Why Email Newsletters Are Not The Most Important Marketing Tool

Content marketers around the world will tell you that your mailing list is your best marketing asset.

But what do you do with your mailing list?

Most people end up sending a regular email newsletter. And while those are all well and good, there are some major problems with having your newsletter as the sole extent of your email strategy.

For example, email marketers are fond of measuring metrics like click-through-rates (because they are easy to track), but if you really want to drive viral marketing, wouldn’t you also be interested in engagement-through-rates? These are harder to measure, but essentially you want to know what percent of your email subscribers take an action to promote you due to any given email you send.

These numbers are pretty low compared to other metrics. For example, newsletter open rates are usually stuck in the 20-40% range and click-through-rates are stuck in the 2-8% range. But the engagement-through-rates are typically within the 0-2% range.

This raises the question: can you do better?

Yes. NPS surveys can get up to double the open rates of newsletters and if done right, a significantly higher engagement-through-rate. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not a replacement for the regular newsletter strategy. It’s an augmentation.

How To Do Marketing With NPS

In last week’s blog post, we talked about How To Do Sales With NPS. But if you already have a great sales machine going, you might want to tune your NPS campaign to a different goal: more marketing and awareness.

After all, the P in NPS does stand for Promoter. NPS is a natural marketing tool if used correctly.

Here’s how NOT to use NPS for marketing: you send an NPS survey, you gather the results and calculate your score. Then wait for a while and repeat.

Doing so will measure the promotability of your brand, but will not spur anybody to take action, which is such a shame.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle says you can’t measure the exact position AND speed of an object at the same time because by measuring the position, you change its speed.

Similarly, the act of measuring NPS can change the outcome, but it is up to you in which direction the outcome is changed. As always, it’s all about the NPS follow-up. After someone has sent you their score you are looking for people who respond with a 9 or 10.

These people are the ones most likely to turn into active promoters for you, but without further instructions, it’s like dry kindling without a match.

If you just ask for someone who gave you a 9 or a 10 to take action and promote you, they will probably answer like this:

Sure, I’d love to help you out, but I don’t really know anyone who would need your service.

Which doesn’t help you or them. They feel like they have let you down and you didn’t get any advantage from their answer of a 10. Fail.

The most effective way to turn NPS into a marketing machine is by using the PAR technique.

  • (P) personalize
  • (A) action
  • (R) reciprocate

How does this look in practice?

Dear [First Name],

[P] Thank you for taking the time to fill out my survey. It means a lot to me and I read each and every response personally and carefully. I’m glad you like [XYZ] feature of my service.

[A] I don’t ask this from everyone, but since you gave me a 10 for being willing to promote my service, would you feel comfortable sending a tweet like this one:

I am a big fan of [YOUR URL], you should check it out if you haven’t heard of it

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[R] P.S. I really liked your latest blog post about [TOPIC], so I recently tweeted it from my personal account: [LINK TO TWEET]

The hardest and most time consuming part of the PAR technique is to reciprocate… but it’s also the most powerful part. It takes time to do the research, but you can use tools like Rapportive and Spokeo to streamline this. In Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, he talks about the best and fastest way to influence others is to take a genuine interest in them. Today, social media makes taking that interest in others easier to do than it was in 1937 when Carnegie’s book was published. So use it to your advantage.

The next thing I want to mention is how important a specific call-to-action is. This way, people know exactly what you are asking them to do. You are not asking for just “some promotion,” you are asking for a specific tweet with some specific words.

Here are some alternative ideas for marketing tweets you could ask for:

  • (Send to email landing page) Just found this [URL] ← great free report for [XYZ]
  • (Testimonial) “[XYZ] is the best service for [ABC] out there” ~Someone Famous [URL] ★★★★★
  • (Have you heard of yet) “Have you heard of XYZ, yet? Check it out [URL]”

The last question you might have is what you do with people who don’t give you a score of 9 or 10? This is not as scary as it might seem. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for finding out new features and products you can build to serve your customers.

How does this look in practice? You can still use the PAR technique. P (personalize) A (action) R (reciprocate).

Dear [First Name],

[P] Thank you for taking the time to fill out my survey. It means a lot to me and I read each and every response personally and carefully. I’m so sorry you didn’t like [XYZ] feature of my service.

[A] Would you mind telling me the biggest thing I could do to make your experience better?

Thank you,

[Your Name]

[R] P.S. I took at look at your company website, I think that [ACME CORP] is pretty interesting. Is there something we could do to help you grow your business?

The focus here is less on asking them to take an action that promotes your business, and more on engaging with them and building a solid foundation from which promotion marketing will be easier to develop later on. Again the reciprocate action is what can take the most time, but is also what helps really create that strong bond.


I hope you can tell by now that the NPS can be used for so much more than just measuring a passive number. Once you open that Pandora’s box, it can’t be closed. So let your imagination run free. Think about all the ways you can apply this to your business. What is your number one problem in growing your business? How could you use NPS to help address the root of those problems?

1 thought on “Why Email Newsletters Are Not The Most Important Marketing Tool”

  1. Chad, this is pretty interesting I must say. Could be so time consuming too that one may have to hire an assistant to manage NPS all on its own :).

    As I read the post, these thoughts kept flowing through my mind. What if these little actions were solicited from the moment they gave the NPS score, for example someone gives you a 9-10 the next page redirects to a click to tweet with varying copy, and if they did tweet they had a chance of winning something more personalized like a 20 mins free coaching/consulting or a T-shirt/mug etc….based on your business/customer needs.

    Another way to giveaway the prize could be that the prize page lists a number of prizes and the individual just selects one. (the excitement of having to choose between gifts)

    Those were my thoughts? It saves me the trouble of having to research customers blog post or websites, and the prize could be tied to something that helps the customer further move along the sales funnel. I don’t now if your tool is set up to do this though.

    What do you think about the idea? 🙂

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