Friday, January 21, 2011

Email Marketing – Not As Easy As It Sounds…

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It seems almost every time I am driving to see a client or to have a meeting, I hear a radio ad for a DIY “email marketing system”. The ads make it sound so simple – “sign up for a low monthly fee and you will instantly be using email marketing to grow your business and communicate with your customers” ----um---not really!
I literally cringe every time I hear these ads because I know many business owners and entrepreneurs are falling for this concept. And gosh, it does sound wonderful – but it just ain’t so.
I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble who has just signed up for one of these services. I’m hoping some of you have this on your “to do“ list and haven’t gotten to it yet. Hopefully this will save you in time so that you can contact me or someone else who knows these systems and can REALLY explain how they work—and HOW MUCH WORK they really are.
See, there are laws around email marketing. You know, you’ve heard of SPAM? And, there are more laws all of the time to protect people from receiving unwanted junk emails. (We could debate this point though because I believe in the freedom of choice. Additionally, I might want to buy what you are offering, but you aren’t allowed to email me so I can’t -- but we can discuss that another day.)
 Back to the laws… Have you ever received email or even postal mail for that matter and wondered, “Where do these people get my address?”  Well, there are companies, a lot of them, that buy and sell lists with your info on them. Have you ever signed up for a free trial of something and checked off “ok” to the privacy policy statement checkbox (no - none of us have really read the policy statement and they count on that) and then all of a sudden you begin to get emails from EVERYWHERE trying to sell you EVERYTHING? Well, their policy statement (that none of us read) probably said something politically correct like, “We don’t plan, at this time, to sell your data to another person or entity, but we remain the right to do so”.  And then, poof, tomorrow they exercised their right to sell your data: name, address, phone number, email address, and whatever other info you gave them to get your free trial.
If you don’t know these laws and send emails using these cool and easy email marketing systems to people who have never done business with you or didn’t give you permission to email to them, you can get into a lot of trouble. There are mighty fines for SPAMMING. In addition, there is an organization - actually a couple of them - that will BLACKLIST you.  You will be prevented from sending any more emails through that cool and easy system you purchased because the cool and easy system doesn’t want the reputation or ramifications of being a vehicle to allow you to SPAM. Even if you bypass the cool and easy system and load up a bunch of emails via your own email account and send unwanted emails, you can get BLACKLISTED and it is HARDER to get UN-BLACKLISTED than I can tell you. Not to mention, most business owners, entrepreneurs and even very bright people don’t even know where to begin to get UN-BLACKLISTED! And, this is only one portion of the many laws surrounding email marketing that can make your life miserable, give your business a bad rap and cause you to lose customers.
If I haven’t scared you enough by shedding a little light on the laws surrounding email marketing, then let me give you another, VERY BOTTOM LINE REASON, that you do not want to sign up for one of these systems without talking with an expert first. They are extremely time consuming. Not only do you have to have permission to send to the email addresses that you send to, but the systems themselves require that the data be formatted a certain way and some systems are extremely cumbersome and make you enter each email address one-by one! Again, most business owners, entrepreneurs and even very bright people don’t have the time for this – they have a business to run! In addition to the formatting, the emails must include an “opt out” so that people can tell you to stop sending them emails. Well, this requires you to maintain this data and delete them or one of the other laws about email marketing can “get you”. You have to look them up in the email system that you bought and delete them. And again, most systems require you to do this ONE BY ONE. Sound fun? Well, not only is it not fun, but it is time consuming and takes more time away from you doing your job of running your business. So as it eats away at your productivity which equates to the bottom line, you are now actually losing money with this cheap and easy email marketing system.
Scared now? I hope so.
Now, this probably sounds like I am against any and all of these email marketing systems and I AM NOT. In fact, they are a great idea and can be a good tool to increase loyalty, up-sell to existing customers and even gain new customers through referrals when you KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. If you don’t, it can be a nightmare and a waste of your hard earned dollars and a black mark on your business. If I had it my way, there would be a disclaimer, probably spoken very fast, at the end of those commercials I hear on the radio. It would state something like, “Consult a professional who knows what they are doing before you buy this system and definitely before you use it.” You know, those disclaimers that finance companies, car companies and anyone else offering a “deal” has to state when making a claim on the radio? That’s what I want to hear after those wonderful email marketing system commercials! Then, at least, I would feel like someone was looking out for you and alerting you that there are ramifications to misusing systems like this.
Well, I hope that at a minimum I have convinced you that EMAIL MARKETING IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS!

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post