There it was again. An e-newsletter from an organization I will call Arts Org A appeared in my inbox, announcing its upcoming shows and fundraising events. “How did it get there?” I wondered. I don’t recall subscribing to it, and even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have subscribed via my work e-mail address.
It took me months to figure out how I became the recipient of these e-mails until one day, it dawned on me. Last fall, I attended a marketing conference. The organizers distributed a list featuring each participant’s contact information – assumedly, for networking purposes. When I referenced the list once again, I noticed that several representatives from Arts Org A attended the conference. I then realized what had happened: Arts Org A took e-mail addresses from this list and added them to their e-mail distribution list. “What a great idea,” you might think. “Arts Org A automatically gained a substantial number of e-mail addresses for their database! The more the merrier, right?” Not always.
Adding e-mail addresses to your list without explicit permission, you risk turning off potential clients. For some, unsolicited e-mails fall into the annoyance quadrant or, worse yet, the disguster portion of the Brand Contact Priority Grid. (Read more about this in Iacobucci and Calder’s Kellogg on Integrated Marketing).
For me, this move by Arts Org A was an annoyance. While I am a supporter of the arts, I viewed this e-mail as extra junk mail that I have no time or intention of reading. Needless to say, going through the trouble of unsubscribing myself from a newsletter I didn’t subscribe to in the first place further added to my irritation!
Now, unfortunately, every time I hear Arts Org A’s name, I’m going to automatically remember that they used my e-mail for marketing purposes without my express permission. This is a barrier no organization wants nor needs to convert prospects into paying clients, customers, donors, etc. When building your e-mail list, ask yourself whether the quantity of e-mails is more important than the quality of e-mails. At the end of the day, you want the majority of your recipients to read your material instead of ignoring or getting rid of it altogether.