Michael Barber speaking at WMAMA event

Bloody Hell! The Convergence of Content, Email & My British Mum

November 22nd, 2019

by Josh Janowiak

E-mail isn’t the sexiest marketing topic, nor is it the most fun, but if done well it can lead to the best ROI of any tactic in your marketing plan. Regardless of industry and even though there is more noise in the inbox and more apps for consumers to juggle, e-mail continues to prove itself as the best one-to-one communication channel for brands and most preferred by consumers.

But, marketers continue to struggle with their email efforts. Even some 26 years after the first email campaign was sent, marketers are still challenged by how to ethically grow subscribers, ensure deliverability, and create content that is timely, targeted, and relevant.

Today we’re joined by Michael Barber (and his British Mum) to explore some of the best and most practical ways to improve your e-mail marketing, challenge your email conceptions, and discuss just why this tactic continues to be vitally important for marketers. 

We’ll also discuss how to ethically grow your email subscriber lists and how to select the appropriate Email Service Provider for the job.

Key Topics

  • Design Best Practices
  • Creating Relative & Personalized Content
  • Building Trust with Subscribers
  • Email List Building Strategies
  • Selecting The Right ESP For The Job

Many of the topics discussed in this podcast are also covered in greater detail in Episode 6 Email Marketing Isn’t Dead, published in April 2019. We also cover more on SPF, Authentication, and Demark Policies in that podcast.

Michael Barber of Godfrey

At least for the next few weeks, Michael Barber is the Senior Vice President, Chief Creative Officer at Godfrey. He began his career at Mighty Interactive, the digital shop founded by Jay Baer. Mighty was one of the first agencies to leverage the future email behemoth ExactTarget, ultimately helping the organization develop its ad agency offering before it was acquired by Salesforce for $2.5 billion. Michael went on to lead strategy and planning at Sitewire, Nomadic Agency, and COHN, before founding his own consultancy, Barber & Hewitt. In 2018, Barber & Hewitt joined Godfrey, one of the largest US-based B2B agencies, and was named one of Marketo’s 50 Fearless Marketers, which recognizes the top marketers around the globe driving bold, fearless, marketing and digital transformation.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. This work has been awarded numerous industry awards, but more importantly has driven successes including the most effective and cost-efficient campaign in the history of a Fortune 500 company, a 160x return on ad spend, and 10 million earned media impressions within the first month of a new product launch.

Outside of Godfrey, Michael hones his unhealthy obsessions with donuts, cold brew, planes, BMWs, the Arizona Wildcats, and his two Westies, McDoogle and Bowie.

Michael Barber
SVP, Chief Creative Officer
@michaeljbarber anywhere online

Thanks to Our Sponsors!

Without their support our programs would not be possible.

2020 Annual AMA Sponsors

The Convergence of Content, Email & Mum

What Not To Do

  • We don’t want to talk to you: donotreply@yoururl.com
  • Pinch, zoom, and have fun navigating all these columns and content!
  • Present a bunch of text and junk above the fold
  • Use the entire fold for your logo/branding
  • Hide or eliminate unsubscribe options altogether
  • Unsubscribe option: Never email me again
  • Lying: I missed your reply
  • Be Creepy: We saw you looking….

72 Hours, 10 Emails, WTH

How can we get better?

Enter……Michael Barber’s British Mum!

Georgina Jane Barber share’s some quintessential British motherly advice with principles we should all consider in our marketing efforts.

Be Bloody Brilliant

Build better the best emails

  • From names matter a lot!
    • Dan from Drift increased opens 70%
  • Size doesn’t matter
    • Phrasee out of the UK tests subject lines
    • Accounts for only .01% of opens
  • Sentiment: Words matter.
  • Diversity: Different strokes for different folks.
  • Sophistication: It’s email! The simpler, the better.
  • Emojis: make good subject lines better and bad subject lines worse.
  • Single column “skinny” layouts
    • Design to scroll
    • Use the inverted pyramid to guide eyes or the zig zag
    • Slim up your headers! 
      • Engaged subscribers don’t care about your logo
    • Fonts & Buttons
      • Headlines 30px
      • Body copy 16px
      • 44 x 44 points minimum with breathing room
  • Put a call to action above the fold
      • bouncex  & shopify
  • Use Power Features

Use Platform Power Features

It’s Always the Little Things, My Love.

Personalization and interactivity matter.

  • Contextual Buttons
  • Post Purchase Personalization
  • Location, location, location.
  • Celebrations & Milestones
  • Inbox Is The Cart
    • (Nest)
  • Reviews natively
  • Data that provides utility
  • Personalization of all forms

Personalization of all forms

Be Kind

Empathy is required, even in the inbox.

  • Always say hello.
  • Grow your list organically, always.
  • Speak like a human
  • Respect Time
    • StickerMule.com has wonderful email campaigns that speak to their market while respecting their time.
  • Ask & you shall receive
  • Frequency preferences FTW.

Email Frequency Preferences

Consistency Above All, Darling

Measure all ways and always.

Litmus Email Marketing Metrics Matrix

  • Hypothesis, always.
  • Test automated/operational emails. 74% of companies don’t.
  • Focus on tests that move your needle.
  • Test similar and different audience segments.
  • Test your active subscriber segment.
  • Share results everywhere.

Michael’s Favorite Email Campaigns

Additional Email Marketing Resources

Growing Your Email List

How to Grow Your Email List: 80+ Proven and Simple Ways


  1. Create Amazing Content
    • M20 Adams shoe Company
  2. Offer Exclusivity
    • Give more and better incentives
  3. Engage with Empathy
    • Give involvement options
  4. Keeping Your List Clean
    • Post email list cleaning resources. Make sure addresses are valid.
    • Add millionth email resource link

Selecting An ESP

How to select the right email service provided for the job. 

  • Start by researching ESP deliverability rates.
  • Find the right sized ESP at the right price that works for your budget.
    • Don’t kill the bumblebee with the bazooka!
    • What are the top B2C & B2B ESP providers?
      • Small Business
        • Mailchimp
        • Campaign Monitor
        • Act On
        • Emma
        • Keep (formerly Infusionsoft)
      • Mid Market
        • Mailchimp
        • Emma / Campaign Monitor
        • Pardot
        • Auto Pilot
      • Enterprise
        • Marketo
        • Hubspot
        • SalesForce
        • Adobe
        • Response
        • Oracle
  • Is it future focused?
  • Does it fit into the process of your brand?
    • Emma, Pardot, Marketo, Auto Pilot

Email Audit Guide-Barber & Hewitt

Michael’s Favorite Books

Think Do Say

Think. Do. Say. is not just the first business book in history to not mention Apple (finally). It’s your guide to making good things happen for you and your organization, filled with down-to-earth insight and indispensable humor. Ron Tite didn’t just think about writing the most refreshing business book. He did it. You’ll be the one to talk about it.

Think Do Say-Ron Tite

Obviously Awesome

You know your product is awesome—but does anybody else? Forget everything you thought you knew about positioning. Successfully connecting your product with consumers isn’t a matter of following trends, comparing yourself to the competition or trying to attract the widest customer base.

Obviously Awesome-April Dunford

The Business of Expertise

This passionate “expertise manifesto” is intended to elevate the impact of advisors who sell insight as entrepreneurs. Three foundational chapters form the basis of the entire book: experts develop insight by isolating patterns in data; they convert those insights to wealth by crafting a unique positioning for which few available substitutes exist; and their confidence grows as the marketplace embraces their application of expertise.

The next sixteen chapters—building on that foundation—each answer a single question, starting with the role of expertise in a developed society, how important it is for experts to love the hard work required to hone their expertise, and how to see all that in the context of their own purpose in the world.

The Business of Expertise-David C. Baker


Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that helped him create unique results in life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to better achieve their goals. Dalio’s original Principles has been downloaded over three million times, and this expanded and revised edition is the first version available in print.

Principles-Ray Dalio