One Consumer’s Email Ennui

Email EnnuiMy personal email account has 197 unread messages in the inbox. Some are political in nature, not surprising during an election year and considering that political messages are exempt from CAN-SPAM. But the real problem? Email messaging campaigns gone amuck.

It started out when I’d signed up for a few email lists from just a couple of businesses I tended to frequent regularly, to get information about the latest product or sales promotion. Next, I agreed to receive messages from Web site communities on which I participated. Then over the last year, I’ve subscribed to email campaigns from almost every retailer who offered me the chance during check-out at their bricks-and-mortar locations. Now, I almost regret it.

It’s not that I no longer believe in the value of email campaigns but rather that some of these marketers haven’t gotten a handle on email best practices. I’m still interested in all these brands for which I’d signed up to receive more information. I’m just not as interested in getting all of that information.

If I had to say, in one word, what some of these brands and their marketers are doing wrong, it’s: TMI.

”Too much information,” or TMI, can refer to content type as well as frequency. There are different ways to commit this foul – as well as remedies to avoid them. Some examples:

Problem: With one social connections site, I wanted to be able to get emails about my account (forgotten password information and the like). However, after signing up for these types of messages, I started getting numerous unwanted messages about ”new members” or ”new features.” When I unsubscribed from those undesired emails, I also unsubscribed from the kinds of email I did want – thus greatly reducing my interaction with the social site. I stopped using that site for many months, until recently re-activating my subscriptions – which again contribute to my list of unread inbox messages.

Solution: Instead of making subscriptions all-or-nothing – that is, only allowing people to subscribe to every conceivable type of message – the marketer should offer a ”checklist” of the types of messages the consumer wants to get. The customer might choose all of them, or just one of them – but either way, the marketer still gets that prospect in the database, and reduces the chance of upsetting that prospect later.

Problem: Some companies send out new information almost daily. While such frequency is OK for a news feed, with marketing campaigns it’s a waste of time, effort, and inbox space. Even if I frequently look at a retailer’s site or go into a physical store, or even if the business in question offers frequent-use products like shampoo, cosmetics, or magazines, I’m not looking to make purchases every single darn day.

Solution: There are three solutions, actually. First, marketers can use self-control and commit to sending campaigns much less frequently – perhaps once a week, such as a newsletter that outlines all of that week’s special promotions. Second, marketers should give consumers the choice of how frequently they want to receive messages; who knows, some might like getting daily email. Third, the marketer should make it clear during the subscription process just how often they plan to send out messages. That way, the consumer is given fair warning about how many emails they can expect per week.

Problem: I’m just not that into you. In other words, almost as soon as I subscribed, I decided I didn’t want to get messages about your clothing line after all. It’s not you, baby, it’s me. Now, your emails languish unread in my ever-growing inbox.

Solution:
It’s hard, but sometimes marketers should know when to let go. If they use the right messaging platform, they can see if a particular subscriber has ever opened his/her messages. If not, and it’s been weeks after the initial sign-up, marketers should remove that subscriber from the database. Otherwise, the brands in question might become considered akin to stalkers, and like stalkers, they could get reported to the authorities – as spam.

Crap, now there’s 198 unread messages in my inbox. Here’s hoping that some of those marketers read this post!

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”

 

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