Even though social media marketing is popular, email marketing is still a better bet for connecting with your ideal audience. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to build an email list.
The other day, I got back in touch with a friend who connected me with an organization for possible content marketing work. I was excited with the possibility of working with them and their friends. After the introductory email, I wrote them and gave them my calendar to schedule a call to learn more about how I could help them.
I didn’t hear back from the organization, which is fine. It happens. People get busy and distracted. Of course, it’s a little disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. But what happened next actually was surprising and a little dismaying.
A few days later, I received an email from their email list — which I had not signed up for.
The email was about some event coming up. I don’t even live in the city where this event was going to take place.
Needless to say, I was quite annoyed. Not only did I not hear back from them, but they took the time to sign me up for a newsletter without my permission. I definitely did not want to partner with an organization that not only couldn’t be bothered to get back to me but then spammed me about their business.
I immediately unsubscribed and said that I had not signed up for the email list.
It made me question: was I only good for my email, not as a potential business partner?
Has something like this happened to you? How did it make you feel?
Connecting with people is how businesses grow and remain sustainable, and growing an email list is one important way to do just that. But being in someone’s email inbox is a privilege, not a right — especially when our inboxes are crowded with all kinds of promotional content. When you abuse that privilege to be in front of someone’s eyeballs, then you break trust between you and the other person.
This should go without saying, but writing someone an email does not equal permission to sign someone up on an email list.
I don’t know what I signed up for recently, but I’ve gotten massive amounts of foul spam, like the spam I find in one of my email accounts I use solely for signing up for sales and promotional emails.
This is what my spam folder looks like this morning, with 16 spam messages (blurred for a little privacy).
This email address is what I use for bills and business correspondence, so it made me question which business or person has sold my email to some disreputable spammer. It’s frustrating because even if I find out who it is and unsubscribe, the damage has already been done. I’ll keep getting these messages.
If you think there out to be a law against sending spam email, there is, and I didn’t even know about it until now.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 ensures that people who email for commercial purposes have to allow for ways to unsubscribe or to opt out. The penalties per email can run up to $42,500, but this law doesn’t seem that enforceable.
For example, did you know that “Messages with sexually oriented material must include the warning “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:” at the beginning of the subject line.” ? If you can read through the blurriness, you can see that most of those emails are sexually explicit. I have never seen a spam email have the words “SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT:” in the subject line.
And unfortunately, unsubscribing from these emails ends up being even more trouble than it’s worth. It can single to the spammer that they’ve got a “live one” and then they can send you even more spam.
Clearly, there are some grey areas with emailing people you don’t know to solicit business. I’ve yet to encounter someone telling me not to email them again, but I would stop if they asked. But there are some surefire ways to get people to sign up for your email list without being sketchy.
Ultimately, you want people to opt-in. There are so many ways of inviting visitors of your website to opt-in to you email list. Here are four.
Simply put, you want willing captives — people who are interested in your business and are eager to learn more. Just because someone emails you one time for something does not give you explicit permission to sign them up on your email list. If not, you could get reported as spam and/or blocked, which can hinder your digital marketing efforts — all of which can be mostly avoided.
How you handle your email list says a lot about how you will handle your clients. Are you handling them with care and respect? Or do you see your prospects as simply money bags yet to be filled?
I hope it goes without saying that selling emails is completely unethical. And you should strongly consider not buying email lists either.
Getting good leads takes some time and effort. You don’t want to email everyone — just the people who are strongly considering working with you or buying your product or service.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like there aren’t enough good leads out there. Remember that good business is centered around building and maintaining healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. There is absolutely no reason for you to be unethical and start adding people to your email list because you just need higher numbers. Quality is much better than quantity.
So remember to let people opt-in to your email list and give them the opportunity to unsubscribe if their needs or taste change later. And if you need a reminder, just look into your inbox to see who has betrayed your trust.
If you’re looking to connect with your ideal audience through content marketing, contact me for a free consultation to see if I can help.
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