A hundred avid fans or ten thousand people who are indifferent?
“Throw it against the wall and see what sticks”
“It’s a numbers game”
There’s a thousand quotes I could throw at you but it’s a simple “Quality vs Quantity” and that’s the heart of the post today.
(oh and there’s no right answer to that question)
Once again, here’s a blog post based on a conversation in Facebook. It started here:
My friend Mary had her Mailchimp account shut down with no warning. Mailchimp said she had a lot of people marking her emails as spam.
If you know me, you know how much I love my mailing list and how much I loathe the mailing list abuse that I see others making. In the end, she got it back – and she’s lucky for that. So many others do not. As to IF she was doing wrong with her list, I don’t know but I’ll hazard to guess she was not. It’s not the Mary I know.
Let’s talk about Mailing Lists / Newsletters and what is ok to do and what isn’t.
I made a few points in Mary’s Facebook thread that I’ll expand on here:
Mailchimp has to protect themselves.
As a bulk email sender, they have agreements with the big mail services (these are called email clients – like Outlook and G Mail). These agreements allow more email to come through and not get caught in a spam folder. So their view is much much larger than your little individual account. The same goes for any of the other big senders. They all have an “algorithmic” reputation to protect.
The Problem with FREE
The Mailchimp account that Mary was using was one of the free ones. It takes seconds to setup and start sending bulk emails. Free is good, and while I like the Freemium pricing model, I can only guess how much abuse this also invites. Spammers could setup millions of accounts using their free services. The answer to that would be to setup automatic systems that can shut down accounts quickly and automatically when they detect an issue.
One of those “issues” is going to be recipients marking your email as “SPAM”. When you mark something as spam it really has a ripple effect back up the chain. Your email client learns about it, the various email routers and monitors do too, and finally the sending system (in this case Mailchimp) would be notified as well.
So Marking Emails as SPAM is a good thing?
Yes and no. In the above situation we never addressed the Spammers? Did they get notified? Yes they did but they are spammers and evil by default so they probably took your notification and counted it as a vote of confidence that yours is a valid inbox. When that happens they can sell a list of people just like you for even more money to other spammers – true story!
Back to Mary’s issue and what might have contributed to her account being flagged. I can boil it down to three things:
Manual Stuff: Email clients have made it really easy to “Mark this as Spam”. Programs like Unroll have changed the game too. If the sender sees enough negative response it’ll cause the system to kill that account.
Automatic Stuff: Mail Clients (the program your reading the email on) have spam filters that look for specific things. One of those is spoofing an email address so that it’s sent via one email address but looks like it’s sent from another. With Mailchimp you can send “as your email” and to do so you need to verify a few things. This is highly recommended as it drastically reduces the amount of times your campaign is picked up by a spam filter.
Real Estate Stuff: By far and away I can think of no other industry where individuals act as their own small business. My insurance agent sends out newsletters too but they are through the company system, with company approval – he didn’t have to go out and get his own account somewhere.
Because of that, and because of certain “coaches” suggest that everyone you come into contact with be forced into your database (and hence newsletter) – it’s a recipe for mailing list abuse. I can’t tell you how many real estate people have added me, without my consent, to their newsletters. And we all agree that that is wrong right?
MailChimp knows this. So when you tell Mailchimp what industry you are in, they are going to be more critical of you when that industry is real estate. It doesn’t matter if you are a “Good Mary”, you are tainted by the actions of others in your industry.
Better Mailing Lists – Here’s what to do
What we’re talking about here is Permission Based Marketing. Here’s a post that dates back to 2008, and his book another 9 years before that but is more true today than when it was first written. (Seth is Gold!)
“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”
“In order to get permission, you make a promise. You say, “I will do x, y and z, I hope you will give me permission by listening.” And then, this is the hard part, that’s all you do. You don’t assume you can do more.”
- Free or paid account, send as your own email address with a verified account.
- Make sure each and every email you add fully knows that you’ll be sending them your newsletter. It’s also nice to have a schedule so they know how often you’ll be sending them stuff. No matter how much I write, my newsletter goes out only once a week.
- Double Opt In is your friend. Use it. It separates the real fans from the meh and makes helps everything from open rates to rejections. Every single person on my list has Double Opted In.
- Send them stuff on a regular basis. Permission based marketing works well but if large amounts of time go by and they don’t hear from you – that permission becomes stale.
- Despite what your coach tells you, don’t upload that “database” you’ve been collecting for years.
- Don’t buy, rent or use a list you got from somewhere else. That’s a big no no.
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He's an avid hockey fan, rides a mountain bike, sometimes rides a road bike, has a few motorcycles (he had a really fast one, bought a cool orange one, rode a really slow one, and wants a really small one). If that isn't enough, he makes cheese and sourdough bread, loves strong beer and good red wine, and poorly plays the Mandolin.