Be the First to Know
It seems that every website we visit these days screams at you to sign up for some kind of list. “Be the first to know!” “Special discounts!” “Free emails from us!” Not only do websites tell us to sign up, but also regular displays.
I noticed this while I was in Denver a little while back. If you can’t see the fine print, Starbucks is willing to give away free drinks in exchange for an email address. Good deal, right? Well, it may work for Starbucks since they are a friggin’ HUGE corporation. But what about the little guys? What about you and me? Does this work the same way?
I bring up these questions because we at Centerlyne most often do social media for small businesses. We often can’t afford to exchange free products for email addresses with the hope that the promotional emails that you send will bring customers in/back.
To me, it is kind of like spending all of your money on a wallet. You got the thing, but lost the stuff that it was intended for. In this example, you got the contacts, but you lost all of the products that you had intended to sell to them. Great, you gave away all of your widgets. Even better, people are coming back! They want more! But what do you tell them when you’ve given away your last widget for that last email address?
“Sorry, we’re out of everything. But if you want to look at our big, huge email list you can… it’s pretty big and-” [Door slams shut].
Starbucks is able to do this because the purpose of their email list is to remind people on a regular basis to come back to Starbucks. We, on the other hand, often find ourselves convincing people to try our product. There are no guarantees that they will. Most likely, they will see the subject line of your email, click the link, and scroll straight down to unsubscribe.
On this same Denver trip, I happened to see that a friend that I was staying with had about 1,500 unread emails. He explained to me that they were all from clothing companies, social causes, and the like. He never opens them, he just signs up to get the initial discount upon checkout and then ignores the rest.
While email is still crucial and effective for business communications, it is my feeling that email marketing is out of date. Promotional emails feel similar to a salesman knocking on your door. There is something invasive about it. We have Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, AdWords, the list goes on and on. Social media and web advertisements enable business owners to reach a broader audience without poking and prodding specific people. It is my recommendation (take it or leave it) that small business owners use email for what it was originally intended for: communication among actual colleagues. Like mail, but faster. And free. And with less paper.