Chris Brogan Talks Email & Social Marketing


Chris Brogan is president of Human Business Works and has 12 years in the online marketing and social media world. He’s a best selling author and counts leading brands among his clients. His blog is a top resource for marketing professionals and social media fans. In this interview, Chris shares concise insight on email marketing and social media in general.


In a recent interview you made it pretty clear that you are still a big believer in email marketing. What do you see as the future for email marketing?

I see the future as being one where people who work to humanize their automation efforts will do better, where people who embrace brevity and simplicity will win over those who try to be clever.


I think that building a relationship-via-email is a potential that companies have overlooked because it’s not scalable. To me, plenty of things worth doing are better without scale.



There’s been a lot of chatter about how SMS is on the rise with smartphones and of course, about how kids today use SMS over email. Do you think that suggests that email will always be less relevant for the younger generation even as they enter the workforce?

SMS is great for small bite conversations. It’s no good for information transfer. There will be a place for both. The trick will be whether businesses can learn to integrate both. TECHNOLOGICALLY, it’s not that tricky. Culture wise, getting the CEO to blast some SMS messages to those who’ve opted for this would be a huge win.


Can you be successful today just marketing via one channel or must you focus on a multi-channel approach?

Local-only businesses might be the only ones I can think of who could do with a one-market/one-channel approach. If you sell landscaping in one town, or roofing in a three town radius, that’s fine. If you’re selling with the potential for more-than-immediately-local buyers, you can’t stick to one channel.


Is social media a good fit for all brands? Is it a must for every company out there to be social or is it an elective?

Nothing in the universe is a must for every business. Social media works great as a set of communications and business tools if a company is ready to admit they care about their customers for more than a financial transaction. If not, then don’t bother.


What do you say to corporations/brands who are intimidated by the new FB Timeline format?

I say too bad. I don’t say that to be cheeky. I say that because you’re opting to use a free tool. Roll with the punches or clock out. It’s okay. You don’t have to use every social network. But if you’re seeing traction on Facebook, then figure your way through the Timeline issue and soldier on.


What is the most important thing to consider about email marketing?

Brevity and simplicity. That’s two things. If I had to choose, I’d go with simplicity. We’re surrounded by things that suck up our time. We want email to be bite-sized and we want ONE choice, not fourteen. Look at most every email you receive from a company and tell me if they’re getting this right. (Hint: they’re not.)


What is the one thing you should know before you even consider sending out that first email marketing newsletter?

You should know that no matter how many times you review the copy, the technical bits, the design, and everything else, you’ll probably still make a mistake.


What are the 3 most important elements of any good email marketing newsletter?

  1. Less than 350 words
  2. A single call-to-action
  3. Barely any HTML formatting


So, what do you think? Do you agree with Chris or do you have some questions or insight you would like to share?

  • Alexander Stern

    I personally read emails from authors that proved to bring value content to me in a concise and understandable fashion.
    I don’t read marketing mails where I feel I’m simply being sold and not given valuable content.
    I think this matter must be covered when talking about the email content.

  • hugeheadca

    Good point Alexander! Yes, you have to bring value to a subscriber’s day to engage them! Don’t tell me what a product does! Tell me what people are doing with it to add value to their day! Email marketing is not all about selling.