Don’t Be the Company Sending a Crappy Email Pitch That’s Breaking the Law

Ignorance

Back in 2003, President George W. Bush passed the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, that was meant to establish standards when it came to commercial email and help protect consumers from errant businesses filling email inboxes with their crud.

While well-intentioned in its creation, unfortunately its been much less effective when it comes to actually making marketers and promotional companies any better at respecting the wishes of those they seek to target.

This, despite specific instructions as to what can and can’t be done by these marketers:

  • There must be a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism present in all emails;
  • A message can’t be sent without an UnSubscribe option;
  • A message cannot be sent to a harvested email address;
  • A message should contain at least one sentence.

There are many more do’s and don’ts attached to the CAN-SPAM Act, but for this post, I’m highlighting these four in particular, since it’s clear Haworth Marketing + Media don’t really care about them.

Poor Pitch or Ignorance of CAN-SPAM?

I received this email from Haworth yesterday (click image below to expand).

Haworth email pitch

I’ve blurred out the name of the person sending, as it appears they’re in a more junior role and have been tasked with sending out this pitch by an account manager or more senior person.

As you can see, it ignores all the points of the CAN-SPAM Act I referenced: there’s no unsubscribe option, I don’t recall ever signing up for updates from Haworth, and there’s no sentence – not even a single one – within the email body itself.

Instead, as you can see by the red highlighted box, there’s an attachment that I’m meant to trust, download and open – all from a source I don’t know and have never asked to know (to the best of my recollection).

Quite the winning pitch…

It Doesn’t Need to be This Way

The fact that Haworth sent this out like this is disappointing enough. It shows a lack of understanding of what makes a good blogger outreach program. It’s not as if there aren’t enough reference points, either.

Posts like this, or this, or this, or this, or this, or… you get the picture. And that’s just on this blog.

There are countless other posts, articles, and more, on what makes a blogger outreach campaign work. Just Google “blogger outreach tips” and you’ll get around a million results, with excellent advice to be found here, here, here and here, just for starters.

Haworth themselves claim to understand what makes a promotional campaign work. In their own words:

Our differentiation comes from changing the conversation in media; through inspired media design and thoughtful collaboration with communication partners, we generate impactful, lasting impressions that translate into deep, emotional connections.

Having said that, when you dig a little more into their site and look at their client services, they don’t offer blogger outreach as part of their solutions. They do offer content marketing, but not blogger outreach specifically – so perhaps the email approach I received shouldn’t be a surprise after all.

Which is a shame. Bloggers are an increasingly important part of any online marketing or promotional component for today’s brands – just ask Martha Stewart about that point.

Educate Yourself Now or Be Left Behind

As shared throughout this post, there are a ton of resources around to ensure you craft the right type of approach for your campaign – one that will bring a better result than being criticized by the person you’re trying to engage with.

  • Respect the CAN-SPAM Act in its entirety (I requested removal from Haworth’s list after a previously dubious email, to no avail);
  • Don’t send attachments without prior acceptance and a description of what the attachment is;
  • Don’t fob off your email blasts to a junior employee, thus relieving yourself of any responsibility when called out;
  • Educate your marketing/promotional staff on company expectations (hint: these shouldn’t be the example used for this post);
  • Read publications and blogs that speak of this increasingly important outreach outlet, and understand the nuances it needs.

Yes, it will be a pain to make the switch and, yes, it might even mean you refocusing on areas you had been loosely paying attention to before.

But, as “old media” – traditional ads, TV and radio spend, etc – begin to see their effectiveness eaten up by newer media, particularly by bloggers with a relevant audience, taking the approach of sending out a blast email with nothing but an attachment is just a poor promotional decision.

Especially when it’s effectively breaking the law…

image: Max Bisschop

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