Successful Email Campaigns That Don’t Make a Single Sale

About this post…

It’s not particularly helpful on the face of it. It’s not about building product manufacturers and it probably won’t help with your marketing efforts.

It’s also particularly self-serving in the sense that it’s about me, not about you, about my needs not yours.

Does this post pass the relevancy and useful test? You know what? I’m not that bothered, it just needs to be written.

This post is about email for sure but, more specifically, it’s about a single email that I wrote this week to some of you.

It followed the same 3 simple email rules that all our marketing emails follow.

  1. It had a clear goal
  2. A specific target audience
  3. A pin-sharp message.

Did it back up the main business goals of ‘relevancy, helpfulness and insightfulness’ to our target audience of marketers within building product manufacturers. Not really.

But it got opened and read and it was definitely acted upon.

The day and time of day it was broadcast? That nirvana of all email answers. Debate this until you’re blue in the face, there is no golden rule. You ought to be testing it yourselves.

I sent this on a Monday, probably the only day you shouldn’t send emails. But the clock was ticking.

Html or plain text?

Tricky because the database was small but too large to send via a regular email browser. The email needed to be plain text not html but I also wanted the ability to track opens and click-throughs – I’m a digital marketer – so I went and html’d some plain text.

Personalisation is overated in my book, I’m not sure how ‘personal’ an email is even if they do use my first name. Half the time I have no idea who it’s from.

There were other so-called ‘golden rules of email’ broken too. Things that made this email unique, and probably not to be followed:

  • The database was tiddly small (just under 250 individuals) and yet it was hand-picked – this is a good thing for any email campaign.
  • The audience was broad – it was made up of CEO’s, PA’s, Marketer’s, Business owners, managing directors, consultants – this not so much.
  • The geographic spread was global – this could be devastating.
  • The industries were broadly construction although not everyone fell into that category – again, not great.

The ‘from’ fields and the ‘subject’ fields… I debated these in my head (for about a two seconds).

I adapted the subject line from an email a friend of mine sent to me earlier in the year, it read: “Can you help me out?”. And the email came from me personally nick.pauley@… I don’t typically like to help faceless entities and I don’t expect anyone else to.

And what about the goal? well…, there’s the difference.

I was asking for two things, help and money.

Here are the stats:


Email campaign stats

Stats from the email


You will make your own mind up whether it’s a success or not. I think it’s a blinding result. Mind blowing in fact… and they’re still giving now!

So really, this post is about me saying thank you, not about email at all, although it is, in a way.

If I’m honest, I’m gob-smacked by the success of probably the ugliest, most ill-timed and self-centred email I’ve written in a long time.

But then again I shouldn’t be. I work with truly great people.

The small (but perfectly-formed) database of friends; colleague friends, supplier friends, client friends, mentor friends who have contributed with such speed and generosity.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

You know who you are and if you don’t you can look here.

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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