When Your Brand’s Email Is Noise

Your business may have the coolest AVL product or service on the market, but amassing more emails in your prospect’s Inbox isn’t helping you sell even one of those great new products. Why? As decision-makers and consumers, we’re inundated and overloaded with information and emails. We’re deluged by data. What we don’t need to know is how much more stuff your company has to offer.

If anything, your prospects need less promotional email from your company. A lot less.

Less does not mean ‘no email at all,’ but if your brand started with ‘zero’ as the assumed baseline of what must be communicated, it is a helpful re-orientation towards re-imagining what your business should be communicating, how you should be customer-centric and how frequently you should send those emails.

Why Vendors Overcommunicate

If I started by listing the Top 10 things businesses over-communicate, it would be a list missing the other 90 Top Things. Seriously, the issue is not the information; it’s the thinking that assumes we need more information.

Sure, you might promote something that provides awareness around a product or service (good!), but unless you happen to be able to reach the right person at the right time in the right way, the connection you’re offering to make will not be acted upon.

When we focus on promoting what we want from people (their interest, sales or time), the communication serves the organization instead of the organization serving the customer. This is backwards.

What Businesses Miscommunicate

I have lost count of how many times a business I purchased from one time sent me communication that wasn’t intended specifically for me. Examples have included ordering something that is not in my interest list (they don’t know me — and just proved it), reminding me of their latest press release (I should care… um, why?) or telling me about their latest sale (when I haven’t purchased from them after other repeated attempts to sell me instead of serve me).

From mass emails to text message campaigns to social media invitations, it would seem that even though they pummel me with incessant chatter, they simply didn’t know me.

I once worked for a SaaS-based software company for a few years. During that time, I found out something incredibly important that seems to be ignored by most business leaders: Departments secretly builds and hoards their own email lists to send out on their own. Sales? Yep, they do email blasts. So does support.

This is hugely important. Why? Even when there is a full-blown marketing department, communications are happening without one department knowing what other departments are communicating. The result? A potential customer or previous client may end up receiving half a dozen emails within a couple of weeks from the company. The customer has no idea that this lack of coordination is the reason for the volume of spam they’re receiving; they just simply unsubscribe — or worse, hit delete as soon as they see another email from your company. And marketing had nothing to do with it.

Why Businesses Fail to Communicate

Even though I’ve identified some key points that will help your business re-imagine your communications and hopefully rethink your training, implementation, and even measurements, too, there’s still a bigger issue to address: Businesses are failing to communicate.

This may not seem obvious at first glance, but when business leaders assume communications is about getting enough information sent often enough to enough people, they’re missing the very point of communication: to develop a two-way dialogue.

If I talk at you all the time, what have I communicated? That I’m important and what I say must, by extension, be important to you, too. Do you see the hubris in this viewpoint?

Saying more — or saying it more frequently — usually only introduces more noise to your audience and de-values your credibility as a source for quality information. But, if you open up the opportunity to communicate back-and-forth based on a customer-centric viewpoint, then we have the beginnings of the real, valuable purpose of communication: connection.

Three Things To Do Immediately:

  1. Take an audit of what is being communicated, how often it’s being communicated and measure the results to see what’s working.
  2. Say a lot less. When you focus your communications to specific, targeted audiences, you don’t have to explain so much. Get to the point for that audience with the appropriate use of only what is necessary. If your email makes me scroll, we might have a problem.
  3. Invite dialogue. It’s not communicating if you (or your department) are the only one talking. Don’t just communicate information, build a relationship that focuses on learning about the customer’s interests and needs.

Re-Think Your Brand’s Email Marketing

The pace of increased emails has numbed us. We have more data than we could realistically organize, tag, filter, or view. This is the shift from the Information Age to the Connection Age, where our networks have proliferated and we suffer from a glut of input.

In the same way that you organize and prioritize what you do, it’s helpful to organize and prioritize what you communicate.

When we push out unfiltered noise via our communication channels, we tell others something important about our priorities versus their availability. This eschews the real priorities and makes your urgency someone else’s emergencies. And that’s not cool.

As a guy who deals with communications in my work and consulting, I see more than a few urgent email subject lines. Sometimes, people use a more subtle approach with urgent synonyms within their emails to be more covert about their priorities (“I have a pressing need” or “this is a high-priority project” or “we need to get to this ASAP”).

When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.

To quote Bob Newhart“Stop it!”

We’re all busy… and that’s part of the problem. Are you using a prioritization tool to organize your projects and your communications? It’s a constant tension, but a battle that must be waged if we’re all going to achieve our desired outcomes that benefit all of us, together.

Just Enough, Just In Time

When communications go out from your email or internal comms, they must leave with the concept of ‘just enough, just in time.’

  • Have we shared just enough information using the Inverted Pyramid method to ensure our targeted audience can quickly determine the relevance and importance of our communication?
  • Have we shared just enough of the value (what’s in it for them, not about us) to pique their interest or explain their next step?
  • Have we sent it just early enough — just in time — so that they can add it to their calendar before they’re booked up?
  • Have we sent it just in time to hyper-targeted personas (specific groupings to ensure laser-focus) so we have the right message going to the right person?

Or – are we sending more unfiltered, noisy stuff that is quickly associated with the lowly rung of unsolicited flyers and spam email? It’s lazy marketing to push products instead of delivering valuable insight.

People will not have fewer inputs or less information, no matter how diligently one unsubscribes from mailing, email and phone lists. It is up to us to send just enough, just in time, if we are to become a trusted source.

What do you think about Anthony’s take on brands sending too much promotional noise via email?