Warning! Unsolicited Internet Ad Coming Your Way!, Part 2

Last time, we looked at whether someone really “solicits” the endless blather of marketing messages she receives, even if she signed up for an email list. The reality is that your ad is like an unsolicited manuscript or opinion. It says: You should buy this product. Now, let’s look at the hallmarks of bad advertising — and how to fix it.

“Affordable Headstones For Your Loved Ones.” That was the subject line.

Want to know what makes Internet advertising ugly? Say it aloud: “Affordable Headstones For Your Loved Ones.”

Internet advertising’s biggest advantage — and biggest challenge, is its ability to deliver messages rapidly and cheaply.

Most people think of permission email in terms of privacy policies, opt-ins, and double opt-ins. The headstone guy doesn’t. He can reach millions for only a few dollars. So what if this one email doesn’t make money?

He’s part of the Internet, and he’s not going away. He was probably told he had permission, but that’s not important. He probably never read an article on Web marketing, as you are right now. But he can reach you. Odds are, more people opened his message than yours. His headline certainly commands attention. That alone is precious in a world of short attention spans and ad-overload. It works.

The irony? Your permission email marketing message is lumped together with this spammer’s, probably because your message is as mundane and misdirected as the headstones. Your message — with a less-attention-grabbing subject line — is lost in the clutter.

Morbid fascination aside, people gravitate to things they trust or are familiar with. Out of sight, out of mind. Send poorly crafted email, they’ll forget you. Send no email and they’ll definitely forget you.

Too little, you lose. Too much, you lose. Can anyone win this game?

Following every permission rule doesn’t make marketing good. What matters is what your messages deliver, to you and to your customers:

  • Consider every ad as if it is your last opportunity to build up your customer list. Don’t waste their time.

  • If you are willing to send anything to your email list, the list will fry in three months.

  • Treat it with restraint and the list will fry in six months, unless you send some form of content.

  • Customers are too busy to constantly “solicit” your messages. It’s important to get permission. One-time permission doesn’t necessarily imply the customer actually wants an ongoing relationship.

  • Don’t assume permission. Earn permission with every message.

  • Frequency and repetition are always important. Short attention spans rule.

  • Good advertising works. Good advertising with a recognized brand works better.

  • The more frequently you see an ad, the better it is likely doing (over a course of months, not days).

  • The ad itself is of little value. What you do with the customer after the ad is what matters. Anyone can create response. It takes genius to bond with your customers.

As Claude Hopkins wrote years ago, “The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its sales.”

In the end, we all know treating a customer right builds long-term value. Let the customer be the real judge. Listen to them. They’re the true experts.

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