I get hundreds of emails a day, and am always behind on email. Recently I sent out emails to affiliates letting them know that I was changing my model, and let high volume affiliates know that I wanted to give them a free limited trial so they could see what they are selling. It only makes sense to have your best affiliates know what changed.
In response to my email to 3,000+ affiliates, my email load sharply increased. The people who were top affiliates typically sent an unassuming email "not sure if I am a top affiliate but I would love to take a look." At the same time hundreds of affiliates who had 0 or 1 sale ever (some even with 0 clickthroughs and 0 ad impressions) considered themselves high volume sellers and demanded a free trial. Friction. Uggg.
So then I had to tell those people no, and that the launch was going better than expected, and I wanted to ensure I was able to keep up with current community members. One of them told me that they were going to use something that sounded to me like "creative spammy marketing" to sell my ebook and I said that I preferred they did not. They responded saying that I am an elitist. In a short email exchange that person went from "a long time fan" to a person who "would never listen to anything I said again."
The problem is that it is easy to be misunderstood via email. And as soon as people pay you anything or establish any type of relationship with you, some feel they own you. Email is great for sending personalized messages to a few people to help get feedback and spread important ideas. Email is also good for mass-emailing people via autoresponders that do not get responded to. But email is not good for establishing lasting relationships with many people.
To be fair, I owe a lot to email. The first version of my sales letter was reformatted by a customer who liked the ebook so much he wanted to help me sell more of them. And the ebook itself was formatted nicely by another customer who I did a bit of consulting for in a work trade. And I met my wife via email before our first phone call. So I owe a lot to email. But not too many deep and meaningful relationships can not stem from emails when you have hundreds of people emailing you every day.
Any time your business model contains recurring access to you for a one time price, if you are a decent marketer, you will create more demand than supply, and eventually you get burned out by people asking 15 or 30 questions at a time. When there is no opportunity cost to keep asking people do.
A guy who was profiled in an "internet marketing success stories with multi-millionaires" book asked me about 100 questions via before I told him enough was enough. The same guy sold information as the main piece of his business model. I asked him if he valued his own time at $1 an hour, because if he did I could use some of it. I got no response. A year later he wanted to buy "affordable and reasonable" SEO services from me and I told him no thanks. I would not ever refer him to anyone because he was so selfish in our prior relationship.
It eventually got to the point where people were asking me so many questions to where I was getting emails like "where is adwords" and I would just send them a link to the associated search result. And some people who bought the book would never subscribe to updates but email me 5 times a year asking for the latest version. 5 emails a year adds up when you have to verify each account and 1,000+ people are doing it.
As more and more information gets commoditized the value of weak, quick, and fast relationships loses value. And if you have 20,000 customers who have no opportunity cost in asking you lots of questions, many of them will treat you like a search box. But since the seller is not an algorithm that does not work out to well for sanity. And if you send out too many emails it starts to feel like you are a high volume email deployer
The good news is that as the web ages and the market suffers further information pollution, the value of reliable trustworthy advice and quality service goes up. But to provide lasting quality service you have to charge recurring.
Here are some email hacks I have come up with to lessen email load...
- Automatically have your newsletter subscriptions archived and tagged...read them when you have time to.
- Unsubscribe from anything you do not read in 3 months.
- Do not provide email support for free stuff. Make them post feedback to your site.
- If people are really nasty and are not yet your customers do not respond to those emails. At best they waste your time. At worst, they waste your time, do a reverse charge, AND may put you in a bad mood.
- Do a quick pass through and wipe out anything that looks like spam.
- If you have common answers then prewrite templates for them and use cut and paste, modifying each slightly.
- Answer emails that are closely aligned at the same time.
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