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HubSpot email marketing strategy + best practices 101 (HubHeroes, Ep. 27)

HubSpot email marketing strategy + best practices 101 (HubHeroes, Ep. 27)

When we talk about email marketing, we have to acknowledge that we've all come a long, long way since ...

youve-got-mail-email-marketingUnlike dial-up, AOL chatrooms, and AIM profiles packed with lovey-dovey lyrics from Dave Matthews, email marketing has never quite gone out of style. In fact, you might stay email marketing's swagger has gotten stronger than ever:

However, just because email marketing is still alive and kicking — particularly for those of us devoted users of the HubSpot Marketing Hub and HubSpot Sales Hub — doesn't mean a lot hasn't changed. 

So, this week — in the first of TWO episodes about email marketing in the HubSpot and inbound universe — we're going to unpack how far we've come with email marketing, how you need to be looking at it differently in your business, and what real email marketing success looks like in 2023.

And yes, we hit some pretty big points about sales emails, too! There's something for everyone in this episode ... 

Here's what we cover in this episode ...

  • The good, the bad, and the oh so very ugly cold outreach email strategies.
  • How to actually delight prospects in emails when you don't even know them yet.
  • How Gmail has actually positively impacted open and engagement rates with the introduction of Updates and Promotions folders.
  • A brutally honest sidebar about folks who are frustrated because they're not trying to create genuine value through email, but rather are trying to game the system.
  • How has HubSpot evolved in the email space over the past decade?
  • Yes, we get into the nasty business of buying email lists.

And a heck of a lot more! 


HubHeroes Community

(We've made it easy!)

⚠️ Is your email marketing strategy hurting you more than it's helping you? 

This is the question we're digging into in this week's episode because, marketing fads have come and go, but email is still standing strong as an ROI powerhouse for most brands ...

... well, at least those brands that have adapted their email strategies with the times and know what pitfalls to avoid in 2023 and beyond: https://hubheroes.co/41SQ3IT 

#hubspot #hubspotemailmarketing #emailmarketing #b2bemailmarketing #emailnewsletters #salesemails #prospecting

😱 81% of #b2bmarketers say EMAIL newsletters are their most commonly used type of content marketing. 

So, you know we had to dedicated not one but TWO episodes to email for marketing (and sales!) in 2023 and beyond! Because while email has remained tried and true for so many of us, a lot has changed in the last few years:


#hubspot #hubspotemailmarketing #emailmarketing #b2bemailmarketing #emailnewsletters #salesemails #prospecting

🤔 Did you know email is expected to generate $11 billion in revenue this year for brands?

If you want to grab your own slice of that email revenue pie for your business (especially if you're a HubSpot user), you need to listen to this week's episode of the HubHeroes podcast:


#hubspot #hubspotemailmarketing #emailmarketing #b2bemailmarketing #emailnewsletters #salesemails #prospecting

A Totally Unforgettable, Unhinged HubHeroes #INBOUND23 Recap (HubHeroes, Ep. 52)

A Totally Unforgettable, Unhinged HubHeroes #INBOUND23 Recap (HubHeroes, Ep. 52)

Hey, everybody! It's Liz here, your friendly, neighborhood content strategist and co-host of the HubHeroes podcast. Now, you may be wondering why I'm...

The Ultimate HubHeroes Sales Enablement Strategy Round-up (Best of the Podcast)

The Ultimate HubHeroes Sales Enablement Strategy Round-up (Best of the Podcast)

Look, there's been some speculation that this particular charismatic HubHero (with volume control issues) was unable to attend HubSpot's...

hubspot forms contacts strategy conversions cro

HubHeroes Lampoon's Wild, Wacky, Winning HubSpot Forms Adventure (HubHeroes, Ep. 51)

In our world, where HubSpot, inbound, and content reign supreme, it's easy to overlook probably THE MOST ESSENTIAL HubSpot tool that exists. No,...

Meet your HubHeroes

Liz Murphy


Agency vet, content therapist, messaging strategist, HubHero wrangler.

Devyn Bellamy


HubSpotter, partner enabler, strategy wizard, BLACK@INBOUND.

Max Cohen


HubSpotter, senior solutions engineer, CRM evangelist, a millennial on TikTok.

George B. Thomas


HubHeroes leader, growth catalyst, guardian of humans, HubSpot expert.

[00:00:00] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, that's right. No representation of the employer on this podcast. I'm just saying I am super excited.

Listen  First of all, we gotta address the, issue in the room, the issue for our tissue, and that is we have no Liz today. Liz is out like Gallin. See, I'm gonna use all the old words that I can right up at the get-go here. She's out gallivanting across the countryside doing Liz things. So it's

[00:00:27] Devyn Bellamy:

highfalutin Liz

[00:00:28] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, highfalutin.

[00:00:30] Max Cohen:

Liz stuff.

[00:00:31] George B. Thomas:


[00:00:32] Max Cohen:

Digital nomad Liz. Yep.

[00:00:34] George B. Thomas:

it's, it's gonna be, it's, it's gonna be an interesting episode though. We are, we are choosing to pick a precursor conversation to our next conversation, which is the fact that it may be time, it just may be time to start buying lists. Well, we'll get into that later. We'll get into that later

[00:00:55] Devyn Bellamy:

I will fight you, George. I straight. Like I, I will, we will square up

[00:01:00] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. List, list. I'm telling you it's a

[00:01:04] Max Cohen:

that disclaimer at the beginning was very important.

[00:01:07] George B. Thomas:

Yeah. We're go. We're gonna, we're gonna talk about

[00:01:10] Max Cohen:

gonna lean on it. Yeah.

[00:01:12] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, for sure. the, yeah, the disclaimer, we have our own thoughts. Uh, but

[00:01:16] Max Cohen:

that's not one of 'em.

[00:01:18] George B. Thomas:

HubSpot. We're, we're gonna talk about an honest HubSpot email marketing conversation. See, this is what happens when Liz isn't around. It's just like cats all over the place. But, but here's the thing. Get ready, hub, heroes, universe, because we're about to dive into one of the most. Lasting and powerful marketing and sales tools in your company's arsenal. Email marketing. It's interesting to me how many people would believe that statement or live in the camp that email's dead.

We'll talk about a, as we kind of move forward, but here's the deal. How long, uh, has email been around? Does anybody on this panel of humans who have been using HubSpot know when email actually was invented in the first email? Was.

[00:01:59] Devyn Bellamy:

I want to say it was in the seventies or eighties, but it could have even been in the sixties. I know that email as a concept has, been around the official@organization.com, Norman Norman clincher. but I remember it was usually used just in academia at first.

[00:02:16] George B. Thomas:

So my thing is, how in the world is it still around the rotary phone? Is dead. The mini disk player is dead. Like there are things have the, the, I mean, they're just gone, but email is still around. And honestly, if done right, maybe isn't even gone out of style at this point. Right. Incredibly powerful. Lead nurturing, educa education, communication. Like what is your take on why email just doesn't go?

[00:02:48] Devyn Bellamy:

Correspondence and the need there for, it will never. We're always gonna need to communicate. And until a better tool comes along, that's more widely adopted than email, um, their email is always going to be there. Now how it's used, uh, and the effectiveness, of the different ways people want to use it, that's a different conversation.
But I mean, male has been around almost as long as people have, and we still have the, you know, rain, sleeter, hail, they'll be there.

[00:03:18] Max Cohen:

I think, I think also too,

[00:03:19] George B. Thomas:

they'll be

[00:03:20] Max Cohen:

it's, it's also kind of been like an advertising medium that like, I think as a society we've like tolerated to an extent, right? You know, like phone. The phone has kind of died, right? Everyone hates cold calling because no one likes talking to strangers. But at the same time, these days, no one likes picking up phone numbers, that they don't recognize, right?

So like, you know, the kind of, you, you could say, like before there was email marketing, there was probably, I don't know if telemarketers came before email marketing or what. I'm sure they did in some way, shape, or form, right? But that's easily mutable, right? You can choose. Not pick up the phone, you can choose to go on the do not call list.

You can choose, and people I think are probably more likely to take those routes because a phone call is so much more invasive and so much more personal than like an email that like even if you are that person that, I mean, well, there's some people that love to be at inbox zero. And then there's other people like my wife who when I looked down at the mail app on her, It's just says like 9 99 plus dot, dot, dot.

You know what I mean? And like you people can kind of easily ignore that. But I think also there's just so much, there's so much of an industry around it too, just like there are like any other advertising mediums. Is that kind of exist for that? But you know, also it's just in today's like digital age, it's a tool that we kind of continue to use to like passively communicate things that aren't as urgent, but still are important, but we don't need to deal with now. But they can kind of just be deal dealt with later and it's faster than regular mail. So yeah, it's still there, 

[00:04:50] George B. Thomas:

It's interesting to like dream about. Ever will go away. And, and by the way, max, you just made emails sound real sexy. It's passive things that you really don't, , you know, no action. which by the way, if that's the kind of emails you're sending, maybe you should just slack everybody or something instead.
I just, I, I just don't even know. But, but here's the thing. Email can be really dope. It can be like the Nirvana place for your marketing, but it can also, sometimes you look at what people are sending and, man, do I have a story later, of the Wild, wild West, man, it is just craziness. Like people were in the middle of the street, guns slinging just like.

Straight up from the hip and you, you open your inbox. Ow. You're like, not you're, you're out. Like they got you and then you're like, what is going on here? So that's that. Ladies and gentlemen, we're digging into this story of email, but with the hint or tone of HubSpot email marketing, what that means as far as HubSpot, what it means for your strategy.
And so let's just go ahead and get into this. And the first question that we have here is what changed about how people should be looking at their email marketing? So if we think right, the beginning of even HubSpot, let's just go that far back, 20 10, 20 11, 20 12, the early days, what is changed that right now, if you were to talk to somebody about their email, email marketing strategy, you'd be like, Hey, this.

[00:06:13] Max Cohen:

I'm really interested in hearing your guys' thoughts on this cuz, cuz I wanna make, I wanna, I wanna pop up another quick disclaimer on this discussion. I do not consider myself at all. Educated when it comes to email marketing in any way, shape, or form. I have done approximately close to zero research.

nor do I consider myself any sort of expert on the subject. I go off of what made sense for me, right? And how I experience and interact with email marketing. I think it's probably gonna be a lot of like email marketers listening to this that are gonna think I have some pretty dog shit takes.
but you know what? I probably do, uh, a lot of it just is gonna come from the heart, so I forgot what the original question was, but Devin and, and George, I consider you guys experts on this subject, so I'd love to hear your answers to this question first, and then maybe I'll throw 2 cents in thereafter.

[00:07:03] Devyn Bellamy:

Well, I think your point of view is exactly what's needed on this particular episode, because marketers ruin everything and it's hard for us to see what we're ruining as we're ruining often until it's too late. So I'd love to hear. You know, it really grinds my gears, but, um,

[00:07:25] Max Cohen:

go ahead.

[00:07:26] Devyn Bellamy:

the, uh, the biggest difference to me with email marketing is now email marketing should be done with a mindset of opt-in and warmth. If it's not a warm contact, if it's not someone who's been engaged with your brand or been engaged with you before, cold emailing is, is, is.

[00:07:49] Max Cohen:

Yeah, dude.

[00:07:51] Devyn Bellamy:

is rude. and it's like, I remember my first email marketing campaign, quote unquote, that I ever did, was when I was 17 years old and I learned how much college costs, back then, this is in the mid nineties, you were able to go to the bookstore.

cause that's where most books were sold back then. And then you were able to buy a book with nothing but rich people's email addresses. And this was like a 300 page book with just the 1%. It was like a 1% Rolodex. And so I sent every email address in that book a sob story about how I needed help paying for college, and a shocking number of. Well, a shocking number of them went through almost a 100% deliverability rate, which was scary

[00:08:37] Max Cohen:

Take that zoom info. Oh my goodness.

[00:08:40] Devyn Bellamy:

some of these people some of these people actually responded now, no one gave me money. Of course. but the fact that it was so easy to get in contact with the wealthiest people via email back then, where now it's virtually impossible.

I work at HubSpot and there are some hubs, spotters that I can't send an email to knowing that they'll get it unless I go through their executive assistant first. That's, that's, Email is now. So if you're thinking you're gonna send this magic bullet email or that you have this lightning in a bottle, lead, uh, nurturing email, chances are your strategy is old enough to vote at this time.

You need to start, you, you need to. Move ahead and think about better ways. Uh, email now for marketing, at least awareness type stuff where it's cold, man, you, you don't want that to be the center of your, uh, of your strategy.

[00:09:43] George B. Thomas:

Yeah. I don't want people though to hear that and not think that it shouldn't be part of the strategy. Maybe not the center, but,

[00:09:48] Devyn Bellamy:

Huge part,

[00:09:50] George B. Thomas:

huge part, not the center. Like there's, there's something else there. But, but here's the thing. What I think about when I hear you, Devin, it's literally this thing of like, back in the eighties, you were.

You were excited to be like, yeah, I'm Greens Jeans 7 54 on yahoo.com. Like just hit me up, man. Like you, because it was new and it was fresh and now you're like, Yo only, only the right people, right? To the point where a lot of us humans have created like an email that we use for all the stuff that we sign up that we really don't care about, and an email that people can get to if we like.

They're close to us, right? So we have to remember that us as humans have created these, strategies. To cut the marketers and the sales teams off at the past before they even think that they've got something that might be valid or not valid. Just because it went through never bounce. Right. But it's, but it's my, it's my like shade, my protector, my shield email, if you will, that you actually got.

They don't even open. It's the one, by the way, max, that probably has 9,999 dot, dot, dot, dot emails in it. Um, and I don't care if it's in promotions or spam or junk or whatever. Who cares? Like I got my 20% off coupon now, just, I don't care. But here's the thing, what I wanna say also, Is that there comes a time where you have to look at for your business, how do most people communicate?
And this can take you down a whole bunch of different roads. I have a ton of people who love to communicate via email. a ton of people actually who want to call me and I'm like, what? What are you doing? But, and I'm talking clients like they just, they want a call and whether it's a Zoom call or a phone call or a, they want that voice even for what could potentially be an email. And so there's this, think about the phone and the, the conversation. We talked about the phone. Right now there's this curve that's happening kind of with email. we used to go by the longest cord ever so that we could attach it to the phone, wrap around the hallway and go to our bedroom and have a phone call, because being on the phone was that cool, right?

So think about like the correlations happening. But what I will say is most of these strategies that humans are coming up with, Is because of bad email, bad actors, bad strategies. And so Max, I'm gonna go back to your original, like I'm gonna get myself out of trouble before we even start this episode. I don't know anything about email.
No, bro. But you know about being human. Right. And so the things that we need to talk about is, as a marketer, how do you lean into your human side? In 2012, hubs, ball was preaching, don't call me customer. Call me human. I never lost that. I never left that. Like I run business and teach in like the human way.

So Max, when you think about like what's the like crappiest, nastiest, like email thing that ever happened to you versus maybe something that was like, oh man, that was like gold. Like, is there a story that your brain goes to? Because I know I have, I have one where I was like, oh, ooh, I, oh, ooh, and I didn't know how to act. But where does your brain.

[00:12:59] Max Cohen:

I don't know if it's like one necessary story just because it's more of like a billion micro experiences, like over time, you know? And I think, I think like people don't, well, first of all, I think marketers make a ton of assumptions about. They're email marketing. Right? And maybe that's because maybe it's just a numbers game, right?

Like I can get it, like there's some things about it that have just never made sense to me. and, and, and we'll get into those. But like, when it, when it talks about like, the experience of email marketing, it's like I'm, I'm always constantly thinking about, what is gonna go through someone's brain when they get this email?

And I think a lot of marketers go, they're gonna wanna buy this thing. It's like, no, that's not, people are smarter than that. People know when you're trying to sell them stuff, especially when they get an email from a brand name, What we all do these days is when we see an email show up in a inbox or flash up on our phone or like whatever, right?
And we see name of a company, Immediately we're conditioned to go, oh, they're just trying to sell me something. I don't care. Right? That doesn't need to be seen right now. It doesn't need to be. unless it's like hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper, very, very, very relevant and I'm expecting it, right? That's different.
and so it's just, it's tough because we've, we've kind of been so conditioned to just like, ignore that stuff, yet people keep doing it. So there's a piece of me, I just like, well, I mean, there must be something that's working about that if they keep doing it. Otherwise they're just kind of being lazy.

I don't know. Um, but like the worst experiences are the ones where it's like, dude, I give, I give this company my email once, and then I'm just getting emails from 'em every single freaking day. And when I try to subscribe, it doesn't work and they just keep coming no matter what. Like, and I have to go and put 'em in a spam fulter or filter them out to get 'em to stop or like what?
Those are the real bad experiences and like what I think people just don't underst. Is like if you have someone who's a recipient that's paying attention to how many times you're just destroying their inbox with irrelevant shit every single day, you are turning that person into an enemy. You are not turning them into someone who might be interested in the next thing you happen to send them.
You're turning that person into someone who really despises your constant presence in their inbox. Right. Um, and I don't think like a lot of people are thinking about that. I think people are looking at open rates and going, oh, we're doing a good job. Right. When it's just like, I don't know if that's a failure of leadership to understand.

The purpose of email marketing and what it should be doing and stuff like that. I don't know. There's just so much about it that's like so unbelievably cringe that it's like, it's really hard for me to, understand how I actually feel about it because I know it has to be useful for some reason cuz so many people are still doing it. Right. But there's still so much about it that I just see that's just so wrong that like, I don't know, I'm, I'm floating. I'm floating in this very weird space of how I feel about it.

[00:15:59] George B. Thomas:

Yeah. It's interesting because a, there's a couple things I wanna unpack with what you said. One, you mentioned open rates, which by the way, that's one thing since we're talking about things that have changed, you can't trust open rates anymore between BIK and what Apple did, what they're like, things are just getting opened even though they're not open by the actual human.

So that's not even a metric to pay attention to. Like I literally, months ago, started teaching the folks that I help listen, it's, it's more about the click. It's more about the reply, it's really less about the opens. And if you're listening to this and you're like, wait, what? Just do a quick research, uh, study on what Apple changed with email, what bime means, all the things that are happening around that.

The other thing too, max, that I wanna unpack with what you were talking about is it's, it's kind of just a, a human principle, right? We can do seven things that are. Seven things that are good as soon as we do one bad. You know what? People focus on the bad thing and the fact that like marketers, we need to understand it's not the 57th email.
They're where they're gonna go. Oh, oh yeah. I, I guess I do think they're cool and I love 'em. That's not, that's not happening. Like by that time, it, it's too late and. , we have this, uh, dep depreciating return, right? Like you have to be cool out the gate and you gotta be like, just calm. And, and it really has to be human, and it has to be valuable.

It has to be. And you use the words hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper. Relevant. That's when we start to win. One of the things that we are always talking about is how do you make it customized, personalized, and feel, even though it's a marketing email, that it is a one-to-one email at the end of the day. So that, that gets me into where I want to actually dive into like ways that we have seen brands, getting email marketing wrong and I'm, I'm gonna start with this one Max, because I want to dive a layer.

then where you went because you were like, yeah, they just, they, I, they emailed me and they emailed me and they, you know, I just signed up for your thing. I didn't want to get it 57 times the amount of. Newsletters that come into my inbox that I never signed up for, that I have zero clues who you are, that I have to go over to MailChimp or some other system that let your dirty butt in so that you could span the crap out of me when I never even gave you the.

Is mind blowing. Mind blowing. I mean, I spend a good portion, I, and what I'm saying, like maybe 15 to 30 minutes a day just keeping my inbox clean of people who never got permission to be there in the first place. And so if you think that that kind of crap is gonna work, by the way, I'm not even mad at.
because I realized that you may not just know better. And what I mean by that is I literally had a client that I was talking to two days ago, max, and we were talking about, they were, uh, doing email. It was for an event, and then they did this workflow and they wanted the last thing for the person to be added to their blog subscribe list.

And I said, wait, you haven't given them the opportunity to subscribe to your blog. Like, no. And we had a very human conversation. And, and they were like, oh, oh, yeah. I guess, I guess that is a fundamental important part of them, you know, like letting me know the frequency and, and giving me the permission to actually, um, put them in this list. That to me feels very like whatever. And to them is like, you just done chaptered my. When they get that

[00:19:37] Max Cohen:

Yeah, I'm, I'm thinking like when I, when I started thinking about like newsletters and people still. doing it. I, I think, I think something that I've seen, and maybe it's cuz I just wasn't paying attention to it, attention to it, but I used to be a really, really big newsletter hater. And I think it was just because of the newsletters I saw, I kind of assumed were newsletters as a whole.
And you know, I think a big portion of that is, Is like, would see marketers doing and like, almost all their job was like literally just this is, they would send their company's newsletter out to everybody on their list and the thing would be like a gigantic 12 page long, uh, you know, email of just worthless stuff.

Right. Like, oh, this is Jim and he's our new accountant, and here's, here's these events we're going to, and here's some other stuff and here's links to these other websites, and here's like, you know, here's a deal on a product we're having. No, no. And people thought that was marketing. Right? And, and it's just like, listen, you're, you're trying to send people all this content and you're spending an asinine amount of time creating these giant.

what looked like hyper complex infographic emails, That are taking you hours and hours and hours to create, and people are going to only look at 'em for maybe 10 seconds before they move on to the next deal. Email in their inbox, And you're sitting here getting butt. because when you preview this newsletter on what it's gonna look like on Outlook 2006, one of the margins isn't working correctly.
And I was sitting here like, what are you doing with your life that this is like where you're spending your time and putting your mental calories? So I got into this like really kind of piss poor attitude. I think about newsletters. I'm I, there are some newsletters that I think are still viable if the newsletter itself.

Is the content, right? So like there are some things out there that are products, and the product is the newsletter. It's, it's something you, you pay to subscribe to or like you specifically sign up for. And it is marketed as a newsletter and it is content rich. It is aggregating stuff you're actually interested in and people are signing.

For the newsletter, not just getting it because they got an ebook and it's about the con, but it's an actual product. I think those are cool. I remember getting into an argument with Doug on the last podcast, right? I think when I, when I told people like, listen, delivering your content via email is like not the way you want to do it.

You want to use it as a vehicle to get them onto your. Right, which I still think is like valid today. You like the email inbox is the most distracting environment there is. So you wanna get them onto your website and get them away from that to actually consume content. But Doug brought up a really good point about how you say it.
I love getting newsletters, but like these are newsletters. He's actually, well, I'm, I would think, I'm not trying to speak for Doug, but I would imagine someone who wanted to get a newsletter, expected to get that newsletter signed up specifically to receive that newsletter. It's not just some random one with a bunch of random crop in it, which is like 90% of the ones that.

o like newsletters have kind of come around on, right. But like, here's the thing, if you're a marketer and all you're doing is building a hodgepodge company newsletter and sending it out and thinking it's email marketing, boy, have you missed the book?

[00:23:05] George B. Thomas:

Well, and I think too, what's funny is again, I'm old. So I remember, and it still kind of happens, but my wife really gets the mail at this point, or one of my kids, cuz they're old enough to go out to the end of the driveway and back. You know, they're like really grown ass adults, but they're still in the house.
Never, never, nevertheless digress. Not why we're here. Uh, that's another episode. It's probably not called UP Heroes. It's called something totally else. But at the end of the day, I can remember going out and, and what it was is it's, it's in your mailbox. It's a sales flyer. And what some people are trying to do is they're trying to duplicate a sales flyer in a digital.

[00:23:42] Max Cohen:


[00:23:43] George B. Thomas:

Presence. That is not a newsletter, that's a sales flyer. And if it's gonna be a sales flyer, then let it be a sales flyer, but know that it's probably not gonna generate any sales. It like my sales flyer makes it up the driveway and into the

[00:23:57] Max Cohen:

Yes. It doesn't even get into the house. Yep.

[00:24:00] George B. Thomas:

doesn't even make it into the house. And so you have to think Newsletter. Yes. If it is truly a new.

[00:24:06] Max Cohen:


[00:24:07] George B. Thomas:

and when I say newsletter I, I mean something relevant and honestly, one of the things that I'd like to talk about when it comes to HubSpot email and HubSpot email marketing is the ability to actually sit down, strategize, and figure out what are the areas of interest that somebody might have around our business.
How can I give them a multi check box where they can. The two, three out of the possible 10 areas of interest and how can I use HubSpot's smart content based on the list that they've put in because they select an area of interest and now deliver only the three or four pieces of a 10 part email newsletter because it's the three things or four things that they care about.

It's contextual to each individual human that is actually in your database. It starts to feel like it was made for. Not just made for the masses.

[00:25:00] Max Cohen:

I think the test that you gotta run it through, whenever you're about to say, Uhuh, I built this email and it's gonna get sent out either right now or under some sort of automated context or like whatever. Um, you gotta ask yourself if this is a real, if this was a real human interaction, would it make sense?

You remember that TikTok I made a while ago about email? Email, emails if marketing emails, if they were real human interactions, right? You gotta remember that's the sending someone an email is the equivalent of walking up to them and tapping them on their shoulder. You're, you're going, you're, you're, you're, you're going at them when they don't expect it and you're delivering a message to them, right?

So you gotta say, if you were doing this in real life, what would their reaction be? Because it's probably gonna be pretty similar, at least maybe in like a little bit more of like a toned down, extreme, right? Um, but like the same sort of like stuff is gonna happen in their head, right?

So when you. Be able to gather information about what's relevant to them. The physics of why that's important is because if you're gonna come outta nowhere and deliver a message to somebody, you better make sure that it's at least relevant to them, , right? If they're not expecting to hear from you and you're popping up outta nowhere, at a bare minimum, you should be taking special care to ensure.

When they get that message outta nowhere, that it's at least relevant. Because if you don't do that one, you're bugging someone, and two, you're giving them stuff that they don't need. If that happened in real life, they're gonna hate you. They're gonna, they're not gonna, they're gonna, they're gonna think you're weird, so yeah, I think like that's the first little kind of sniff test you gotta give it. Right. But I think also there, there's some more like, sort of like nuanced, even like trust building that you can do with email, right? Especially in this age that we live in, where people kind of expect email marketing to happen in a certain way, right?

Today we all expect our emails that we give to be used and abused. So the standard experience that we are expect. Is that I give my email and you're like, oh shit. I'm, I'm gonna get, I'm gonna get nuked with like, buy this, buy that, do this, do that. Right? And I think with your email strategy, if you can do like a pattern interrupt and maybe in the way that you communicate with people, you show that you're not trying to abuse them or catch them in these little tricks, I think what that can do is that can get folks to go.

They just wanted to make sure I had that content I requested and not try to do anything else. They just wanna make sure that like, I knew where to find X, Y, Z and not anything else. Right. they sent me that extra email actually asking, what do you actually want to hear from us? Are we sending too many emails?

Right. You know, things like that. think that there's like little micro things you can do. To just interact with people on a more human level that is not just, you know, putting them behind the email, you know, marketing by this, by that just chain gun that they're used to. Right. But,

[00:28:08] George B. Thomas:

Yeah. I love this because I think it starts to dip into when you talk about tapping people on the shoulder and email in a more human way and paying attention to the micros and, and strategy. goes in. To like what are some in inspired examples that we've seen of people getting it right? And I have a a, I have a great story cuz there's, there's something that is the bane of my existence on a daily basis.
whether it's for this podcast here, the Hub Heroes Podcast, or whether it's for the podcast that I do for Marketing Profs, which is the Marketing Smarts podcast. And that is when people pitch guests or the fact that they wanna be a guest. And those are some of the most crappiest of crap emails. Right?
And, but that's not what we're talking about. We already talked about crappy emails. This is something that inspired me and I'm gonna try to paint a really, uh, good picture cuz about four days ago I was going through my inbox and I saw this subject line and it had an en. Emoji with a heart on the envelope, and I started to read the subject line and it said a note from a fan and then a bracket plus a marketing smarts.

I got that far and I actually stopped reading. I should have kept reading, but I stopped reading, because when I clicked into it, then I looked at the subject line again and the subject line says, Plus a marketing smarts guest idea, exclamation mark. And, but I was already in there, right? So they had me, but then I'll tell you how they really got me is because I clicked in there, I saw a freaking five star podcast review and I was like, wait a second, what's going on here?

And so, Danielle says, hi. Huge fan of the marketing smarts, here. In fact, to show you my thanks for, for the five star content. I just left you a review to Match and there's emoji that points down and there's a screenshot of the actual podcast, review. She goes, really enjoyed your episode with Ashley Foss.
Her playground example was a breath of fresh air. Now, max, you had to. To the podcast to know there was actually an example of a playground in it and the fact that she even used the person's name that was on the podcast that said that. And so now all of a sudden, you right, this goes from like, oh, well this is very contextual. This is very specific. This, this is actually making me feel.

[00:30:23] Max Cohen:


[00:30:23] George B. Thomas:

and then we get to the part that I didn't care about. Actually at this point, couldn't resist reaching out because I'm working with, uh, Amarita and it's from, anyway, I'll just go from this way. It's a pitch to have Amarita on the podcast. And you know what I did? I immediately hit reply and I said,

[00:30:42] Max Cohen:


[00:30:43] George B. Thomas:

I'm interested. I'm interested in this topic cuz they gave me three topics to choose from. By the way, I'm interested in this topic. Here's the link where you can schedule the podcast interview. Why did I do that? Because it wasn't a flaming, hot piece of dog crap.
Email. Where they just immediately went for my jugular. They didn't have any idea of who it was, the podcast, the guests, the topics, any of it. And so this is a perfect example of like how you can do something that others are doing, but actually shine above the rest and, and get the action that you want to take place.

[00:31:19] Max Cohen:

I. Okay. So that's a great, need to like, I need to bring this up now, so, I have a bad example So, so this is, that's, I think that's a, you know, for anyone who are these, like, you know, cause that, that, that example you kind of just gave is less of like an email marketer, but more of like a sales.

Person, like, you know, doing the proper research, putting something actually personal in there. Right. And, and like delivering like a good, that's like a cold outreach. You kind of got you, you definitely got a cold outreach there, right? I think that was great. some examples of some bad ones that I got recently, I'm gonna not say the name of the person or the company, but literally got a co totally cold email outta nowhere. And the, the subject line was video one for max. and IT and

[00:32:07] George B. Thomas:

Oh my God.

[00:32:09] Max Cohen:

and it said

[00:32:11] George B. Thomas:

going on?

[00:32:12] Max Cohen:

Hey, max, dropping this video to entice curiosity, that's like the first line of this email. And then it's just like a vi yard or a loom or something of this guy going through this first deck of this slide or slide of this deck.
Right? And I don't even know what this company. no clue. And then at the bottom of his email it says, imagine build, evolve, and that's it. And like it was just the weirdest, weirdest like cold send that I've ever gotten. And then the next one was video two for max. Hey, max, leaving you this message to excite interest.

And then it was just him just lightly saying the words of the second part of the slide of this. Like I, I don't know what some people are doing. Like it's, it's, it's, it's really brutal, right? But they clearly bought my email somewhere and then they're just deploying this garbage strategy and I spam reported the crap out of them right on, on every single email they sent.

And it's like, dude, this is hurting your company doing this. Right? Going. Buying lists of contacts, sending them garbage, that people just don't even understand what you're doing. No context. I never expected to hear from you. You're immediately just trying to sell me something and I don't even know what it is.

All you're doing is damaging your domain. You're, you're torching your domain by, by, by doing this, and it's. Crazy how people just don't think there's a better way, or they're so lazy, they don't wanna find the other way, and they're just doing what they've seen, done and accepted as the, the, the, the easy standard.
And it's like, this isn't getting you sales, this is damaging your brand. You know, it's just, it's the cold email stuff is always so weird to me because there's a lot of people who die on that hill. And I just, I can't get behind it. It's so weird. It's so crunch. 

[00:34:14] George B. Thomas:

we're gonna get Devin in here in a second, cuz I know he's got a, like, a good, a good example right of, of something that maybe kind of enticed or delighted him that wasn't video one and two.

But I wish, I wish, I wish marketers could just realize there's, there's one of two outcomes when you do what Max is talking about. Outcome number one, if you're lucky, is something like, You know, . That's what, that's what you're getting crickets right now, outcome number two, if you, if you're not so lucky, it's, it's literally you're getting the big ole, like, you know, and that's when you get the spam, you get put to spam, you get blocked.

It's all these negative things about your, you know, and, and I, I'm glad you brought up, uh, send Health and your domain, because we're gonna talk about that in a little bit. But Devin, you gotta jump in here and you gotta talk to us. Uh, you've got an example, something that inspired you, something that people are getting right when it comes to the inbox.

[00:35:08] Devyn Bellamy:

Absolutely. Um, shout out to the team at the Hustle. Do amazing work. Um, it's an excellent newsletter. Highly recommend, but there was a time when I wasn't reading it and so I had signed up for it, excited about it. Maybe their first issue, few issues didn't open up anymore, and so at that point they're sending me what's called gray mail.
Now, if you are a good marketer, what you do is you try to reach unengaged contacts less and spend more energy on contacts that are engaged or else you. Sending out gray mail, which lowers your email deliverability, which is literally a whole class that I've taught. So, what the hustle did is they send out what's called a breakup email.

It's an email you send to your unengaged contacts, uh, saying, Hey, do you still want to hear from us? Great. If so, we're gonna keep sending you stuff. If not, just click here. Uns. big call to action. Go ahead and click on it. Unsubscribe. We'll stop talking to you. and so I'm a fan of that tactic as it is, but they took it to the next steps.

Calling, uh, in the, in the email subject line was Save our intern. and the whole email was about how the intern was upset that they've been putting in all this hard work on these newsletters and no one's reading them. And there was a mock slack back and forth. And so at this point you're really feeling for this intern.

And it was, but it was hilarious. The whole thing was tongue in cheek. It was so well written and so, starting with the Save Our intern, what, what's going on with the intern? So they pulled me in with the subject line. They got me to read the entire message, which was. Absolutely hilarious. And then ended it with the, do you want to make the intern happy or do you wanna unsubscribe your choice?

And I stayed engaged because they have genuinely good content, but because that breakup email made me laugh so hard, I was like, well, let me give these guys a second chance. And to this day, I do not miss. Any hustle emails. I, I love them, cuz they're great. But I never would've known that if they hadn't sent me the breakup le uh, email, they hadn't sent the breakup email and kept sending these things to me, eventually would've gone from my main inbox to the promotions inbox, which we always only glanced at, and then eventually it would've made its way into spam because Gray Male gets you into spam.

It's just the way it works. but that was something that truly, truly impressed me because it's. To, even if you have an opt-in audience to keep them engaged in your email. And so if they're not engaged, not only are they're not converting, they're not making you money, um, but the postmasters are seeing that you're sending out content that no one cares about and they're gonna eventually push you down the priority list, possibly just push you right on out the door.

[00:37:48] Max Cohen:

Can we Wait, wait, wait. George, did you have something you wanted to add there real quick?

[00:37:52] George B. Thomas:

no, go

[00:37:53] Max Cohen:

Can we talk about the Gmail promotions tab for a second?

[00:37:55] George B. Thomas:

Oh yeah, sure.

[00:37:57] Max Cohen:

I've read, I'm gonna say studies in big ass quotation marks. I've, I've, I've, I've read stuff that the promotions tab actually increases engagement. Is that bullshit or is that true

[00:38:11] Devyn Bellamy:

I have no idea, but I can see why it would be true.

[00:38:14] Max Cohen:

C cuz cuz here's the, the thing that like a lot of people. A conversation that always kind of made me, and like, again, the research that I've done, people said it actually increased open rates, right. And increased engagement. Right. Because it's, it's putting promotions in a place that it calls it out and it makes it a little bit easier to engage with versus just like a massive list of, of emails that you have to deal with.

It's more overwhelming. Right. what's funny is that like people are always asking me, how do I avoid the, the Gmail, the promotions, Gmail. and, and I think the thing that they forget is like, not all people turn that on. First of all, I shut it off cause I don't, I don't like that view of it jiving.

And then people think it's a spam folder. It's not, it's not the spam folder, it's your inbox. It's just assorted version of your inbox. It's not the spam folder. And and then the funny thing is, is like there's people out there. who think like the product you buy will help you beat it. And like the thing is, is like all that promotions tab needs to do, and I don't know if this is how it works, but like it has to be as simple as like, Is there an unsubscribed link in the email?

Probably filter it under promotions. Right? And people are thinking like they need to come up with these insane ways of like getting around it when they forget. Not everybody even has it. And also not everybody's using Gmail, even though everyone is kind of using G Gmail, but in, I guess relatively, but like.

What have you been, your kind of thoughts and experiences around that? Because like, I've just found it be, be just another thing that email marketers obsess over or people that maybe aren't super, like, educated on it, like obsess over when, you know, like they're not even like caring about the actual substance of the content they're sending out.
I don't know if you have, if you have thoughts on

[00:39:58] George B. Thomas:

So, so I have thoughts one, I, I too hear that same question a lot and I've never really. Kind of dove into if it's a positive or negative. I immediately, when you said that, I was like, I did the HMM thing, which usually when I do the HMM things, it means I want to find somebody that I can interview who is like an absolute expert on what that actually means or doesn't mean for your email marketing.
But I will say as just. A human who likes to keep it simple. The idea of there being eight or 10 things, again, the number doesn't matter. I'm just telling a story here, eight or 10 things that I now go look at a promotions tab to see if it's relevant or not. It's at least not in my, what is no longer possibly an inbox zero like.

Sometimes that that area is just a hot mess. So maybe you do have a little bit more of a chance when I actually gallivan over there and start to look at what, what are those eight to 10 or 12, uh, numbers that I need to go clear out because my A D H D is taken over and I, I just don't want 'em to be there on the left sidebar anymore. , so it's interesting. It's
[00:41:04] Max Cohen: Because also if someone goes in there, Their intent is to go, okay, now I'm looking at this kind of stuff. Right. And they're no longer distracted by the stuff they actually care about. Right. Which is like personal emails they're getting. But the other thing that's like so weird to me about the argument there, oh, hold on.

Wait, sorry. Do you think Google is trying to make things more difficult for marketers when that's literally the one way they make all of their money is catering to marketers? You think they're trying to make it harder for you? Like the logic? This doesn't really make sense to me when people are. So hyper-focused on it. I don't know. It's just like, good

[00:41:48] George B. Thomas:

I don't know,

[00:41:49] Max Cohen:

their money off of invading your privacy and like getting a, like ma, like making a ton of money off of advertising. And you think for some reason they're going to ma take on this crusade to make it more difficult for email marketing? I, I don't know. I, I don't know. I don't know. It just seems weird to

[00:42:05] George B. Thomas:

don't know, like the, the other side of my brain did that. And obviously this email conversation is gonna have to be two episodes because holy crap, people can't even believe we're at like, almost time to close this down. But Max, here's the thing, Google's job. It's real job, especially when it comes to Gmail, is to make sure that everybody wants to continue to use the platform.

And if I just let marketers come in all willy nilly, like the wild, wild west, I'm gonna be an Outlook user in like a week. In like a week, I'm gonna be out of there. And so while I hear what you're saying and it definitely is like video one for George, this is, conversation to entice me into the future conversations that we might have.

I, I have to believe that Google, Gmail, those tools are like, no. Our, our objective number one is to save you from the marketers, because I'll add another layer on this max. Not everybody is a marketer like you. Not everybody's a marketer like Devin. Not everybody's a marketer like me, meaning, Not everybody comes to the table with positive intents.

People are trying to game this crap out of the system and they're just not good humans. And so they do not good human things. And we gotta remember, Gmail, Google the powers that be. They see that kind of stuff where we don't even maybe think

[00:43:31] Max Cohen:

yeah. I just think it is also possible for them to make something that looks like a quality of life improvement to say, oh, we'll get all this, like, promotional stuff outta your inbox. But we're also kind of calling it out to like give you some hints to go look at it and engage with it a little bit more to keep our marketing friends a little happier. Right. I don't know, I, it just, it's, it's, to me it's just this sketchy, but anyway. Yeah.

[00:43:55] Devyn Bellamy:

Conspiracy theory Max

[00:43:57] George B. Thomas:


[00:43:58] Max Cohen:

Yeah. Oh, oh, I got, I got a bunch. The next episode. We've gotta just have the hard conversation around paid lists. I think that's gotta be

[00:44:05] George B. Thomas:

Oh well. So I think there's a couple things, right? I think there's the, the fact that we need to have a conversation about why you might wanna start buying lists. I definitely think , I definitely think that we need, Devin is just like losing this stuff right now, ladies, Jim, I'm Go. You can't see it eventually when we give you a video version of this.
Podcast in a place not to be named where you can actually go watch the shenanigans. It's gonna be a lot funnier. It's gonna be a lot funnier, although we know you're having fun anyway. But we have to talk about why maybe it is time to buy lists. But more than that, we need to talk about, how, how

[00:44:39] Max Cohen:

in trouble,

[00:44:40] George B. Thomas:

yeah, how, how the heck has HubSpot evolved over the years?
What are some ninja features and tricks that HubSpot people often overlook pertaining to email? What are the non-negotiable best practices? Like if, if any of those three things enticed you, then you're gonna wanna listen into next week's episode of The Hub Heroes. But we're gonna close it out like Liz closes it out.

Max. Devin, what's the one thing, what's the one thing that people need to know exiting out of this episode?
[00:45:10] Devyn Bellamy: You shouldn't buy lists. Like, I know it's not this. No, don't, don't buy lists. There's don't, like, just don't do it. Please don't. Like I, I got, an email the other day from a guy, he sent it to my HubSpot email sending me, telling me that he could sell me lists that have nothing but engaged HubSpot users.

And I'm like, I bet I can find that information faster than you can, but you know. You. You go ahead guy, cuz you bought a list that had my name on it and thought it would be a good idea to sell me what I already have. One and two. It's like the only way you possibly get that information is unethically or, or, , it's fake.

So that it's either way, uh, like I, I hate is a strong word, so I'll say I dislike you significantly and I will not be adding you to my Christmas list.

[00:46:07] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, I will say that I know that guy. That guy's in my inbox too, max, what's the one thing that people need to remember?

[00:46:14] Max Cohen:

Uh, I'm gonna double down on what Devin just said. Do not buy paid lists of emails under any circumstance whatsoever. The other thing that I'll just say, kind of said it earlier, but again, before you click send, ask yourself, if I were to walk up to somebody on the street, tapped them on the shoulder and give them this. Based on who I'm sending it to. Would that be weird? Would it be a bit cringe? Maybe think twice about hitting sun?

[00:46:40] George B. Thomas:

Yeah, I'm gonna close this out with email isn't dead bad, email is dead. And Max, I'm gonna even kind of double down on your philosophy cuz this is something that I've used for years. I'll sit and look at an email before I hit send and I ask myself, would I want to get this? Would I read this? Is this like, is this a value or am I just trying to shill for big g b?

[00:47:07] Max Cohen:

And the important thing to do there is don't lie to yourself.

[00:47:10] George B. Thomas:

yeah. Yeah. Be honest with yourself and like, ah, you know what? Let me cut some of this back. Let me go in a little bit of a different direction. Don't be afraid, Devin. I'm gonna preach your language. Don't be afraid to blow that email up. And go back at it at a second chance.

Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, we are outta time. Episode two of this is gonna be absolutely amazing. We'll see you next week. I'm having a hard time kicking you out of the room like Liz usually does cuz I'm just not that type of guy. But y'all, see you later.