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Ken Magill

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More Evidence We Should Stop Beating Ourselves Up

2/10/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
Last week’s report by MarketingSherpa claiming that 91 percent of American adults want promotional email from companies they do business with should put one huge misperception in the permission-based email industry to rest.
 
It should. But it won’t.
 
Permission-based email marketers are forever beating themselves up over the unlikely possibility they’re annoying recipients.
 
I did not attend last week’s Email Experience Council’s conference in Florida—a ton of work suddenly dropped in my lap—but from past experience, I would bet someone at one of the panel discussions stood up and asked some version of the “How-can-I-stop-annoying-people-with-my-email?” question.
 
MarketingSherpa’s stat flipped on its head means just nine percent of Americans don’t want to receive email from companies they do business with.
 
That’s nine percent of the population at large, not nine percent of any permission-based marketer’s email file.
 
The nine percent who don’t want email have probably already opted out.
 
As a result, any permission-based email marketer who sets any policy based on the possibility they’re annoying people is setting policy based on the preferences of more than likely no one on their list.
 
But still, many persist in believing they’re annoying recipients. Why? Well, conventional wisdom—as usual—is one culprit. The email-marketing punditocracy is full of people counseling marketers on the so-called dangers of annoying “overwhelmed” email inbox holders.
 
The consumer and technology press—which is forever labeling all marketing email spam—is another culprit.
 
Too often, reporters are pack-mentality hacks who don’t take the time to really dig into any issue intelligently. Take a recent report in the New York Times on open rates as an example.
 
Reporters often go into interviews with marketers and their suppliers with incredible hostility and then turn around and display a complete lack of incredulity when they interview people with anti-marketing views.
 
As far as much of the press is concerned, we’re all spammers and the label has infected the industry’s thinking. Call it the undeserved guilt of the well meaning.
 
Another culprit: Personal interactions. I am forever explaining to people I meet outside the industry that my work is not aimed at helping spammers. It is aimed at helping—and hopefully entertaining—executives in companies that send email my new acquaintance has more often than not opted in to receive.
 
How many people reading this have told a new acquaintance what they do only to get: “Oh, so you’re responsible for all that spam in my inbox” as a response?
 
When permission-based email marketers set mailing policies based on the idea they’re annoying recipients, they’re setting policy based on people who are probably not on their lists and other people’s perceptions that aren’t remotely based in reality.
 
Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?
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