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Email Marketing Rules

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 09 Oct, 2013
Essential Essential topic

A review of Chad White's new book and recommendations from his webcast

Chad White's new Email Marketing Rules gives a great toolkit to help marketers systematically review all aspects of their email programmes. I love its simplicity, with focused advice given throughout using short tips covering all the key issues that matter in Email Marketing. Altogether there are over 100 Rules or key best practices that can be easily reviewed. The Rules are grouped within different areas that matter to performance from the fundamentals like Permission, List-building and Deliverability into best practice guidance on content, design and targeting plus more advanced topics like behavioural emails.

This slide deck from our recent webcast examples some of the main best practices we covered:

In the webcast, Chad used examples to show how to improve all aspects of email marketing from Welcome Emails through Defensive Design and Enewsletters to Mobile-friendly.

The book has something for marketers with different levels of experience with email marketing.  Experienced email marketers will gain the most from the later more advanced Rules while marketers who manage others who do Email marketing will find the earlier chapters useful for a grounding and then. All will find that the Rules prompt them to question their approach and give ideas of new approaches to test to boost performance - that's my kind of book! The checklist type format doesn't allow for so many examples, so do check out our webcast and Chad's website for those.

How I developed my Email Marketing Rules

I have believed in the power of email marketing as one of the key online marketing channels to drive sales in all types of business for a long time now. When I started training in Internet Marketing Strategy for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) in 1997 I don't think there were any training courses in Email marketing.  It seemed that everyone advising on Internet marketing was fixated on the website as the "crock of online gold". Although I did flag the importance of Email marketing as an important capability to develop as part of CRM, the coverage of email marketing on my course was limited, with no time for best practices.

Over the next few years it seemed that in many businesses, Email marketing was still a huge wasted opportunity. For example, many companies welcomed new prospects and customers with a plain text "Thank you for joining our list" Welcome email rather than explaining what their brand could offer to engage them. Some still do... Others didn't put as much effort into creating email templates for their newsletters and other communications as they did into their website. Some still don't.

Across the board, there was a lot of poor practice from the basics like getting emails delivered, effective engagement and calls to action through to the strategic issues that really matter to Relevance and ROI such as Targeting, Offer, Frequency and Context within integrated communications.

By 2001 or maybe 2002 I thought that a standalone email course would be popular, so created one for the CIM and later in 2005, I think, gave the first Econsultancy training course which was on Email Marketing. I was even spurred to write Total Email Marketing in 2002 since it seemed there were so many issues for Email marketers to manage with their agencies to get the best results. I introduced the book and my talks with the CRITICAL factors for Email success and developed many other best practices covering strategy to create which are now available via the Smart Insights  7 Steps Guide to Email Marketing.

Although I did create a second edition of Total Email Marketing, things have moved on and I can no longer recommend my own books! Instead we update Smart Insights readers through our 7 Steps Guides to Email marketing and guides from specialists like Tim Watson, Mark Brownlow, Mark Austin and Jordie van Rijn. I still also write and create tutorials.

As well as our regular writers, Chad White is another email marketer I turn to find out about the latest practices and the fundamentals of Email marketing. Chad's new Email Marketing Rules gives a great way to review all aspects of your Email Marketing.

I have looked to Chad to gain ideas to improve Email marketing for many years now, since 2006 in fact, when he launched the highly regarded Retail Email blog. I loved it for its mix of practical ideas of how to better improve engagement and response to email coupled with great examples of these in practice. For instance, I first learned about "Pre-headers" on Chad's blog, a technique still relatively rare in the UK. Later Chad showed how his advice leads many others through giving some of the first examples of how to integrate social media with email and create mobile email experiences too. I say "loved" since it's now the Responsys New School Marketing Blog and Chad's advice to support the book is on his Email Marketing Rules site.

So, that's my personal history of email marketing, if you have made it this far, it would be good to see you at the webcast!

Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. My personal site,, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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