Episode 37: E-mail Ethics - How To Not Show Up As a Spammer And Get Blacklisted
There are good ways and bad ways to build your email list. In this episode, we discuss email ethics, what to do, and what not to do. It's not just faceless spammers doing this; we're seeing misguided women adopting these practices as well, and we want to make sure everyone knows that to build a successful business, it's tactics like this that will derail you.
- What happens when you blindly follow the latest trends and fly-by-night tactics?
- How to build an email list in an ethical manner.
- What does it mean for you and your business to be blacklisted?
[01:06] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: Are you getting inundated with spam emails? We sure are. And that's why we're calling out all those spammy tactics that seem to be taking over like an epidemic. The riches are in the niches, as the saying goes, and when people adopt casting a wide net to as many people as possible, they're diluting their effectiveness and their chances of connecting with an ideal prospect. As a certified OBM and Whole Person Coach with over 25 years of marketing experience, combined with Deirdre's 20-plus years of experience as a CPA, auditing and advising businesses of all sizes, we know how to build sustainable profitability into the companies of our clients.
We understand those fly-by-night tactics don't work, and we teach our clients the business of business through our high-touch, year-long coaching programs. We customize everything to fit your unique needs. Just as no two people are the same, no two businesses are the same. For that reason, we don't believe in making our clients fit into cookie-cutter frameworks. They just don't work. What works for one is not going to work for another.
If you're ready to find out how far you can go by getting the guidance you need inside your business, let's talk. We work with female business-to-business service providers and consultants, making five to multiple six figures who happen to be over 40.
Head over to encoreempire.com/consult and book your consult call today.
Adding someone to your email list because you saw their email address is wrong. What does this say about you? It says either you don't know how to build relationships, you don't have a strategy; it reeks of desperation. It's spamming. It feels like a used car salesman, and it's like back in the day getting a cold call when you're sitting down to dinner.
[03:15] Deirdre Harter: Now, we're betting that you are tired of people adding you to their email list when you did not subscribe. And we feel you. And that's why we're shining a light on this slimy tactic. There are two reasons you may be adding people to your email list without having them opt-in.
Number one, you don't know any better. And if you don't know any better, consider this episode as your notice to learn, and then there's number two. You don't care. And if you don't care, you don't have much going for you as an entrepreneur, and your chances of building a successful business are slim to none.
Carmen and I both want to see every woman in business succeed, and that's why we're bringing some real straight-up talk today about email ethics. What might be happening is a monkey see, monkey do situation. We see this more and more all the time, and this tactic has been gaining popularity lately. And so you might see others doing this and think, hey, I'm going to do that too because it's going to build my email list, right? And we've heard over and over again the money is in the email list. You have to build your email list. And while that is true, we need to do this in a way that's actually going to help our business for the long term, not for the short term.
So let's stop and think for just a minute about what this practice says about you as an entrepreneur. Aside from the things we mentioned at the beginning of the episode, it also conveys that you are not working from a place of integrity. It comes across as desperate or even ignorant, and this is hurting all of your marketing and sales efforts.
[05:14] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: We hear it from other people, too. I know that some of the people listening right now are frustrated with it. It is almost out of control. And so what I've resorted to now, I don't even try to be nice. Like the kid gloves come off, and when I get added to a random stranger's list, I report them as spam right away. I know what I've opted into and what I haven't, and I'm not going to put up with it. So it doesn't matter what the content of the email is. The act of sending it to me unsolicited has sealed their fate as far as I'm concerned, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. So let's think about what that does for your reputation. I, for one, will not even consider working with them in the future. They've shown a blatant disregard for my privacy and a lack of business ethics. I don't want to work with anyone who is willing to do that. At Encore Empire, we promote permission-based marketing. You ask permission before doing anything. To do otherwise is to be out of integrity.
[06:15] Deirdre Harter: Now, let's think about what happens during a networking event. So let's take an example. If you've been to networking events, whether they're in person or virtual, I'm going to be talking about virtual. This also applies when you're in person. If you're going in person and you're collecting business cards, when you attend these virtual networking events, you typically end up with a list of people who put their contact information in the chat. I know that Carmen and I have done speed networking events in the past. We have a virtual roundtable that it's not strictly a networking event. It's like a mini mastermind. But we ask people to put their contact information in the chat for the reason of people connecting and building relationships. It's not for email list building.
What this gives you permission to do is to reach out to them with a personal email or connection request, not to add them to your general email list. There is a very big difference between the two. Not to mention there are rules that govern this, and we're going to talk about that.
What happens is this often ruins a relationship that may have been very beneficial for you. I know that it has for me. If I go to a networking event and I have the list of everyone, and if I get that first email from someone that I met at that networking event, I can tell immediately if this is an email that goes out to their entire list, or even if it's a form letter email where they're just blasting it to everybody that's on that chat list, and there's no personalization at all when that happens. I redline them right off my list of potential connections because it's telling me that they couldn't take I'm all for efficiencies, right? And we're not saying that you have to write a novel to every single person, but there has to be some thought behind it, and we have to relay that thought.
We want people to feel something, right? We talk so much about connecting with people on an emotional level. And this is not just with your prospects and your clients. This is about anyone that you meet in your business. If they're worth the time that you spent talking to them in any way, shape or fashion, they're worth you giving some thought and personalization to the communication that you have with them. And I think that sometimes we forget the golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And in anything we do in our business, and especially when it comes to how we communicate with prospects and peers, we should always ask ourselves:
- Iis this something I would want?
- Is this how I would like to be communicated with?
- How would I feel if I received this kind of communication in this manner?
[09:17] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: It's almost like these things that become popular people just like all reason goes out the window, and they're just like, OOH, I'm going to jump on this thing. And we're so against that. In general, if you listen to our show or if you've hung around with us at all, you know that we're about tried and true business practices, not the flavor of the day marketing tactics that everyone's touting is the thing to do.
If something seems good or exciting, you have to stop. As an entrepreneur or a person of integrity, you've got to stop and ask yourself these questions is this what I would want someone to do to me? And if the answer is no, then don't do it. Or even better, is this what a reasonable person would want? Because sometimes people, their perception of what's okay varies. But what would the majority of people - think about other people.
And let's talk about what happens when you are spamming people, and they're reporting you, blocking you, and reporting you as spam. That's called getting blacklisted. And once an IP address or domain is blacklisted, the emails originating from it will end up in the spam folder rather than in the recipient's Inbox. Getting an IP, blacklisted can be extremely damaging to your email or marketing efforts. So running a business is already hard, right? It's not an easy thing. It's not for the faint of heart. You've got to have passion. You've got to have drive. You've got to have strategy. So why would we do something then that is now going to set us back and create challenges where there were none? It just does not make sense.
Once you get blacklisted by an email service provider such as Google. If you get emails like I do, and we use Gmail, and I'm reporting those as spam, well, Google is going to start rating you, and you'll start showing up in the spam folder of other people, not just me. So is doing this worth it? Are these tactics, these fly-by-night things, worth trying if it's going to damage your business in the long run? I don't think so. Why would you do something that's going to hurt your chances of success?
We're certain that most people aren't thinking through the potential consequences when they do this. But there are tried and true best practices for growing an email list, and none of them include adding people who didn't consent. We talk about wanting to connect with people on an emotional level, and that means knowing what it is that they want and need and addressing those wants and needs. And you do this through your opt-ins. How do you get them on your list? You provide value, and then they say, oh my goodness, I love what this person's doing. I want more. I'm going to opt-in. It's not hard, and it's not rocket science.
[12:08] Deirdre Harter: And just to prove the point, when Carmen and I were talking about this episode that we wanted to bring to you today, I went, and I checked. So I did this just a few minutes ago. I went, and I checked my email, and we have a business account with Google. So it's not just a plain Gmail like it is actually email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, but it is still going through Google. So I went, and I looked at my spam folder, and there is a whole bunch of spam from not only someone that I actually have never reported spam on, but this is someone that is actually a collaborator with us.
This is someone who we have worked with, and we have paid for their services. So this is someone I actually want to hear from. And yet all the emails from that person are sitting in my spam folder. And what this tells me is exactly what Carmen was just saying, somewhere along the line, they've gotten blacklisted because now they're going into my spam folder when I never unsubscribed and I never reported them as spam.
Another thing that I have had experience with, and you may have this too if you are on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, we talk about optimizing our profiles. This is a best business practice. We should all be doing this. And we want people to connect with our content, right? And then we want them to be able to start a conversation with us, whether it's commenting under our post or, even better, connecting with us. And one of the best ways to do that is through email, right? I love it when I get an email from someone who said, hey, I've been seeing what you've been putting out there. I love it. I'd love to connect with you. But the problem is those come once in a blue moon. And I'm getting all these other messages that are coming through LinkedIn because my email was public. I had my email address out there as public because that's what you do as a business, right? You want people to contact you if they have a question, if they're interested in something. But at one point, I was getting so many of these salesy spammy emails because my email address is public, and there is a way that you can go, and you can find someone's email address. I've actually shown clients how to do this, not for the sake of spamming, but because there was a person that they really wanted to connect with. They'd already had some discussions in messenger, and they really wanted to email this person to continue that conversation. And so I showed them where to go to look at it.
Well, now there are all these bots, and there are all these things that are scraping email addresses. And so I'm now getting a ton of these emails out of the blue. Hey, I saw you on LinkedIn and saw that you're a business coach. Here's our thing. Want to buy it? And I was doing what Carmen was doing. I was just hitting Report Spam and was done with it. But we got to a point where there were more of those than I had all legit emails put together. Like there were more of these spammy things, and it just kept climbing. So I decided that I was just going to take my email off of being public on LinkedIn. And that's a shame because we're there to do business, and I shouldn't have to hide my email just so that I don't have to spend all this time wading through these kinds of emails that I don't even know who these people are and I don't want to know who they are.
Another problem that I've seen happening is that at least 50% of those emails that came in, they didn't have any way to unsubscribe, right? You usually have a button, or at the bottom, it says, if you don't want to hear if you don't want to receive this, unsubscribe here, and a few of them would put on the bottom, if this doesn't interest you, reply back unsubscribe. But when I would do that when I would reply back, I started getting even more from this person, more of the follow-up salesy spammy emails. And it was enough to just - it infuriated me, and I thought, I don't need to start my day being infuriated over emails that I shouldn't even be getting in the first place.
[16:34] Carmen Reed-Gilkison: We talk about a lot, protecting our energy, and we have to protect our energy and set boundaries, and it is a shame that we can't have our email out there public without doing this. It is aggravating, and it's not the way to start out a day and it's just infuriating. And you want to just reply back and say, hey, this isn't the way to do it, but it takes too much of your time, we're busy, we don't have time to do that. Nobody does.
The other thing that I'm starting to see more of, if you've heard about Chat GPT and all the AI things and you're seeing it even on the news, it's everywhere. So, I'm getting emails now that are spam emails that I did not sign up for, and they are written by AI. So it is so annoying. So more and more, I see emails that come in, and it'll be like, hey Carmen, and you can tell it's written by AI, so it'll say something about Encore Empire, and then it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, and it'll say written by something. AI at the bottom, and the AI company varies. So it seems that everyone's ushering in the age of AI, which is all fine and dandy, but it's a double whammy to not only add me to your email list when I didn't sign up, but it adds insult to injury to send me emails written by AI. And we're all about relationship marketing. I want to connect with people. I am not against AI, but it requires judicious usage by humans to make an AI experience not feel like an AI experience.
And I think how we make others feel is so important. That's what we should be focusing on. When we put out messages or content or anything when we interact with people, what is our intent for how we want to make people feel? It's not just about let's use the shotgun approach and throw as much out to as many people and see what sticks because you're not going to be getting the quality when you do things that way. It's so much better to fine-tune, narrow your focus, and target in on the exact audience that you're trying to target in on and speak to them in a way that they want to be spoken to so that they're actually interested in what you're saying.
[18:53] Deirdre Harter: This was our rant episode because this is something that we just keep seeing more and more. But we want to end this episode with a silver lining. AI and the bot trend is only gaining momentum, and this may be annoying when we're on the receiving end. However, you can use these trends to your advantage, and we want to highlight this.
By practicing relationship marketing and following ethical and permission-based marketing strategies, we have the opportunity to build the know, like, and trust factor with our prospects and our peers faster and more effectively than ever before.
So while everyone's jumping on this bandwagon of let's just blast it out there, let's use the machine gun approach to connecting with people. Those of us who understand relationship marketing, it's like our secret weapon because we are going to stand out from the crowd, and people are going to appreciate what they're getting from us, as opposed to all the things that they're tired of getting.
Speaking of relationship marketing, we'd love to invite you to join us for our next Marketing Methodology Workshop, where we focus on how to connect with your audience on an emotional level. And we guarantee none of our strategies involve spamming them. So register now at encoreempire.com/mmw.