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What is Spam? Hopefully, Not Your Marketing Letter

In a professional marketer’s ideal world, targeted marketing would be cheap and efficient. Customers would actually be excited to see the ad letter in the same way they’d be happy to receive a letter from a good friend. Unless, of course, that ad letter is part of what is spam mail.
What is Spam? Hopefully, Not Your Marketing Letter
Precisely what is spam? Technically, it’s an ad or marketing letter that’s been blindly mass-emailed to as many people as possible, with little sincerity or appropriateness. But in practice, what is spam is defined by how the recipient sees it.

Major email service providers like Yahoo or Gmail already keep systematic tabs on worldwide spammers, and have ways of spotting blind mass-emails. On top of this, individual email users can “tag” certain emails as spam. Any future messages from these senders are immediately shunted to a separate folder where they’ll eventually be trashed, unread. So, to be more precise, spam is any message from which the recipient or the recipient’s email system thinks is a nuisance. This could be any message and woe to the marketer whose emails have been deemed a nuisance—those precious pitches will never reach their target market.

If you’re an online marketer, it is imperative that you protect your products and brand image from being viewed as an online nuisance. Potential customers must perceive your emails as something of value, both useful and entertaining. This way, you’ll avoid getting lumped together with what is spam.

Sending the right email to the right person
It all starts with your email list or marketing database. You need to continually build one intelligently, out of real acquaintances or second- and even third-hand contacts that you know will need or value the product or service you’re offering. More importantly, these should be people who have the time to read and respond to you via email, instead of trashing your messages. Painstaking research, data gathering, and even proper database purchasing, are required to build this sort of database. You need to be sure you’re sending marketing emails to the right people.

Even better, have a database made of people who explicitly want to receive your emails. To build this sort of emailing list, ask each customer at every point of sale or contact (e.g., website or actual sales shop) if they’d like to start receiving regular product or service “updates” and related tips from you. If they say yes, take their email addresses and use them. They’re less likely to tag your emails as spam because they’re genuinely interested in what you have to offer.

A caveat: They can change their minds, however, and suddenly click your emails into the trash bin. One trick for avoiding this fate is to offer your email recipients the option of getting taken out of your emailing list. It actually has a reverse-psychology effect on fickle customers. Given the power of choice, they become less defensive and end up accepting your emails because they seem less of a hard sell.

Valuable Content
Make sure what’s in your email is also valuable to the customer. This means turning your marketing emails into more than mere ads or announcement letters. In fact, your emails should be sincere efforts to inform people of useful news and tips that are relevant to their lives—with a “soft” sell of your products and services as a (seemingly) secondary focus.

Creating an “exclusive” email newsletter for your potential customers and clients gives you the opportunity to create more useful information for them. And the more useful that information is, the more valuable your emails and your products become, and the less likely it is that your emails become spam.

Newsletters also let you bunch valuable information together in a few regularly scheduled emails, instead of annoying a recipient with multiple emails (another reason for getting tagged as spam). This also lets you keep your email “titles” or subject lines personal, short yet punchy. There’s no need to “scream” out the content of your email.

But sometimes, creating lengthy emails is too much work. Instead, turn these emails into short announcements with links to your website, which can then function as a your branding “magazine.”

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