The damage done to the Obama’s administrations reputation for digital excellence by the careless (or deliberate) sending of emails about health reforms to those who did not want them, reminds all marketers of the need to consider the audience before sending mailings, especially mass mailings.
The questions to ask are simple
1. Who am I mailing?
2. What is their opinion of me / my firm / my brand currently (e.g. are they satisfied customers, interested prospects, uninterested, hostile)?
3. What is the value of my mail to them and are they likely to react?
Questions 2 and 3 have to be answered for each distinct group identified by question 1.
The questions are simple to ask, and often not too difficult to answer. The difficult part is the discipline of thinking from the recipient’s point of view each time without fail.
The issue is discussed in an AdAge article and makes an interesting contrast to another article on the same date which indicates that viewers of ads unsubscribe less often if they are given more information on how to do so. The message seems to be clear – be open with people and give them the choice. They will be tolerant of listening to you. Push messages at them without choice and they will complain and turn away.
Of course, the fallout is worse than usual if you are dealing with a highly contentious issue like US health reform.
I used to be a fan of the Ecademy networking service. It provided an online service to find and meet people as well as local groups for offline meetings. But after my local offline group (which I helped organise) fizzled out, I did lose interest but kept a free membership and had occasional interesting online exchanges.
Recently I have begun to receive more and more “Ecademy Contact Request” messages which start “person’s name Was sending invitations to join their network on Ecademy, discovered you were already here and requests that you add them as a contact.”.
I do not know the person who is contacting me and the mail gives me no incentive as to why I might want to meet them. Why would I bother to add them as a contact. Yes, it adds to my number of contacts which is prominently displayed on the site, but if I want to find new contacts, it is much better to search for people with relevant interests or skills, using a keyword search (which is a good feature of Ecademy).
Just trying to build up a large number of contacts, followers, connections is the wrong way to do networking (except maybe for a few celebrities). The contacts will mean nothing unless you have something of value or interest to say to them.
For the vast majority, we need to build up the value of our posts, tweets, mails, blogs and other communications. Once we have that, we can, of course, try shameless publicity to become known to a much wider audience. But there needs to be the hook so that the messages are not ignored just as I ignore my “Ecademy Contact Requests”