Email Marketing Books: 15 Reads to Improve Your Strategy
Whether you’re just ramping up your email marketing career or are a seasoned veteran who needs a fresh spark of inspiration, sometimes the simple act of reading a few books can infuse you with new energy and strategies. Here’s a list of 15 of the best email marketing books from the past couple decades.
Peruse the descriptions and find a few to add to your reading list for this year.
1. Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin
In many ways, this is the book that started it all when it comes to internet marketing. Seth Godin’s book tore into the blight of mass advertising, and the world hasn’t been the same since. The usual forms of advertising continue to blanket airwaves and mailboxes, causing more annoyance than they do solving problems for customers, let alone producing trackable revenue.
Seth calls this “interruption marketing,” because it tries to get attention by drawing people away from whatever else they’re doing and make them listen, watch, read, or respond.
On the internet, especially, Seth Godin argues that this interruptive approach just doesn’t work, because advertising online is too easy to ignore.
But “permission marketing” incentivizes the consumer to ask for marketing materials from a company. This incentive is known by another term you may be familiar with – “lead magnet.” When a customer requests a free guide, fills out a survey, or enters a contest, they’re giving permission for the company to send them some type of marketing asset.
How does this relate to email? Because email remains the primary channel by which those marketing materials will be delivered. A customer or lead may see your advertising on social media, your website, through paid search, or elsewhere. But when they respond to your “permission-based” offer, you will more than likely deliver that item via email. And from there, you will continue to stay in touch with them via email.
Permission marketing thus opens the door to more effective email marketing. When someone’s asked to receive your marketing, they’ll be more receptive to each message you send. This means higher open and response rates and lower unsubscribes and spam complaints (protecting your email deliverability). In other words, permission marketing is a basis for a healthy email marketing ecosystem.
We admire Seth’s book so much that we reached out to him for an interview. See some of his thoughts, along with more details about the five levels of permission in this article about insights from Permission Marketing.
2. Email Marketing Rules (Volumes 1 and 2), by Chad S. White
This two-volume set is Chad White’s definitive work on email marketing. And he just updated it for 2023. Combined, the two books add up to about 700 pages, and these volumes cover just about everything, from theory to strategy to the practical details and tips of executing a successful email marketing program.
These email marketing books also include advice on how to grow email lists, create relevant messages, perform A/B testing, personalize and segment campaigns, measure success, and much more. You’ll even get checklists for auditing and optimizing various components of your email marketing.
3. Crafting HTML Email, by Rémi Parmentier
For the aspiring email developers out there in the email geek community, Rémi Partmentier is one of the most well-respected and admired coders.
In just 72 pages, his short book dives into the coding side of creating emails. This remains one of the trickier aspects of email marketing because there are so many email clients, platforms, and devices, and the tech keeps changing.
Rémi teaches the basics of HTML email coding and marketing, and shows you how to use it to create emails that look great and do what they are supposed to do.
4. Holistic Email Marketing, by Kath Pay
Email marketing today is quite different from 20 years ago when Seth Godin wrote his book. And some of the changes haven’t been good. Kath Pay’s email marketing book explores the ways email marketing has gotten off course because of various fears and bad practices, and then shows you how to right the ship.
Kath hits on a number of challenges facing email marketers today such as choosing an email vendor, customer journeys, email metrics, and personalization.
The book discusses a scientific approach to testing and marketing, the surprising most important email metric, 20 places to put an opt-in form, and how to use persuasion. You’ll walk away with tons of practical guidance, strategies, and tactics you can use in the years to come. Kath was chosen as one of our top email marketing thought leaders in 2021, and this book is a big reason why.
5. Email Marketing That Doesn’t Suck, by Bobby Klinck
If you think of all the other email marketing books on this list as “Goody Two-shoes”, Bobby Klinck’s book would be the feral kid running around outside getting dirty, missing school, and having a great time.
As the title implies, Bobby’s book doesn’t follow the conventions of email, or of book-writing for that matter. He contends that much of the email marketing we send out is terrible, boring, and useless.
Part one of the book introduces shifts that will help you make email marketing fun again and actually make money for your company or clients. Part two then discusses how to engage subscribers from the moment they join until, and beyond, the point when selling begins.
You’ll learn how to write emails in a way that makes sense for you and results in interesting and relatable content for your subscribers. If you hate writing email marketing, or feel like you’re not good at it, this book is a great choice. You’ll learn how to tell stories instead of sounding like a robot.
6. The New Email Marketing Revolution, by Robert W. Bly
Robert Bly is a well-known direct response copywriter with a long and successful career. He knows a thing or two about what works, and this book delivers everything you need to know to get started with your email marketing career.
For people newer to the field, this could be a very helpful email marketing book.
You’ll learn some of the nuts and bolts related to deliverability, basic metrics, and some legalities of sending emails. And you’ll learn how to write engaging, persuasive emails. Bly covers common questions like how long emails should be, and explains how to use other media within your emails. The book also includes email templates.
7. 300 Email Marketing Tips, by Meera Kothand
Once you have an email list, what do you do with it? While other books try to hit every topic related to email marketing, this one from Meera Kothand focuses on building your list and then monetizing it. This is like an email marketing self-improvement book.
The title pretty much says it all. You’re going to get into email calendars, autoresponders, welcome emails, and why your emails get opened and clicked but don’t generate any sales. You’ll get tips on how to create a compelling lead magnet and turn traffic into subscribers.
It’s a quick read and includes so many nuggets that you’ll be able to start using some of them immediately.
8. Natural Orders, by Matt Treacey
Matt’s small business email marketing book focuses on improving your email automation. It dives into attracting new subscribers, delivering value to keep them around, segmenting and personalizing your communications with them, and increasing lifetime customer value.
One of the biggest challenges with email marketing is having to write the emails. Automation takes away a large part of that burden once you have your system in place, and Natural Orders will teach you how to use automation to drive big revenue increases from email marketing.
9. Scale While You Sleep, by Chris Orzechowski
Here’s another ecommerce email marketing book. If your email marketing aspirations involve online stores, Chris Orzechowski’s book may be your best choice from this list.
While it hits some of the same automation notes as the last book, this one narrows its focus to ecommerce, which depends on cash flow, profit margins, and efficient marketing. Your best customers are your existing customers, and it’s far more difficult to win new ones than simply make more revenue from your current ones. And email is the single best way to market to existing customers.
Scale While You Sleep includes nine automated email sequences that ecommerce businesses can consider adapting and implementing into their businesses right away. These sequences address pre-sale marketing, fulfillment email automation, post-delivery automation, customer nurturing, and ongoing marketing sequences.
10. The SaaS Email Marketing Playbook, by Etienne Garbugli
Another niche-based email marketing book, Etienne’s book delivers solutions for SaaS businesses that are tired of giving away free trials that don’t turn into paying customers.
He shows how to use email to increase onboarding and free-trial conversions, reduce churn by continuing to market to existing customers, and grow your recurring revenue. Garbugli has helped found three start-ups, and shares from his successes with SaaS email marketing.
You’ll discover the six essential automated email sequences, how to create those emails, write the subjects and copy, pace the sequence, test, refine, optimize, and track the data. The book also features intensive analysis of cold email sequences, upsell and expansion sequences, referral sequences, reactivation sequences, and more.
11. How to Write Emails That Sell, by Matt Bacak
Matt Bacak’s book is another of the best email marketing books, in part because of its laser focus on selling. Ultimately, this is about generating revenue, and selling is both an art and a skill. Matt’s book is super short and to the point, so you won’t need much time to get to the heart and start implementing it in your marketing.
He uses real emails that have generated big money, and analyzes them to understand why they worked and how you can apply those lessons to your own email marketing. He studies urgency emails, discount emails that give a reason for the sale, emails telling stories about impressive results, and more.
If you do a lot of online selling, and in particular if you sell big-money products, services, coaching, or programs, Matt’s book may be the best on this list for you.
12. Deliverability Inferno, by Chris Arrendale
The best email marketing in the world doesn’t amount to anything if the email doesn’t get delivered. Email privacy expert Chris Arrendale, who we featured in a webinar and in this article about email deliverability, introduces nine obstacles to getting your emails delivered, and how to overcome them.
Those challenges include your content itself, your email list and how you use it, email bounces, spam complaints, spam traps, blacklists, authentication, compliance, and technology.
If you’re unfamiliar with this topic, you might want to add Chris’s book to your reading list – you’ll be surprised by how many emails don’t get delivered due to problems you can solve. But if you neglect those problems, your email reputation will wither, and your revenue from email marketing will go south.
13. Email Persuasion, by Ian Brodie
Email Persuasion was written for client-based businesses and professionals whose revenue depends on forging and sustaining business relationships. You must attract leads, nurture them, motivate them to engage with you in some way, convert them, and then keep them.
Ian’s book tackles many of the biggest issues facing email marketers for businesses such as those. He covers automation, turning engagement into revenue, how to get your emails opened and read, how to build a valuable list, segmentation, and more.
14. Email Marketing Demystified, by Matthew Paulson
It’s usually comforting to know that the person claiming to be an expert in something has actually done it. Matthew Paulson grew an organic list of over 3 million investors from nothing, and uses that list to generate over $25 million per year in revenue.
His book simply takes what he has learned and used successfully, and presents it to the reader. Beginning with selecting an email service provider, this email marketing book then takes you through list building, sending frequency, writing content that motivates action, the legal aspects of email marketing, and much more.
You’ll also learn six ways to make money with your email list, and dive deep into case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of what you’re learning. This is an evidence-based presentation. If you want to see what’s worked and use that in your own efforts, this may be one of the best email marketing books for you.
15. This Is Personal, by Brennan Dunn
You hear a lot about personalization in email marketing, but how do you do it well? Brennan’s book shows you how to gain understanding of the subscribers on your list and then use that to send relevant, informative, and helpful emails that produce a response.
Brennan also uses real-life email marketing examples from a huge range of industries and niches, from a heavy metal band to a government tourism board to a bariatric surgeon.
This Is Personal is due to be published in October of 2023, so if you want to be on the cutting edge of email marketing and one of the first to read and start using Brennan’s expertise, you can pre-order it now.
Check out our ebooks and white papers
Want more email marketing books? We’ve produced a number of free email marketing white papers and ebooks on a whole range of topics. Browse our selection and grab the ones most relevant to you!
For even more email marketing reading material, visit our friends at Sinch Mailjet and check out their collection of resources. It includes the report Inbox Insights 2023, which has survey results from more than 3,000 email marketers.
Get all the Inbox Insights…
Don’t miss the rest of the results from our global survey of email senders. Inbox Insights 2023 explores the state of email across regions and industries.
In the full report, you’ll find:
- Expert insights from email geeks like you
- Actionable advice on missed opportunities
- Popular personalization and list cleaning practices
- Stats on email teams and their processes
- A look at where email marketing is heading next
Author: The Email on Acid Team
The Email on Acid content team is made up of digital marketers, content creators, and straight-up email geeks. Connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Facebook, and tweet at @EmailonAcid on Twitter for more sweet stuff and great convos on email marketing.