In the very near future, we will be launching a new company website for a client. As we prepare to take the final steps toward that launch, I’ve been talking to my contact at this company almost every other day. This week, he asked me how we should announce and market the new site. I suggested an email newsletter campaign using MailChimp with a list of current and potential clients and friends of the company. His response was: “Isn’t that spamming?”
Is all email marketing spamming?
No, not all email marketing is spamming and, in the case of our client, it isn’t spamming to reach out to contacts the company already has established. In theory, these are contacts that have a business relationship or potential interest in the company.
In the example of our client, he went on to say that he considered any kind of mass email to be spamming. While I’m sure he’s not the only one with this perception, I don’t think it’s correct as long as you follow some simple rules.
There are many reasons I recommend an email service such as MailChimp to clients. One of the bigger reasons is that it vehemently discourages the use of its service for spamming. (It’s also a great inexpensive tool with some fun template options that make creating email newsletters easy and fun while tracking the statistics for each one you send.)
Avoiding spamming with email
Probably the most important way to avoid the perception of being a spammer is to be careful about to whom you send your emails.
MailChimp, like many other email services, allows you to create lists for certain groups of contacts. You can determine lists any way you like but examples might be “current customers” and “people we met at trade shows.” Your lists should not include contacts from any third party vendor (lists you purchased) or email addresses that you found on various websites or social media networks. MailChimp spells it out pretty clearly when it comes to contacts:
Your list is okay if it includes:
- People who have opted in to your list on your own website
- People who have opted in to receive emails from you offline
- People who opted in to receive emails from you at a co-registration site
- You’re sending on behalf of your customer, and they comply with the above.
- People who purchased one of your products, or attended an event, and gave you their email address so they could receive updates from you.
- Your internal employee list (such as for company notices)
- Press releases sent to reporters who signed up at your website
So the person who exchanged business cards with you at that event last week is fair game; until they hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email. (And you should always include an unsubscribe button.)
The only other tip I’d add to the list above is to keep it personal. MailChimp allows the metatag [fname] in the content, which will automatically fill in the first name of the contact as long as you include it in your list. Your email will start out with a personal note and discourage you from sending emails to blanket company addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
When is a social media post spamming?
We’ve probably all seen the spamming that goes on in the social media world. Our very own #shehechat on Twitter was a victim last week. In my experience, I am spammed on Twitter more than any other social network but that might not be the case for everyone.
It’s pretty easy to recognize spamming in social media, which makes me wonder why people still do it. If someone uses one of the hashtags in a Twitter chat or tweets at me directly and they either have the default “egg” as their avatar, only include a link as their tweet and/or have absolutely no context in their post, I know not to click and just to ignore it. (See post image for examples.)
Avoiding spamming in social media
I’ve said it time and time again that social media needs to be social and that means being engaging and carrying on a conversation. It’s certainly okay to self-promote sometimes to let your followers and friends know what endeavors you are tackling. I do it; but I don’t do it in every post and certainly not every day.
Bloggers use social media outlets often to promote their posts. I see this as a form of marketing and there is no problem with it as long as that isn’t the only thing you are doing with a social media network.
If you want to do a quick test to determine whether you might be a spammer in a social media network, just go look at your last 10 tweets or status updates. Are you broadcasting or interacting more? Do you have a good balance if you are doing both?
This is the same test I use when I’m deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter or “like” a business Facebook page. I look at how they have been using the network lately. For example, on Twitter if you have zero “@ replies” in your last 20 tweets, it’s not likely I will follow you. To me, that’s broadcasting – not necessarily spamming; but it’s a very close second and not the kind of interaction I want to find and follow on that network.
Take some time and make a strategy
Marketing via email and/or social media can be a great asset if it’s done correctly. However, there are many pitfalls you can fall into if you aren’t careful that will turn potential clients, customers and readers off.
I believe it’s vital for you to create a marketing strategy for online mediums if you choose to use them to promote your work; especially for a business. It’s all about credibility and while it might take you some time to build it up, trust me it will be worth it in the end.
How do you use email and/or social media networks to market your blog or business? What guidelines do you follow to avoid being perceived as a spammer?