Why you should never use email for prospecting in your inbound email marketing campaigns
Why is there so much spam? I ask myself that question at least once a year. My conclusion? It must generate some sort of return. Someone out there must actually respond to a spam and become a lead or a customer. Right? Otherwise no one would spam anyone and all spam would simply cease to exist.
But lately, in the realm of inbound marketing, there’s a new type of spam that companies are using: High quality, high tech, intelligent spam that bypasses even Google’s anti-spam measures. These spammers are not peddling cheap drugs, SEO from India, or trying to run a scam, you know, the typical low-quality spam, but rather, they are from legitimate, established, reputable, even “hot” companies. What’s more, they seem to know things about me: My name, my job title, my industry, what kinds of services that I might be interested in. So, lately, I again find myself asking myself, “why am I getting so much spam?” I spend several minutes a day deleting these prospecting emails. Often I report them as spam. Why? Because that is exactly what they are: Unsolicited emails, which are actually illegal. That’s right, these major companies are breaking the law and each time they spam me, they violate the CAN-SPAM act.
Our Email Marketing philosophy is different.
Fortunately, this experience has forced me to think long and hard about my own philosophy concerning email. That is why I am writing this today. There’s an ultra-fine line, it seems, between good business email and spam. Now, as you might expect, being one of the region’s premier Inbound Marketing Agencies, we engage in a number email campaigns each year. So it is important for us to clarify the differences so that we know where we stand, and you know where we stand.
Is email marketing even ethical? Should reputable web design firms engage in email marketing campaigns? Is it a good way to find leads? Here is what it comes down to:
Email is for engagement only, never for prospecting.
That’s what we believe. You should never send an email to a person who has not explicitly asked you to do so. Only after you have earned the right to send an email should you engage in an email marketing campaign. Email marketing campaigns, therefore, should be solely based on engaging existing leads, existing customers or people who have willingly and intentionally opted-in to your newsletter subscriptions.
- Yes, do create stunningly beautiful, high quality email templates to ensure a premium quality experience for your audience.
- Yes, do use Mailchimp or Sendgrid or Nailgun to ensure reliable deliverability of your campaigns, newsletters, etc.
- Yes, do write creative copy that is totally on brand in full alignment with your brand strategy.
- Yes, by all means, make your email meaningful, interesting, and something that adds value to whomever receives it.
But stop buying email lists. Stop trying to find new leads by sending thousands of emails out to people, hoping for that < 1% return. Chances are, you’re creating a deficit of trust with the 99% of other recipients who are wasting time deleting your spam, which hurts your brand.
Email is about responding to leads and existing customers.
Once you have a lead, say, someone filled out a contact form on your website to inquire about your services, that does not mean it is now ok to spam them every 15 days. You have permission at that point to respond to them about their inquiry. Nothing more. The strategy, which your inbound marketing account manager will tell you, is to nurture those leads so they truly want to be included in the special experience of receiving your content. It’s about cultivating and creating pathways for them to opt-in in such a way that they are shocked they are getting this for free. The more you nurture a lead in a responsive and brand-appropriate way, the more you create an engaged base of brand-ambassadors who are fiercely loyal to your message and services.
The same is true for engaging your existing customer base. Just because they are a customer, do not think for a second that that gives you the right to add them to a list of yours so they can begin to receive your “upselling” campaign content. No, you must woo them into a relationship whereby, even though they already made a purchase, they still want to be “in the loop” so they don’t miss out.
To me, this is the bar. This is the standard. Anything else is simply unprofessional and a waste of time. So, from now on, any clients who want us to take over their email marketing – know this – we will never send another email to anyone unless we have earned the right.