Email Marketing That Fails Every Time

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Three-and-a-half years ago, after my Mom died, I got an email that looked like spam.

If you have your own website you’ll know the format. The subject line says something like, “let me help with your web content.” Or “you could rank higher on Google and I can help with SEO.” I usually mark it as spam and go on with my day.

But there was something different about this one. The author referred to having graduated from a local college program. And it had a copy-and-paste of my own blog post in the body of it. In fact, it was the post that announced my Mom had died. And it was marked up with strikethroughs and “corrections”.

This kid, this new grad, had chosen what was possibly the most personal and painful thing I’d ever written and edited it like an instructor would.

At first, I was astonished. Then I was furious. I thought about it for a few hours to make sure I didn’t knee-jerk react in a way I’d later regret. Then I fired off an email. In it, I strongly suggested that the young marketer should reconsider this approach in the future. If I make a genuine mistake, I want to know about it. Otherwise, this is a place where I write the way I want to write. Sending an unsolicited edit of the post about my Mom’s death? Unforgivable, and I told them so. A few hours later I received a meek thank-you, apology and condolence for my Mom’s passing.

So, why am I writing about this now? Because since then, I’ve received scads of similar emails, albeit not with one of my blog posts in it. LinkedIn and other sites are full of quick courses on Email Marketing That Really Works! The problem is this: thousands of people have taken similar courses so all of those emails tend to look the same. Even if they’re sincere attempts to solicit valuable work, they look like spam. And they just keep coming.

Even though I’m lumping them together, there is a difference between spam and genuine marketing. Spam email contains attachments, links and other junk you haven’t asked for. Marketing email might contain a link but it asks whether you are interested and offers to send you more if you are. One imposes upon you while the other puts you in control.

I’ve conducted my own email marketing campaign for my voice-over business. It’s extremely time consuming but finding customers is part of entrepreneurship. If you get a 1% response, you’re doing great. There’s a lot of research and tweaking and trying things out. A $59 course might give you some wording to try but guaranteed success? I doubt it very much.

If they make it past my spam filter, I mark all of these messages as spam because I’m sick of them. It’s my version of ping-pong or Tetris. It must be frustrating for legit marketers to have their carefully crafted messages considered spam. Karma might see to it that my outgoing marketing efforts are received with the same disdain or apathy. But that’s the chance you take. And I didn’t have to take a course to figure that out.

1 thought on “Email Marketing That Fails Every Time”

  1. Some people, like this would-be marketing guru who corrected the post about your mother, have more balls than brains. Not a good combination.

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