Why Email Marketing is Like Dating

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As an email marketer, I spend a lot of time writing, optimizing, segmenting, and analyzing emails for Compete. I also spend a lot of time reading other people’s emails to learn from them. I’m new-ish to the email marketing thing, so I’ve been trying to figure out what it’s like, and all I can think of is dating. Email marketing is like dating.


Think about it-When you stumble upon a brand you like, you’re in the infatuation period-you may visit the website regularly, follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and even opt-in to their emails. Sound familiar to that Facebook stalk you were doing of your significant other when you first started dating? If, of course, Facebook existed when you began dating. Perhaps you were passing notes in the hall or calling incessantly. This is a period I like to refer to as “deep like;” You want to know more about the brand, you’re engaged with them, and you’ve given them some of your information. It’s like the beginnings of a relationship.

Do you like me? [yes] [no].

You’ve checked “yes”

Then, you start getting cozy with a brand. You’ve received an email or two. Maybe you’ve made a purchase.  Most people opt-in to receive emails to confirm purchases/transactions, receive customer service, and get offers/discounts. My reasoning behind signing up for most b2c emails is for promotions. When I stumble upon a brand I like, I think in cavemanesque terms “Wow. Cool stuff. Send me things.”

Anthropologie.com is a brand I am in “deep like” with. I’ve been a customer for years. Their catalog brings joy to my life. When it arrives, I could lose an entire evening flipping through the pages with a cup of tea. They captured my attention online with their e-marketing with their opt-in functionality. What I loved about this was that you had the ability to opt-in to things that interest you. Here’s a screen shot of their opt-in screen:

anthropologie.comReceiving emails that are relevant to what I want to read guarantees that I will stay in deep like with a brand for more than just a confirmation email. Relevant email marketing also keeps users engaged with the brand. Anthropologie’s website benefits from their relevant email marketing with a high referral rate to the site. Two of the top five referring sites are email domains.


Happy customers. Happy website. Happy sales, one might think.

What happens when email marketing goes bad? Well, according to a study by Exact Target, the top reasons why consumers unsubscribe from emails:

exact target why people unsubscribe from emails54% of people unsubscribe from emails because a brand emails them too frequently. Well, how many emails is too many emails? What’s your magic number? I wake up every Tuesday morning and I’m on email overload. While Tuesday used to be the prime email open rate day to email marketers, it’s now what I call the “mark all prior open” day. When I wake up on Tuesday morning and see 48 new emails, I filter through, see if anything looks even remotely interesting by the subject line and then I hit the “mark all prior open” button, ignoring all the emails and sending them to the internet trash can later. It’s far from “deep like”…in fact, it’s close to an internet break-up.

About Karen Costa:
As the Online Marketing Specialist at Compete, Karen Costa specializes in the day-to-day online marketing functions for Compete.com-paid search, email marketing, social media, affiliate, etc. Before Karen joined the Compete team she was an online marketing coordinator for Bliss Spa and then worked for a couple of start ups. Karen says, "I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up!" Find Karen on Twitter as vanillabean45 or connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencosta