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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Feb 12, 2016 9 min read

Stop Emailing Me: Inbound Marketing Doesn't Support These Practices

Interruptive, Non-Inbound Marketing Tactics Don't Help – They Actually Hurt Your Brand 

Stop Interruptive Email MarketingHave you noticed an increase in unsolicited emails? I have. Almost every day, I get 10 to 15 emails from people trying to sell me something. What’s worse is that when I delete them, I get more the next day and for days after. All of them say basically the same thing: “Did you get my last email? I never heard from you. Can we schedule time to talk?”

These people are not practicing inbound marketing. In fact, they’re burning their brand in the marketplace with their email marketing campaigns. Perhaps the most egregious mistake is that they’re not even trying to make me understand how their product or service is going to help me. Please stop interrupting me. I know email is inexpensive, but the cost to your brand equity is significant.

If you’re going to use email to connect with people you don’t know, at least follow these steps to make it worth their while to connect back with you.

If Possible, Don’t Even Do It

I know it’s tempting to buy a list for a few thousand dollars and start emailing everyone. It sounds like a great shortcut, especially when the list people tell you how qualified their email addresses are or that they’re all opt-in. That’s bullshit, flat out. Don’t believe them. If that was the case, none of us would be getting those types of emails.

Renting names is old-school and highly ineffective. Worse, you’re cheapening your brand and pissing people off. You’re so much better off working to earn those names than renting them. An aggressive, well-funded, well-managed, highly optimized inbound marketing program can produce those earned names that will allow you to email and nurture those people as much as you want – within reason, of course.

If You Insist On Doing It, Follow These Dos

If you insist on emailing people who have not asked to be emailed by you or your company, you can follow a few best practices. First, ask them if they want to hear from you. Be honest and admit that you’ve never contacted them before. Tell them you won’t contact them again if they don’t want you to. At least your authenticity will be appreciated, and it will protect your brand. It might even improve your click-through rate, and it will definitely improve your opt-out rate. You'll also be able to build appropriate and effective lead nurturing campaigns for those people who legitimately opt in.

Personalization is important. Many times, these emails are personalized, but not enough to make them NOT look automated. Just adding my company name in the body of the email or my name in the salutation is not enough. Take the extra time to segment your list a little more and make the entire message much more personal. Your goal should be to make the email look personal, even if it’s not.

Spend at least a few minutes working on a compelling message, story or interesting hook. Tell me why I should be interested in even reading the email, let alone clicking through. Tell me how you think you can help me or that you understand my challenge. No, I don’t want to schedule a call. No, I don’t want to see your demo. No, I don’t want to connect with you on LinkedIn. Practice some basic marketing.

Show me you understand my pain, tell me how you can help, prove to me that it’s something remarkable and then give me social proof. Who, like me, has used your product or service successfully? Yes, I know that sounds like a lot of work, but if you want marketing that works, you have to put in the work.

If You Insist On Doing It, Avoid These Don’ts

Don’t keep emailing me over and over again. Create some workflows that recognize if I haven’t replied or clicked through, which means I might not be interested. It’s insulting to assume I’m too busy. The honest truth is that I’m never too busy for the right offer and the right message. Messages and offers that resonate with prospects get attention. I’m not too busy. I’m just not interested. So, no matter how many additional emails you program into your workflows, I’m never answering or clicking.

Instead, ask me if I’m interested in the email. Give me a link to opt out of your campaign and really let me opt out. Don’t resell my email address because now you know you have a valid email. By letting me opt out, you make sure I’m not thinking about your company in a negative way or, worse, sharing your bad email practices with all my CEO friends who will never work with you either.

Don’t expect me to do all the work. Don’t email me a link to your calendar app so I can schedule time to talk to you. If you want to talk to me, give me some times that work and you set up the call. Don’t make me work hard to figure out what you do. Tell me in one sentence. I had an email like this, and as a test, I emailed back and said, “I can’t really figure out what you do. Can you tell me in a sentence or two?” The reply email was just as bad as the first email. Delete! It happens that fast.

Show, don’t tell. Use video if you can. People would much rather watch a video. You can auto-launch it right from the email. You’re going to have a much easier time getting your short story across with video than with words.

Finally, please pay attention to the numbers. If your opt-out rate is high, your undeliverable rate is high or your email list provider won’t share these numbers with you, you need to reconsider this tactic. Interruptive emailing is a sketchy tactic, and with SPAM filters and delivery folders, you might be looking at delivery numbers that are overly inflated anyway.

The only real metric is click-through rates and conversion rates, meaning the actual leads you get from the email. You need to see which of those leads are sales opportunities and sales-qualified opportunities. If those don’t close, what good is it? So, carry the analytics all the way down to the customer level and make sure those emails are producing actual revenue for the company. If not, cancel them today.

Start Today Tip – Stop doing it. If that doesn’t work for you, benchmark your current program performance and try some of the best practices in this email. Let those run for a couple of weeks and then compare the results. By results, I mean revenue generated from emails. I'd also compare emails sent to your earned list with emails sent to your rented list. I bet you’re going to like the performance of the earned list much more than that of the rented list.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.