A couple of weeks ago, we ran across this great post from McSweeney’s, which exemplifies the absolute perfect unsubscribe page copy.
Frankly, we were inspired. It’s true, everyone wants to get your emails. It doesn’t matter if their needs have changed or if they are no longer interested in your company. They just want your emails.
So we’re throwing out all of our previous recommendations. Below are our top 10 tips on how to fail in email without really trying:
- Make it as difficult as possible to unsubscribe. Use hidden links in your email. If somehow subscribers do make it to the unsubscribe page, make sure you ask them at least six times if they really want to unsubscribe. Be sure you ask them to re-type their email to confirm their unsubscribe. Your email content is really useful and relevant—do your subscribers a favor and keep them from unsubscribing by accident.
- Don’t bother tweaking or testing subject lines. You know what you want to say, and your emails are clearly valuable. People will open. “Newsletter #2345” is perhaps the best one.
- Why should you look at how your email renders on several different platforms? Surely all your customers are on Outlook and IE 5, right? Try flaks or java script in your email; it can be fun too!
- Don’t offer customers a preference center. Everyone wants every last one of your emails.
- Remember those inactives? People who haven’t opened or responded to one of your emails for the last year (or more). You may have suppressed them to improve your deliverability. They miss you. Try emailing them every day for the next month. They’ll be so glad to hear from you. ISPs will definitively love your brand. Spamassassin may love you too!
- If you’ve ever considered surveying your subscribers to see what types of content they’re most interested in, forget it. You’ll tell them what they’re interested in: your company.
- Considering monetizing your list? The best way to do it is to sell your email list directly to anyone who wants to email them. Wanting to acquire new customers through email? You should probably just buy a list. It will probably be a well-maintained list that has never been sold before. If your nephew is a computer geek who knows how to harvest addresses from the internet, try that too. People love that, and your acquisition target will be reached easily!
- Along those same lines, if you do decide to keep control of your list when you monetize, don’t bother putting your own sender information on emails you send. Your subscribers don’t want to know who this email is coming from. They trust everyone they’ve ever given their email address to, and they welcome each email that comes into their inbox.
- Don’t remove email addresses that complain about spam from your list. I’m sure they just made a mistake, and they would be devastated to stop getting your emails.
- People are definitely interested in whichever products and services you are trying to sell this quarter. Don’t bother looking at their purchase history or any cues they might have given you about what they want. Just tell them what they’ll be ordering this month. And by the way, if you acquire new customers via email, don’t filter your customer list from the lists you rent. Your customers will get offers they are not allowed to use (“40% off on your first order”), and your support call center team will really appreciate all these new calls from your best customers asking for this discount they can’t get! It’s a great opportunity for a dialog with your customers.
The takeaway: Sometimes, as email marketers, we forget that subscribers have their own agenda for their relationship with our company, and we need to respect them while still sharing the right message for our brand.
Just a friendly reminder: One-to-one marketing was promoted by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in 1993 (nearly 20 years ago!) and 86% of companies still drop the same email to everybody in their list.
Funny as it may be for April Fool’s Day to talk about email marketing worst practices, it’s important to avoid these mistakes year round.
So tell us, what are your tips for how to fail in email marketing without really trying?
CEO & Co-Founder
Eric Didier is a successful serial entrepreneur with a broad background in enterprise software sales management, complex software development and product management for web technologies. He was the founder and CEO of Soamai in 2000, a metadata applications company which was acquired by Allen Systems Group in April 2004. He can be reached at email@example.com.