Why violating Seth's email rules is inhuman
by Josh Bernoff
Seth Godin just published his 14 rules on what not to do in an email. The timing is good from my perspective, because I am about to call out some of the most inhuman of email "marketers" this week. The only reason they're not up yet is that I want to call them first to see what they were thinking (not only fair, but makes it more interesting to read about).
If you've send me a pitch or a blast in the last 6 months, maybe you're worried now. Good. Imagine that a bunch of people like me are ready to expose impersonal, non-human pitches every time you send them. Is it worth it?
I love email. I take a lot of time to craft them. I got Richard Edelman to speak at our marketing forum last year (he responded very quickly!) with a well-crafted email. But it's just as bad to abuse email as any other form of "personal" communication.
Seth's rules would have you not send mass emails. I'm not that strict -- my nominee for a marketer that knows how to be a human, rentvillas.com, sent one of the best mass emails I ever saw. We advise a lot of people on how to do email marketing properly, and a lot of our advice would violate Seth's rules. But I think we'd agree on a few like:
- Don't talk like a press release. Talk like a person. A person is reading this, so why are you talking like that?
- Do you have a sig with a phone number in it? Your phone number? If you don't trust me enough to give me your real phone number, I don't trust you enough to read your mail.
- Don't mark your email urgent. Urgent to you is not urgent to me.
- Don't lie in your subject line, and don't be cute. You're not clever enough to be cute. Just be honest.
- Following up on an impersonal spam email is twice as dumb as sending the first one. Invest the time to do it right the first time.
And the best one:
- Just because you have someone's email address doesn't mean you have the right to email them.
An awful lot of people have my email address -- I wish they'd listen.