, first of all, I think marketers make a ton of assumptions about their email marketing. Right? And maybe that's because maybe it's just a numbers game.

Right? Like, I can get it. Like, there's some things about it that have just never made sense to me, and and and we'll get into those. But, like, when it when it talks about, like, the experience of email marketing, it's like, I'm I'm always constantly thinking about what is gonna go through someone's brain when they get this email. And I think a lot of markers go, they're gonna wanna buy this thing.

It's like, no. That's not people are smarter than that. People know when you're trying sell them stuff, especially when they get an email from a brand name. What we all do these days is when we see an email show up in our inbox or flash it on our phone or, like, whatever, right, and we see name of a company, immediately, we're conditioned to go, oh, they're just trying to sell me something. I don't care.

Right? That doesn't need to be seen right now. It doesn't need to do that unless it's like hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper, very, very, very relevant, and I'm expecting it. Right? That's different.

And so it's just it's tough because we've we've kind of been so conditioned to just, like, ignore that stuff, yet people keep doing it. So there's a piece of the ass just like, well, I mean, there must be something that's working about that if they keep doing it. Otherwise, they're just kinda being lazy. I don't know. But, like, the worst experiences are the ones where it's like, dude, I give I give this company my email once, and then I'm just getting emails from them every single freaking day.

And when I try to subscribe, it doesn't work, and they just keep coming no matter what. Like and I have to go and put them in a spam folder or filter them out to get them to stop or, like, what those are the real bad experiences. And, like, what what I think people just don't understand is, like, if you have someone who's a recipient that's paying attention to how many times you're just destroying their inbox with irrelevant shit every single day, you are turning that person into an enemy. You're not turning them into someone who might be interested in the next thing you happen to send them. You're turning that person into someone who really despises your constant presence in their inbox.

Right? And I don't think, like, a lot of people are thinking about that. I think people are looking at open rates and going, oh, you're doing a good job. Right? When it's just like I don't know if that's a failure of leadership to purpose of email marketing and what it should be doing and stuff like that.

I don't know. There's just so much about it that's, like, so unbelievably cringe that it's, like, it's really hard for me to understand how I actually feel about it. They know it has to be useful for some reason because so many people are still doing it. Right? But there's still so much about it that I just see that's just so wrong that, like I don't know.

I'm I'm floating in Yeah. I'm floating in this very weird space of how I feel about it.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. It's interesting because, a, there's a couple things I wanna unpack with what you said. 1, you mentioned open rates, which by the way, that's one thing since we're talking about things that have changed. You can't trust open rates anymore between BIMI and what Apple did with there's, like things are just getting opened even though they're not opened by the actual humans. So that's not even a metric to pay attention to.

Like, I literally, months ago, started teaching the folks that I help, listen. It's it's more about the click. It's more about the reply. It's really less about the opens. And if you're listening to this and you're like, wait.

What? Just do a quick research, study on what Apple changed with email, what BIMI means, all the things that are happening around that. The other thing too, Max, that I wanna unpack with what you were talking about is it's it's kind of just a a human principle. Right? We can do 7 things that are good.

Seven things that are good. As soon as we do one bad, you know what people focus on? The bad thing. And the fact that, like, marketers, marketers, we need to understand it's not the 57th email they're where they're gonna go, oh. Oh, yeah.

I I guess I do think they're cool, and I love them. That's not that's not happening. Like, by that time, it's too late. And so we have this, depreciating return. Right?

Like, you have to be cool out the gate, and you gotta be, like, just calm. And and it really has to be human, and it has to be valuable. It has to be and you use the words hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper relevant. Yeah. That's when we start to win.

One of the things that we are always talking about is how do you make it customized, personalized, and feel, even though it's a marketing email, that it is a one to one email at the end of the day. So that that gets me into where I wanna actually dive into, like, ways that we have seen brands getting email marketing wrong. And I'm I'm gonna start with this one, Max, because I wanna dive a layer deeper than where you went because you were like, yeah. They just they, I, they email me and they email me and they, you know, I just signed up for your thing. I didn't wanna get it 57 times.

The amount of newsletters Oh. That come into my inbox that I never signed up for, that I have zero clues who you are, that I have to go over to Mailchimp or some other system that let your dirty butt in so that you could spam the crap out of me when I never even gave you the right is mind blowing. Mind blowing. I mean, I spend a good portion. I and what I'm saying, like, maybe 15 to 30 minutes a day just keeping my inbox clean of people who never got permission to be there in the first place.

And so if you think that that kind of crap is gonna work by the way, I'm not even mad at you because I realized that you may not just know better. And what I mean by that is I literally had a client that I was talking to 2 days ago, Max, and we were talking about they were, doing email. It was for an event, and then they did this workflow, and they wanted the last thing for the person to be added to their blog subscribe list. And I said, wait. You haven't given them the opportunities to subscribe to your blog.

Like, no. Yeah. And we had a very human conversation, and and they were like, oh. Oh, yeah. I guess I guess that is a fundamental important part of them, you know, like, letting me know the frequency and and giving me the permission to actually, put them in this list that to me feels very, like, whatever.

And to them, it's like, you just done chapped my butt when they get that email.

Max Cohen: Yeah. I'm I'm thinking, like, when I when I started thinking about, like, newsletters and people still doing it, I I think I think something that I've seen and maybe it's because I just wasn't paying attention to attention to it. But I used to be a really, really big newsletter hater. And I think it was just because of the newsletters I saw. I kind of assumed those were newsletters as a whole.

And, you know, I think a a big portion of that is correct. Is, like, I would see marketers doing and, like, almost all their job was, like, literally just this, is they would send their company's newsletter out to everybody on their list, and the thing would be like a gigantic 12 page long, you know, email of just worthless stuff. Right? Like, oh, this is Jim, and he's our new accountant. And here's here's these events we're going to, and here's some other stuff, and here's links to these other websites, and here's the you're like you know, here's a deal on a product we're having.

No. No. And people thought that was marketing. Right? And and it's just like, listen.

You're you're trying to send people all this content, and you're spending an asinine amount of time creating these giant what look like hyper complex infographic emails that are taking you hours and hours and hours to create, and people are gonna only look at them for maybe 10 seconds before they move on to the next deal email in their inbox. And you're sitting here getting butt hurt because when you preview this newsletter on what it's gonna look like on Outlook 2,006, one of the margins isn't working correctly. And I was sitting here like, what are you doing with your life? That this is like where you're spending your time and putting your mental calories. So I got into this, like, really kinda piss poor attitude, I think, about newsletters.

I'm I there are some newsletters that I think are still viable if the newsletter itself is the content. Right? So, like, there are some things out there that are products, and the product is the newsletter. It's it's something you you pay to subscribe to or, like, you specifically sign up for and it is marketed as a newsletter. And it is content rich.

It is aggregating stuff you're actually interested in. And people are signing up for the newsletter. Not just getting it because they got an ebook and it's about the cut, but it's an actual product. I think those are cool. I remember getting into an argument with Doug on the last podcast.

Right? I think when I what I told people, like, listen, delivering your content via email is, like, not the way you wanna do it. You wanna use it as a vehicle to get them on your website. Right? Which I still think is, like, valid today.

You like, the email inbox is the most distracting environment there is. So you wanna get them onto your website and get them away from that to actually consume content. But Doug brought up a really good point about how he said, I love getting newsletters. But, like, these are newsletters he's actually well, I'm I would think. I'm not trying to speak for Doug.

But I would imagine someone who wanted to get a newsletter expected to get that newsletter, signed up specifically to receive that newsletter. It's not just some random one with a bunch of random crop in it, which is, like, 90% of the ones that I see. So, like, newsletters have kinda come around on. Right? But, like, here's the thing.

If you're a marketer and all you're doing is building a hodgepodge company newsletter and sending it out and thinking it's email marketing, boy, have you missed the bug.

George B. Thomas: Well, and I think too what's funny is, again, I'm old school. So I remember, and it still kinda happens, but my wife really gets the mail at this point or one of my kids because they're old enough to go out to the end of the driveway and back. You know? Yeah. They're, like, really grown ass adults, but they're still in the house.

Never never nevertheless Yeah. Digress. It's not why we're here. That's another episode. It's probably not called hub heroes.

It's called something totally else. But at the end of the day, I can remember going out, and and what it was is it's it's in your mailbox. It's a sales flyer. And what some people are trying to do is they're trying to duplicate a sales flyer in a digital

Max Cohen: Yeah.

George B. Thomas: Presence. That is not a newsletter. That's a sales flyer. And if it's gonna be a sales flyer, then let it be a sales flyer, but know that it's probably not gonna generate any sales. It like, my sales flyer makes it up the driveway

Max Cohen: Yeah.

George B. Thomas: And into the trash cans. That's how it makes it. Yep. It doesn't even make it into the house. And so you have to think newsletter.

Yes. If it is truly a newsletter

Max Cohen: Yep. And

George B. Thomas: when I say news letter, I I mean something relevant. And, honestly, one of the things that I'd like to talk about when it comes to HubSpot email and HubSpot email marketing is the ability to actually sit down, strategize, and figure out what are the areas of interest that somebody might have around our business. How can I give them a multi checkbox where they can select the 2, 3 out of the possible 10 areas of interest? And how can I use HubSpot's smart content based on the list that they've put in because they select an area of interest and now deliver only the 3 or 4 pieces of a 10 part email newsletter because it's the 3 things or 4 things that they care about? It's contextual to each individual human that is actually in your database.

It starts to feel like it was made for them, Not just made for the masses.

Max Cohen: And I think the test that you gotta run it through, whatever you're about to say, I built this email. It's gonna get sent out either right now or under some sort of automated context or, like, whatever. You gotta ask yourself, if this is a real if this was a real human interaction, would it make sense? You remember that TikTok I made a while ago about email? Email emails if marketing emails if they were real human interactions.

Right? You gotta remember, that's the sending someone an email is the equivalent of walking up to them and tapping them on their shoulder. You're you're going you're you're you're you're going at them when they don't expect it, and you're delivering a message to them. Right? So you gotta say, if you were doing this in real life, what would their reaction be?

Because it's probably gonna be pretty similar, At least, maybe in a, like, a little bit more of, like, a tone down extreme. Right? But, like, the same sort of, like, stuff is gonna happen in their head. Right? So when you say be able to gather information about what's relevant to them, the physics of why that's important is because if you're gonna come out of nowhere and deliver a message to somebody, you better make sure that it's at least relevant to them.

Right? If they're not expecting to hear from you and you're popping up out of nowhere, at a bare minimum, you should be taking special care to ensure that when they get that message out of nowhere, that it's at least relevant. Because if you don't do that, 1, you're bugging someone, and 2, you're giving them stuff that they don't need. If that happened in real life, they're they're gonna hate you. They're gonna they're not gonna they're gonna they're gonna think you're weird.

So, yeah, I think, like, that's the first little kind of sniff test you gotta give it. Right? But I think also there there's some more, like, sort of, like, nuanced in, like, trust building that you can do with email. Right? Especially in this age that we live in where people kind of expect email marketing to happen in a certain way.

Right? Today, we all expect our emails that we give out to be used and abused. So the standard experience that we are expecting is that I give my email and you're like, shit. I'm I'm gonna get I'm gonna get nuked with, like, buy this, buy that. Do this, do that.

Right? And I think with your email strategy, if you can do, like, a pattern interrupt, and maybe in the way that you communicate with people, you show that you're not trying to abuse them or catch them in these little tricks. I think what that can do is that can get folks to go, oh, they just wanted to make sure I had that content I requested and not try to do anything else. They just wanna make sure that, like, I knew where to find x y z and not anything else. Right?

They sent me that extra email actually asking, what do you actually wanna hear from us? Are we sending too many emails? Right? You know, things like that. That there's, like, little micro things you can do there to just interact with people on a more human level that is not just, you know, putting them behind the email, you know, marketing by this, by that, just chain gun that they're used to.

Right? But

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I love this because I think it starts to dip into when you talk about tapping people on the shoulder and email in a more human way and paying attention to the micros and and strategy. It goes into, like, what are some inspired examples that we've seen of people getting it right? And I have a I have a great story because there's there's something that is the bane of my existence on a daily basis. Whether it's for this podcast here, the Hub Heroes podcast, or whether it's for the podcast that I do for Marketing Profs, which is the Marketing Smarts podcast.

And that is when people pitch guests or the fact that they wanna be a guest. And those are some of the most crappiest of crap emails. Mhmm. Right? And but that's not what we're talking about.

We already talked about crappy emails. This is something that inspired me, and I'm gonna try to paint a really, good picture. Because about 4 days ago, I was going through my inbox, and I saw this subject line, and it had an envelope emoji with a heart on the envelope. And I started to read the subject line, and it said a note from a fan and then a bracket, plus a marketing smarts. I got that 4, and I actually stopped reading.

I shoulda kept reading, but I stopped reading. Because when I clicked into it,

Max Cohen: it, then I looked

George B. Thomas: at the subject line again, and the subject line says, plus a marketing smarts guest idea exclamation mark. And but I was already in there. Right? So so they had me. But then I'll tell you how they really got me is because I clicked in there, I saw a freaking 5 star podcast review.

And I was like, wait a second. What's going on here? And so Danielle says, hi, George. Huge fan of the marketing smarts here. In fact, to show you my thanks for the 5 star content, I just left you a review to match.

And there's emoji that points down, and there's a screenshot of the actual podcast review. She goes, really enjoyed your episode with Ashley Foss. Her playground example was a breath of fresh air. Now, Max, you had to listen to the podcast to know there was actually an example of a playground in it. And the fact that she even used the person's name that was on the podcast that said that.

And so now all of a sudden you right. This goes like, oh, well, this is very contextual. This is very specific. This this is actually making me feel good. Yeah.

And then we get to the part that I didn't care about, actually, at this point. Couldn't resist reaching out because I'm working with, Amirita, and it's from anyway, I'll just go from this way. It's a pitch to have Amirita on the podcast. Mhmm.

Max Cohen: And you

George B. Thomas: know what I did? I immediately hit reply, and I said, yeah. Yeah. I'm interested. I'm interested in this topic because they gave me 3 topics to choose from, by the way.

I'm interested in this topic. Here's the link where you can schedule the podcast interview. Why did I do that? Because it wasn't a flaming hot piece of dog crap email where they just immediately went for my jugular. They didn't have any idea of who it was, the podcast, the guest, the topics, any of it.

And so this is a perfect example of, like, how you can do something that others are doing but actually shine above the rest and and get the action that you want to take place out of it.

Max Cohen: I okay. So that's a great I need to, like I need to bring this up now. So I have a bad example. So so this

George B. Thomas: is that's

Max Cohen: I think that's it. You know, for anyone who are these, like, you know, because that that that example you kinda just gave is less of, like, an email marketer, but more of, like, a sales person, like, you know, doing the proper research, putting something actually personal in there. Right? And and, like, delivering, like, a good that's like a cold outreach. You kinda got you you definitely got a cold outreach there.

Right? I think that was great. Some examples of some bad ones that I got recently. I'm gonna not say the name of the person or the company, but literally got a totally cold email out of nowhere. And the the subject line was video 1 for Max.

And it and Oh my god. And it said What going on. It said, hey, Max. Dropping this video to entice curiosity. That's, like, the first line of this email.

And then it's just like a Vidyard or a Loom or something of this guy going through this first deck of this slide or slide of this deck. Right? And I don't even know what this company does. No clue. And then at the bottom of his email, it says, imagine, build, evolve.

And that's it. And, like, it was just the weirdest weirdest, like, cold send that I've ever gotten. And then the next one was video 2 for Max. Hey, Max. Leaving you this message to excite interest.

And then it was just him just lightly saying the words of the second part of the slide of this deck. Like, I I don't know what some people are doing. Like, it's it's it's it's really brutal. Right? But they clearly bought my email somewhere, and then they're just deploying this garbage strategy.

And I spam reported the crap out of them. Right? On on every single email they sent. And it's like, dude, this is hurting your company doing this. Right?

Going out, buying lists of contacts, sending them garbage that people just don't even understand what you're doing. No context. I never expected to hear from you. You're immediately just trying to sell me something, and I don't even know what it is. All you're doing is damaging your domain.

You're you're torching your domain by by by doing this. And it's just crazy how people just don't think there's a better way, or they're so lazy. They don't wanna find the other way. And they're just doing what they've seen done and accepted as the the the the easy standard. And it's like, this isn't getting you sales.

This is damaging your brand. You know?

George B. Thomas: It's just Yeah. It's

Max Cohen: the cold email stuff is always so weird to me because there's a lot of people who die on that hill, and I just can't can't get behind it. It's so weird. It's so cringe.

George B. Thomas: We're gonna get Devin in here in a second because I know he's got a, like, a good a good example, right, of of something that maybe kinda enticed or delighted him that wasn't video 12. But I wish I wish I wish marketers could just realize there's there's one of 2 outcomes when you do what Max is talking about. Outcome number 1, if you're lucky, is something like you know, that's what that's what you're getting. Crickets.

Max Cohen: Yep.

George B. Thomas: Right? Now outcome number 2, if you if you're not so lucky, it's it's literally you're getting the big old, like You know? And that's when you get to spam. You get put to spam. You get blocked.

It's all these negative things about, you you know, and and I I'm glad you brought up, SendHealth and your domain because we're gonna talk about that in a little bit. But, Devin, you gotta jump in here, and you gotta talk to us. You've got an example, something that inspired you, something that people are getting right when it comes to the inbox.

Devyn Bellamy: Absolutely. Shout out to the team at the hustle. They do amazing work. It's an excellent newsletter, highly recommend. But there was a time when I wasn't reading it.

And so I had signed up for it, excited about it, made it through the first issue, few issues, didn't open up anymore. And so at that point, they're sending what's called gray mail. Now if you're a good marketer, what you do is you try to reach unengaged contacts less and spend more energy on contacts that are engaged or else you start sending out gray mail which lowers your email deliverability which is literally a whole class that I've taught. So, what the hustle did is they send out what's called a breakup email. It's an email you send to your unengaged contacts, saying, hey, do you still wanna hear from us?

Great. If so, we're gonna keep sending you stuff. If not, just click here, unsubscribe. Big call to action. Go ahead and click on it.

Unsubscribe. We'll stop talking to you. And so I'm a fan of that tactic as it is. But they took it to the next step calling, in the email subject line was save our intern. And the whole email was about how the intern was upset that they've been putting in all this hard work on these newsletters and no one's reading them and there was a mock slack back and forth.

And so at this point, you're really feeling for this intern and it but it was hilarious. The whole thing was tongue in cheek. It was so well written and so engaging. Starting with the save our intern. What what's going on with the intern?

So they pulled me in with the subject line. They got me to read the entire message which was absolutely hilarious. And then ended it with the, do you want to make the intern happy or do you wanna unsubscribe? Your choice. And I stayed engaged because they have generally good content.

But because that breakup email made me laugh so hard, I was like, well, let me give these guys a second chance. And to this day, I do not miss any hustle emails. I I love them because they're great but I never would have known that if they hadn't sent me the breakup, email. If they hadn't sent the breakup email and kept sending these things to me, Eventually, it would have gone from my main inbox to the promotions inbox which we always only glance at. And then eventually, it would have made its way into spam because gray mail gets you into spam.

It's just the way it works. But that was something that truly, truly impressed me because it's hard to, even if you have an opt in audience, to keep them engaged in your email. And so if they're not engaged, not only they're not converting, they're not making you money, but the postmasters are seeing that you're sending out content that no one cares about, and they're gonna eventually push you down the priority list, possibly just push you right on out the door.

Max Cohen: Can we? Wait. Yeah. Wait. Wait, George.

Did you have something you wanted to add there? Okay.

George B. Thomas: No. Go ahead.

Max Cohen: Can we talk about the Gmail promotions tab for a second?

George B. Thomas: Oh, yeah. Sure.

Max Cohen: I've read I'm gonna say studies in big ass quotation marks. I've I've I've I've read stuff that the promotions tab increases engagement. Is that bullshit, or is that true?

Devyn Bellamy: I have no idea, but I can see why it would be true.

Max Cohen: So because because here's the thing that like a lot of people like the conversation that always kind of made me and like again the research that I've done, people said it actually increased open rates. Right? And it increased engagement. Right? Because it's it's putting promotions in a place that it calls it out, and it makes it a little bit easier to engage with versus just, like, a massive list of of emails that you have to deal with.

It's more overwhelming. Right? What's funny is that, like, people are always asking me, how do I avoid the the Gmail the promotions Gmail tab? And and I think the thing that they forget is, like, not all people turn that on. First of all, I shut it off.

Because I don't I don't like Yep. That view of it chipping in. Yep. And then people think it's a spam folder. It's not.

It's not the spam folder. It's your inbox. It's just a sorted version of your inbox. It's not the spam folder. And and then the funny thing is is, like, there's people out there think, like, the product you buy will help you beat it.

And, like, the thing is is, like, all that promotions tab needs to do. And I

Devyn Bellamy: don't know if this is how

Max Cohen: it works, but, like, it has to be as simple as, like, is there an unsubscribe link in the email? Probably filtered under promotions. Right? And people are thinking, like, they need to come up with these insane ways of, like, getting around it when they forget not everybody even has it. And also not everybody's using Gmail even though everyone is kinda using Gmail, but in I guess relatively.

But, like, what have you been your kind of thoughts and experiences around that? Because, like, I've just found it it be just another thing that email marketers obsess over or people that maybe aren't super, like, educated on it, like, obsess over when, you know, like, they're not even, like, caring about the actual substance of the content they're sending out. I don't know if you have if you have thoughts on it.

George B. Thomas: So so I have thoughts. 1, I I too hear that same question a lot. Yeah. And I've never really kind of dove into if it's a positive or negative. I immediately when you said that, I was like, I did the thing, which usually when I do the things, it means I wanna find somebody that I can interview who is, like, an absolute expert on what that actually means or doesn't mean for your email marketing.

But I will say as just like a human who likes to keep it simple, the idea of there being 8 or 10 things again, the number doesn't matter. I'm just telling a story here. 8 or 10 things that I now go look at a promotions tab to see if it's relevant or not. It's at least not in my what is no longer possibly an inbox 0. Like, the sometimes that that area is just a hot mess.

So maybe you do have a little bit more of a chance when I galavant over there Yeah. And start to look at what what are those 8 to 10 or 12, numbers that I need to go clear out because my ADHD is taken over, and I I just don't want them to be there on the left sidebar anymore. So it's interesting. It is. It's interesting

Max Cohen: to me. Also, if someone goes in there, their intent is to go, okay. Now I'm looking at this kind of stuff. Right? And they're no longer distracted by the stuff they actually care about.

Right? Which is, like, personal emails they're getting. But the other thing that's, like, so weird to me about the argument there. Oh, hold on. Wait.

Sorry. Do you think Google is trying to make thing more difficult for marketers when that's literally the one way they make all of their money is catering to marketers. You think they're trying to make it harder for you? Like the logic just doesn't really make sense to me when people are, like, so hyper focused on it. I don't know.

It's just like

George B. Thomas: people can't make all their money off of invading

Max Cohen: your privacy and, like, getting it like like, making a ton of money off of advertising, and you think for some reason they're gonna take on this crusade to make it more difficult for email marketing? I I don't know. I I don't know.

George B. Thomas: I mean I

Max Cohen: don't know. It seems weird

Devyn Bellamy: to me.

George B. Thomas: I don't know. Like, the the other side of my brain to that and, obviously, this email conversation is gonna have to be 2 episodes because holy crap, people can't even believe we're at, like, almost time to close this down. But, Max, here's the thing. Google's job, its real job, especially when it comes to Gmail, is to make sure that everybody wants to continue to use the platform. Yeah.

And if I just let marketers come in all willy nilly like the wild wild west, I'm gonna be an Outlook user in, like, a week. In, like, a week, I'm gonna be out of there. And so while I hear what you're saying, and it definitely is, like, video 1 for George. This is conversation to entice me into the future conversations that we might have. I I have to believe that Google, Gmail, those tools are like, no.

Our our objective number 1 is to save you from the marketers because I'll add another layer on this. Max, not everybody is a marketer like you. Not everybody's a marketer like Devin. Not everybody's a marketer like me. Meaning, not everybody comes to the table with positive intents.

Yeah. People are trying to game this crap out of the system, and they're just not good humans. Yeah. And so they do not good human things, and we gotta remember Gmail, Google, the powers that be, they see that kind of stuff Yeah. Where we don't even maybe think about that I

Max Cohen: just think it is also possible for them to make something that looks like a quality of life improvement to say, oh, we'll get all this, like, promotional stuff out of your inbox. But we're also kinda calling it out to, like, give you some hints to go look at it and engage with it a little bit more to keep our marketing friends a little happier. Right? I don't know. I it just it's it's to me, it's just as sketchy.


George B. Thomas: anyway Yeah.

Devyn Bellamy: Conspiracy theory max. Gotta love

Max Cohen: it.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. I got I

Max Cohen: got a bunch. The next episode, we've gotta just have the hard conversation around paid lists, I think. That's gotta be the big thing.

George B. Thomas: Well, so I think there's a couple of things. Right? I think there's the the fact that we need to have a conversation about why you might wanna start buying lists. I definitely think I definitely think that we need Devon is just like, losing this stuff right now, ladies and gentlemen. I'm you can't see it.

Eventually, when we give you a video version of this podcast in a place not to be named where you can fair. It's gonna be a lot funnier. It's gonna be a lot funnier, although we know you're having fun anyway. But we have to talk about why maybe it is time to buy lists. But more than that, we need to talk about Oh.

How how the heck has, yeah, how how the heck has HubSpot evolved over the years? What are some ninja features and tricks that HubSpot people often overlook pertaining to email? What are the non best practices? Like, if if any of those three things entice you, then you're gonna wanna listen into next week's episode of the hub heroes. But we're gonna close it out like Liz closes it out.

Max, Devin, what's the one thing? What's the one thing that people need to know exiting out of this episode?

Devyn Bellamy: You shouldn't buy lists. I don't like, I know it's not this no. Don't don't buy lists.

Max Cohen: Yeah.

Devyn Bellamy: There's don't, like, just don't do it. Please don't. Like, I I got an email the other day from a guy. He sent it to my HubSpot email sending me telling me that he could sell me lists that have nothing but engaged HubSpot users. And I'm like, I bet I can find that information faster than you can.

But you know what? You you go ahead, guy, because you bought a list that had my name on it and thought it would be a good idea to sell me what I already have, 1. And 2, it's like the only way you possibly get that information is unethically or or it's fake. So that it's either way, like, I I hate is a strong word. So I'll say I dislike you significantly, and I will not be adding you to my Christmas list.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I will say that I know that guy. That guy's in my inbox too. Max, what's the one thing that people need to remember?

Max Cohen: I'm gonna double down on what Devon just said. Do not buy paid lists of emails under any any circumstance whatsoever. The other thing that I'll just say, kinda said it earlier, but, again, before you click send, ask yourself if I were to walk up to somebody on the street, tap them on the shoulder and give them this based on who I'm sending it to, would that be weird? Would it be a bit cringe? Maybe think twice about hitting the sun.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. I'm gonna close this out with email isn't dead. Bad email is dead. And, Max, I'm gonna even kinda double down on your philosophy because this is something that I've used for years. I'll sit and look at an email before I hit send, and I ask myself, would I wanna get

Max Cohen: this?

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. Would I read this?

Max Cohen: Yep.

George B. Thomas: Is this, like, is this of value, or am I just trying to shill for big GBT?

Max Cohen: Nope. And the important thing to do there is don't lie to yourself.

George B. Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Be honest with yourself and, like, you know what? Let me cut some of this back.

Let me go in a little bit of a different direction. Don't be afraid, Devin. I'm gonna preach your language. Don't be afraid to blow that email up and go back at it at a second chance. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, we are out of time.

Episode 2 of this is gonna be absolutely amazing. We'll see you next week. I'm having a hard time kicking you out of the room like Liz usually does because I'm just not that type of guy. But, yo, see you later.