You Don’t Own Me!

Because I work in the email marketing industry, I spend a lot of my day thinking about spam. It’s not really the happiest topic and it’s also not all penis pills or blatant phishing attempts. A lot of perceived spam out there seems to come down to a genuine disconnect between what we as people explicitly ask to hear about and what they as marketers think we want to hear about.

As someone who stands in the middle I’m often the arbiter of these disputes. I’m the person who puts the brakes on those attempts to send completely irrelevant information out to lists and who has to have those amazingly difficult conversations with people about how they may see it as being relevant and recognizable, but the people on their list may not. It’s tougher than it sounds.

After spending many, many hours looking at the issue and debating with end users over their attempts to send out emails that simply aren’t meaningful to their lists and their subscribers I’m starting to think that part of the problem is that feeling of ownership. If everyone would just take a step back and realize that these aren’t your lists, that these are human beings who may (or in some case may not but that’s another story) have asked to hear from you about a specific topic. That doesn’t give you ownership over that address. It doesn’t mean you can suddenly send them anything you want because they once upon a time expressed interest in your company or your product. You don’t own them.

Maybe it harkens to that distasteful area of list purchase and rental. Where you were “buying” addresses or “renting” their usage for a certain amount of time. Well those addresses certainly didn’t belong to the sellers either. Email addresses are not a commodity to be bartered and sold. Let’s stop thinking about them that way. Don’t think of a list as something you want to blast to. Think of it as having a conversation with people. You want that conversation to be relevant to what they asked for. You aren’t shouting into an empty room just hoping and praying someone, somewhere, is listening to you. Have some respect.

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