Author Rebekah Henson
I’m a former bride-to-be (now a newlywed!). I also write email marketing advice for small businesses. In fact, I work for an email service provider.
Ever since I started planning my wedding, my inbox has been flooded with emails from local vendors who I never requested information from. And that quickly gets annoying.
This is the story of how I clicked the “spam” button on every unsolicited email I’ve received from vendors in the last 11 months, and how you can make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you.
Reporting Vendors for Spam?
It might sound shocking and worrying that I would report legitimate businesses for spam, especially when I work in the marketing industry myself. But let me share some background first.
I purchased my wedding dress from a national chain store last December. They took my contact information and shared my email address with local vendors – without my knowledge.
Imagine how surprised I was when the next day, I had emails in my inbox from a local photographer and a deejay service. I had already selected a photographer and a deejay before I bought my wedding dress. But the emails kept coming, and they were all unsolicited.
So I marked every email as spam if it came in from a vendor I had never heard of or contacted myself.
There is one thing that could have helped these vendors: asking brides for permission first. Email marketing is an effective tool in your marketing arsenal, but only if you get permission from the brides you’re trying to convert into customers.
Let’s take a look at what these vendors should have done instead.
First Mistake: Assuming Permission
The assumption was that because I’m a bride, I’m interested in hearing about their services. That simply isn’t true. I already had my vendors in place and these additional advertisements were just cluttering my inbox. Not even an appealing subject line or killer offer would have stopped me from clicking “spam.”
That’s the danger in buying email lists. The only targeted list you’ll find is the list you build yourself. Sure, the list I ended up on was targeted in the sense that I’m a bride and they’re wedding vendors. But the offers they tried to send me were completely irrelevant to my wants and needs.
Solution: Get Explicit Permission
There’s an easy way to fix this mistake: Get explicit permission from brides before you start emailing them.
But first, a huge word of caution: never, ever confuse a bride emailing you for a price quote or other information with permission to add her to your mailing list. This happened to me a few times with local caterers.
When a bride contacts you with a question, she expects an answer to her question. She doesn’t expect to see your newsletter a week after your conversation is over.
One of the easiest ways to get permission is by advertising your newsletter on your website with a sign up form. Be very clear about what you’re sending (“Sign up to see my recent work and receive exclusive coupons for your wedding day!”) and only send promotional emails to the brides who sign up for them.
Second Mistake: Keeping Me on the List
Even after I marked their emails as spam, several of the vendors continued to email me more weekly promotions. This is a huge no-no when it comes to laws of commercial email sending.
Not only does it break the law, it also hurts your business. If someone on your list marked your email as spam, they are not very likely to open and read additional emails you send them. They’re more likely to do what I did: mark the email as spam again. And again. And again.
Solution: Clean Your List
This is good for you and the brides who filed complaints. The more spam complaints you rack up, the harder it will be to get your email delivered to other brides’ inboxes.
Since spam complaints have a negative impact on your email delivery, keeping those complains low will help your future emails reach the inboxes of brides who sign up for your mailing list.
Concerns About Permission?
The biggest question that comes up when talking about permission-based marketing is, “Won’t my list be too small?”
Yes, your list will be smaller than it would be if you added every single bride you ever interacted with. But your list will be filled with brides who are genuinely interested in your services, who want to give you their business.
Learn from the marketing mistakes of other vendors and get permission from brides before you step into their inbox. Your email campaign will be more profitable if you do.
Rebekah Henson blogs about building an online following through email marketing at AWeber, the leading email service provider for small-to-medium businesses. You can find more tips on marketing with email at the AWeber blog, or see how you can grow your own business with email at aweber.com.