Four Email Marketers, My Gmail Account, and Why They Matter to You
Let me tell you the story of four marketers' emails and their placement in my Gmail account. Trust me. Their story matters to you.
I gave none of the four marketers permission to send me email. Yet, two are making it into my inbox. Two are being shunted off into my spam folder.
The two marketers getting shunted off to my spam folder are PictureMe Portrait Studios and Kmart.
PictureMe Portrait Studios began sending me email after I had a mug shot taken for my website at MagillReport.com.
Somehow, Gmail recognized PictureMe Portrait Studios' messages immediately as spam. I can only guess, but PictureMe Portrait Studios' emails were probably being delivered to people's spam folders long before they started spamming me.
Regular offers on having portraits taken sent without permission is probably prompting people to hit the spam button. How often does the average person want their portrait taken, after all?
Kmart started sending me email after I gave my address during a big-dollar purchase to Sears, its sister company under the Sears Holdings Corp. umbrella
Astoundingly, while Kmart's email is being delivered into my spam folder, Sears's email is being delivered to my inbox.
Why is that astounding? Because I gave permission to one of Sears Holdings' brands and not the other to send email. Gmail has apparently somehow discerned this and is treating their email accordingly and they are the same company.
Meanwhile, Cigar Auctioneer and Weber-Stephens are getting delivered into my inbox. Weber-Stephens began sending me email after I bought a grill refurbishing kit from its online store. Cigar Auctioneer began sending me email after I did business with its parent, Famous Smoke Shop.
Neither had permission to send me email. Yet both their messages are marked as priority emails in my inbox.
Why? Because I open every single message I get from them. Weber-Stephens sends a recipe-of-the-week email every Friday. I look forward to them. I open them and I cook about half the recipes in them.
And because of Cigar Auctioneer, I haven't paid retail prices for my hand-rolled smokes in months. I don't always get my favorite brands, but boy do I save money.
And here is why my inbox experience matters to you: Email inbox providers are reportedly increasingly eying how individuals interact with their email to determine whether or not it's spam. As a result, email is increasingly becoming more about engagement.
Translation: You can get a little fast and loose with your permission practices with customers as long as you send email they want and interact with.
Conversely, you can exercise the gold standard in permission practices-fully confirmed opt in where people must respond to a confirmation message in order to be added to your file-but if you send a bunch of unwanted crap, your messages will be treated as such.
Email inbox providers' spam filters are designed to deliver email people want and filter out email people don't want.
Send messages people want and you'll be fine. It's really that simple. Or not, depending upon what it is you're selling.
Cigar Auctioneer and Weber-Stephens have fairly obvious advantages over other marketers. Their messages invoke thoughts of highly self-indulgent experiences. As a result, they stand a better chance of being welcomed than email from marketers whose products and services don't invoke similar pleasurable thoughts.
So Cigar Auctioneer and Weber-Stephens can afford to be a little loosey goosey with their permission practices while Kmart and PictureMe Portrait Studios apparently cannot.
The lesson: Make an honest assessment of your product or service and what it represents to customers and prospects. Then make an honest assessment of the email program you've set up around it.
Can you honestly say people are likely to want your messages? If not, go back at it. Something needs to be changed.
If there’s one word that most aptly describes Ken Magill’s coverage of online marketing, it’s fearless. For more than a decade, Magill has built a reputation for calling it like he sees it no matter who may get offended. Some marketers read his column just to make sure they’re not in it. In a trade-publishing market populated mostly by vendor representatives who must watch what they say, Magill stands out as the one guy who says what he thinks. Moreover, he often writes what others are thinking, but are afraid to say. He can even be very funny.
Having been a direct marketer, and having covered online marketing since 1997 for DM News, Direct, Chief Marketer and Multichannel Merchant magazines, Magill offers a unique, informed perspective on the evolution of digital selling. He was also founding editor of trade weekly iMarketing News and Magilla Marketing, a newsletter dedicated to e-mail.
He is currently founding editor of the recently launched trade weekly email newsletter The Magill Report.