I’ve just returned from an amazing weekend in Berlin to be met with 100+ emails. At first I was shocked and puzzled as to what on earth happened whilst I was away. At a deeper glance, it looked like it was more or less 25% relevant (phew! Much more digestible) with the rest falling under that pesky marketing email category.  I began wading through the stacks of messages – unable to bulk delete in case I missed something that was urgent (happened before!) or a collection of “claim your free cocktail” emails. Further into this mundane task, I started to get slightly furious.

Since the popup advert, has there been any form of outbound marketing that has infuriated prospects more than the marketing email? Yes, cold call telemarketers are still up there but because I’m always at work when they call my home phone, I simply don’t find them as intrusive.

My point is that yes we all agree that marketing emails are infuriating so if this is the case, why do marketers still stand by it? A heck of a lot of them as well – around 89% say it’s their primary source of lead generation. So if that statistic is true maybe there is more to be said about using email as part of a strategy.

The way companies are expected to communicate with their customers nowadays has shifted dramatically in recent years. With more and more communication channels available, customers have much more choice in how they communicate with businesses. Customers can tweet their mobile providers, bank online and renew insurance policies via mobile apps. The one consistent factor is that the customer has a positive and relevant experience across any channel they choose to use.

Of course, email can fall into this mix but only if it fits in with a customer-first and relevant experience. For example hotel booking website, if I have just arrived back from Berlin and I booked my hotel through your site, why were you emailing me on Friday introducing me to hotel deals in Berlin? That goes for you too B2B marketing agency website, if I have given you all my details so I can download a whitepaper on email marketing – why are you spamming me with the latest news in PR? [This is a bette noire of mine! Seriously, could the info I’ve given you BE any more targeted and show you what sort of things I’d definitely be interested in hearing about?]

There are dozens of ways you can make email messages more relevant. Lack of knowledge should not be an excuse. If you don’t understand user tags, ABM models or how to effectively use social media to research your prospects then chuck a bit of money at somebody who does. Maybe an agency, maybe yours truly! If you segment and research your target market enough, you will be able to define a fantastic strategy in order to hit them.

You could always continue sending those generic marketing emails about another feature of your product. However don’t be surprised if like me this morning – your prospect has just done a search for your company name in their inbox – a bulk delete followed by a rule to send your messages directly to the trash box.