Your Subscribers Only Signed Up For Your List

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.

Confusing Technical Prowess With Good Internet Marketing

I’m always cautious when I start working with a person that “knows technology”.  There tends to be a belief that understanding technology automatically translates into expert email/online marketing.  These intiatives typically end up being on what call “the bleeding edge”.  Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should

As a rule of thumb before implementing a high tech or new-to-you technoligy ask “How does this enhance or improve my message to my target audience.?”  If you can’t think of a relatively simple answer within five seconds, it’s probably worth rethinking.

Here’s an example I recently encountered.  A client said, “I’m pretty technically savvy.  I can get the images into my emails.”  When I asked what emails were included in the “image makeover” and why, I got a blank stare.  Finally the answer was, “to make it look better”.  I had two problems with that answer.  One the layout didn’t make anything look better and two”looking better” doesn’t help the recipient.  Had he said, “It drew attention to an offer.” or “It instills confidence that the company is legitimate through a professional branded layout.”, I’d have thought he was on to something.  Unfortunately, he had no good reason to ad an image that, in reality, had little or nothing to do with the email’s content and made it look less professional.

Same thing goes for newer technology.  If there is no useful and interesting content that can be updated on at least a semi-regular basis, don’t start a blog.  If time and energy can’t be put into doing a professional video segment, don’t do a video podcast.  And never use a piece of technology because “it’s the next big thing.”  Keep it simple and useful and there will always be an audience.  Anything else will end up being overly complicated, useless, ignored, and potentially damaging to you or your company.