I’ve just deleted over 14,000 marketing emails from a Gmail account I rarely look at and which I set up specifically for spam, errr, sorry, I mean subscriptions.
That’s a good chunk of my time I’ll never get back!
I also get similar marketing missives in my regularly used email inboxes but I tend to unsubscribe quickly enough if there are (a) too many of them, or (b) they don’t provide me with any value.
But because I don’t look at my ‘subscriptions’ Gmail account, they just piled up … and piled up … and piled up!
In aggregate, they told an ugly story.
Hundreds and hundreds of emails from single sources (the worst offender sent 1019 emails). Sometimes they’re banging them out every few days, unless of course it’s ‘launch time’ and they’ve got a new product or program to flog, then the frequency just gets amped up.
In a word, it’s brutal.
More than that’s, it’s disrespectful.
These internet marketers will spin the line that they’ve got high open rates (I doubt it); they’ll claim that it works – people buy from them, so it’s a legitimate activity.
Yes, email marketing is legitimate, but not when your primary tactic is to bludgeon recipients into submission. You might generate sales from a small percentage of people, and if you’ve got a large email list, that’s money in the bank. But in all likelihood, you’re probably pissing off everyone else.
“But it WORKS!” I hear them scream.
To which I say: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Okay, here are six things that stood out to me while I was repeatedly hitting the ‘delete’ button on those thousands of unwanted and unread emails:
- A lot of the subject headings look suspiciously similar 🤔
- A popular tactic is the use of reverse-psychology in the headlines (“Please Ignore This Advice”)
- The use of passive-aggressive techniques i.e. giving people the opportunity to opt-out with a “No thanks, I don’t want to grow my business”-type message
- Take 2: We’ve fixed up the broken link (an old trick that gives marketers an excuse to re-send a sales pitch soon after the original missive; some people genuinely have tech issues and need to re-send emails but unfortunately we look at them with a distrustful eye thanks to those internet marketers who have tried to “pull the wool over our eyes” in the past)
- A number of email marketers trumpet loudly: “A behind the scenes look”, but invariably it’s not a genuinely transparent peek behind the curtain but more so another sales pitch
- Lots offer ‘free training’, only generally, the training contains little value and serves as yet another step on the sales pitch ladder (I’m referring here to previous experience with similar kinds of email marketers – lots of ‘training webinars’ are full of fluff and just an excuse to sell; worse, they provide a replay of the webinar on a video platform where the ‘skip through’ function is disabled).
Time & intellect
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not saying people shouldn’t use persuasive copywriting techniques to encourage a prospective customer to make a purchase (unless, that is, they stray into douche bag territory, then all bets are off).
Nor am I suggesting that email marketing is wrong – on the contrary, I think it can be immensely powerful and effective when recipients (subscribers) are treated in a way that respects their time and their intellect.
Trust and reputation are critical in today’s rough ‘n’ tumble commercial environment, where a competing brand (or any other distraction for that matter) is but a click away.
It’s getting tougher and tougher to sign up email subscribers.
When people give you their email, it’s a privilege, and as marketers and content creators, it’s our responsibility to use the medium in a respectful way to build connection and affinity by adding genuine value.
And by all means, once you’ve earned the right to pitch your wares, go for it! If you’ve built a sense of trust and rapport, people will be interested in what you have to sell. Just don’t take to our inbox with a damn sledgehammer!