Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Respect, Editorial & Worms

"The other day I got out my can opener and was opening a can of worms when I thought, 'What am I doing?!'" ~ Jack Handey, American Humorist
So you signed up for my e-letter and now you don’t want it?

No worries - I take no offense. Go ahead... unsubscribe? Use that link on the bottom of every email. Wait... wait... why do you have to click the "this is spam" button?

Have you had this conversation before? Perhaps yelling at your monitor?

I have... way too often.

It’s frustrating for marketers. We use best practices and then we are perceived as spammers. Not to mention the negative impact that a high complaint rate has on your reputation and deliverability. Remember… ISPs mainly base their decision to block your email on subscriber complaints from those "this is spam" clickers.


How do you get them to click unsubscribe vs. “this is spam”?

It goes back to relationship building... Trust.

A email that is interesting and relevant to the subscriber will be read. If you invite a new subscriber into your community with the use of valuable content you'll be respected. In other words, if the reader respects your practices they will give that respect back to you when they want to end the relationship.

Some subs will never join your community regardless of what you send them... be it relevant and valuable content, they still leave... and yet they'll play by the rules and use the unsubscribe link more times than not.

However, if you disrespect the readers by not using best practices, by sending irrelevant content, or by over mailing to the list they will give it right back to you by hitting the spam button. AND do it with glee.

Bottom line is... they really want to use the unsubscribe button more than they use the spam button. Just don’t piss them off.

Where is that line?

I can’t say... every list is different. It’s a trial and error, case-by-case determination.

I’ll tell you this… the threshold is low if your e-letter has little or no value. Perception is reality… (Read more about spam perception in the CVoD issue Spikes, But Sorry, No Mulligans) and your subs will define "spam" as anything they don't find interesting. That includes permission email from companies they pay to receive email from.

Don’t be too egotistical to believe otherwise.

Conversely, if your e-letter is benefit oriented, and relevant to them you can probably get away with sending twice as many emails before causing a spam complaint.

But that should not be your goal. We don’t want to “get away with” anything. We want to build a community of like minded subscribers. And your emails need to be received and looked forward to, as a benefit to the subscriber. That's CVoD.

If you run your business to believe that sender reputation is based on subscriber satisfaction levels, then you’ll strive to improve your e-letter at every opportunity and have greater opportunity monetize your names.

So be sure to offer a visible alternate to the spam button. Make your unsubscribe link prominent and easy to find - and be certain that it works! (test it often)

Better yet, keep complaints and unsubscribes down by improving your editorial.

One of the greatest factors subscribers take into account when deciding to open one email over another is prior value. Meaning they’ve already received a relevant email from you. Therefore...

If you write your editorial with the understanding that not only will your copy benefit the reader and make you money, but it will also keep your delivery, open, retention, and click through rates high... AND in turn keep your spam complaints low... why wouldn’t you spend more time on good copy & editorial?

That's a can of worms you DO want to open.


PS - one more from Jack Handey... best known for his Deep Thoughts, a large body of surrealistic one-liners. Many people have the false impression that Jack Handey is not an actual person, but a character created by Saturday Night Live or a pen name used by National Lampoon. I don't care - he's funny as hell.
"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes."