Facebook Pixel for LeadDigital

How I Made Over £20M Using Email Marketing

Email Marketing Secrets

The following is an extract from my NEW book “Email Marketing Secrets” which is due for release in January 2022.

I began my email marketing career in 1997 when I launched an online directory for web hosting providers (directories were all the rage in the web 1.0 era). 

I’d like to say that the benefits of email marketing were obvious to me from day one, but I’d be lying.  The truth is it took me more than 12 months, 1,500+ hours and around 100,000 emails (sent individually) before I started to develop what might be described as an email marketing strategy.

I simply used email as the most cost-effective means to contact large numbers of business owners to buy advertising on my website. 

The business was a classic side hustle.  I’d finish my day job around 5:30, rush home to grab some dinner and then jump in the car and drive 10 miles to my business partner’s house for 7 pm. 

Whilst he worked on the website tech, I’d be manually bashing out 250 emails to our database encouraging them to buy some advertising.  

Around midnight we’d call it a day and I’d head home ready to repeat it all again the next day.  In those early few years, I spent about 25-30 hours a week sending or responding to sales emails.  All sent individually using MS outlook!

My email list lived on my hard drive inside MS office (on an old pst file for those with a good memory) I had a stack of plain text email templates saved to my drafts folder or on notepad.  It’s safe to say in those early days I got really really good at copy and pasting.

After a year of going through this daily cycle, I had managed to generate only around £8,000 in sales… Yes, I said 8, not 80, or 800K.   Not the most exciting start to a back story I admit.

On the one hand, this was amazing, as the internet was considered something akin to dark magic in 1997. So creating money from thin air was mind-blowing.  On the other hand, working 30 hours a week to make £8K split two ways wasn’t going really going to get us very far.

In late 1998 I was exhausted and frustrated.  Until then I’d just expected more emails to equal more sales. The problem was I physically couldn’t send more emails, and Mailchimp was still 3 years away from being invented! Not to mention at £154 a week (split 2 way) this was exactly looking scalable. 

If adding more names and sending more emails was out of the question (at least for the time being) then I needed to find another way. 

Clearly, I needed to get more of my list to take action. But how???

Until this point, all my emails were a series of basic templates sent in a simple sequence, individually.  Over and over and over again. 

I decided the best way to improve engagement (it was 1998 so we didn’t have fancy terms yet, we just called it getting replies) was to personalise the emails more.

I subdivided my database into the primary services each of the companies offered. Pulled them into a spreadsheet.  I created a tab for each service and a sheet full of companies and email addresses.

I started sending some new email templates that referenced the service.  That was it.  I sent the same number of emails each day and just started throwing their business service keyword around in the copy of each email.  The result was my first lesson in the power of segmentation and personalisation.

My sales jumped from £8K to £225K. Sure my database had grown by around 20%, but my hours were about the same. Personalisation had increased my return by 28 to 1.  The next year the numbers jumped again to £530K and it was time to quit my job and work for myself full time.

Fast forward to 2021, I’ve personally made over £20M through email marketing! It’s no exaggeration to say email marketing changed my life.

Over the last 20+ years, email technology has made some amazing advances.  We now have the ability to send emails in bulk, add fancy images, include links, schedule campaigns and track data like never before. (Oh to have that technology in 1997!) Yet beyond all these advancements, the keys to successful email marketing remain the same.

Email marketing is a deep subject with many strategic and tactical branches. The goal of this book is to cut through that noise and fast track your email marketing. Over the following chapters, I’ve broken down the email marketing secrets that I’ve learned on this incredible journey >>> coming soon