When it comes to email marketing, it is quite easy to make a killing, especially in the short term. It is the reason why, despite all the efforts to kill spam, we end up with hundreds of spammy messages in our email boxes daily. As with most things though, just because you can make a quick buck from email marketing, doesn’t mean you should.
Email marketing is the great leveler of the playing field. it is one of the easiest ways to reach your customers on a large scale and anyone can do it regardless of company size. The problem is that it is just so tempting to do things that are unethical with email because the reward is often very significant.
The purpose of email marketing is not to trick or scam the people that have trusted you with their email address. Rather, the goal should be to deliver emails that feature topics of interest based on what your subscribers have told you.
There shouldn’t ever be a reason why you would trick your customers into signing up for your list. No good comes of it. It angers your customers, it wastes your time and money (there are significant costs associated with email marketing) and most importantly, it kills the relationship you are trying to build with your customers.
Wondering how to be more transparent? Try these simple tips:
- Make your opt-in checkbox clear on checkout.
- Tell your customers what they can expect to get from your emails (not the standard BS lines about “great deals delivered to your inbox”).
- Have everyone who signs up for your email confirm through a double opt-in process.
Think of it this way – if you don’t feel like you can be honest about what you’re doing with someone’s email address, don’t collect it. If you aren’t honest with your customers about what you’re going to send them, they’re just going to unsubscribe anyway (or worse, they’ll hit the “this is spam” button which gets reported to your email service provider).
Make It Easy To Opt Out
Nothing lasts forever. Regardless of how awesome your emails are, people will eventually get sick of them. With that in mind, make it clear and easy for customers to remove themselves from your list. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also has the potential to save this person as a customer.
I’ve heard the argument for making opt-outs difficult many times. The general concern is that if you make it easy for people to opt out, they will. Here’s the flaw of that argument:
If someone doesn’t want to get your emails and you don’t make it easy to opt out, you’ll end up losing a customer.
Seriously, why do you want to keep messaging people that don’t want to receive your messages? Are you afraid that your list will shrink? Well, the reality is that anyone who wants off of your list that you forcibly keep on is never going to change their mind and say “I know I hated these emails in the past, but I’m sure the next one will be worth my time!”.
Stop being insecure and let people choose to opt out. While you’re doing that, ask yourself this one very important question:
“Do my emails live up to the expectations of my customers?”
If the answer is no (and for the vast majority of email marketers out there, the answer is no), how can you make your emails better? It’s actually easier than you think. Give your customers the freedom of choice. Ask them what their individual preferences are and honor those preferences.
- How often would you like to be emailed?
- What topics do you want to learn more about?
It’s way easier than you think. Take this example from one of my favorite stores, ThinkGeek:
ThinkGeek pretty much only sends me emails I want to receive because I’ve told them exactly what I like and what I want. If something new from Game of Thrones comes out, I want to know. If they release a new My Little Pony t-shirt, I really don’t care and I certainly don’t want to be emailed about it.
You can be both ethical and successful with email marketing. You just need to have a little faith in your customers, ask them about their interests and most importantly, listen.
Image Credit: David Goehring