35 thoughts on “Are your email marketing tactics putting readers off? A plea for ethical email etiquette

  1. Thank you for an excellent post about issues I have been considering. Do you know if there is hard statistical evidence to back up the many claims out there about this kind of marketing? I know I dislike it when I am on the receiving end of it–in fact, with me, it was lose a sale. I dislike pushy salespeople, and this seems to be an extension of such tactics, so bravo! You did a good job. By the way, I liked your approach.

    1. Hi Charles! I don’t have statistical evidence, and you’re right that it would help matters a lot. My philosophy tends to be ‘do unto others..’ but I acknowledge that means I probably miss some subtle tricks that would work very well. Let’s hope some other commenters can bring some figures.
      And thank you!

  2. Couldn’t resist signing up but…as a general rule I dislike newletters. Every time I sign up for something – e.g. a change.org campaign – I then get a million nags on a whole lot of other issues. One non-newsletter I actually do read [some of the time] is the stuff from Amazon, especially the alerts from writers I’m following. Once I like an author I tend to read everything they write, so it’s very handy for new releases too.

    1. Hi Andrea! Oh, Change.org! What is wrong with them? They seem to assume that if you support one campaign you’ve got time to weigh into another and another. And then I end up unsubscribing in very definite fury.

  3. I absolutely LOATHE the pop-ups. If I don’t trust the content provider 100% & didn’t click on the link to the website with a very strong desire to read what was at the other end – then I automatically close down the page, because (a) I don’t trust them not to infect my PC with a virus using a download link masquerading as a ‘close’ button & (b) they are just plain obnoxious!

    And yes, the other two things you list would have me unsubscribing pretty quickly too!

  4. I’m with you, Roz. I prefer the light touch. I’m getting tired of email series in particular, as you describe, often used to promote a ‘free’ online course which is, in itself, merely an extended sales pitch. It’s in the same vein as those people who seem to think that tweeting “BUY MY BOOK” every five minutes is anything other than an instant turn-off.

    I’ve done a lot of internet marketing and newsletter stuff in the past, and the more I see, the more I feel that if it doesn’t lead to positive and genuine relationship-building, then forget it. Once burned, twice shy and all that.

    If I’m going to spend a single minute reading people’s stuff, I need to know what’s in it for me. The opposition is just a click away. I want to know that I will genuinely learn something, be entertained, or get to know the author better when I spend time reading what they have written. At least with your stuff, we know we’re getting the real “you”. 🙂

    1. Ooh Henry, the free courses are a great example. They give you a little bit of material, then bludgeon you with offers they claim are crazy discounts.

      I’m deeply suspicious of crazy discounts. How can they be genuine? Why would any sane person who had put proper work into a course throw it away in a bundle? It looks fake.

      That was another opinion from the ‘real me’. 🙂

  5. I’ve installed Ghostery (Chrome App) on my machine, and it blocks anything I tell it to block—trackers, etc. It’s free. The app shows which sites are tracking you, from where etc., but allows you to choose which items you want open, i.e., Twitter widgets, WordPress stats, and the like. So far, so good. I’m not linking the Ghostery URL here, Roz, in order to respect the whole idea of NOT attracting spam. But man, it’s working for me. My machine (an HP) was getting bogged down in TONS of crap.

    1. Ghostery? It sounds like something from my parallel writing life…

      I might look into that. I have a new computer so it’s probably got all manner of new things I don’t yet know it can do. At the moment, Google is doing its nut because it can’t figure out what adverts to show me. The computer is virgin territory so it hasn’t built up a history for the spies.

  6. I’m really not sure; I don’t have an email sign up, and don’t want one, because I hate the whole deal.
    In the end, I have to live with myself. It’s already hard enough (if I were my own lodger I’d have given me my marching orders DECADES ago) without adding to it by doing things against my own code.
    The truth is, if someone is relentless to me, that makes damn sure I will NEVER buy their book, share their tweets or anything. If a book interests me, I’ll buy when I have the money. I now assume that the same could be said of my readers, if I ever publish anything again; I’ll mention it on my blog, etc, but hard sell? Never. That’s probably why I’ll sink even further without trace, but it does mean I can look myself in the eye in the mirror without shame.

  7. A million times YES!!!
    I recently received email after email about a ‘spectacular course’ (which I suspect wasn’t going to teach me anything new anyway). I didn’t unsubscribe straight away and was intrigued by all the increasingly desperate emails arrive day after day. Each time I thought ‘Really? You’re going to gain customers/followers/tribe by bullying them day in-day out?’
    I did opt out, but have a suspicion the obviously automated “You’re going to miss out/Just for today’ emails would go on forever.
    Who on earth told them this is a good idea??
    Oh yeah, probably the same folk offering you 75%

    1. Hi Paula! Course runners seem to be the worst offenders. (I say this with caution as I recently launched a course myself. But I didn’t do any of that buzz-building stuff.) And do you notice the language they use seems surprisingly similar? I think they’ve all been on the same course to tell them what emails to write.

  8. Totally agree with everything you say. I promise my email subscribers that they will only hear from me when I have something genuinely newsworthy to report, and I stick to it. I issued my first newsletter in over 4 months this week and got some very nice genuine emails in return, many thanking me for sticking to that promise.

  9. I am so tired of the “white noise” of it all, that I sadly go in the other direction and rarely mention my books at all! It’s frustrating! I don’t “do” the email newsletter thing. I’ve just now started blogging again and I don’t even prompt people to sign up for it – I realize I should do some of these things: ask people to sign up, post about my books regularly (which I tentatively do when I do). It makes me feel like a used car salesman!

    1. That ‘eek’ moment… I’m with you. I think this is why we have to be reminded to use a call toaction – because it feels too much, too pushy. When I worked in a publisher, the sales manager gave an interesting lecture to show what it was like on his side of the fence. He said they had to be taught to ask for the sale. So if it’s any comfort, even people employed in sales find it icky.

  10. I am entirely sceptical about email sign ups and they are an irritant without a doubt.
    Unless I have ten thousand followers or something the percentage of people who subscribe and actually read the subsequent emails must be very small even then.
    All the marketing hype repeats the notion that email sign ups are essential. Maybe its just me but I rarely sign up to anything like that.
    Twitter is another thing, someone follows me, i follow them and get messages about their new book or an offer. It never ever works. Selling something that i know nothing about by someone i know nothing about = 0 sales.

    1. I see where you’re coming from. But the overwhelming reason why it’s good to get an email list is because you can take it anywhere – unlike contacts on other platforms. That seems to make sense to me. Provided it’s not abused.

  11. I’d been thinking about writing an article on this same topic Roz. I can’t emphasize enough how annoyed I get when I click on a link to read something and those pop ups are right in my face after just getting there. You’re so right, why would someone want to click to sign up before they’ve barely read a sentence which becomes obstructed with the pop up? And lately, I’ve come across a few that doesn’t even have an ‘x’ in the box to click it off, no way to remove the box that is blocking what I may have been able to read to help me to decide if I want to sign up. Good term, ‘bully marketing’. 🙂

  12. Rox, you and I must be on the same lists and visit the same sites! We also curate a lot of links, so we’re on many different websites which helps us spot lots of offenders. Thanks for helping to crack down on this stuff! It drives me batty. 🙂

    1. As a P.S., I know of at least one sight-impaired writer who really struggles with the popups that take over the entire screen…she has great difficulty figuring out how to close the popup window (understandably, since they’re designed to stay open until the signing up function is carried out). So definitely not disability friendly.

Your turn!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.