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In a 1789 letter, Benjamin Franklin sagaciously quipped, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
There are are now three things: death, taxes and spam.
I survey my inbox this morning to find that with nearly robotic consistency, 24 messages await me, ranging from mobile app developers and SEO specialists to video content providers and even intuitive consultants aka psychics. As diverse as their backgrounds are, they all share an especially predictable, unsolicited and template blueprint that inevitably leads to the trash, if my spam filters had not gotten a head start.
While yes, I will admit that there is the rare diamond in the rough, however, for the most part, I abhor the daily bombardment. It does make me wonder, am I part of the problem? As the leader of an up-and-coming leather goods brand, a great deal of my time is spent sending electronic overtures to set up meetings and foster partnerships. No one will know that ROYCE, my company, exists if I don’t say so, and a potential partner won’t recognize our symbiosis if I don’t make the case.
Related: The 5 Mistakes That Will Land Your Email in the Spam Folder
ROYCE was the result of my love for family, not a love for selling. What drives me is our Bauer family’s legacy for fine leather goods craftsmanship. But, no customers means no company. Thus, I am committed to forging brand collaborations and elevating the brand’s visibility (in addition to planning killer holiday parties and being a pen pal to one of our employees’ grammar school kids).
I genuinely believe in the gift of a monogrammed ROYCE accessory, beyond the embedded RFID blocking and Bluetooth-tracking capacities with which our brand’s collection has become synonymous. Elated with our value proposition, I email. A lot .
Drawing from my own experience this morning, I realize I, William Bauer, am the spammer. I’m the one inundating inboxes across the world, inboxes that are already inundated by unsolicited noise. Granted, I’d love to believe that there is a distinction in quality between the emails I receive and the ones I send.
Actually, there are.
First, I don’t take a standardized one-size-fits-all approach, thereby avoiding talking points that don’t directly relate to my audience. I ensure my email addresses a problem that is not only a bona fide one faced by the company I am emailing, but moreover it is one that is actually prioritized by the higher ups.
Related: Ditch the Spam: Creating an 'Ethical' SEO Strategy
Second, I establish connections with the right person, someone with the credentials to catalyze action. If I had a dollar for every time I had painstakingly arranged a conference call, only to find out halfway through that the people on the receiving end would not be the ones able to answer my call to action, let’s just say I wouldn’t need to sell leather goods again. So, I aim high. As in CEO high, as any deal of consequence would have to scale the corporate hierarchy anyway.
Finally, if my solution and recipient are both on point, I still hesitate to press send until I can leverage a personal connection, preferably via a mutual connection to validate my legitimacy. “It's not what you know, but whom you know” goes the adage, and it rings truer than ever before. Putting a familiar name on the email vastly increases the likelihood of it being opened.
Related: Facebook 'Spam King' Sentenced to More Than 2 Years in Prison
Ultimately, email marketing is a shot in the dark. I don’t have the formula to ensure perfect click through or conversion rates. You may not always win, but regardless of the outcome, email with dignity. A poorly targeted and hastily constructed pitch is not only futile within the context of achieving your short term marketing goals, but it actually undermines your brand’s reputation in the macro scope. Doing so gives the impression that you’re desperate or apathetic, neither of which are enticing.
While death and taxes are inescapable, spam doesn’t have to be.