The Single Most Important Thing Marketers Need to Know about Sending Email

Forcing messages on someone is not going to ever be easy or effective with email. But email marketing can be very powerful and rewarding if you accept and follow the one truth.

We all tend to see things through the lens of the past. We get new tools, but try to use them like the same old tools we have had for years. I wonder if the first person to hold a screwdriver flipped it around and tried to use it to bang in a nail?

I am approached by many marketers who have a lot of experience in traditional forms of marketing and advertising, and who are now trying to apply that to email. Specifically, they want to deliver a message to a crowd of people – without regard for the fact that some of these people might not care to receive it.

This does not work with email. Email is different. Very different.

To effectively market using email, you need to know and ACCEPT that it will NEVER, EVER be easy to send email messages to people who do not want to receive them. AND if you try, it is very, very likely that these unhappy recipients will cause you swift, immediate and long lasting pain by destroying your ability to even reach the people who would be receptive to your messages.

How can this be? Why is email different than traditional advertising like billboards, magazine ads, postal mail, television advertisements, telemarketers, etc.

EMAIL IS INTERACTIVE. Recipients can easily fight back by simply clicking the spam button or forwarding the message to a service like spamcop.

THE RECIPIENT CAN CAUSE YOU IMMEDIATE PAIN IF YOU DISPLEASE THEM. With just a click, the recipient can report your mail (spam or not). These reports get immediately funneled into central databases (blacklists) which are often even shared by multiple ISPs. If you generate too many of these complaints, many ISPs will stop accepting your mail, period.

Why do the ISPs care? Because the ISP is a link in the channel and the recipient is a customer of the ISP. There are a zillion ISPs competing to please and retain their customers. For example, if I am using a email address, then I am a customer of Google (the channel). They want me to be happy, and only want me to receive the email that I want. Otherwise I will go use some other mail service, and they will lose my eyes, and thus ad revenue. They are doing what they can to block the mail I don’t want to receive.

“But I am not sending SPAM,” you say? I should hope not. But just because you don’t consider your messages “SPAM” does not mean that they will be welcome by the people you are sending them to.

Remember this rhyme and make it your golden rule: If it causes the recipient to complain – it will cause you pain.

Forcing messages on someone is not going to ever be easy or effective with email. Bad lists are easy to find, but impossible to use.

But if you have a list of people who have REALLY opted in to receive YOUR messages, email marketing can be easy and rewarding. Good lists, built organically over time and kept clean, are extremely effective, low cost, and deliver an incredibly high ROI.

My advice to any marketer is that the sooner they accept this reality, the sooner they can start building a successful email marketing system.

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