Email Marketing: Staying the Course in the Face of Temptation

spamTemptation arises from an attraction so strong that it overcomes the restraints of conscience or better judgment (Merriam Webster).

In today’s complex and competitive world of digital marketing, email marketing presents just this type of temptation to marketers striving to deliver fast and furious results to their organizations. Email is something every CEO can understand and it sounds so simple: We buy a list (those list brokers are so enticing!), upload it to our email marketing system or CRM, and start “communicating” via e-blasts to our newfound prospects.  

Unfortunately, this ever-so-tempting way of doing email marketing is met with an equal set of short- and long-term repercussions.

Why Buying Lists is a Bad Idea:

1. You’re spamming.

Spam means “unsolicited bulk email.” So if you’re sending people mass email without their permission, you’re spamming. It really doesn’t matter if the list provider tells you their list is “opt-in” because the fact is, the people on the list really haven’t opted in to receive messages from you. And you’re not going to fool them into thinking they have. Think about your own inbox and how little you appreciate getting emails from companies you don’t know.  It’s unrealistic to think that your message is so awesome that people will overlook the fact that they did not invite you into their mailbox.

2. Reputable email marketing vendors don’t allow it.

If you’ve ever uploaded a list to MailChimp, HubSpot, Constant Contact, or any of the numerous other reputable email marketing or marketing automation providers you will find clear warnings that purchased, rented, or third-party lists of email addresses are prohibited. Why? Purchased lists are likely to elicit spam complaints, bounces, unsubscribes, and other negative reactions. That’s because, as mentioned in #1, it’s likely that what you’re doing is considered spam and when you spam you hurt the deliverability and reputation of everyone else on the email marketer’s shared IP address. A few bad apples spoil the whole barrel.

3. Your list will be dirty.

In the vast majority of cases, brokered lists simply are not high quality lists. Often, the very list you’re purchasing is overcooked. It has already been used and abused by other companies so the people on it are likely overburdened with email. Also, these lists are notorious for having false or out-of-use addresses. Keep in mind, also, list providers tend to be very liberal about what qualifies as a “targeted list” in order to boost the numbers. It’s much more impressive for them to claim they have 100,000 targeted names on a list, rather than just a few thousand.

4. People won’t like you.

“…purchasing a mailing list from a source that claims to hold thousands of email addresses relevant to your business could be the death of your credibility.” – Forbes

Getting email from a company you’ve never heard of, or lack a connection to, is annoying.  When you affiliate your brand with these techniques you harm your credibility in more ways than one.  First, you’re more likely to be blocked and reported as spam by the recipients. Second, your brand can suffer as people begin to associate your brand with “irritating.”  

 5. Your deliverability will suffer.

Referring back to reason #3, a dirty email list is guaranteed to cause deliverability problems. Meaning, your emails won’t even get through to their desired recipient. Silverpop describes it this way: “Dirty mailing lists hurt your deliverability because ISPs will filter or block senders who mail repeat­edly to “bad” addresses, either based on their own observations or via reports from real-time block lists (RBLs) who list names and IP addresses from senders they suspect of spamming.”

6. You can do better!

A hundred perfectly qualified, engaged people who actually want to hear from you is better than a thousand prospects who may or may not care about what you have to say. There is a better way to do this. And once you experience the value of delivering quality content to the leads you’ve earned, we’re betting you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and your results.  


Let us help you design an inbound marketing and email strategy that your customers and prospects will appreciate. Request a consultation.

What is Inbound Marketing?

What The Heck is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the process of attracting people to your website who actually care about what you have to say. It’s about creating content that people are interested in consuming. It’s about admitting that the old way of marketing – interruptive advertising – just doesn’t work anymore.

What is Inbound Marketing

It’s marketing and selling your products with authenticity and transparency.

It’s what people want. 

You may have heard Inbound Marketing referred to by different names. Some people call it Content Marketing or SEO or Social Media. The truth is Inbound Marketing is all of these things and more. 

Inbound Marketing is a Puzzle

Inbound marketing is like a puzzle – but not because it’s confusing. It’s a puzzle in the sense that it’s made up of many pieces. Pieces that should not stand on their own, but when put together, make total sense. To truly succeed online, business need to have a comprehensive strategy inclusive of all the pieces in the puzzle. Assembling the pieces together into one, cohesive strategy is the key to marketing success.

Four Core Pillars of Inbound Marketing

In order for your Inbound Marketing program to be successful, it needs to deliver in four key areas:

Traffic Generation

Generating more traffic for a website is like a recipe: you will need the proper mix of ingredients but there’s no one single formula for success. Rather, it’s a set of strategies and supporting tools working together. Those strategies are Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Customer-Oriented Blogging and Social Media sharing. All three working together will ensure an adequate supply of targeted traffic to your site. 

Lead Generation

So you’ve optimized your content, your’re blogging regularly and you’re getting some content shared on social media. Great start. But just because you have traffic coming in, doesn’t mean you’re getting any leads.

This is where premium content, landing pages and great calls-to-action come into play.  

Lead generation is a tacit quid pro quo between the marketer and customer. You have to convince your potential customer that what they’re getting (information) is worth more than what they’re giving up (their name and email address). Giving away useful customer-focused, problem solving content in exchange for information is one of the best ways to do this.  The amount of information you ask of them is directly related to how valuable the content you’re giving away. The more valuable the info, the more information you can ask of them.  

Once you have their name and email address, you can begin the process of nurturing leads toward sales. 

Sales Conversion

Would you consider someone who Likes you on Facebook a lead? Would you consider someone who downloads your whitepaper a lead?

The truth is that not all “leads” are created equal. 

That’s why managing your leads realistically while taking the long term view is a key part of converting leads to sales. Lead nurturing and segmented email campaigns are your primary tools for converting your leads into sales over time. 

Analysis & Measurement

One of the great advantages of internet marketing is access to data. With the proper tools such as Hubspot or Google Analytics 5.0, you can track almost everything about your site visitors.

The reports you generate should tie directly back to the goals you’ve set for the business. Is your goal to increase site traffic? Is your goal to improve traffic from social networks? Is your goal to increase conversion of your existing site visitors? All of these can be reported on analyzed. 

Remember, data doesn’t lie. It doesn’t matter what your boss wants to do or what some article says you should do. If the data shows that you’re not meeting your goals, change tactics and try again. Your inbound marketing program should be a continuous process of testing, measuring and tweaking. 

Making the Leap to Inbound Marketing

If your business is looking to consistently and affordably generate leads over time without annoying your customers, Inbound Marketing is something you should look into.

Spark Inbound Marketing is a full service inbound marketing agency that can help you make the leap to Inbound Marketing. We don’t promise overnight success but we do promise a system that delivers results over time.

Drop us a line, we love to talk about this stuff!

Are You a Party Pooper? If so, click here.

You gotta love MailChimp.

I hadn’t noticed this before but if you’re just not into MailChimp humor, find chimps without pants offensive, or are just having a bad day, you can simply click a button and proceed in party pooper mode.  Now that’s good stuff from the only email marketing provider I know of that can make email list management entertaining.

MailChimp Humor - Party Pooper Mode



30 Marketing Tips in 30 Days: Tip #21 – Effective Email Subject Lines

Marketing Tip #21: Write More Effective Email Subject Lines

MailChimp recently published some enlightening research on what makes an effective email subject line.  They analyzed over 40 million email campaigns to uncover campaigns with the highest and lowest open rates.  Here is the big conclusion: The most effective email subject lines describe the subject of the email. In other words, getting cutesy or salesy with your subject lines leads to fewer people opening your email.  Instead, be straight forward, let your recipient know what the email you’re sending is really about, and most of all, that you’re NOT just another spammer trying to trick them into opening a bogus email.

Here’s the details from Mail Chimp’s research:

Best Open Rates (60%-87%) Worst Open Rates (1%-14%)
  1. [COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter
  2. Eye on the [COMPANYNAME] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)
  3. [COMPANYNAME] Staff Shirts & Photos
  4. [COMPANYNAME] May 2005 News Bulletin!
  5. [COMPANYNAME] Newsletter – February 2006
  6. [COMPANYNAME] Newsletter – January 2006 [ *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* ]
  7. [COMPANYNAME] and [COMPANYNAME] Invites You!
  8. Happy Holidays from [COMPANYNAME]
  11. Invitation from [COMPANYNAME]
  12. [COMPANYNAME] Jan/Feb 2006 Newsletter
  13. Website news – Issue 3
  14. Upcoming Events at [COMPANYNAME]
  15. [COMPANYNAME] Councils: Letter of Interest
  16. [COMPANYNAME] Coffee Exchange – Post-Katrina Update
  17. We’re Throwing a Party
  18. October 2005 Newsletter
  19. [COMPANYNAME]: 02.10.06
  20. [COMPANYNAME] Racing Newsletter
  1. Last Minute Gift – We Have The Answer
  2. Valentines – Shop Early & Save 10%
  3. Give a Gift Certificate this Holiday
  4. Valentine’s Day Salon and Spa Specials!
  5. Gift Certificates – Easy & Elegant Giving – Let Them Choose
  6. Need More Advertising Value From Your Marketing Partner?
  7. [COMPANYNAME] Pioneers in Banana Technology
  8. [COMPANYNAME] Moves You Home for the Holidays
  9. Renewal
  10. Technology Company Works with [COMPANYNAME] on Bananas Efforts
  11. [COMPANYNAME] Update – A Summary of Security and Emergency Preparedness News
  12. Now Offering Banana Services!
  13. It’s still summer in Tahoe!
  14. [COMPANYNAME] endorses [COMPANYNAME] as successor
  15. [COMPANYNAME] Holiday Sales Event
  16. The Future of International Trade
  17. [COMPANYNAME] for your next dream home.
  18. True automation of your Banana Research
  19. [COMPANYNAME] Resort – Spring into May Savings
  20. You Asked For More…