HINT: A “Personal” Message Is Really SPAM When You Don’t Know The Person Personally

Kenny Jahng —  2010/12/25 — Leave a comment

It’s the end of the year, and I’m sure you are experiencing what I am experiencing in my email box.   I’m getting tons of them.  I’m spending way too much time figuring out which ones are important to read and which ones to ditch.  You know what I mean, right?

Usually the email goes something like this:

“Hi [FIRSTNAME HERE]! You’re such an important customer to us, and I, the CEO or leader of this organization, who has never ever communicated with you directly before until this moment, wanted to send you a personalized message of “Happy New Year” or “Merry Christmas” or plain old “Thanks For Being Our Customer.”  Sincerely yours, Big Wig.

That’s it?! Oh yes, some of these time sink emails come with fancy graphics.  Some send the basic message wrapped in a totally-too-long verbose message.  Some have the audacity to give you a clickable link to a video message that ends up being nothing more than  a waste of my time.  Just some silly Hallmark card without any purpose.

Why am I ranting about this all-too-popular tactic?  It’s because of a couple of important things.  While most of these examples of SPAM are coming from corporate and large nationwide organizations, the rules they violate are still in play for your church or ministry as well.  I hope you see what is wrong with these shallow end of year email blasts.  Because, when you send these types of emails, they trigger some really basic rules of engagement for email:

  • Sending a “personal” email to someone you don’t personally know, is not being authentic. It’s more often received as an annoyance because you just forced the person reading it to figure out who you are and why they are reading your email right now.  You really should know that personal greeting cards’ online equivalent are still meant for interpersonal relationships.  If you don’t have a direct relationship with the recipient, please don’t spam them with generic greetings or mass emailed thank you notes.  You’re trivializing personal relationship development when you treat your supporters and community like just a name on a list.
  • Emails without any valuable content or call-to-action weakens future responsiveness of your list. Each time you hit up your email list with a message, there should be something in it for the person receiving it or some kind of call-to-action that is aimed at a specific behavior from the reader.  The next time when you need them to actually pay attention to your email for a donation to your ministry or cause, the last thing they remember about you is that email-without-a-purpose which you sent them. How annoying. And what do you want them to do now?
  • Emails that only act as a megaphone functions shows that you aren’t really interested in them. No one likes self-centered people who just want to talk about what they want, or just keep talking about anything and everything without figuring out if it interests you, or . . . you get it, right?  Your need to share your greeting or gratitude is great.  But stopping right there isn’t enough. Here’s one lesson my kids brought home from school: “Show, don’t just tell.”  Why not show me how you are grateful?  What special downloadable or viewable content have you prepared for me?  What kind of interaction can I have with you because you are thankful?  If you’re so “Merry” or “Happy” this time of year, what are some examples of things I did (or fellow supporters did) this past year that contributed to your success?  How about using this time to lavish upon your supporters?
  • If you’re real purpose is to ask for a donation, making it an afterthought will let me think it the same way. If you have been monitoring your inbox and snailmail mailbox, you know that cause-related and ministry organizations use the end of year season to ask for financial support.  According to NetworkForGood, supporters are in the giving mode too with a whopping 22% of online donations being made in the last 2 days of December!  If you act casual or shy about your need, it must not be a critical need, right?  And with tons of other solicitations for my wallet, your ministry’s support requests are easy to push to the bottom of the list.  If you are going to ask for money, don’t be afraid to be upfront, clear about the need and why I should give now. It’s the least you can do to help me make an informed decision.

These are only some of the reasons why you should never send an anti-personal personalized email greeting to your list just because you can.  Am I missing anything?  Can you add to this list or give me some reasons why it’s ok to spam me like this? Show your vote of support or rebuttal in the comment section below.

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