Not Having a Blast

Let’s change things up a little and inaugurate the “Best Practices” category.

One terrible mistake I often see from those who don’t quite “get” email lists is talking about “sending an email blast” to “prospects.”

No one wants to be called a “prospect” — have a little respect for your customer or other audience group! Email subscribers are gracing you with access to their home or business by giving you their email address: they don’t need to be pounded on, and they should be treated like the assets they are to your organization.

So come up with what you’re going to call list subscribers that makes them feel valued, not “prospects” for your marketing funnel. That’s not how you want to be treated by organizations you do business with, so don’t even think of treating others that way! Decide up front: are they readers, customers, patrons, volunteers, subscribers, supporters? Get it straight in your mind, make sure it’s a term of respect that you can use publicly, and be consistent with your message within those parameters. They’ve asked you to communicate to them, and it’s up to you to respect their time and attention. Because if you don’t, they’re going to revoke your access to their inbox (otherwise known as “unsubscribe with extreme prejudice”!)

And Really: a “Blast”?!

Seriously: I’ve heard so many newbies use that term: “It’s time for us to send our email blast!” It brings to mind riot-helmeted police using fire hoses in the 1960s to break up peaceful anti-violence rallies. That’s not how you want to treat people, and that’s certainly not how they’re expecting to be treated. You are not “blasting” your subscribers, you’re providing information that’s helpful to them — or you shouldn’t be sending the message.

Read that last sentence again. It’s a fundamental aspect of “permission marketing”: marketing communications are not about your needs (“I’ve got to move 50,000 widgets by Tuesday!”), but their needs — how can you address their interest in your organization in a way that’s helpful to them?

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.” –Seth Godin, one of the first online marketers (and, not coincidentally, the first to buy advertising in my pioneering online email newsletter …way back in 1994.)

Ongoing customers are pretty likely to want to know that you have a new product line, or an improved model of your widget. Or that the popular model that was on backorder is back in stock. Again, it comes down to respect: when they’ve asked for information — they gave you permission to market to them, they want information, not hype, and certainly not a “blast” as you try to meet your sales quota.

The bottom line is respect: you’re not “blasting” any “prospects” and if you think that way, you will fail.

4 thoughts on “Not Having a Blast”

  1. It’s interesting to me to see how different businesses determine you have expressed interest in receiving their emails. Having met someone at a conference and having an email exchange doesn’t count for that, in my book. Having ordered a product doesn’t, per se, indicate I want to hear from that company. When that happens, I feel like a prospect. And I feel blasted.

    Permission to hear from a company is given when I opt-in to their email list.

    I’ll add that another way I feel like a valued customer, reader, subscriber is when I feel the person writing the email is talking to *me*, not to a big group of unknown people. Just my $.02 worth.

  2. As you know this is one of my hot buttons. I’ve mentioned “blast” to individuals and organizations … only to have it crop up again in conversation just days later. SIGH.

  3. I’m on the board of a non-profit and I have tried, unsuccessfully, to get certain other board members to quit calling notifications a “blast”. I have gotten them to call our target audience visitors, because the nonprofit depends on people coming to visit the Center and see what we do. I use notifications and newsletters. Any other ideas to change the lingo?

    • Have you said you won’t stand for disrespecting your visitors? Because it really is at the very least thoughtless. You can tell them that’s not just your opinion …and send them to this page!

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