Today on a Q&A call for with my Holiday Selling Coaching Program group, a question came up about first time email marketing campaigns and what to expect.

I get this question a lot from people new to email marketing, so I wanted to cover some of the highlights of today’s email marketing conversation here.

One of my students, had just started a brand new email marketing campaign for the holidays, was concerned by his initial results.  He asked:  “I just sent out my first email marketing newsletter and no one made a purchase, what am I doing wrong?”

To begin to answer this question, we first have to clarify a truth about email marketing that many people are unaware of.

There is an art and a science to marketing with email. It’s not an either/or proposition. Ignore one or the other and your email marketing efforts will fail.

I’ve been marketing products and services on the Internet with email since 2003. In the beginning, I knew nothing about email marketing and how it worked. Over the years I’ve learned a lot.I have many readers of my newsletters who have remained on my mailing list since 2003.

In email marketing years, that’s a lifetime.

Much of what I’ve learned since I sent out my first email is by intensive study on the topic, but an equal amount has been  by trial and error.

My first email campaign as a newbie, much to my delight, netted over $2500 in sales! Little did I know that this type of response was the exception for a first time email, rather than the rule.

Email marketing studies show that you must “touch” a customer on average 7-10 times before they will make a purchase from your email.

In concrete terms, this means it will take 7-10 emails before a new subscriber is likely to buy from you. But there are a whole bunch of variables that those numbers don’t reveal.

If you send 7-10 crummy emails, no one will buy.  If you send 4-5 great emails that engage your reader and connect with them, people are likely to buy.

The numbers are the science. The human factor is the art.

How to Think About the Process of Email Marketing

Email marketing is about nurturing your customers. Gradually growing a relationship with them that naturally evolves into a sale. When you deliver value to your customers, along with presenting product offerings that are of interest to your market, your customers will respond by buying.

But if you expect the first email you send out to result into an avalange of sales, you’ll be disappointed. And if it does?  Thank the email marketing planets for being in alignment, but continue on with good email marketing form.

Nurture, Don’t Shout

Unfortunately, many well-meaning business owners start out with the intent to nurture their email list, but when results don’t appear immediately,  quickly resort to shouting.

It often goes something like this:

Email #1: Hi, my name is E.M Marketer. I sell this. Would you like to buy one?

No response from the customer.

In the next email, the volume is turned up a bit:

Email #2: Hi, my name is E.M Marketer. Here is what we have available for you to purchase!!!  Buy it now.

No response from the customer.

E.M Marketer is thinking “Maybe they didn’t get my message?  I want them to buy!!”

Volume is cranked up again.

Email #3: SALE!!!  SALE!! SALE!!! Buy Now!!

No response from the customer.

At this point either the reader often unsubscribes or stops reading the emails.

Those who remain get the loudspeaker version from E.M Marketer.


At this point, E.M Marketer is frustrated. No one is buying because there is no engagement yet. The readers don’t know E.M Marketer. And E.M Marketer doesn’t know their readers.

E.M Marketer comes to the conclusion that email marketing doesn’t work. Potential for a true email relationship with their customers is lost and they give up.  Or even worse, they keep shouting.

How Things Could Have Been Different

How would things have been different if E.M Marketer had thought first about:

  • How he/she could connect with their list?
  • What tone should the email have?
  • What value could they bring to the table?
  • What would their market be interested in hearing about, reading about?
  • And in the context of that conversation with the reader, present a product of value for their consideration.

What if E.M Marketer had not been attached to the outcome of that first email?

What if they had kept nurturing and engaging 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times?

How would life, sales and business be different for E.M Marketer if the first sale happened on the 7th email and continued through the 107th?

Instead of  bombing out in the first round.

In the end, the relationship would have been a win-win for both the reader and E.M Marketer.

So if  you are just getting started with email marketing and your customers aren’t responding to your first emails, don’t turn up the volume.

Focus on the value and make sure you are doing things right. And then keep doing it.

One day you’ll notice a sale come through from someone who has been reading your emails for a while. And then another. And another.

And then you’ll know that you hold the key to email marketing success for your business.