Pretty funny, right? Moreover, it’s increasingly a reality, and at first glance it would appear to present something of a challenge to business email marketing.

The email user on the left is obsessed with reaching inbox zero. That is, they will do everything in their power to make sure they never have any unread emails in their inbox. This could mean reading an email, of course, but it also means marking emails as read, deleting emails, delegating emails, and basically doing whatever they can to get their inbox under control.

The other user, meanwhile, on the right, takes the opposite approach. They’re more than happy to let hundreds, sometimes thousands of emails mount up unread in their inbox. They do open some emails, sure, but they have to really capture their attention. They have to earn that opening.

Here’s the strange thing: both groups require an almost identical approach in your email marketing strategy.

It’s As Easy As ABC

In classic sales jargon, ABC stands for Always Be Closing. It’s a strategy where the salesperson is encouraged to constantly be looking for and pressurising prospects to become customers. To close on the sale. We’ve all encountered aggressive salespeople in our lives, but as a methodology Always Be Closing is somewhat dated and often unscrupulous.

In digital marketing, and especially email marketing, I prefer to think of the ABCs another way: Always Be Connecting. What this means is that there’s tremendous value in maintaining a strong and steady connection with a prospect without applying too much pressure — without being too aggressive, or trying to force the close.

This is especially true with email, and for best results all businesses should implement an email marketing funnel.


This is how you might practice an ABC strategy in your general marketing. First, you need to engage the prospect. What can you do to positively attract their attention? Next, you need to capture any relevant information – this would typically mean their personal details. Next, you need to nurture the relationship, providing value and resources, free-of-charge, to the prospect, warming them up to the idea of doing business with you. Once their appetite has been significantly whetted, you will be able to convert them into a customer. Finally – and this stage is perhaps the most critical – you need to doing everything you can to retain their business and keep them coming back for more.

In email marketing, the funnel might look like this.


This is how you might practice an ABC strategy in your general marketing. Social media is used to engage the prospect — perhaps by sharing tips and insights, driving visitors to your website. From here, you would capture their personal information on your website (or through a social media lead ad), likely in exchange for a free piece of downloadable content. Then, you would nurture the relationship, providing value and resources, free-of-charge, to the prospect, that are only available via email.

(This part is critical – if they can get the information somewhere else, why subscribe for email updates?)

Continue to provide email value for a period of time before applying sales pressure so you can convert the subscriber into a customer. After all, you’ve given them so much good stuff for free, your paid-for products and services most be spectacular. Then, return the customer into the free content cycle of emails, to keep them coming back for more.


Why go to all this trouble? Bottom line: email converts prospects into customers better than anything else in digital marketing. Always has, and likely always will. Social media is better for getting attention and raising awareness, and often for the acquisition of leads, but email is better for acquiring customers. Search might be better for enquiries, but email will help you finalise the deal. And better still, it can all be automated. That’s the whole point of the funnel – push the prospect through with plenty of free, valuable content, until they pop out the other side as a new customer. And then keep doing it.

And in case you’re not quite convinced, a 2013 Direct Marketing Association study found that two-thirds of consumers had gone on to make a purchase online as a direct result of an email marketing message, and a 2015 study found that more than seven in ten (72%) of consumers say that email is their preferred 
method of communication with the companies that they do business with.

Ready to begin your email marketing campaign? Contact Identity today.