The #1 Biggest Email Marketing Mistake (Don’t Do This!)

If you’re using email marketing to promote your products and services to potential customers and clients, then here is the absolute worst thing you could ever do…

Before I explain what it is though, let me first ask you a question.

Do you receive lots of junk or ‘spam’ emails every day?

Not just the embarrassing kind of spam emails, offering you dubious ‘enhancements’ or interesting ‘relationship opportunities’… but also the more legitimate kind of spam emails from companies you’ve never heard of, offering you their products and services.

Of course, it depends on the country you live in, but in the United Kingdom business to business emails from unknown companies aren’t illegal… but they’re bloody annoying.

Frustrated businessman throwing away a computer

It takes time to read process and delete all of those unsolicited emails.

Even if you have a personal assistant to do it for you, you’re still paying them for their time to process your inbox every day.

That’s why I used to get a bit frustrated at the seminars and workshops that I used to run a few years ago, when I always got asked the ‘inevitable question’.

I’ll have just given a presentation on email marketing during which I recommended the audience do not buy lists of email addresses.

I explained how buying lists of email addresses and blasting out emails to thousands of complete strangers will quickly get you labeled as a spammer—somebody who sends junk email.

Spammer sat in front of a computer

I also explained how the activity puts you in serious risk of breaching your internet service provider’s Terms of Service.

Anyway, when my email marketing presentation came to an end, almost every single time someone would come up to me and explain that they’ve been given the opportunity to buy a list of a hundred thousand or more fully opted in email addresses and how they ‘thought that would be okay.’

Now they were kind of posing it as a question, and I understand the question and the reason for the ‘tinge of hope’ in their voice.

Some of these lists of email addresses are less than a hundred dollars for a hundred thousand email addresses or more.

Sounds like an amazing opportunity doesn’t it?

Just buy a large list of ‘opt-in emails’, blast out your sales message and watch the money roll in right!

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.

The people on that list may have opted into something, and give their permission to a person or company to email them, but not to the person who buys the list of email addresses.

And that’s the absolutely critical distinction.

When somebody opts in, they’re giving a specific company permission to email them.

I frequently opt into other companies, email newsletters, and give them permission to email me when I buy their products, because I’m usually interested in what they have to say or sell.

However, what I definitely don’t do when I opt in to those company communications is give them permission to sell my email address to list brokers.

I always untick the check boxes, asking if I agree to sell my data to a third party. I’m guessing you do too.

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to buy list of 1 million email addresses, and email them freely and build our businesses effortlessly.

But of course it’s not that easy!

If it was our inboxes will be so full of unsolicited emails, it would render email completely useless as a means of communication.

Buying email lists is bad for you and bad for the people on those lists.

However, if you take the time to implement ethical list-building tactics, and implement systems that encourage customers and clients and prospects to give you permission to email them, it can literally be a game changer for your business.

There are so many ways you can build a large list of email subscribers who give you permission to email them with useful information and sales offers too.

Here’s just a small selection of list building tactics…

  • Bio CTA
  • Instagram CTA Post
  • Tweet with CTA
  • Facebook Page CTA
  • Subs-Only Facebook Group
  • Pinterest CTAs
  • Website forms
  • Newsletter
  • Instagram Stories
  • Original Content
  • Lead Magnets & Lead Pages
  • Content Upgrades
  • Optimized ‘About Us’ pages
  • Time-delay Popups
  • Exit-intent Popups
  • QR Codes
  • Viral Thank you Pages
  • SM Channel Specific Lead Pages
  • Video overlays
  • Gated content
  • YouTube Description CTAs
  • Live Event Email Capture Campaigns
  • Gamification
  • Email signature CTA
  • In-store Signups
  • Social Sharing Buttons
  • Post-purchase Optins
  • Referral programmes
  • Giveaways & sweepstakes
  • How-to Video Series
  • Surveys & AMAs
  • Free Online Software Tool Signups
  • Online Contests
  • Strategic Alliances & Joint Ventures
  • Co-marketing lead generation
  • Viral contests
  • Trade Show collection
  • Webinar Optins
  • Check-out optins

I’ll bet you’ve not implemented all of these tactics. (I know I certainly haven’t!)

The thing is, until we’ve exhausted these and all the other ethical list building options, then buying a list of email addresses is the very last thing we need to do.

And even then we shouldn’t do it!

Taking shortcuts isn’t necessary and definitely not advisable.

If you want to discover the various ways of building up a large email list, use the form below to sign up to my blog and I look forward to sharing more list building tactics with you in future.

End of rant.


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Ed Rivis