Gary Halbert Email Marketing Advice From Over 27 Years Ago (Before Autoresponders!)

by John McIntyre

gary halbert email marketing Before the internet became mainstream…

Before online marketing…

Before email…

Gary Halbert wrote some of the most influential marketing newsletters — ever.

Back in 1986, his primary focus was direct-mail (sending physical mail through the post office).

Would you believe…

His advice is perfectly adaptable to modern email marketing?

Today, you’ll learn about the A and B pile…

And why it should be your #1 focus over:

  • Subscriber Count
  • Open Rates
  • Landing Page Conversion Rate

This strategy will explain why most marketers work their tail off…

Only to amass a large (but unresponsive!) email list of prospects that never buy.

Hint: It works similar to leveraging a relationship for increased sales.

The A-Pile Vs. The B-Pile

So what’s the deal with these different piles:

Everybody in the world divides his mail into two piles which I call the A-Pile and the B-Pile. The A-Pile contains letters that are, (or appear to be), personal. The B-Pile contains everything else: Bills, catalogs, brochures, printed announcements, envelopes that obviously contain a sales message, and so on.      – Gary Halbert

People make this distinction extremely quick.

They give the quick “once-over” to each piece of mail and then instantly decide whether it’s getting opened or going in the trash.

Do you see what I’m getting at here?

It’s the same exact issue that email marketers face.

If your email doesn’t get opened it can’t get clicked.

If the link isn’t clicked, there won’t be any traffic to the sales page…

No traffic. No money. Simple as that.

Gary takes it a step further:

“The most important thing you can ever do when creating a direct mail promotion is to make sure your letter gets in the A-Pile! ” (Click To Tweet)


Don’t worry just yet…

There are a few powerful psychological triggers you can utilize to…

Get The Odds Back In Your Favor

Enough history, let’s get to the actionable advice.

Here’s how you can utilize this strategy with email:

In email marketing, the “A-Pile” is the person’s primary email address. These days, everyone has a main email, a ‘spam’ email for getting past squeeze pages, and sometimes even more.

Getting into the junk folder of the primary email is more lucrative than getting into the inbox of the spam email.

Read that again and let it sink in.

Wondering why?

When someone gives you their primary email address they are “pre-qualifying” you as a trustworthy person. (Click To Tweet)

Since they only give out that email to family, friends, and trusted acquaintances, they treat each message as important.

On top of that, they regularly scan through the spam box for their primary email…

Because they don’t want to miss an important email that mistakenly got filtered.

On the other hand, the spam email will almost never get checked

That means your precious open rate, CTR, and sales are never going to reach their full potential without hitting the primary inbox.

Blast Your Way Into The “A-Pile”

Getting into the ‘VIP Inbox’ is a lot easier than it sounds.

Here’s how to get a primary email address:

  • Offer value first – Instead of sending cold traffic to a squeeze page, first build a (small) relationship with the traffic. Warm the traffic up and your trustworthiness will increase.
  • Time-Sensitive Offers – Make note on your landing page that you send “time-sensitive” offers often that may come and go within 48 hours (or a more suitable time range). This way, people won’t want to risk missing an email from you.
  • Spell it out – When in doubt, be clear and directly ask for a ‘primary’ email. Don’t make this call to action overly pushy though, because that can decrease trust.

Looks like it’s time for some split-testing.

How will you build these ideas into your marketing?

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