My Mum flew in to visit last week, and over dinner one evening the talk turned to email.
We don’t get much spam on Yahoo, mostly because we don’t give our email address out much. The only spam we really get is from <stockbroker website>, and that all goes to the spam folder. We use the site for checking stock quotes – it’s free, and we never see any of the spam they send.
A typical email marketer would look at that and object loudly to her use of the “S word” to describe their email – it’s mail the subscriber signed up and gave permission for, and they have an ongoing relationship with the sender, and they haven’t unsubscribed, and, and, and…
But a delivery expert will point out that none of that matters one jot. Sure, the sender has a figleaf of permission, because they convinced the recipient to “subscribe to their mailings” (even if that was via the threat of withholding a free web service if they didn’t sign up). And that does provide some legal protection.
But as far as delivering email to recipients inboxes, let alone receiving any ROI for an email campaign, it’s pretty much irrelevant. The recipient perceives the mail as spam, and describes it as such to other people – “<stockbroker company> sends spam” is not the image you want to have. The subscriber doesn’t read the email, doesn’t want the email, certainly doesn’t pull it out of the spam folder and may well be hitting the “this is spam” button for messages that end up in the inbox.
You’re certainly not getting any benefit at all from that subscriber, and their relationship to the mail you’re sending them – not opening or interacting with it, categorizing it as spam, etc – is teaching their ISPs spam filters that your mail is unwanted spam. The reputation of your domain, your content and your sending IP addresses will suffer, and your delivery rates to all your subscribers will suffer.
If you’re forcing someone to give you permission, it’s not permission-based marketing.