Email Blasting = Shady Marketing (#FAIL)

Taxes, Death, and SPAM, are all inevitable.

Lately, I have been monitoring my Gmail’s SPAM folder and I’ve been noticing a disturbing pattern. No … not pharmaceuticals or Nigerian princes asking for money, but Jewish businesses and non-profits sending “blasted” emails to presumably thousands of non-opted in members … all coming from one marketing company’s email account.

Never did I opt-in to this company’s email blasts. They must have recognized that I am Jewish, and/or took my name from the web, and added it to their database. (I am extremely skeptical that this company is actually practicing appropriate marketing etiquette / laws: for example CAN-SPAM laws.)

If you don’t see what the problem is at this point, you probably need a bit of a crash course in marketing communications. You might assume that if you just blast your message to thousands of people, some dopes are going to be curious and not only open your email, but interact with it. This is one of the worst assumptions you can make about consumers, and in fact, this will probably do more harm for your business / brand long term, than will the short term benefit of a few clicks to your site.

There are many ways to properly do Email Marketing, but “renting” email lists, or “blasting” to some company’s list, is probably the opposite of a “best practice” of Email Marketing.

In Email Marketing, as in Social Media Marketing, brands are given permission by the consumers to be communicated to. Consumers opt-in to “Follow” a brand on Twitter, “Like” a brand on Facebook, “Subscribe” to a brand on YouTube, or Subscribe to a brand’s email list. In the digital age, brands can no longer communicate to a consumer without their permission – lest they want to be ignored or shunned.

Best practices in Email Marketing include (but are not limited to):

  • Get permission. Don’t scrape the web for email addresses, or obtain emails that are not qualified. They will not help your business cause.
  • Build your own mailing list (CRM). Nothing is as targeted as a list of consumers who actively are interested in your brand. You know exactly who is on your mailing list, and don’t need to worry about other’s lists. DON’T BUY LISTS.
  • Provide an easy way to unsubscribe. Otherwise, those receiving your emails are trapped in your email list without exit – which will only piss them off. Not a good way to build brand affinity.
  • Don’t abuse your list. Sending emails too frequently will inevitably send more and more of your emails into SPAM folders – like the one’s from the company referred to above.

A great way to help bolster your Email Marketing database, is by being active in Social Media. Having a continuous presence within Facebook, Twitter, and other portals allows you to consistently present your message to those who are interested in hearing what you have to say. By engaging in your Social Media community, there are numerous ways you can encourage your consumers (or potential consumers) to opt-in to your Email database. In that case, it’s mutually beneficial for the brand, and the consumer.

To conclude… while there are legitimate Email Marketing companies (especially the ones that assist you in building your own lists) out there, you should be skeptical of “targeted” email lists to communities, hyper specific demographic and/or pyschographic targeting, etc. Use your own networks to build your own list (CRM) and interact with them in appropriate ways. Pushing your content in front of the consumer, instead of conversing, is a sure way to having your business #FAIL.

Dani Klein has consulted with non profits and small business when he started SocialCity Marketing in 2008. Currently, Dani is working on multiple Fortune 500 brands as the Manager of Social Marketing Strategies for Digitas, a world leading digital marketing and media agency and member of the Publicis Groupe S.A.

All views expressed within this blog and by this blogger are solely my own and in no way reflect those of Digitas or Publicis.

Social Media, Newspapers, and TV

It’s interesting that the traditional media, namely television & newspapers, who are not as profitable as they once were due to the Internet, have taken different approaches regarding social media.

Newspapers, the soon to be all but extinct media, have heavily pushed their online presence to give life to their struggling brands. Journalists are using blogs to copy find stories, while the papers are synced with Twitter to publish their headlines in the hopes that they are RT (ReTweeted) out to the masses. Despite this attempt, newspapers will be on life support within a few short years.

Television on the other hand isn’t fully intertwined with social media yet. While you can find almost every show on TV (minus HBO programming and a few others) online, either via Hulu or the network’s website, social media seems to be an afterthought. Yes, there is the required “share” button near the video, and some sites allow or encourage discussion of their programs below or alongside the video. But is that all? With social media as pervasive as it has become over the past few years in our lives, how has it not been integrated into program content? While statistics show that more and more people are spending more time on Facebook, Twitter, writing a blog, and especially checking their mobile devices — do we see our favorite characters on [NBC’s] The Office or [CBS’s] How I Met Your Mother check their Facebook profile ever?

Couldn’t they make these programs more interactive with the audience? I do have to give credit to How I Met Your Mother for integrating a Super Bowl ad with Neil Patrick Harris playing his character Barney Stinson – encouraging the audience to call a number, blurring the lines of real life and scripted TV. But beyond that, where is the creativity? Where is the use of social media reaching out to fans – current or potential?

Some shows are doing this. I’m currently following Twitter accounts relating to Glee, White Collar, and the Olympics, but those are just a few shows of many I like and follow, and they rarely tweet. With the tons of programming that goes on week after week, the lost outreach opportunities through social media conversations are many. People are talking about your programming. Why not be involved – either by listening or participating, or god forbid both?

I call upon the TV & cable networks to put on their thinking caps, get creative, and think out of the box. Or, hire me, and let’s do something different. 😉

3 Topics to Talk (and Tweet) About at #SocialMediaWeek


(This was originally posted yesterday on


Need something to discuss at #SMW? Wondering which topics will emerge as hot-button conversation pieces? Based on what’s generating buzz now, and what we’re expecting to see in the coming months, here are my predictions:

1. Location based (geo-social) apps are here, there, everywhere. Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt and a handful of others have been making waves lately. What changes will they bring to the social media world?

These services will continue to grow in 2010 because they integrate well with pre-existing platforms like Facebook and Twitter and allow users to track their whereabouts in real time. You can learn about places nearby, get specials or coupons, and find your friends in the area. 360i’s David Berkowitz explained the key differences between these apps in an article published earlier this week.

Given the growing popularity of mobile-social platforms, don’t be surprised to see a large number of people at Social Media week “checking in” at the various events. You may even meet some mayors. (Editor’s Note: Stay tuned — We’ll soon be publishing a guide on using geo-location services at Social Media Week right here on the blog.)

2. Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate. Nothing new here — between Facebook’s revamped privacy settings and new currency, Facebook Credits, the world’s largest social network is a mainstay in social media conversation. Not to be outdone,Twitter has recently implemented Local Trends. Has that changed the way you search through tweets?

3. Where does social media fit within non-profits and fund raising initiatives? Working for a non-profit, I have seen first hand what social media and other online apps and tools can do for cash-strapped organizations and small businesses. There are a number of sessions at the New York event that will address this very topic. You can read all about them and register here.

The rise of social media has allowed the world to both help and witness the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti. Through numerous organizations, celebrities and personal efforts, millions of dollars were raised online and through text messaging, demonstrating the unique power of social media to spread awareness and drive others to take action in times of need. Earlier this month, digital word of mouth played a key role in the more than $5 million raised for the Red Cross’s relief work in Haiti within a 24-hour period.

“Social Media and the Haiti Disaster” – a New York Times SMW New York event – will focus on the role of social media by news organizations, relief groups, search and rescue teams and people around the world during and in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Which trends do you think will be discussed at Social Media Week in New York and elsewhere? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.