We still need to talk about email

A while back, I wrote this article about how many theatre companies are using email. Unfortunately, there are still companies that are using email poorly, and as such are hurting their reputations.

I recently received an email from a company that I purchased theatre tickets from. This company did not put any notification about email subscription in their purchasing process. After purchasing tickets, I noticed that I had begun receiving regular emails from them. I asked to be removed from their mailing list. They complied at the time.

Almost two years later, however, I received an email from them, and it is a plea for financial assistance. I understand the need to reach as wide an audience as possible with your email campaigns, especially for your fundraising. But your need does not change the best practices of email marketing. Your need does not make the fact that I never subscribed to your mailing list any less annoying.

Here’s the thing: your campaign loses value if you contact people who didn’t ask to hear from you. Because the reaction from these people (like me), is not just to delete your email, but annoyance. This does not make us likely to give you money, or go to your show. In fact, I’m more likely NOT to do those things.

One of the most important lessons of marketing by email is don’t annoy your customer base. If you, as someone who is thinking of sending email, has ever thought something along the lines of “Of course they want to hear from us, they are our customer”, you must stop and not hit send on that email. Being your customer is not reason enough for you to send an email to someone. They must have given you permission to do so. And if they haven’t, do not send them your newsletter. And absolutely, do not send them an email asking for money.

You can do better. And you need to do better. If you’re going to use email as a marketing or fundraising tool. Do it smartly. Or lose customers.