Email: Is MORE always BETTER?

Email is not a mass media marketing medium.

Yet marketers who have used it for the past 20 years have indeed treated it like one. More is better. Grab as many email addresses as you can and blast the crap out of the list. Then be upset at the Government when they have to step in and regulate us because we just can't help ourselves.

What did we expect? Mass marketing was all we knew when email marketing first became popular. At that time we paid dearly for our media (eyeballs) and email was the first "free" method of promoting our products & services. And boy did we hop on that!

Had we thought it through we may have realized that this is not the usual "target Adults 18-39". With email the target is the individual who owns the email address. That individual has a name, likes and dislikes and is often quite open about what they are looking for. We did not stop long enough to see email marketing for the opportunity it was.

Email is about ENGAGEMENT not NUMBERS.

The consumer knows who is sending them emails. One of our staff members was unlucky enough to find herself on the Old Navy email list as a result of a store visit and she has been getting multiple emails every day since. Her opinion of Old Navy worsens with every email she receives. So the likelihood of her purchasing from Old Navy is far less than before she "gave consent". I am pretty sure that was not Old Navy's objective with their email marketing program.

Mass media marketers have never had to "listen", even if we insisted on doing research and watching aggragate data trends. I mean truly listen and change our practices when asked to do so. HINT: that's how a consumer knows we were listening. If consumers keep saying the same thing and we keep doing what we think is in the best interest of our brand, the communications gap widens. This was probably not our objectives when looking to deploy marketing strategies and budgets.

It brings to mind a small campaign we just executed at the Direct Marketing Association of Canada (DMAC). We had 3 weeks to let the Toronto marketing community know that the CRTC Enforcement Team, led by Steven Harroun the new Chief Compliance and Enforcement Officer were going to update the marketplace regarding CASL. We knew the room held 120 people. One of our small lists included 128 people who said they wanted to know "all things CASL". So we started there. A simple email to 128 people filled the first 43 seats the very first day registration was open. That's engagement. Have we trained ourselves that we have to send 10,000 emails in order to get 43 registrants? At what point did we marketers think 17% open rates were acceptable?

Had we thought about the opportunity of email marketing...

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