Sh*t My dad says about email marketing by Chis Donald @inboxgroup

Sh*t My Dad Says About Email Marketing

My dad is one of my favorite people in the world. He’s 82, retired, and lives in Winter Haven, Florida. He has a great sense of humor as well as a firm grasp of what I do. In fact, I once heard him describe my job to another retiree, saying, “My son is an email marketer. He helps companies send email newsletters—not that spam crap—the stuff you sign up for and want.”

To give you an idea of where I get my sense of humor, back in 2000 when I was trying to lose weight, my dad called me and said, “I’ve been doing some research on the Internet and I think I’ve figured out why you’re overweight! Best I can tell you, you’re about six inches too short!”

Thanks, Dad. Much appreciated.

Anyway, since my dad has been listening to me about email marketing, he now forwards me the email he gets from retailers, restaurants, etc. These are usually accompanied by questions or observations. In the spirit of another popular senior’s point of view, here are a few of my dad’s thoughts on email:

Sh*t My Dad Says About…

  • Segmenting your audience
    “Why would a travel site send me an advertisement for Spring Break travel discounts to Cancun? Don’t they know I graduated in 1950?” “I’d see a beach full of young ladies in bikinis and keel-over (with a smile on my face =o).”

  • Knowing your audience (no, really)
    “If they really want me to read this, don’t you think they could make the type a bit larger? I don’t see as well as I used to.” “Remember, the eyes go second.”

  • List hygiene
    “My doctor sent Linda [his wife] an email two months ago with a ‘We miss you and asking that she make an appointment soon.’”

    • One problem here: My father has had the same doctor for 15 years, and his doctor even went to Linda’s funeral back in 2000. A 10-year-old record? It’s time to clean your list!
  • Proper targeting
    “I don’t need a bigger unit or to last longer, I just need to be able to pee. Send me Flomax discounts, no Viagra.”

    • Well, spam is rarely targeted, but you can see his point.
  • Double opt-in
    “I subscribed to a national chain restaurant newsletter and then they sent me an email asking if I really wanted to subscribe and to confirm. Asking once wasn’t enough? I guess it’s like their service: I always have to ask twice for a refill on my iced tea.”

Takeaway: Most of these mistakes can be avoided by knowing your audience and understanding their needs. Don’t treat all subscribers the same way. Always segment, and then segment again. Define your audience and deliver relevant content.

And, of course, consider the design and font sizes when sending to older subscribers like my dad. He’ll appreciate it and complain less, which will make me happy, too.

Cheers, Chris

All contributions by Chris Donald

Email subscriber geo-location tagging and endorphin boost with nanotechnology While reviewing analytics for a Fortune 100 company, they posed the question: How can we better track and increase purchases through email marketing?  So the brain-trust at Inbox Group went to work in partnership with the NanoTechnology Dept. at M.I.T.  After years of development and testing on mice, bunnies and college students, we are finally ready to release our new tracking system. Subscriber… [Read more]


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Email marketing: Just what the doctor ordered Over the Past ten years I have worked with a myriad of health care providers as well as individual family doctors helping them with their email marketing. Like most email marketing we always suggest strongly to segment and offer content based on the individual recipients wants and needs. When these rules are followed along with personalization, the increase in opens and click-thrus as well as interaction… [Read more]


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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

Meet the author:

Chris Donald

Chris Donald

Christopher Donald is currently a Partner and VP of Sales and Marketing at Inbox Group, LLC based in Dallas, where he oversees U.S. and International sales of the Inbox Group email marketing service (SaaS). Chris has worked on the front lines of internet sales and marketing since 1995 and directly in email marketing since 2000.

Connect with: Chris Donald

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  • Jeff Ginsberg
    October 21, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Great post Chris….love it!!!

    Say hello to your dad from me and Jim.

    BTW…I’ll take any of those spring break offers for Cancun please 😉


    • Chris Donald
      October 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      I’ll tell him you said hi and to forward the spring break offer 😉 Glad you enjoyed the post. Most of the credit obviously goes to my Dad.

      Cheers, Chris

  • Jay Chambers
    October 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Great post Chris! Also impressed that your dad understands what you do, my old man doesn’t even have an email account!


    • Chris Donald
      October 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Jay, Yeah it took many years to get Dad trained on the computer and email. But now he’s got it down. Of course he still forwards too many emails with everyone CC’d.

  • Loren McDonald
    November 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Great post Chris! Your dad sounds amazing. My dad died several years ago and he never really understood what I did. I couldn’t get him to learn how to use a PC – he still wrote out everything longhand…but he would have been disgusted with Spam and BACN.

    Your post gave me ideas for two of my own blog posts. Also, I wrote an Email Insider column last year on \Sh*t My Dad Says\ last year – but with a completely different angle –

    Looking forward to hearing more from your dad!


    • Jim Ducharme
      November 23, 2010 at 12:39 pm

      You’ll be glad to know Loren that Chris is working on more posts with more great insight from his dad!


    • Chris Donald
      November 23, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks Loren, I’ve been training dad on email and even social a bit. I always like his point of view being a consumer and a senior. Plus he rarely holds back what he really thinks. I do still get the occasional letter from him in longhand (see: sandscript) that takes me a while to read, but I love that he takes time to do that.

      Cheers, Chris

  • Ryan Phelan
    November 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Great post Chris. I think it’s great that your dad cares enough to make the comments and participate in email. I will be using these comments this weekend when I try again to explain what I do to relatives. LOL

    All the best,


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