It seems these days marketers are walking around scratching their heads wondering why no one ever responses to their e-mail marketing… And why, oh why, are click-through rates are so low… Really, it’s amazing this hasn’t been figured it out yet. Let me shine some light on it…
You. Are. SPAMMING. People.
And yes, while CAN-SPAM (below) doesn’t require opt-ins (isn’t that nice of the lawmakers?!), here’s the thing—regardless of what you think as a marketer—when your e-mail shows up and the person on the receiving end knows that they never gave you their e-mail address or they aren’t interested in what you have to say…they consider it spam. Even if they are your network friend, prospect, vendor, etc. It’s just rude to pop up in someone’s inbox unannounced.
CAN-SPAM Requirements for Commercial E-Mailers:
- NO false or misleading header information
- NO deceptive subject lines
- There MUST be an opt-out method provided
- It MUST be identified as an advertisement & provide a valid physical postal address
Yes, yes, I can hear it now… “I am not spamming people! My e-mail marketing isn’t about Viagra!” Hmmm, let me help you see it from the receiver’s perspective.
You’re Most Likely a Spammer if you…
- Add someone to the e-mail list just because they download something from your website
- Add someone to the e-mail list just they stopped by a virtual tradeshow or event
- Add someone to the e-mail list because sales (or anyone else) tells you to
- Add someone to the e-mail list just because they “friend” you on a social network
- Keep e-mailing someone even when they ask to be removed from your e-mail list
- Send bulk e-mail from your desktop instead of using a professional e-mail marketing application, tool, or program (that just clogs the spam filter)
- Regurgitate copy from your collateral, website or white papers
- Add someone just because you assume you have something of interest to say
- E-mail people who aren’t in your target audience
If you still say that you are within CAN-SPAM regulations to do all of the above things, you’d probably be correct…but guess what, to people who don’t expect these types of e-mails you are indeed spamming them. Why? Because you are cluttering up their e-mail and now they need to talk time out of their busy day to “unsubscribe” and hope you listen. And above all else you are annoying…like ants at a picnic.
Sin #1: Failing to test the design of the e-mail in multiple e-mail clients
Sin #2: Failing to spam-check the e-mail copy before sending
Sin #3: Putting hurdles in the way of unsubscribing
Sin #4: Neglecting to maintain the list’s invalid addresses
Sin #5: Becoming complacent
Sin #6: Sending content that isn’t relevant to what the user signed up for
Sin #7: Most importantly, e-mailing a user without their permission
[The exception: The one-off e-mail asking someone to join your list.]
Social Media & E-Mail Marketing: Turning the boat around
We live in a world where people are tired of companies shoving promotional messages down their throats. We talk about this constantly in the social media sphere. The need for conversation is becoming more and more important in business.
E-mail marketing is possible to do it correctly (Amazon.com, how I love thee!). Companies just need to consider it from the perspective of the receiver. How about marketers do these simple things first on their websites, blogs, etc. first:
- Develop great content
- Provide information that helps people (and expect nothing in return)
Then, and only then…
- Give people the option to come to you (and sign up for your e-mails)
And how about…
- Giving people the ability to select information based on their preferences (ingenious, right?!)
I think we have reached the point where e-mail marketing is ruined. And if marketers want to continue doing it, they need to earn the right to find a home in someone’s inbox. There is no other way to get it right.
This is nothing new, I get that. And it seems absolutely crazy to me to even have a discussion about bad e-mail marketing after all these years. But I still receive at least 10 e-mails a day that I haven’t asked for from people I do and don’t know. Whether it’s from a social network (Ning users, you are the great offenders!!) or from a networked offline professional or from someone who found my e-mail address…and I am tired of it.
Your thoughts? Am I off base here? Is e-mail marketing completely ruined or can it be turned around? Does social media play a part in fixing e-mail marketing? What suggestions would you provide to marketers considering e-mail marketing?