It is commonly said that “The Gold is in The List”.  I think that whether that is a guest list, a bulk mail list (snail mail) or an email list, we can all agree that having a list of current customers who love our product or service is a real treasure.

The thing about email marketing lists, however is that people can throw you in the trash as easily as my grandfather used to put “junk mail” into, what he called, “file 13” (the trash can).  I spent 20 minutes this morning going through my email inbox and unsubscribing over and over again from so-called newsletters.

Most of these weren’t even intentional subscriptions.  I purchased something from someone and I ended up on their list.  But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t buy from them again.  Their constant emails, begging me to buy something from them, were an irritant and a bother.

So, if you want to know what it takes to get me to unsubscribe from your list, here are the qualifications:

  1. Niver send me any information that is of value unless you have an “offer” attached to it.
  2. Offer me something “free” that is actually a bonus for purchasing something else.
  3. Tell me I’ve won something and then say, “How would you like to hear this again?” and have it be a gimmick to open the email.
  4. A variation on this theme, tell me I have earned a commission and then tell me how I can see that message over and over again by buying something from you.
  5. Put the words “set it and forget it”, “autopilot”, “3 clicks to riches”, “1 click software” or “even my grandma could do this.” in the subject line or body of the email.
  6. Invite me to an offer that says “only the first 50 will get in”.  False scarcity turns me off.
  7. Sell me “Me Too” products.  After seeing the exact same product touted by 20 different people, I turn off and start instantly deleting all of the duplicates.

If you want to keep me as a subscriber, I don’t mind an occasional offer from you if you are giving me good intel about the opic at hand and news I can use.  If you send me a “how to” with no strings attached, or if I consistently get something positive and uplifiting from your emails.

Think of it this way.  If you were at a party or gathering and someone came into your group as they were standing around discussing something and they immediately started to try and sell everyone in the group on something, and if every time they were invited to a party they did the same thing, how often do you think they would be invited back?

Your list isn’t just a list of names.  They are people.  Their time has value.  Their attention has a cost.  You pay for their attention with worthy content that means something to them.  You need to know your market and what keeps the people on your list engaged and interested in what you have to say.  Otherwise, it’s “file 13” for you.


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Great post! I love the way you call out all the ‘1 hour a week’ empty promises – digital marketing can be time consuming, but when done well it also reps great results