How to Avoid the Dark Side of Email Marketing

What is the dark side of email marketing?

Blacklisted…in other words…blackballed…by ISP’s (Internet Service Providers).  Poor ratings from customers and email recipients.  Poor choices on subject lines.  Poor choices in graphics, images and content.  Not considered a trustworthy marketer.  No permission-based marketing plan.  No protection…or poor protection…on your purchase page.

That’s ‘the dark side.’

So let’s talk abut what it takes to keep you away from the dark side.

You must create trust.  You can’t just say you’re trustworthy.  In today’s consumer-empowered world, you have to live it and prove it.  You have to establish that you’re trustworthy, and you have to follow through on every promise made.  You can create a sense of trustworthiness in email marketing through consistent appearance, and consistent action  in your emails:

  • Always using a permission-based opt-in/opt-out process.  Identify who the sender of any emails from you or your organization will be. State clearly the respect their email address will be given, (never shared without permission) and then honor that commitment to their privacy. Identify exactly what information will be sent, and when. 
  • Use a ‘branded’ sender so your identity is clearly visible in every email sent.  This will tell the recipient the email is coming from someone they have chosen to trust…at least enough to give you permission to send an email.
  • Carry the brand into the preview pane when the email is first opened.  Having a logo, graphic or image that supports recognition is a trust-builder.
  • Ensure all contact details are listed at the bottom of the email.  Include the physical address of your business, telephone number, and email.  If you include the specific name of a contact person, this can enhance your “trustworthiness” rating.
  • Follow up and follow through.  When you receive feedback or a request for action, ensure there is appropriate and immediate response.  An individualized response, up to and including a phone call, rather than a “canned” or “prebuilt” impersonal response, will also go a long way to enhance your rating.
  • Design and test.  Every email should be passed through as many spam filters in as many environments as possible.  Keep your emails from disappearing into the black hole because there was something in your content or design that caused it to be labeled as spam.  “Suspect” words, file too large, graphics and images without content…all design flaws that can get caught and blocked in spam filters.  Not getting the emails promised creates distrust by your recipient who is expecting it.
  • Overdeliver on value.  Something that can build trust perhaps more quickly than anything else, is to give more than expected.  Remember, the recipient is giving you something of great value in today’s world…their time.  Give them more value than they expect in return, and you dramatically increase their trust in you.
  • Promote your product or service effectiveness with testimony by others.  “Don’t take my word for it.  Here are some kind words from others who have trusted me to get them exactly the experience they desired…”
  • Ask your subscribers to network with their friends.  Not only is word-of-mouth the most effective advertising, it also builds trust.  We trust our friends to recommend only trustworthy sources.

I know you will think of even more ways to build trust with your prospects and customers.  In email marketing, you are planting the seeds of trust.  Allow them to grow,  blossom, and spread throughout your niche.  

Oh…just a little tidbit here…on a need to know basis…for those who need to know this bit of trivia…the term “blackballed” is thought to have originated in ancient Greece.  Voting for membership into their various organizations was done by dropping a bean…either white or black…into a jar…to signify whether the person would be admitted…or not.  A person who got more black beans than white was rejected…or blackballed.

There you have it.  If you’re on the dark side of email marketing, there are too many black beans in your jar.   Use these ‘Build Trust’ tools so those who are voting on your membership will fill your jar with white beans.

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