How To Do Email Marketing That Doesn’t Piss People Off

For many e-mail users, their daily struggle is the same: Wake up, pour a cup of hot coffee, and check their inbox hoping for some engrossing morning reads from their favorite web gurus. To their disappointment, they log in to find a myriad of “special offers,” “big discount coupons”, and other spammy texts that aren’t worth the keys they were typed on. Let out a sigh, select and delete them all, close the laptop, and move on with the day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you run an email list with hungry subscribers, there are several best practice guidelines you should be following to ensure the responsiveness of your audience. Below, we explore these guidelines and discuss how to conduct email campaigns that don’t get your messages deleted upon receipt.

 Use The Right Tone For Your Audience


Different audiences respond to different ways of speaking. For example, a mailing list of expectant mothers should be spoken to in a much different tone of voice than a group of extreme sports enthusiasts. The former should be pleasant, nurturing and gentle, the latter would be loud, exciting, and adrenaline soaked.

A good way to determine the voice you should be using is to think about how you would talk to these people if they were standing in a room with you today. Consider their qualities, thought processes, and the reason why they have decided to receive e-mails from you. If your language use feels incongruent, your tone probably needs to be tweaked.

Segment Your List Appropriately


It would be easy to think that all of your customers arrive at your website for the same reason, but seldom is this actually the case. Even if your business sells just one type of product, chances are that it appeals to several different types of buyers. For example, if you ran a college tutoring website, you might have some subscribers who are most interested in post-college career opportunities, others who are polishing their GPA for a big school transfer, and even parents who are researching the best ways to help their struggling kids.

Mailing list management software such as Infusionsoft can intelligently segment your primary list into several sub-lists based on their customer type, area of interest, and readiness to buy. You can then craft targeted content aimed at appealing to the needs of each sub-list as you nurture them all through your sales funnel.

 Don’t Always Be Selling

Many of us in marketing recall with fondness the sales mantra “A.B.C.” or “Always Be Closing” from the famous financial thriller Glengarry Glen Ross, however in e-mail marketing this is a tactic that can actually turn many readers off. Far too often though, marketers get this wrong and proceed to inundate subscribers with sales pitches, affiliate offers, and “exclusive sales” that never seem to end. There is no faster way to make someone search for your unsubscribe button than this.

Remember, most people did not sign up your e-mail list because they just needed to hear a few sales pitches before they bought from you. Treating them this way is an abuse of their time and treats their inbox like a giant billboard space. Instead, people give you their e-mail addresses because they’re convinced that you have original knowledge on a particular subject.

Your subscribers expect to receive lots of free and useful information from you. It is okay to give a sales pitch every now and then, but try to keep it to roughly 80% free content and 20% selling.

Make Use Of Stories


People love stories that they can relate to. No matter what market you’re in, and no matter how professional or fun-loving your audience is, this is an unchanging fact of life. Use it to your advantage!

Every e-mail you send should have a clear purpose, and when appropriate, weave a relevant story into it to give personality to the narrative. Few people get psyched to read dense instructional texts week after week, however if you can skillfully tell a gripping story that teaches a related lesson or appeals to their lifestyle and struggles, you’ll have a much better chance of hooking their attention.

Don’t Overload Your List

This tip might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many e-mail marketers send daily messages to their lists. Unless you have explicitly stated that this is the purpose of the list, sending too many e-mails drastically dilutes the impact that any single one of them has on its reader. In fact, many subscribers will begin ignoring your messages because they know another one will be coming the next day, and the day after that, and so on and so forth ad nauseam until they label you as spam.

In the end, you’ll burn out the attention span of your readers inside the first month and a great deal of the content that you slaved away crafting will go unnoticed. Needless to say your conversions will suffer and the responsiveness of your readership will plummet.

Stick To A Set Schedule


While you don’t want to overload your list, you also don’t want people to go too long without hearing from you. On this opposite end of the spectrum, if you only send an e-mail once a month very few people will remember why they subscribed in the first place and might even assume you’re a spammer.

The best way to keep your list warm and responsive is to stick to a set schedule of about once or twice per week. Some marketers in quick response markets like sales or event planning might be able to get away with more frequent messages, but as a general rule this is a good benchmark to shoot for. The rhythmic nature of your e-mails will give readers a chance to anticipate your messages on certain days (say, every Friday afternoon), but respects their time and privacy on others. This makes you a welcome presence in their inbox rather than a nuisance or a stranger.