Question: How do you know if your best friend is a vegan?
Answer: He’s already told you.
I don’t know why, but there’s something about participating in veganism that compels a person to share it with everyone (the same appears to be true for CrossFit).
And, since you and I have gotten to be pretty close, I am sharing it with you now: I am a vegan. As of next week, it will be exactly one year.
Please don’t write to commend me for my commitment to planet Earth or my love of all living things. Under the right circumstances, I’d eat you and your entire family without a second thought.
I did it strictly for health reasons.
And while I have zero evidence to suggest that this radical change in diet does anything to boost hair growth (sigh), it has drastically, miraculously, improved the numbers that matter.
Further, and much to my surprise, it’s been way easier than I feared.
First, because everything I now eat tastes much better. I’m snacking on handfuls of spinach straight out of the bag.
Second, and thanks to having a “job” that allows the time required for chopping, slicing, crushing, peeling, and otherwise making nearly everything from scratch – not to mention a spouse who is on the same page – it hasn’t been a problem.
The thing I like most about it – other than maybe giving friends a hard time for “consuming the flesh of the dead” – is that the vegan lines are very clearly drawn:
No animals. No dairy.
Frankly, I find it way easier, psychologically, than previously, when I was trying to “eat healthy” by cutting back on the bad stuff.
Animals and dairy: No. Everything else: Yes.
Email Marketing Ain’t Veganism
You know what’s not at all like this? Email marketing.
That’s because with email marketing, the lines are not clearly drawn (if they are drawn at all).
There’s always the temptation to push the envelope of what’s reasonable just … a … little … bit … further.
And, since pushing said envelope tends to give you more of what you want in the short run – more sales, more subscribers, more clients, more followers, etc. – it can be hard to resist.
With that in mind, I want to share with you four email marketing practices that, while not illegal (at least not in the U.S.; many other countries have stricter rules), are doing you more harm than good over the (slightly) longer term…
#1. The Bait and Switch
It’s perfectly fine to give away something for free in exchange for a newsletter sign up. It’s well-proven that a “lead magnet” of this type – a PDF, an e-book, a prerecorded webinar, etc. – will boost subscriptions.
But, you need to make it clear that those who provide their email address in exchange for the freebie are also opting in to receive your newsletter or other information.
Simply adding them to a mailing list without their knowledge and consent is over the line.
#2. The Pretend Conversation
If I send you an email with the subject line, “Let’s cook up some tofu,” and you reply to that email, the subject line shows up in my inbox as, “Re: Let’s cook up some tofu.”
So, what some sneaky marketers do, in an attempt to make you think that you started this thread, is send an email with the “Re:” already sitting at the beginning of the subject line.
Will it result in more opens? I guarantee it.
Will it make me question your trustworthiness? You can bet your last block of tofu on it.
#3. The Too-Frequent Flyer
Several years ago, I developed and rolled out a new course to my newsletter list.
I had been studying someone else’s approach to maximizing sales and I followed his advice: When you launch, over the first four days, send 10 promotional emails to your list.
By email #3, people were writing to complain. By #4, I had several long-time readers, clients, and friends essentially pull me aside and ask what the hell I was doing (two people even called me).
What I was doing was making a lot of money … at the expense of long-term relationships that I had built over many years.
I stopped the rest of the emails immediately.
What I learned is that if you are in the high-trust business (and if you’re not, you’re probably reading the wrong newsletter), you have to be very careful about preserving relationships.
I don’t know what the perfect frequency is of promotional emails; sending just one will cause some readers to leave.
Just keep in mind that unlike with a newspaper (Google it, GenZ-ers), where nobody cancels their subscription if they see an ad or two that they don’t like, with email, once somebody unsubscribes, they are gone forever.
So tread lightly.
#4. The Me-Newsletter
Part of what makes a professional service email newsletter so interesting (don’t get me started) is that you and your readers don’t share the same objective…
You are publishing in order to generate word of mouth – to get strong referrals and great clients. It’s not because you want to be in the publishing business.
Your readers, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about you and your upcoming mortgage payment. They are there for quality content – content that helps them live their lives or do their jobs better.
Which means that if you want this to work, you must never lose sight of who holds all the cards (Hint: it’s not you).
Sure, you can mention yourself and what you do here and there.
Just know that the more real estate you devote to patting yourself on the back, talking about your services, or “subtly” suggesting that when it comes to knees, you are the bee’s (look that one up too), the more people are going to run in the other direction.
I recommend an 80/20 split between useful/promotional content.
Don’t worry. You are not giving anything up. Keep showing up with useful information and readers will refer and hire you on their own.
Here’s the bottom line.
The absolute, by far, has no equal, Lebron James of professional services internet marketing is still email.
It’s not video, or podcasts, or social, or that weird virtual reality headset that your nephew refuses to put down. Email is still the killer app.
But this amazing tool requires that the person on the receiving end be willing to play along.
Doing things that annoy, trick, or generally wear out your welcome with readers will cause them to leave, breaking the spell and ending the magic.
One more thing … did I mention that I am a vegan?
- Are you a vegan? Feel free to tell us a little bit about why.
- OK, that’s enough.
- Really, we don’t need to hear more.
- I need to leave now.
Share your answers below…