Take it from the email marketing giants: Building reader trust ain’t easy. Unfortunately, if you do one or more of the following things, you’re guaranteed to instantly throw away the precious goodwill of your subscribers.
Fib #1: Adding Customers To Similar Lists
Your outdoor products brand markets a wide spectrum of merchandise and Mr. X has subscribed to your walk behind gasoline powered lawnmower list. You figure that Mr. X definitely has a lawn, and if it’s on the large side maybe he might be interested in your riding mower list, so you add him to that.
Then again, he might have a smallish lawn, you think, so you add him to the corded electric mower list. You figure that they are all mowers, and you’re just giving Mr. X some more product options. It’s not like you’re pitching him completely unrelated products such as your patio furniture, barbeques, and above ground swimming pools!
Or is it?
When Mr. X subscribed to your walk behind gasoline powered lawnmower list, that’s what he instructed you he was interested in, and therefore gave you permission to send emails specifically targeted to those needs. If he wanted an electric or riding mower, he would have subscribed to those lists.
Remember: a prospect will consider your broadening of his request to everything in your catalog that cuts grass as a violation which will significantly tarnish your brand’s reputation in his eyes.
Fib #2: Being Dishonest About Email Frequency & Periodicity
“Thank you for subscribing to the monthly iWidget product newsletter…” As much as some email marketers would love the year to have sixteen months, a promise of a monthly frequency is just that: once a month, twelve times a year.
It is very common to have a special occasion or holiday supplementary issue, and unless it is clearly specified in the original specification it represents a violation of the subscriber’s permission.
The subscriber is not saying that your November issue can’t deal with Thanksgiving or your December one with Christmas. What the subscriber is instructing you is that they don’t want to see a November 1st generic issue, followed by a November 15th Thanksgiving one, then a December 1st generic, with a Last Minute Christmas newsletter on December 15th.
Also, don’t think that you can get away with three sends in the 30 days before Christmas if you drop the February send. Your prospects expect your brand to be crystal clear up front as to the exact frequency and periodicity of emails, and any breaches will cost you valuable subscriber trust.
Fib #3: Violating Your Estimated Email Answering Window
In the early days of the Sears Catalog, rural residents of the far flung West would order by postal mail, expect to receive the confirmation weeks later, and the product months after that.
The 21st century works on a far more immediate rhythm, thus your customers will lose faith in your brand if your autoresponder promises that a reply will be sent within 48 hours and the email is sent a week late.
In no case should a customer have to wait more than a couple of business days for a reply to anything, or their interest will wane significantly. The prospect is not interested in the fact that you’re at the peak of your selling season and your staff is swamped: Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
A good rule of thumb is to promise your prospects that they can expect a reply in double your average time: Therefore if you generally reply within 24 hours, then promise them 48. When your customers receive the “early” response, they will be given the impression that they received priority service, and that will translate into enhanced brand reputation.
Fib #4: Bouncing Or Black-Holing Emails Sent To Your “Reply To”
It truly is amazing how many major, well-respected, international brands have dysfunctional reply addresses which either end up in a black hole with a gravitational pull so overwhelming that no responses will ever escape, or just simply bounce back as undeliverable.
What is the purpose of even having a Reply To address if the customer will never receive a response? Failing to reply to inquiries is possibly the greatest way to lose email customers directly after spam.
Unless you’re the individual who is responsible for processing your brand’s replies take this test right now, without putting it off for a minute: Send an email marketing campaign from a generic account to your own company’s Ordering and Reply To address and compare the responses from the two inquiries.
There should be no difference on how any prospect’s inquiries are processed, whether it’s through an order form or a Reply To. Ignoring a client’s emails will devastate whatever trust you’ve managed to build up in your brand.
The modern marketplace is a crowded arena and if you establish a reputation for lying to your customers, they will flee to a competitor who treats them with honesty and respect.