May 23, 2007

Don’t Assume We Know You

A bunch of marketers (who are also bloggers) got the same piece of spam yesterday. I got it too. It was about how not to spam bloggers.

It started out with:

Countless accounts of “PR Flaks” who have spammed bloggers,
mis-targeted pitches or just plain gotten blogger relations wrong fill
the Internet. Don’t risk finding your next pitch blasted on your
favorite blog!

Their offer:

Download the FREE Vocus white paper Five Golden Rules for Blogger
Relations to get insights on how today’s PR professionals can
successfully incorporate blogger relations into their PR strategy and
build effective relationships straight from four of the top blogging
experts in the industry!

Who the heck is Vocus, and how’d they get my email address?!?!?

Then I found another blogger complaining about this spam. He posted the spam to his blog (which is exactly what Vocus wants to teach us how to avoid) and when people started investigating, we discovered that the one thing we all had in common was that we’ve all used a service called PRWeb to distribute a press release at some time in the past.

Then we learned that Vocus had recently acquired PRWeb.

Ooooooh, so they were sending out an email to their customers. Okay, I guess that’s not spam. Problem is, most of us had no idea we were Vocus customers.

It really would have helped if they used PRWeb somewhere (like in the From: or Subject: fields) so we could trust it. Maybe even a permission reminder, telling us that "You are receiving this email because you are a PRWeb Customer, and PRWeb is a service of Vocus…"

We see this countless times at MailChimp. Companies are in a rush to "blast their customers" with some offer, or some exciting (to whom?) company news, and they don’t consider that the majority of their recipients will simply get the email and ask, "Who the @#$% Are You, And How’d You Get My Email?"

What happens next? They get too many spam complaints and they get their company domain name blacklisted. Even worse, they get their email posted on some blog for all the world to see.

Vocus looks like they mean well. They just made a simple mistake (that a lot of marketers make). And the whitepaper they’re offering? It actually looks useful.

If you haven’t contacted your list in a while, PLEASE send a re-introduction campaign. Don’t just assume people remember who you are, and definitely don’t assume they want to hear your news.

Here’s an excellent example from ModernPostcard on how to re-introduce yourself to your customers.