Ok, so what happened this week was an unsuspecting new business to the Folsom area (local suburb) was trying to drum up some new business, right? Sounds simple.

But what they did, ended up being not only a CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PUBLICITY


But depending on how they “clean it up”, it could be a huge CREDIBILITY KILLER as well.

Now, I’m not going to mention their name because I ended up talking with them and they are generally very nice; they just made an ASTRONOMICAL EMAIL MISTAKE.

So, being a new business, they thought they’d start by email blasting out all the businesses in the local Folsom Chamber of Commerce about their B2B service they offer. That probably seemed like the quickest, easiest thing to do (in their mind).

They probably went on to the chamber website and cut and pasted all the email addresses they could find because I’m a member there and I know they don’t sell that list. So, tons of time spent doing this, right?

Well, yesterday, I received an email from these folks with the word “newsletter” in the subject line (I knew I had to talk to them about that for one), opened it up and read a little bit. It was basically a text message about their services with a couple links to their website mixed in but no other ‘real’ content.

The email had a message at the bottom saying people could unsubscribe by replying with the word unsubscribe in the subject line. It wasn’t personalized with any one’s name or email address though to contact.

It started out though by a “Welcome to our first newsletter” message which I thought was weird since I didn’t remember meeting anyone from that company recently. But knowing I could be mistaken since I do talk to a lot of people each week, I thought I would reply and ask them where we met.

So, I replied (only to the one person who sent it to me of course in the TO line, not to the ‘reply all’ button).

I asked them if we met at a recent event or ?? Then I also mentioned that I help small businesses with their email marketing campaigns and theirs was breaking a few sp’am laws – FYI. I told them about my service for that briefly and sent it off.

They responded back (good to know they weren’t a spam piece themselves thankfully). We had a dialog back and forth a couple times (this was pretty late Tuesday night).

I thought nothing of it but hmmm, maybe I’ll get a new client and help them maximize their email marketing campaign?

Then the following morning (today – Wednesday) bright and early I started getting calls….

Now for some of you who know me, it’s rare to ever catch me anywhere before 10:00 am, much less on the phone even before my coffee BUT at 7:30 am the phone started ringing, and ringing, and ringing. After the 3rd call before 8:30 am (of course I wasn’t answering but …) I figured something was up. I stumbled to my computer and found a bunch of emails and a few messages from angry soles who had been receiving every correspondence between the two of us the night before.

I quickly learned that somehow the “reply” button wasn’t just replying to the one person who sent the newsletter to me in the first place but it was going to EVERYONE they sent it to. WOW! People kept saying unsubscribe me, delete me from your list, etc. Now, for someone like me to get those when I do this weekly ezine myself I thought I better do something because these people think these messages are coming from me – and I’m the one trying to FIX THE PROBLEM!

Apparently what had happened was he accidentally somehow programmed the reply address to reply to all (no idea how, he’s a techie though).

So, I first listened to the messages, one was from another marketing colleague who understood what was happening and she was alerting me which was nice but the other woman was pretty irate. I called her back to let her know that it wasn’t me, it was another company and I’d call them to figure it out but by then I had already pulled up the company’s website and gave her their phone number.

When I called the guy I had emailed with, he was actually expecting my call, it was funny. I kind of felt sorry for the guy really as he probably had a REALLY, REALLY BAD DAY.

I told him this was going to be detrimental to his business’ success, especially since he just messed with the whole entire chamber of commerce! I urged him to call the chamber right away and explain the situation, gave him the number and the person to contact because they don’t take spamming lightly at this chamber. It would help his chances of not getting black-balled if this got around to them; plus I also suggested he joined as soon as possible too. (I even volunteered to introduce him around to smooth things out if need be – always giving, that’s what I do.)

He actually felt so bad I believe he finally emailed everyone back one by one to admit and explain his mistake. Which was good for me because the calls weren’t stopping. I had to change my voice mail and not answer the phone for the first half of the day – I left a detailed message explaining the issue with the “newsletter” email blast and gave out the company’s number to call even.

Luckily, the calls and emails stopped. He dismantled the email address and the list and I might get a customer out of the whole ordeal.

So, a few lessons to learn here are:

  1. Do not cut and paste random email addresses into any email blast you are sending
  2. Do not use Outlook to send large email blasts or newsletters (many reasons why)
  3. Do not send any email blasts to people you don’t know (only about .01% of companies will do well with this)
  4. Do not send out sales pitches disguised as newsletters (you can send out sales blasts to your list but send them separately from your regular newsletter and make sure you explain what you’re doing)
  5. Do not put email addresses of those you are sending email blasts to in the TO or CC line of your email, put them all in the BCC line (if you MUST use Outlook, which I don’t recommend).
  6. Do explain what you are doing when you send out your first newsletter – how you know them, why you put them on your list, what you plan on telling them in upcoming issues, how they will benefit, what you will offer, etc.
  7. Do put complete contact information in every email
  8. Do put easy opt-out links in every email – not a message telling them to reply with unsubscribe in the subject line – many people are afraid to do that in case your email is spam in the first place and they might get a virus.
  9. Do use a professional, preferably online, email marketing program to send all your email newsletters, blasts and sales pitch blasts – I highly recommend subscribing to the one I use, Constant Contact; it’s affordable, easy to use, follows all the spam laws and you can easily track all emails sent, opened, clicked through, etc.
  10. Finally, if you don’t want to or can’t figure how to get this all going CORRECTLY on your own, I can help you set it up and brainstorm what you’re going to say, how to say it and how to really attract the attention of your contact list on a regular basis in order to get more repeat and referral business – GUARANTEED! Find out about my Easy Ezine Set Up Service using Constant Contact now.

Ok, so that’s all I have to say about that, I hope that you tread very lightly with your next email marketing campaign. But I don’t want to scare you off from doing one. My emails bring me lots of business every week! They also allow me to stay on top of the minds of everyone on my list every week because everyone on that list has to either read me or delete me! Rarely do they “unsubscribe” since I give so much valuable info.

I just want you to do your email campaigns in a way that is professional, effective and helpful to the user. I really can help you get one going in no time so what are you waiting for?

— Kat Out

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