Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Spam, Spam, and More Spam... The Trouble with Email Marketing

So I made the mistake of participating in a "How was our service?" poll, conducted by a well know restaurant chain, in the hopes of winning a free meal. Twenty four hours later my inbox has 20 emails from sources I've never seen before. And more come in daily. Hardly worth the free meal I never got.

I've unsubscribed but that doesn't do much. More emails come in. Just from different sources. The result is ignoring emails and reckless deletion of large blocks of emails every day.

Once the e-marketers have your address they hold on to it as if it were gold. And find ways to get content to you. It's a cat and mouse game.

The same thinking is used in the direct mailing industry. (A position I briefly occupied in the 90's) We would advise small businesses to print around 100,000 flyers or so, and pay to have them stuffed into newspapers and distribute to their neighbourhood. It's a simple process. One that's been around for generations. And is likely going to continue for at least a couple more. 

In the past, direct mail campaigns were considered an overwhelming success if they managed a 2% return. But just how effective are the direct mailers today? The days of 2% returns are long gone.

The marketing business didn't skip a beat when the Internet rolled in. They simply changed the format and delivery mechanism for flyers. "Spam" was invented.

But the same is true of spam (and in time email marketing) as it was with flyers. In time they become largely ineffective for most businesses.

Certainly if you are a Nigerian Prince with a few million dollars needing transfer, "spamming" is your way to go!
(Tongue firmly planted in cheek)

So for the small business out there, if the majority of your online marketing effort is a list of contacts that you email periodically thru some service like MailChimp or Constant Contact; you are likely only getting the attention of a shockingly low percentage of your list. No matter what the analytics say.

For a retailers, particularly boutique sized independents, you would do better to occupy yourselves with developing the relationships you currently have with your client/customer base. Let the relationships you have, work for you on-line.

Unlike those days of direct mail when engaging your customers cost time, manpower, and expenditures; the web allows you to engage your client/customers far more regularly and meaningfully, thereby creating stronger relationships.

The business relationships you achieve on-line can be just as solid as your face to face over the counter ones. Make your on-line relationship two-directional and engaging. Don't just blast out a newsletter.

A fantastic article to read is It’s you, not them: 4 email relationship problems by Mark Brownlow where Mark discusses the realities of  email marketing.

I suggest paying particular attention to Problem 3 of his article. If your client/customers are not finding your relationship rewarding they go away.

The best ways to make their experience rewarding is to invite their opinion.

People love to tell you what they think. Work a counter and you'll see!

Get a poll going, or a discussion forum. Get your client/customers to send you their favourite picture of you product and make a gallery for them to view. Put out a surprise QR code for them to scan with their smartphones and have them go to a landing page with some content they can comment on.

Your options are only limited by you and your team's imagination. The point is, give your client/customers something that engages them.

Because at this point if you think a newsletter blasts every quarter is effective, you're missing it.

1 comment:

  1. I am sure things are getting worse because even after I purchased a program to eliminate spam, my inbox is fuller than ever. It takes me 10 minutes to weed through the crap to find the real mail. The other trouble is these programs are deleting emails from clients that it assumes is spam because of the weird subject lines.

    Porter Sommers @ Plumb Marketing