Why is it a bad idea to send mass marketing emails yourself?

I used to advise an executive of a start-up company. He was all fired up to launch his first ever mass-email campaign to kick-start his new business.

But I had my reservations.

Firstly, I wasn’t sure of the legality of sending large numbers of unsolicited marketing emails. Since I’m not a lawyer, I left it to him to consult his legal advisers on that.

But on the areas where I have the expertise, my advice to him was that his mass-email campaign was unlikely to work. My counsel to him was that technically, it may not even be possible to send such a large number of emails on his own (i.e. using Outlook through his ISP). Secondly, even if it was possible, they might not even reach his intended recipients’ inbox because they would either be blocked or be sent straight to the spam folder. Lastly, the long-term reputational damage to his company would be serious as more and more of his company’s emails got blacklisted by ISPs, Google and Microsoft.

His respond was that he simply didn’t care. “Why are you so afraid of Google?” was his reply. He believed that he could also achieve marketing success simply by blasting copious emails into cyberspace because his ISP had been sending lots of marketing emails too. But that was a very serious flaw in his thinking. What he saw were the marketing emails from his ISP. What he did not see were the many more marketing emails that failed to get into his inbox.

So, what do the hard numbers show?

According to the latest Global Email Deliverability Benchmark Report by Return Path, the world’s leading email certification and reputation monitoring company, 1 in 4 commercial emails did not reach the inbox of the intended recipients. In at least one industry, almost 42% of emails couldn’t make it through. Also, 11% of business-to-business emails are classified as spam.

So, what happened? He spent a lot of time writing a perfect copy of the marketing email. Then, to show him what I meant, I sent that marketing copy to my own email address as a test. As expected, it went straight to my spam folder. That’s not a good sign. If that was a real email marketing campaign, you can expect it to be a big failure because most people will not see that email.

You may want to save up on costs by sending mass marketing emails yourself. But if you do not do it properly, they will not get read. Worse still, if your company get blacklisted as a spammer, your future email marketing campaigns will become less and less effective. If you ignore the problem further, eventually all of your campaigns will become useless!

The lesson is clear: sending mass marketing emails is not as easy as sending personal emails to your mates. There are plenty of pitfalls to trip the unsuspecting small business owner.

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