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Are You Annoying or Accommodating? 4 Ways Marketers Make Enemies at the Inbox

Spam. Will I ever see the end of it? No matter the filters I set up, I still get all kinds of annoying email I have zero interest in. It’s not just the obvious spam that is annoying, however. If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t among the spammers filling my junk folder with offers of pharmaceuticals, land in Costa Rica, or the riches of a Nigerian prince. Chances are you’re a legitimate marketer.

But that doesn’t automatically mean you’re not annoying.

Marketers fall into the annoying trap when they are focused on what the company is selling and not what the consumer is wanting. They forget to take a customer-centric approach, and nowhere is that more obvious than the inbox. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. Marketers can make the transition from annoying to accommodating with ease if they want to. Only consider these examples:

Annoying: Sending far too many emails

Have you ever signed up to receive emails from a business or brand and then been inundated with emails on a daily basis unexpectedly? I suspect we all have.

Accommodating: An easy way to make sure you’re accommodating is by monitoring your opens and adjusting accordingly. If opens are low or trending down, you might be sending too often.

Annoying: Ignoring inactivity

Major brands can be good at ignoring the fact that I’m ignoring their emails. Although I purchased something two years ago from one brand, I continue to get several emails a week from them despite the fact that I not only have not made another purchase—I haven’t even opened an email from them in the past two years. Their emails reflect only that they’re oblivious to that fact, as they continue to email me almost daily with offer after offer…and no recognition of the fact that I am decidedly unengaged.

Accommodating: Pay attention to inactives and try to re-engage them. Segment them out in recognition of the fact that they’re not engaged, and see if you can get them interested again. If you can’t, let them go.

Annoying: Making subscribers log in to unsubscribe

Years ago, I needed to get content around a specific topic on behalf of a client, so I subscribed to a newsletter to get educated on that topic and stay up-to-speed on that industry. Eventually the client went away, and for a long time I simply ignored and deleted the email newsletters I continued to get (which, as in the above example, I never opened yet continued to receive). Finally I decided enough was enough and I clicked on the unsubscribe link in order to put a stop to the irrelevant newsletters. And…I was confronted with a login page. In order to unsubscribe from a newsletter I hadn’t opened in years, I was being asked for a username and password. Not only did I not remember what the login might be, I didn’t even remember registering in order to subscribe in the first place.

Accommodating: Make unsubscribing as easy as can be. Don’t make them type in their email address, and don’t ever ask for a login to unsubscribe! And if you’re reluctant to let them go, give them options. Let them change the frequency with which they hear from you. Or let them put the emails on a 30-day hold. But if they want out, let them go without a fight. One click should be enough to leave a list.

Annoying: Adding the obviously-not-interested to your email list

I recently went looking for some information on behalf of a client. At one website that promised to offer a relevant article, accessing that content meant creating an account—which I did so I could read the article. However, after creating the account, I was presented with a payment screen: The account wasn’t free, and neither was the content. The article was not that promising, so I clicked the Back button and started searching elsewhere. I ignored the registration confirmation email, only deleting it when it showed up in my inbox, and went about my business. Obviously, I did not fully engage or subscribe with this company, yet I started getting daily emails from them about industry news—and not my industry remember, but the client’s industry.

Accommodating: Focus on quality list building. Remember double opt in? Quite some time ago, we email marketers talked about it a lot as a way of ensuring we had high quality lists. I’m not suggesting that a double opt in is required to ensure a subscriber is serious about signing up, but I do think we need realistic parameters for determining who is and isn’t added to our email lists. Again and again, we see marketers going after quantity rather than quality when list building, and then we repeatedly see them complaining about low open rates and even deliverability problems.

Email is a powerful tool for marketing to consumers, generating sales and building brand loyalty. Make the most of the potential power of email by being a customer-centric email marketer–one who is accommodating, not annoying.

Marco Marini
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