Like most business people today, I receive literally hundreds of emails daily. In addition to business related emails from clients, colleagues and strategic alliances, I receive numerous email newsletters and email marketing pieces. Some of these email marketing campaigns were campaigns I actually signed up for - either I registered to receive a newsletter or I consented to receiving offers, discounts and coupons via email. But many of these campaigns I did not sign up for. I may have attended an event or given someone my business card containing my email address, following which I was promptly placed on an email list.
Email marketing can be extremely effective, and drip campaigns can be a no or low cost way to keep clients and business associates informed, but you need to be mindful of the impact your email marketing has on your clients, prospects and strategic alliances. If you become a nuisance, your plan will have backfired, and may have very negative consequences.
This morning I experienced a good reminder of just how negative the impact of a poorly planned email campaign can be. An individual whom I respect, and with whom I have done some business in the past, placed on me on his email list. One of the services he provides for his clients is providing no cost CLE programs, often with excellent speakers. He informs his contact list of upcoming CLE programs using email. One such email arrived yesterday.
I wasn't personally interested in that particular CLE program, so I deleted the email and didn't give it any further thought. Someone else on the list, however, apparently was interested in the program and responded to the email that he was interested in attending. Rather than following the instructions within the email to reply to a specific email address to RSVP, this individual just replied to the original message. That's where the problem started.
Unfortunately, the emails were sent out using an invitation list, and when the individual responded to say that he wanted to attend, everyone on the list received his response (probably because he hit 'reply all.') While the original email may not have bothered those who were not interested in attending, the second email was apparently enough to prompt someone else to request removal from the list. Then the deluge began.
Within the space of only one hour, I received over 70 emails from others on the list. Most were echoing the request to be removed from the list. Then began the tirade from others on the list who admonished those who were requesting removal to email the sender, rather than the entire list. Still others reprimanded the sender for spamming the list in the first place.
Not only is the original business rapidly losing list members, but they've left a bad taste in the mouth of everyone on the list. Of course, all of those who responded should have been checking the "to" field in their email to ensure that their email was reaching its intended recipient. They should have made sure to check the "Reply" field, rather than "Reply All," but ultimately it's the originator of the first email who is going to take the heat - and who could have avoided this disaster in the first place by being more strategic about his email marketing campaign.
In my next post, I'll discuss some "Do's and Don'ts" of email marketing.