Realistically, the majority of your mailing list is ambivalent about you and your product. They ignore your emails, maybe even thinking they will get back to read it later, but they don’t. That’s not great and you need to work on being more relevant, interesting and connected to improve your open rate; but “annoying” is the one thing that will turn that ambivalence into dislike and prompt the user to actually unsubscribe instead of ignore, or even worse to mark your message as spam or complain about you and get you banned from your email application.
4 Things You May Be Doing that Annoy Your Subscribers:
Obvious and/or Mis-Use of Personalization in your Email
“Hi Ann!” is probably okay, but “Hi !”, “Hi First Name!” or “Hi Donnelly!” looks tacky and unprofessional. If you aren’t sure that you have an accurate First Name field for all of your subscribers or can leave it out completely in those cases, don’t personalize here. Even worse, down in your message you throw in something like “Well Ann, that’s why I’m sending this message to you.” It’s just creepy. Maybe for some it will make their egos soar and make them think you really care about them personally, but most email users are a bit more sophisticated than that.
Personalization can be helpful at times if done properly and is relevant and helpful. I like a “You are subscribed with firstname.lastname@example.org email address.” So I can better see how I subscribed.
Irrelevant Information in an Email
Sending a client or prospect irrelevant information may not just be silly and annoying, but could actually hurt your reputation and relationship pretty seriously. Aga sent me emails about their Queen’s Jubilee sale and offers of Union Jack designed linens. From my email address alone Aga wouldn’t have known that I was located in Ireland and not the UK. Some email marketing applications do pick up on location when someone subscribes or when they open a message, but there are a few reasons why this isn’t completely accurate to determine a persons ‘home’ country. I know that Aga is a very British company and I wasn’t offended by this mailing, but there are many cases where a UK company has sent emails like this (as well as posts on social media) that are publicly ridiculed — and it just comes over as being very unprofessional. When you are selling to people every little impression is important.
The most effective email marketing is completely relevant to the user, so gather information about your list that will be helpful to ensure you can segment your list and send only relevant content. You are better off with a small list that you know a lot about (and are really interested in you and your product/services) than with a massive list of people that don’t care, don’t open and are one click away from unsubscribing.
Sending the Same Message Over and Over
I just unsubscribed from the Amazon mailing list because since Christmas I’ve received the same email about International Shipping at least 10 times – really, I am not exaggerating. Now I have a few Amazon accounts, so at first I put it down to that, but I kept getting these messages. Then I thought it was actually from someone phishing for my logins and only pretending to be Amazon, but the links all led back to the actual Amazon site. Yes, I could have just ignored the repeated messages, but I just got tired of seeing them and I’ve been trying to keep my Inbox tidy!
Take the time to maintain your list properly and make sure that there aren’t duplicate addresses or, if possible, duplicate people with different addresses. If you are sending different messages to different parts of your list, be very careful that you aren’t doubling (or tripling) up. If you resend a mailing by mistake do apologize at some point, but don’t send yet another message that may be annoying!
Failing to Give the User Suitable Mailing List Subscription Options
As noted above, when people subscribe include fields to gather information on their location, interests, etc. If you want just a quick email only subscribe form, then include a link in your mailing asking people to provide more information ‘so we can provide the most relevant information for you.’ Most won’t do that, so try your best to get it up front or by other means. If they do choose add relevant information, make sure the interface is easy, friendly and helpful in a way that will keep them on your list.
In the Amazon example above, I logged in to change my email preferences and there were two main options: “Do not send me marketing e-mail” or “Send me marketing e-mail from the following categories” followed by a list of over 40 categories that were all ticked. At first I thought I would like emails about a couple of those categories, but I would have had to un-tick all the other categories. ANNOYING! I ticked the “Do not send…”
Always remember you only have a short period of time to influence your subscriber: whether he opens your message or not, if he unsubscribes or not; so it’s worth taking the time to plan your email marketing campaign and think through all of these items that can possibly ANNOY a subscriber. While you are at it, build in great things that will delight and build your relationship and sales!