Sending out large email blasts to your market is so tempting. With the click of the mouse you can instantly spray email newsletters and event invitations to thousands of emails that you have gathered from your CRM, customer lists, and (worst-of-all) email lists that you've purchased.
On the surface, this seems like such a good idea. After all, what's the problem if the open rate is only 5%? "It's not really costing us anything, right?"
Not exactly. There are actually high costs to sending unsolicited email blasts to the wrong people.
The Risk: Not Being Able To Email Customers or Prospects
1. The Junk Button
How many times today have you clicked the "Junk" button in your email today? Think about it. When you send a decision maker an email they don't want and they click the "Junk" button, they have essentially blocked your company from communicating with them. What happens when your sales rep wants to reach out with a legitimate email? They may not be able to get through.
2. Getting Filtered
When you send out emails to non-existent email addresses that bounce, it hurts the credibility of your domain with SPAM filters. Once again, this may harm the ability of your company to send emails--even important ones like billing or service emails--to your clients.
3. Getting Blacklisted
Send too much unsolicited email to bogus addresses and you can actually get blacklisted on email servers. This could be very harmful to your company. (Curious if you're OK? You can check your domain here against multiple blacklists: http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx)
Why We Stopped Sending Newsletters in 2009
In 2004 we ran a newsletter service for copier dealers across the country. Back then, email marketing was an effective strategy. Every year, we noticed email open rates continued to decline. At the same time, more companies started implementing robust SPAM filters. We even started noticing that some of the emails our sales people would try to send to prospects wouldn't get delivered because they had previously put us in the junk folder or their SPAM filter had flagged us. Ouch!
Finally, with the rise of social media, the emergence of Buyer 2.0, and the beginning of blogging, we ditched email newsletters. Instead we moved (with the rest of the marketing world) to more of an inbound strategy that provides content to people who are looking for it.
- Create content useful to buyers in the form of blog articles, videos, webinars, or special reports.
- Get found online with a search engine optimization strategy.
- Amplify the content across social media.
- Build networks of friends and fans through LinkedIn and Twitter.
What To Do
Please hear me. I'm not saying email is dead. What I am saying is that mass blasts of emails to "everyone-on-the-list" no matter if they are interested or not can hurt your business. So here's some advice based on what I've learned:
1. Avoid the Mass-Blast Temptation
Sending out a company newsletter to the masses seems so tempting. Avoid the temptation. Check the data on your last email blast and you'll see how few people outside your customer/fan base even open these. Instead, if you want to send a newsletter, only send it to your customer base.
2. Be Relevant
When you do send an email, make sure it is relevant and interesting to the audience. Since you sell to a lot of different kinds of people, it takes a lot of work to segment your lists and create custom content. (Ask any inbound marketing professional and they'll agree.)
3. Clean Up Your Email List
At a minimum, after each email blast, make sure to delete the "bounced" and "undeliverable" emails from your system. As a best practice, our company only sends emails to people that have previously opened our emails, signed up for one of our webinars, or downloaded a special report from our website.
If people aren't opening your emails, why would you want to keep sending to them?
Instead, try this. Once every 90-days pick your best-performing or most interesting email. Send it out to the people on your "unopened" list. Then, see if any of them bite and move them over to your list of people that open your emails.
4. Change Your Approach
Rather than interrupt people with emails they aren't interested in, why not invest the time to get found where prospects are actually looking? According to a 2014 B2B survey by the Acquity Group, 94% of buying decisions begin online. IDC research shows us that 94% of c-level decision makers use social in the buying process. Why not invest your time in getting really good at connecting with the people who are actually looking for what you sell?
Still Tempted by Mass Email?
Don't stop sending email. Just be much more selective about what you send and who you send it to. Blasting out unsolicited emails, no matter how pretty they look, will hurt your business.
Look around. You'll discover that there are so many strategies like social selling, blogging, search engine optimization, and inbound marketing that you can use to connect with your audience, develop relationships, and get appointments.
There is much more that could be said here. However, today I want to simply make this point: blasting out emails indiscriminately to large email lists can hurt your company. It's tempting, but please consider the costs before you do it.