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Email marketing is hard

I’ve watched a couple discussions around the email and anti-spam community recently with a bit of awe. It seems many email marketers are admitting they are powerless to actually implement all the good advice they give to others.
They are admitting they can’t persuade, cajole, influence or pressure their companies to actually follow best practices. Some of the comments public and private comments I’ve heard from various industry leaders:

  • “But my boss tells me we can’t stop what we’re doing, even though we’re getting less than 80% inbox delivery.”
  • “In my heart, I believe that most email marketers have good intentions. They are not out to spam you. They don’t want to send you email that you don’t want, that you’ll delete, or that your (gasp) mark as spam. They want to do the right thing. The challenge is that their [sic] is constant pressure to squeeze more juice out of email marketing. “
  • “My company can’t stop customers from sending to purchased lists, but want a list of really bad vendors so we can ban lists purchased from them. What sellers should we ban?
  • “as an individual who has been doing email marketing for over 10 years now, I can tell you that there are internal pressures, IT resource constraints and just about anything you can imagine that can hinder a email marketer from doing what is right for the subscriber. Understand that as a professional, I strive everyday to become a better email marketer, but I sometimes fail. That in no way makes me stupid…it makes me human.”

I know that people want to squeeze every possible bit of revenue possible out of email. The problem is that, as the above people have admitted, squeezing every possible cent out of email means adopting practices that are disrespectful of the recipient. They are practices that cause most recipients to label mail as spam. That mail is indistinguishable from spam. Delivery is poor and contributes to the general noise in all our mailboxes.
Email marketers need to stand up and stop adopting practices used by spammers. Your recipients don’t care that it might be hard or expensive to not send them mail they didn’t ask for and don’t expect. Your recipients don’t care that you have pressure from your boss to meet quotas this month. Your recipients really only care about themselves and their mailboxes. Respect your recipients ahead of your bottom line.

5 comments

  1. The Proverbial Barry says

    wow they suck

  2. Kieran says

    If recipients never responded to emails that they hadn’t requested, then there would be no more juice left for any spammer to extract. It’s the same as direct mail and telemarketing – as long as enough people respond, then it’s a cost-effective thing for marketers to do. I couldn’t agree more that this kind of bad practice is incredibly disrespecful to the majority of recipients – but how to we teach the general public not to be stupid in responding to this kind of marketing?

  3. Stock Promotion says

    As the marketing advertisement e-mails are coming in large numbers now people have a tendency to reject such emails without even opening them.

  4. J.D. Falk says

    Seth Godin has a provocative (and, I think, very accurate) perspective on this:
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/the-corporate-conscience.html

  5. Huey says

    Excellent link, JD.
    I might recognize a coworker in that.

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