Confessions of an Email Subscriber: Here’s What I Really Want

As an email marketing strategist I spend most of my time working with clients to uncover what their subscribers really want from email communications and how they can effectively execute to drive revenue and ROI. This is, not surprisingly, a lot more difficult than it sounds. Why? For many reasons: because subscribers lives and needs change; because marketers often don’t have the data they need to tell them what their subscribers are most interested in; because the channel is still often approached with a “blast it and they will come” mentality. It’s easy! It’s cheap!

As a consultant, it’s my job to use the data at my disposal to make actionable and practical (yet innovative) recommendations for optimizing the email channel for my clients. That’s my day job. But I’m also an email subscriber. And as someone that publicly, passionately and tirelessly promotes all of the terrific benefits of email marketing, you’re not likely to find a more enthusiastic email subscriber than me. So I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you can give me what I really want from email, you’ll be satisfying your subscribers as well. Shocking? Impossible? Irreverent? Read my email marketing do’s and don’ts and decide for yourself:

DO: Welcome me. I want to feel like you appreciate my interest in your company. Once I’ve signed up to receive email, let me know why my decision was a good one and what I’ll get in return for giving you my email address. Even better, give me an incentive to start interacting with your brand. Best of all, keep that incentive exclusive to email subscribers like me.

DON’T: Just treat me like an email address. I am unique. I have data points and interests and preferences that should be interesting to you. Collect them and use them to customize and personalize your messaging to me. Use what you know about me to create a positive subscriber experience. After all, you asked me for my data and I gave it to you. Now, make it worth my while.

DO: Send me relevant email. My interactions with your brand can help indicate whether or not I’m considering making a purchase, asking my friends what they think of your products and services, recommending your products and services to my network or if I’m ready to make another purchase. Send me triggered messages that help advance my position in your email customer lifecycle and encourage me to open, read, click, share, purchase and rate.

DON’T: Over mail me. You never told me I’d be receiving this much email. I can barely manage my inbox as it is. The more one-dimensional messaging you send me (how many discounts and sales can you possibly have) the more likely I am to tune out, disengage, mark your emails as “unimportant” in my Gmail Priority Inbox, unsubscribe and – if you really push it – complain. Don’t make me regret signing up for your email program.

DO: Ask me what you could do better. This makes me feel like you really care what I think. As an added bonus, my opinions will help you to adjust your email program strategy going forward. This also provides you with great subscriber-level information about the levers you can pull to positively impact my experience with your brand. Don’t make assumptions; when in doubt, just ask me.

DON’T: Break the law. If I’ve unsubscribed, remove me from your list immediately. Continuing to send me email after I’ve opted-out will only frustrate and irritate me and cause me to exercise my right to mark your email as spam. And if I do complain, don’t email me again. Treat me like an opt-out and add me to your suppression file. I’ve clearly indicated that I don’t want your messaging anymore. Watch out! I’m armed and very dangerous for your deliverability.

So, am I asking for too much? It’s no more (and no less) than what your subscribers are asking for today. If you can consistently and strategically deliver on these requests, you’ll have an optimized email program that builds your brand, strengthens your relationships with customers and prospects and drives meaningful revenue for your business. Try it – I dare you.

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