Email overload from marketers – is web scraping killing marketing?
A friend of mine emailed me today complaining how in the space of a few short minutes of starting his day he’d received 10 emails from companies marketing services which had no relevance to him. At the same time, publishing clients of mine ask me why it is that email marketing response is no longer working as well as it used to.
As my friend says – “it’s time to opt out more: is web scraping killing marketing?” That’s two savvy comments made by someone who is actually a marketing director. He’s getting fed up with overload and suspects that many companies are going around scraping websites for company data and then randomly blasting them. After all, someone wanting to compile a list of marketing directors needs only to scrape the sites of their target market and they’re in.
Well, all fine and dandy except that with social media, the onus now with online marketing is about inclusiveness, word of mouth, reflection, emotion and participation. So little wonder that outbound email campaigns which still function on the old “get the blighters out of the door” methodology has lower and lower responses.
In the B2C environment, in some ways social media is easier. B2C is – and always has been – about the illusion of lifestyle. Consequently, social perception and brand participation is an easier ask – although winning public favour and creating a buzz is only easy if people can see the point.
For B2B, it’s harder to say what brand emotions are present in choosing a new laser printer, business reference book or whiteboard. That said, brand plays a huge part – even in B2B. Ask many lawyers for example to recognise the Lexis Nexis brand and many struggle – but ask them about Butterworths and there’s real brand value tied up there.
Consumers – either B2B or B2C – need to know and understand your brand values. You cannot simply bombard them with unwanted emails and marketing collateral. Even if the costs of e-marketing are low, the irritation of receiving an inbox full of irrelevance is a significant brand downer for the recipients – often because these emails are juiced up with lazy and tired copy with hackneyed marketing phrases.
For some, web scraping may well be a “legitimate” way of acquiring email addresses in the public domain (you can even buy software to do it) but it still requires permission from the recipient to be truly effective. And if you do ask permission, what hope have you got if your brand has no emotional link with your prospect? Equally, even when you do get permission, why is it that marketers then take this simply as permission to bombard the recipient week after week with poorly-crafted marketing materials. Why should people remember who you are? What have you done to make that happen?
For emails to be effective, marketers need to fall back on old-fashioned database methodology of targeting niches and then projecting relevant information persuasively. You need to fall back on old analytical techniques to see what happens with your campaigns and then, crucially, ACT on what you’ve learned.
This is different to getting a list and blasting them with your latest offers – and then keep carrying on doing the same till kingdom come. If information is relevant, offers good value and implies reputation, your chances of email success (and social success) will be higher than if you just peddle stuff lazily and hope for the best.
Who, after all, would opt out of something they like? And, as every failed lover in the history of man knows to their cost – you can’t force someone to fancy you. They just think you’re creepy.