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Winning in the 3D Chess Game of Email Marketing

What do successful email marketers know that those struggling with their email campaigns do not?

By Polly Hall


Levels of success in email marketing are like understanding the differences and complexities between standard chess and three-dimensional chess.  Both games require skill, understanding, and practice; but leave out any one of the components on any level of three-dimensional game and you will never win.



What does it take to win in the 3D Chess of email marketing?

  1.  Develop and Deploy Best Practices:
    1. Validate, confirm, and mail regularly to your current customers and prospects
    2. Acquire new subscribers organically (such as on your web site, or coregistration sites) in a steady cadence
    3. Carefully deploy any purchased email lists into your mailstream
    4. Use tactics that encourage engagement with your email (opens, click here to read more, forwards, etc.)


  1. Re-Engage your non-engaged, passive subscribers based on your conversion/sales cycle:
    1. Segment out subscribers who have not opened or clicked on your emails over a long period of time
    2. For these unengaged subscribers, put them into your cold storage campaign, and mail them your best offer every 6 to 12 months
    3. Try different strategies, specials, discounts, freebies and more to actively re-engage these passive subscribers
    4. Once these subscribers re-engage, add them back to the general population list


Only you know your sales cycle, and how long someone may go dormant before the lead is lost. That said, it is very important to try to get them to engage with you again, if you are able.

Although it is emotionally hard to do and sometimes feels counterintuitive, by removing the non-engaged from your active subscribers list, you will:

  1. Improve your list quality
  2. Achieve higher levels of engagement with your subscribers on a percentage basis
  3. And thus, enhance your sending reputation with ISPs and Mailbox providers who track this higher engagement
  4. Hone your craft as you find out what is the perfect message for those formally unengaged subscribers


More About 3D Chess

The phrase "three-dimensional chess" describes complex, dynamic systems with many competing entities and interests. These could include politics, diplomacy and warfare. To describe an individual as "playing three-dimensional chess" implies a higher-order understanding and mastery of systems beyond the comprehension of their peers or ordinary observers – those "playing" regular chess.

For the highest levels of performance and success, the email marketer cannot focus solely on one level of their email game.  They need to be aware of how each aspect of an email campaign affects the others. 

In single-level chess, you may have done everything right: you crafted the perfect message, conceived a clever call to action, and delivered it at the exact right time.  Yet somehow less than optimal results are achieved.  When there are unsolved elements of your email marketing campaign, performance suffers.

Here’s a graphic showing the three key parts of the email 3D chess game: Strategy, Message and Delivery.


When working with a company like Net Atlantic that excels in the three-dimensional email marketing chess game you can be confident that all integrated levels are being monitored and strategized to help you get the best results from your email marketing campaigns.

“Hope, my friend, is not a strategy.”


Chess Variants information on 3D chess from Star Trek with video clips

Play chess online at

Wikipedia entry on Three-dimensional chess

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