What does your relationship look like?
Delivering mail successfully is a full-time job for a lot of people. My full-time job is handling complaints about the mail. What do those complaints look like? Well, they fall into a few different buckets:
- Please unsubscribe me.
- This is spam.
- “I’ve asked to be removed from your customer’s list and they just refuse.”
- “Your mail server is hacking me.”
Let’s take a couple of moments to think about those first two:
Please unsubscribe me
Most people subscribe to a mailing list for one of two reasons.
- They want to continue their relationship with a company or brand.
- They were not aware that an action would result in a subscription. (More on this one later.)
The big idea (really for this post) is that you have something to offer subscribers. Something that is unique to you. The subscriber wants that something. It might be a coupon. It might be a notification about new product offerings. It might be a joke or riddle to exercise their mind. It might be a picture that helps to lift their spirits. Whatever it is, it prompts people to say to themselves some form of the phrase “this is a relationship worth continuing.”
When a marketer fails to give the subscriber what they want, then they’ll leave. They’ll leave because that relationship is no longer worth continuing.
This is spam.
A lot of complaints about spam come from people who did not know that they were being added to mailing lists. That is a given. But, many “this is spam” clicks come from people who did not intend to start a relationship with a sender. That is generally because the only thing that the sender has to offer is someone else’s work. This is almost universally the reason why I see so many complaints about mail sent from the affiliate space.
Affiliate marketers, at least in my interactions with them, are selling something: mailing list usage to other people who want to market. The real relationship here is between the marketer and the brand that is paying them, not between the marketer and the people on their list. That is because the marketer has nothing to offer other than marketing. There is no relationship that is unique because 10, 20, 50, or 500 other affiliate marketers are offering exactly the same thing — often to the same people. There’s no uniqueness to the voice.
And how do people respond to that? By saying “this is not a healthy relationship for me to be in.”
So, what’s the rule here?
Be unique. Be you. Offer something that no one else can offer.
If you’re Oscar Meyer, that’s maybe a weekly email on the ongoing adventures of the Weinermobile. If you’re Charmin brand bathroom tissue, maybe it’s a daily email on origami animals that can be made from people’s pandemic toilet paper stashes.
If people look forward to getting your messages, they won’t complain about them and they’ll be happy to stay on the list.