d.Mark consulting LLC | Narcissism began with AOL 'You've Got Mail'
E-marketing began with sending blanket emails to ALL in the hopes of resonating with a few. For a while that worked but not anymore. We’re simply too busy.
Email Marketing

Narcissism began with AOL ‘You’ve Got Mail’

Email Marketing in the beginning…

As 1 of 2 million AOL subscribers in the mid 90’s, hearing the words ‘You’ve Got Mail’ made you feel special, very special.

Gosh those were the dial-up (sometimes get a busy signal) days when internet connectivity billed at an hourly fee for the minutes users actually spent online. UNIMAGINABLE, right? It’s true. Americans paid by the hour for access and they paid a lot. The AOL timer began with the squeaky door sound effect on entry and ended with door slam audio on sign off. The early subscription fee of $25.95 covered 5 hours of use each month, or 10 minutes a day. Heavy users were able to purchase additional online time beyond 5 hours at the rate of $3.50 per hour (minimum wage at that time was around $4.25 an hour – not say’n how many hours I bought each month…)

It’s crazy that those of us who jumped on the AOL 1.0, World-Wide-Web bandwagon actually were okay paying by the hour for service. A dial-up service that sometimes took 15 minutes to successfully connect (more than enough time to change a load of laundry and usually a diaper too).

But even crazier is we seriously felt both thrilled and enthusiastic to hear those 3 simple words ‘You’ve Got Mail’ and oh the joy to receive any message at all. Truth be told that’s probably when the whole narcissistic culture began – with those 3 little words that gave millions of email recipients an undeserving sense of self-importance.

I don’t recall the exact year when that delightful joy of receiving email left my life but I can tell you one of the likely causes. Thanks in no small part to irrelevant, unwanted and at times unsolicited messages Audible Groans began dwelling were joyous ‘You’ve Got Mail’ once dwelled.

E-marketing began with the approach of sending blanket emails to ALL in the hopes of resonating with a few. For a while that worked. A short while. A VERY short while. It doesn’t work today. We’re too busy. There’s too many demands on us personally and professionally to read something that’s of little to no importance.

There’s just TOO MUCH mail!

Truth is ‘I DON’T Want Mail’ unless of course it’s something I’m interested in. NO-ONE wants mail they’re not interested in.

Those who trust sharing their email address with your business have an expectation of only receiving content that’s relevant and of interest. Don’t betray that trust by sending one size fits all messaging. Its lazy marketing and the reader will penalize you by not even opening the message – or worse, opting out of future messages (and rightly so).

Email’s a powerful marketing tool that matters today more than ever before. According to the Direct Marketing Association email has an ROI of 4,300%.

Segmentation is the best strategy for success. Adopt email nurturing and create a simple series of personalized email campaigns based on your subscriber’s unique needs.

Craft email content specific to expressed interest. If that’s life insurance, don’t send messages relating to homeowner’s insurance until the individual’s on or offline behavior actually reflects interest in homeowner’s insurance.

Personalized email campaigns for life insurance could include a message with helpful resources such as: ‘The Buyers Guide For Life Insurance’ or another message with an article on ‘How Much Life Insurance Is Enough?’ or better yet a personalized email checking in: ‘Are You Planning For The Future?’

d.Mark’s automation partner, Act-On, recommends 4 email campaign Metrics to Track and the benefit/insight gleaned from each:

1) Subscribe and Unsubscribe Rates  Track the opt-in and opt-out rates as well as the numbers of forwards each email drives

Insight: High opt-out levels after certain campaigns can help identify poorly targeted content

2) Open and Clickthrough Rates  Understand how many opened the email and more importantly, how many clicked on the links

Insight: Help improve campaign engagement by using A/B testing to optimize open and click rates over time

3) Deliverability Metrics  Track metrics like overall deliverability, number of suppressed or bounced contacts and especially spam or abuse complaints

Benefit: Identify potential issues and make sure messages actually get delivered

4) Response Rates  This metric can include sales, downloads, event registrations, website traffic and much more

Benefit: Obtain an overview of how well the entire campaign performs and demonstrate the related ROI

Factor subject lines into your open, clickthrough and response rate metrics. Poor subject lines can overshadow the most captivating and best written content. Place emphasis on writing compelling introductions to email’s contents. Subjects lines have been known to make or break email campaigns.

Sidekick by HubSpot recently published 19 Subject Line Stats Impacting Email Open Rates. Here’s 10 of my favorite:



69% of email recipients report email as based solely on the subject line.
[Source: Convince&Convert]


40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max.
[Source: ContactMonkey]


Emails with “You” in the subject line were opened 5% less than those without.
[Source: Sidekick]


Emails with “Quick” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.


Emails with “Tomorrow” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without.


Emails with “Meeting” in the subject line were opened 7% less than those without.


Emails with “fw:” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.
[Source: Convince&Convert]


18.7% decrease in open rates when the word “newsletter” is used in subject lines.
[Source: Adestra]


Subject lines with 30 or fewer characters have an above average open rate.
[Source: Adestra]


Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.


As great as these stats are for reference, nothing beats your own testing to confirm what’s most effective for your unique target audience.

Dump the one-size-fits-all approach and become the company that personalizes email campaigns. Sending the same message to ALL is no longer feasible. Email recipients today are far more sophisticated than first generation (AOL 1.0) ‘You’ve Got Mail’ simpletons like myself. The joy of receiving email will never be as it first was 20 years ago but that doesn’t mean future emails can’t resurrect excitement in those receiving your message like once upon a time not that long ago.

Email marketing’s past and future is summed up best in Act-On’s History of Email infographic

The future of email marketing is – 

Even more powerful personalization, segmentation, automation.

And most of all – measureable, repeatable, scalable results from every email campaign.

Contact d.Mark and we’ll show you how it’s done.



And download these Resources to learn more about improving email performance


5 Email Mistakes That Make Me Cringe


Secret To Getting Your Email Read


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