Sooner or later every successful email marketing campaign will encounter piggy-backers. These are solicitations to send out someone else’s promotional material to your subscriber base. Nine times out of ten it’s a bad idea to agree to sending out other promotions. Subscribers agreed to get a particular communication. Sending promotions for other people or companies usually betrays that trust and is likely to damage your campaign and possibly your brand.
So when is the 10% of the time that it’s OK to accept a piggyback? Partners or co-ventures. If a association is having a roundtable and another speaker wants to include their content in an email you are already sending about your presentation for the day, then that’s OK. If they have a product or event that directly lines up with your product or service and is incorporated into a regular communication, then that’s likely acceptable. In short, if there is an easily understandable content synergy, it’s probably OK.
Temptation is highest when someone offers to pay you to send a promotional piece to your list. I’ve never encountered a situation where this is appropriate. By the very fact that they have to resort to a payout shows there is probably not a reasonable content synergy. If the goal is to generate revenue via external promotions then it’s more suitable to create an advertising vehicle within your existing communications. That’s something that can be explained to subscribers and doesn’t hit them with an unexpected solicitation.
People often feel most pressured by a client or long-time partner that asks to get a promotion to their list. Lengthy arguments on why your subscribers would want the message are common. Think critically and really examine how closely someone else’s offer lines up with your core messaging. While it’s never fun to decline, it’s something that needs to happen. The reason is that it becomes a slippery slope. If it happens once or twice subscribers are likely to forgive the sender. However, if you allow one promotional piece to go out for someone else, it’s hard to turn down future requests. Furthermore, other’s will notice and are likely to make the same overtures.
Make it a policy not to abuse your list. Subscribers want your communications, not yours and anyone else who happens to ask to piggyback. Keep your credibility by only sending what subscribers opted in for.