Email is still a human exchange

I’ve recently noticed that the term “email magnets” is gaining popularity to describe the various drivers to encourage new prospects to hand over their email addresses.

This phrase and its use concerns me because it’s overly simplistic and it does highlight a common problem that we at dotmailer often see in email marketing.

Often marketers and marketing departments forget that behind an email address is a real person. We shouldn’t be just hoovering up email addresses, just like we shouldn’t randomly dial phone numbers. A well-targeted email goes directly to the recipient bypassing all gatekeepers. This opportunity can be easily wasted if not treated with care for each and every email.

Email has become the primary communications tool for business; B2B marketers need to figure out how to stand out from the crowd and rather than slotting recipients in "marketing programs", build up real human relationships.

Email is a one-to-one communications tool and is intrinsically linked to our personal or work lives like traditional mail and the telephone. Unlike these other channels however, email allows marketers to have personal conversations at scale and at a relatively low cost per contact. The problems occur when marketers are not having relevant, personal conversations and are just using a batch and blast approach. Any email we get in a working day is a potential distraction, which is why people get (rightfully) annoyed with unsolicited emails. It’s a window into your workplace, your home, and in many cases, your private time.

Using this gated content to encourage new prospect sign-ups really boils down to trust to make it successful. You wouldn’t hand over your house keys to someone you had briefly chatted to in a pub, so why would you hand over your email address to a new company?

To encourage people to hand over their email addresses to an unknown company, there either needs to be an incentive such as a really stand-out report or a crystal clear potential to help them solve a business problem.

When a business decides to push marketing and lead collection via gated content, they also must ensure they look at their web analytics to find out how many people leave the page without completing the form.

If a large percentage of users are leaving the webpage without filling out their details, then it’s time to take another look at both your content and your trust factor and perhaps reconsider your methods accordingly.

Considering the trust factor, it’s also important to look at how many data fields you’re asking prospects to fill out. It may be fantastic for your business to have all this data about an individual including their job title, address and how many employees they manage BUT you could be turning off hundreds of good potential customers every week.

Trust comes down to the value of the email address to the person filling out the form. Are you providing content that is worthy of someone handing over their email address? Is your business trustworthy enough for people to hand over their email address without seeing the content first?

Marketers need to think about how to develop their relationship with that individual, how to provide them with the information they require and understand what needs they have, rather than just collecting email addresses on a blind promise of insight.

If you aren’t respecting the value of an email address, you’re not respecting your customers.

Skip Fidura is the Client Services Director at dotmailer and also Chairman of the UK DMA Email Marketing Council.