I recently received three unsolicited, or what one could call spam email newsletters from LinkedIn contacts.
One email on first glance appeared to be a personalized message, which prompted me to read at least the first paragraph. In the message, the sender invited me to connect, and meet for coffee or talk via phone. However, scrolling down below the formatted heading, down to the similarly formatted footer, I realized it was a mass sent email. I felt used, and unloved. I thought this person really wanted to connect with me. But no, I was just another faceless, possible lead.
The other two emails were not personalized. I was not addressed by first name, and the senders did not make any effort to cloak the fact that they were indeed mass sent emails in the form of a newsletter. I didn’t feel as unvalued after reading them, but I was still annoyed. All three emails were pitching real estate.
It was obvious the people who sent these unsolicited emails were using the same service, and utilized their LinkedIn contacts to send the messages. (I did some recon, and found them on LinkedIn, but not among my other social media network connections.)
I label these emails as spam messages for two reasons: one, they were not personally targeted messages, and two, I did not subscribe to their newsletters. All three emails violate the Unsolicited Commercial Email Advertising Law of 2003 in California. The emails were digital marketing in its worst form.
Now I must confess, this digital marketing tactic of downloading and using your email contacts from LinkedIn to send mass messages has crossed my mind. I shared a post from a site not too long ago that showed how to use an app to do a mail merge in Google Sheets so you could send hundreds, if not thousands of messages at once. The messages would appear personalized because the method merged the contacts’ first names into the email body.
I thought the app was brilliant, and I was really considering doing it. But after thinking about my experience as the victim of spam emails, I realized, in addition to not wanting to violate the law, if I don’t want to be spammed by other people, why would I want to do the same to my connections?
Yes, I might get a few leads using such a tactic. But in the end, I’m sure the spam quality would be noted by many of my carefully cultivated contacts on LinkedIn, and it would backfire. Perhaps they would ditch me on LinkedIn, and any other social media network where I was connected to them. Is that worth spewing out a spam email in hopes of getting business? I think not.
While I’m not going to disconnect my LinkedIn contacts for sending me spam, I hope they read this post so they know that using such tactics to reach a possible lead is not the best digital marketing strategy. They risk alienating an important potential customer base they most likely spent some time and money building on LinkedIn and other networks.
Digital Marketing Etiquette
A better plan than sending a mass email would be to reach out personally to whomever you feel might benefit from your services or product. Yes, it’s a much slower process, but I believe a much more effective strategy.
But remember, don’t start with a sales message. Marketing yourself with digital media, like social media or email, is not about the immediate direct sale. Digital marketing, or networking, is all about cultivating connections, and moving into a conversation. After a real relationship, and trust, is established, only then can business take place.
[ctt tweet=”Digital #marketing is all about cultivating connections, and moving into a conversation. @CJScribe #socialmedia http://ctt.ec/2Syc5+ ” coverup=”2Syc5″]
It’s best simply to say hello, and perhaps mention a commonality, when you first reach out to a potential lead. Your name and title will register, and you’ll be starting a real conversation that could lead to something positive and productive for both. Down the road you might send a message to your new friend, such as, “Hi John, I came across some useful information on market rates in your area. I wrote a report that gives more details. You can read it here [link]. I remember you talked about potentially investing in real estate at some point. The market is ripe. If you want more info, or need help in any way, give me a call at [phone number].”
A good way to look at it is, if you are at an offline social gathering for business professionals, are you going to walk up to the first person you meet and say, “Hey! Are you in the market for a home? I got some homes for sale!”
I don’t think so, unless you want to be the dud of the party.
Instead, you would introduce yourself, make small talk, move into business talk, and then maybe, if it’s your lucky night, the person you’re talking is in the market for a home at that time, or is thinking of investing in property. But if not, you exchange cards, and follow-up with an email or invitation to connect on LinkedIn to cement your new relationship.
Later, provided you’ve kept your name fresh in your contact’s mind by posting regularly on your LinkedIn home feed and on Pulse, or by sending useful information to your contact via email, your potential lead could turn into a client.
Repeat real life online.
What do you think? What are your tips on digital marketing and networking? Let me know in the comments box below.