Email Marketing – What You Can Learn From Homing Pigeons

by | Nov 22, 2013

email marketingIf you think of email marketing as a way to bombard current and future customers with pitches and useless newsletter blah, blah, blah – you have missed the point.  Those tactics may have worked a decade ago, but these days promotional emails are offensive to the recipient.  If you send a newsletter, it had better be full of actionable, useful information or it will be a waste of time.

Email marketing is best when it is tactical and automated – yet it is the most effective way to develop a personal, trusted relationship with your contacts.  Executing an effective email campaign is both an art and a science.   

Let’s look at some historic tactical giants to see what we mean:

Military Homing Pigeons

The use of homing pigeons to win military campaigns began sometime around the 5th century BC and continued to be a tactic until World War II.  These birds were critical for carrying important information across enemy lines.  It was both simple and effective.

To people who love to use more complicated means for reaching people, email may seem too simple.  They see their bulging email inbox and assume that a carefully placed advertisement, although it is much more complex, is less intrusive.  Study after study reports that customer-centric, interesting and useful information in an email campaign is much more welcomed and trusted. 

Aristotle (circa 300 BC)

 Compelling observations about the art of persuasion were made by Aristotle in the 4th century.  His philosophical classification of persuasion methods into ethos, pathos and logos changed the way the world looked at successful communication.

 In the early days of advertising, Eugene Swartz wrote: “Advertising is the literature of desire.”  Since the heydays of advertising greatness, much has changed about how we persuade sales leads to buy and customers to trust us.  One thing remains consistent.  

Appealing to the desires of your ideal client is the best method for accomplishing those goals.

Human stories that connect and helpful information they can use is what today’s buyer demands.  Email campaigns that provide those magical ingredients will go much farther than complex and expensive push media advertising. 

Alexander the Great

Perhaps the greatest ruler of all time, Alexander the Great was a student of Aristotle and the art of persuasion.  He used both homing pigeons and the great philosopher’s three secrets to accomplish his goals.

 Ethos: Selling yourself as an expert is more powerful when your email content is generous with useful information.  They will appreciate your sharing and believe that giving them useful, actionable content before they become a customer indicates that you will be even more beneficial once they purchase from you.

Pathos: Using emotion to sway sales leads beliefs is powerful and profitable.  Tell powerful stories that evoke strong emotions.  They will be much more likely to opt-in to your list so you can tell them more.

Logos:  Information and emotion are useful to begin the conversation, but eventually the sales lead will want very specific, logical substantiation of what you are promoting.

Email Marketing Today 

One of the most challenging email marketing campaigns ever was undertaken by Obama in the 2012 re-election run for President of the U.S.  Many email marketing gurus have carefully analyzed how his email marketing campaign was structured, delivered and implemented.  Many will claim that his successful email marketing is the single biggest reason why he is still our president. 

The email campaigns included brilliant uses of landing pages, subject lines, opt-in forms and clickable topics to rally voters around his message.  If the presidential race was affected by a carefully designed and executed email marketing campaign, it surely can help you win more customers for your business.