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Your Marketing Is Driving Me Away!

by David Brock on December 3rd, 2015

Every day, I receive somewhere between 150-200 emails–“valid emails,” not the hundreds that flow directly into my junk mail folder.  About 50% of them are client/colleague communications, emails about something I have a direct interest in, or are directly work related messages.  Things important to what I’m working on and my company.  About 50% of them are prospecting or other marketing communications emails.

Translated, that means people and companies are trying to reach out and “touch” me about 75-100 times every day (Yuck, maybe I need a bigger bottle of Purell on my desk).

It’s overwhelming!  When I take the time to skim the titles and read them, the majority (95%) are meaningless.

But it’s worse.  Most of those emails that get to my Inbox are from new correspondents.  As part of may handling of these emails, I set up rules to automatically handle and protect me from escalating volume.  Those that make it into my inbox from people I have never heard from before are Spammed.  Hopefully, all future emails go into my junk mail folder and I never see them again.

There are some that I consider “valid.”  For example, I’ve requested information in the past, perhaps a white paper or a report.  I know, by downloading a white paper, I trigger a lot of prospecting calls and some follow up emails.  I ignore all of those.  I also know that by downloading something, I’m immediately “opted” into every list the organization has.  I set rules to delete based on the subject/content, or the rules direct them into a folder to read when I am totally bored and have absolutely nothing do and no better way to use my time.  You can guess how often I look at those folders.

I also make sure that my processing rules never mark something as “read.”  I want to minimize the triggers that might cause the deluge to increase.  If I can’t prevent the first contact or two, I want to protect myself from the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 25th, 100th email message.

I do all of this purely out of survival.  If I didn’t set processing rules like these, I would be overwhelmed.  The volume of emails that get into my inbox would sky rocket, my ability to see the important emails would be challenged and I would lose huge amounts of time filtering through my inbox, just to find the important stuff.

Ironically, most of these emails are from Sales and Marketing Automation vendors.  The one’s that are offering tools to increase our abilities to reach the right customers at the right time with meaningful, impactful, relevant messages.

As I look at these, I wonder, “Do they use their own tools themselves?”

For example, I get almost daily communications from a major marketing automation vendor.  You know the kind–they analyze the content being consumed, look at new relevant content, score your engagement, nurture you and build your interest.  I downloaded one white paper from them several years ago.  I never visit their web site.  Yet, I get every new product announcement, every announcement of a white paper, every webinar —– everything!!  Most of it is never related to the original white paper I downloaded, so I wonder, “What are they seeing that tells them I’m interested?”  In reality, I don’t think they are doing anything other than deluging their mailing lists.  This causes me to wonder, why use their product?

I don’t want to pick on them.  No one else is better.

I know these companies want to keep my awareness up.  They’re afraid if I need a tool, I may forget about them and not contact them.  That’s valid.  We’ve done research and found a key reason companies don’t get repeat sales is the customer “forgot” they had bought from them before.  So I get the issue.  But do I need to be reminded about you and your products every day?  Several times a week?  Every week?

Odds are, if I’m not interested in assessing sales automation tools today, I’m not likely to be interested tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or even next week.  So why do these companies feel the urge to reach out so frequently?

I wonder about relevance.  All these messages are addressed to me as a potential customer.  We’re a small customer.  There are only 15 of us (plus some in an extended network).  While we are power users of a lot of tools, we will never be a big customer.  Additionally, the revenue you might get from us, pales in comparison to the revenue we might influence.  Last year alone, I know we influenced over $50M in CRM sales, not to mention other tools.  But very few of the communications are addressed to me as an influencer.  They don’t tell me how I can help my client, they are focused on getting me to be a customer.  I suppose, if I took the time, I could figure it out myself—- I’m certainly not as dumb as I look–but it’s not my job to figure that out.  But it would be far more interesting and relevant if the communications were about how I could help my clients.

The volume and frequency makes me wonder about the companies themselves.  Why do they have to send, so frequently, to so many?  Are they not generating enough leads?  Is the effectiveness of their marketing and content programs poor?  For the leads they are generating, are they not getting the sales they should be getting?  Is there something wrong with them or their products?  Why are they so desperate to be wanting to touch me so frequently?

In the end, most of the communication I’m subjected too doesn’t even fall on deaf ears–it’s never seen.  Escalating the volume and frequency doesn’t work.  It drives me away, it creates a negative response rather than building your credibility and my interest.

The most impactful messages aren’t the most frequent ones.  They are personalized to my interests or the things I should be interested in.  They are very focused, relevant, provocative and usually timely.  When I respond, I don’t get deluged with additional stuff, but I get a response that’s relevant and creates value.  And I’m not automatically enrolled in lots of meaningless messages.

I’m not alone.  In fact, I probably pay more attention to these emails than most of my clients.  They just don’t care.

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  1. Bart permalink

    Hi David, Thank you for this post I find it really relevant as I was wondering about the same problem. We have a clear misapplication of automated marketing here, yet I do not think that this problem is inherent in the tool. I believe we are facing the wrong lead generation- not everyone is potentially a lead, henceforth the nurturing process you are experiencing is simply missdirected and then since you do not respond to it, the volume becomes obnoxious. Speaking about the volume then, I think the problem is the sales model: it seems they are using sales funnel rather than pipeline. As I understand these two terms sales funnel goes for the quantitiy and for instance 100 leads give 10 potential customer and finally 1 buyer, henceforth increasing the number of leads and getting wrong ones as a ramification is paradoxically working better for the comapny. The sales pipeline model is harder because it assumes the quality of a potential lead is essential and her or his nurturing is more linear and progresses more into a buyer without being bombarded with period emails sent as first catches for potential leads. I wonder though, do you think one of the problem you implictly described is the fact that emails are sent periodically and they become periodic spam. Perhaps an answet to that would be real time marketing. I read about specific campaigns here: . Do you think that your problem would be diminished with a rise of more advanced technologies such as beacons, mobile app content etc?

    • Bart: You cover a lot here. I don’t think the problem are the tools themselves, but how the tools are used (and how they are sold). Getting value out of these tools requires deep understanding of your customer, what’s meaningful and relevant, how they want to be engaged. The tools provide capabilities to manage this, but you have to do the work—and too many don’t do the work.

      I couldn’t quite follow your pipeline/funnel distinction. Both sales and marketing should be focused on getting the right volume and the right quality of leads to qualify and manage through the opportunity funnel. Frankly, that absence of strategy and thoughtfulness drives people to ever greater quantity, as measured by marketing efforts, but these poorly executed efforts produce insufficient volume and quality, so the same things are done again and again, each producing worse results. This is madness, continuing it doesn’t improve results, and increases customer resentment.

      I understand you are associated with the company you refer to in the link. Thanks for pointing us to that content. While there are interesting ideas in the post, again, it becomes an issue of strategy/relevance/timeliness/meaningful content/sharp execution. These tools used as poorly as others are used will produce bad results.

      Your company can do itself and it’s customers a great service by helping them understand the issues that drive success and making sure they are executing them.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      • Bart permalink

        Hi David,

        Thank you for the reply and a chance for learning for me. It is true I am associated with the company but as I am trying to educate myself I also want to share the some content and knowledge we produce, all in all it is not about spreading knowledge about the product but about the tools and the market for the specific tool. It is also a bit of a borrow from the world of academia, we always cite and refer to the written content there to make an argument, otherwise your opinion without a written backing becomes less significant.
        I thoroughly agree with you on the issue of bad execution, I have been having multiple discussions about this issues. As you said in one of your articles (Stop Wasting Money On Marketing Automation, Personas, And Content Marketing!) “Practice what you preach!”. That’s why I went into the whole discussion how to practice better automated marketing, perhaps if we understand wider options that the tool gives us, we will avoid mass spam emails. I think that these two terms: email marketing and marketing automation are often wrongly conflated. Marketing automation in itself is actually a platform for many different functionalities and each company, product takes it very speciffically and while offering seemingly the same product, they offer their own version of automated marketing. Again I think that if we understand better the tool with the plethora and diversity of options it opens, we would avoid being poor marketers (that drive all of us crazy-believe me I also sift out through tons of emails, ofc I do not reach your level, I am a young professional 😉
        My distinction between funnel and pipeline is based on some article, as I was trying to translate these two terms into Polish I wanted to learn whether these are two separate terms. I found somewhere that sales funnel model assumes huge leakge of leads and focuses on the quantity of leads- henceforth companies would be doing everything they can to get as many leads as possible and become aggressive in their “lead nurturing emails” – some of the leads they get through that would drop out but with a big enough quantity some will eventually become customers. This model seems to be a bit flawed in a sense that it goes against the idea of getting to know your customer first and offering him something he actually needs (I mean the problem you are talking about is clearly this issue, you are not potentially interested in any products, even if you were you would not generate high return on investment into your nurturing).
        On the other hand the pipeline model does not need as many leads- it focuses on the quality of leads, so you get lesser amount of leads than in funnel model, you identify potential customers and you focus on educating them and cooperating with them- hence it is more personalized and focuses on fewer people. In this model, one could avoid doing “bad mass marketing’ -> you would be directing the same content but at people that are sufficiently interested in it.
        I hope I made myself clearer with respect to this issue.
        I am happy we are exchanging thoughts, thank you for your insights, I benefit greatly from them 🙂

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