Email List Growth

The Dark Side of Willy Nilly List Building

The Dark Side of Email List Building

A purchase does not imply consent for ongoing email marketing communications. Nor does an event registration. So why do so many organizations insist on adding names to their in-house email lists based on a consent that any transaction automatically implies, rather than ask for explicit, permission?

I’m from the “just act like a decent human being” school of thought. That means I think companies should act like real people and only email those folks they know that actually want to hear from them. They ought to let thoughtfulness drive the bus, not shrewdness or email legislation loopholes.

However, that’s often not the case, and businesses grow lists without real consent because list building continues to be a numbers game in the email marketing industry. Despite all the cries for permission-based email, all the best practices around opt-in, all the hand wringing over cluttered inboxes and email-weary consumers, there’s still a tendency to go for quantity over quality.

This approach might grow list size, but it won’t necessarily grow sales and in fact, has three serious consequences:

  • Negative brand impact
    No way am I the only one annoyed when I make a purchase or register for an event with a company new to me, and suddenly I’m on the receiving end of daily email messages. Just because I bought that drill or signed up for that webinar does not mean I want a long-term relationship with a brand. It only means I wanted the drill for a project, or the education promised by the webinar. When I get emails from a brand like that, I immediately have a negative feeling about that brand. It might not be a conscious feeling but trust me, it’s there. And each new email reminds me of my negative feelings about that brand.
  • Lower deliverability
    A lack of engagement at the inbox can lower an email deliverability rate as ISPs use lack of engagement to judge whether that email is wanted or spam. If brand X sends me emails on a regular basis and I open a lot of these messages, the ISPs know I want to hear from brand X. On the other hand, if that brand continues to email me and I don’t open the emails, that is an indication that I consider brand X spam or at least or low value. That lack of engagement can cause an ISP to no longer deliver emails from brand X to some inboxes.
  • Spam complaints
    Some people will report email as spam rather than go through the unsubscribe process. They don’t realize (or care) the repercussions of doing so. They only know they don’t want to get emails from a certain organization any longer—or never wanted them in the first place—and reporting them as spam is seen as a quick fix. And nothing good comes from spam complaints.

It’s simple; if you plan to send me email, just make your intentions clear and give me options. I suspect we’d hear fewer consumer complaints about email if more companies acted like decent human beings, because a lot of unwanted email would cease to exist.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is the Founder of Email Industries and Publisher of Email Critic. Connect him everywhere, here.

5 Huge Email Marketing Mistakes You Can Fix Now

#1) Making an Unprofitable First Impression
First contact is typically the best opportunity to move the sale/relationship forward and a common email marketing mistake. Here’s the fix…

Create a Welcome Email that Means Business – A well-crafted, automated ‘welcome email’ will set the proper pace and garner a very nice ROI if the marketer doesn’t beat around the bush or blow smoke. This is the time to drive action and set mutual expectations.

Create an Onboarding Series that Tells the Tale – If the offer can support a series of emails, start now. Besides communicating the full value of the product/service an onboarding series will set the stage for putting an email marketing program on autopilot, the Holy Grail for smart marketers.

#2) Not Working Hard Enough Where it Really Matters
Email marketing eats man-hours and brainpower, so we’ve got to prioritize in order to maximize the human capital investment. But often times the best allocation resources and ROI has nothing to do with campaigns…

Invest More into List Growth – Email marketing is largely a numbers game. The bigger the email list, the more revenue that list will produce (assuming that the subscribers are qualified and receptive). Organic email list growth can seem painful and slow but if marketers would only be more strategic, and execute at every appropriate/feasible opportunity, they will see a substantial lift.

#3) Working Too Hard On the Wrong Things
Let’s face facts; it takes time to create a single email marketing campaign, much less a kick-butt email program. Marketers need to automate at every opportunity if they are to focus on the ROI. Here are two huge time savers…

Connect Your Lists and Applications – The exporting and importing of lists is not only a huge waste of time it’s also ripe for human error. Examples of connecting of customer databases, with that of an email service provider, include syncing lists with a CRM system, e-commerce platform or product recommendation engine. Marketers have already paid for these tools; why do they not use them to their fullest? Not only will syncing applications create efficiency, they can also automatically segment lists by activity, product, you name it. Going further, this will help to increase relevance by sending individualized messages, which are based on the subscriber’s actions and attributes. It’s a onetime fix that most of customers tell us was well worth the expense.

Let Automated Emails Do Most of the Work – Once these automated emails (a.k.a. autoresponders, triggered emails) are locked-down marketers need only to review/test their performance periodically. Even the simplest of today’s email marketing delivery tools offer some form of marketing automation. These triggered includes are typically date or user behavior based; examples include product expiration notices, birthdays/anniversaries, appointment reminders, and recommendations based on historical data.

#4) Sending Too Few Campaigns for the Wrong Reasons
Again, email marketing is a numbers game. Send more email, to more people, and more revenue will be generated. Simple stuff right? Yet this is usually the biggest failure. Here’s two fixes…

Consider Outsourcing Production – As we all know, it takes a considerable amount to time and expertise to plan and execute an email program. If an organization doesn’t have the resources for their program to be effective, managed email marketing services might be the best option.

Test the Frequency Tipping Point – Email is not a marketing channel for the timid. Try sending more campaigns, a lot more. Perhaps the list will tolerate, or even appreciate, a considerable increase in campaign frequency. Test it internally or work with a partner, but test it.

#5) Partying Like It’s 1999
The way in which customers interact with emails has forever changed; mobile readership is growing exponentially, inboxes are busy places, and attention spans are plummeting. You’ve got to future-proof your message framework now…

Update those Crusty Email Templates – A template refresh would ensure that all messages are actionable on desktop and mobile devices, today and tomorrow. Recommendations include the addition of pre-header (preview) text in order to further incentivize an open, organic and seamless personalization using known data, as well as a highly skimable approach to content, fingered-sized bulletproof buttons, and compartmentalized, truncated content to aide mobile email readership and ultimately clicks.

Now what? As luck would have it we can fix every mistake outlined above and quite a few more, so let’s talk email marketing!

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