I could use your feedback. I’ve got an important question at the bottom of the post.
At my non-writing job, we’re expected to ask every customer for an email address because email marketing is the future, and because I like staying employed, I do so. Every once in a while, though, I get a customer who tells me their inbox is already too stuffed with junk, and I find myself nodding in agreement. Our inboxes are overflowing with junk mail. Email marketing might indeed be the best way to stay in touch with customers, but like everything, we – the business people – are doing our best to ruin a good thing.
Because that’s what we do.
Authors are no exception. There isn’t a published author online who doesn’t have a sign in form on their website asking if you want to be on a mailing list. That’s because every marketing course we take reminds us that we must build relationships with our readers, lest they forget us. If you’re a reader, you probably love getting updates as to when your favorite author has a new book out. Thus it’s a win-win, right?
Or is it?
Again, I ask myself if we’re doing our best to ruin a good thing. I’ve heard of authors contacting the people on their list five, six times a month, filling inboxes with notices of discounted prices or whatever, on the theory that it takes seven impressions to make a sale. And their lists are huge, built though continual participation in giveaway campaigns. In other words, they are smaller versions of a certain brick and mortar book store for which I work.
All of this has me asking a serious question: “At what point do we go from building a relationship to bugging the sh*t out of them?”
Look, I get how direct marketing works. I understand the concept of constant contact, and why it’s important for maintaining regular income. No one is disputing email marketing’s value. One of the publishing world’s problems is a tendency to embrace a trend en masse without strategic thought or consideration to the long term consequences. (Every one’s doing Facebook ads? Sign me up! Newsletters? Sign me up! Street Teams? Sign me up!) Like flies with the honeypot, we gobble up the trend until we diminish the returns for everyone.
So, here’s the thing. I have a mailing list. I only send out emails when I have news. This summer, I hope to take a newsletter course where I’ll learn how to provide those people with information of value. If I can’t, then I won’t send an email. Simple as that.
Now, how about you tell me something. What do you consider of value? I’d love to know. Thanks for playing.