Why Your Customers & Prospects Despise You.

You can't understand it? You have a list of 5,000 emails. You send the prospects or customers on that list great coupons, deals and steals… but no one is buying anything. Even worse than that, you aren't getting any new sign-ups. You just can't figure out what's wrong?

Now there could be many reasons behind this (not so strange) phenomenon, but here's one to consider… are you holding your list captive?

Some marketers get so focused on building a list that they forget that the list contains actual real people. Insecure business owners define their success by useless metrics - number of people on their list, number of Twitter followers, number of Facebook fans. All these numbers are useless if they don't convert to revenue. Why have a list if no one wants to be on it? People on your list have, hopefully, given you permission to take some of their most precious commodity… time. That's a huge gift from a potential or existing customer. Are you abusing it? Did you get the gift in the first place or did you steal it? If you love them set them free, if they come back, they are yours, if they don't they were never yours in the first place.

If you have a non-complaining but non-responsive list, it's possible that the people on that list quietly despise you.

Here's a checklist to help you make sure you aren't holding your list captive.

Did I give you permission to email me?

In The Bahamas once you give your email to someone, anyone, you end up on thousands of lists. It feels like thousands anyway. The marketers there are relatively new to email marketing and haven't yet grasped that all this does is make people angry. If I didn't ask to get an email from you I had better not see your business name pop-up in my email inbox. It's called spam. I will never buy from you. Don't rent or buy email lists, ever. You must earn the permission to take up a person's time.

And, "Hey, eCommerce owners!" The fact that I bought something from you does not give you permission to email me again about anything other than my order - unless I give you that permission. Any don't pre-check a box on the check-out page that says "I give you permission..." - that's just trickery.

Do you have a double opt-in?

Most people will tell you that the double opt-in serves you. Once a customer clicks on that permission link your emails are much less likely to end up in their spam folder. I think the double opt-in serves my prospects/customers. People do change their mind you know. That double opt-in says to your customers, "just checking one more time, you are giving me permission now, you will get emails from me, are you absolutely sure?"

Do you have an unsubscribe button on every email? It is easily available?

It's the law in the United States. Just in case you didn't know that. You are legally required to have a method of "unsubscribing" in every email you send (as well as your company name, address and contact information on every email). Don't make me hunt for the unsubscribe. That just makes me frustrated… at you. Some marketers will even put their unsubscribe button right at the top of the page with a reminder of how you got on their list. You can test this yourself but personally I don't like that placement. I think it is so unexpected that people may even click it by accident. I put the unsubscribe button exactly where people expect it - right at the bottom of the email immediately after the text.

Is it easy to unsubscribe?

If I don't want to hear from you anymore I should be able to click once, maybe twice, and you should go away. Please don't make me jump through hoops in the hopes that I will give up. I will only despise you. If you ask me to send you an email to a different address, or reply with a different subject line, or put a secret code in the body of the reply email, you are only telling me that your company is too much of an amateur to use an email marketing service - which tells me I might not want to risk doing business with you.

If you would like to rise to the very top of my "despised" list please ask me to log in to my account with you to change my "email preferences". I have just told you what I prefer. I prefer not to get email from you. I didn't even know I had an "account' with you - and I can guarantee you I don't remember the password. You are effectively giving me a choice. I can either take 15-30 minutes of my precious time figuring out how to get off of your list, or, I can forget it but then think horrible, terrible thoughts about your company every time you send me an email from this moment forward.

I will probably pick the latter.

Are you abusing my gift?

Two quick things to check here. Are you emailing me too often and are you emailing me what you said you would.

So how often is too often? It depends. Did you set my expectations? If I am signing up for a daily deal announcement I know I will get an email every day. If I sign up for a weekly newsletter and you start sending me a daily email? Too much. Why not tell people when the sign-up with you, we will be emailing you (this content) on (this schedule).

Speaking of content, are you emailing me about the subject I am interested in. Don't send me information about your buddy's motorcycle shop when I signed up for a course on gardening. _____________________________

Successfully adding and keeping people on your list using any of the trickery in the checklist above can only hurt you. The majority of people aren't stupid. They will either delete every email they get from you without even opening it, feel a stab of anger at you every time they see your business pop-up in their email box, or, worst of all, start complaining about you or your company to everyone they know. It is much better to have a list of 10 people who love getting your emails than a list of 5,000 who don't.

Do you have a story of being a list captive? I'd love to hear it in the comments below...

*Photo by Jellie