What You Said:

Hello, how are you? I’d like to know if you want to be on our email list?

What They Heard:

Hello, I’d love to SPAM you. Can you give up some personal privacy for no reason other than me asking? It just so happens I’m making a list of people to irritate now.

You’re Making a List, Not Selling It

Look, no one wants to be on a list. I think the only lists that were ever good to me were Santa’s and the Dean’s, and I’ve long ago been kicked off both of those. VIP lists? Oh sure, get me in your club five minutes earlier and charge me more for drinks.
I’ve had a hang up about lists ever since the hall monitor put me on one for running to recess in elementary school. And yes, I’m still bitter about the punishment: a full month of being forced to play four square instead of kickball because that’s the only ball that’s left when you’re the last to pick the recess items.

No, we don’t want to be on your stinking list – it doesn’t matter how good you think it is, it just sounds bad to us.

When’s the Last Time Someone Sold You on Standing in Line?

I can’t tell you the last time I went to a sporting event and someone said, “Hey, buddy, do you want to stand in our snack bar line?” It doesn’t happen. That doesn’t sound so good. No one likes standing in line.

Sell Me Nachos, Not the Line

The reality is I’m going to be standing in line, but the line is only a means to an end. I’m standing in line to get food! What a revelation! “Hey, buddy, do you want to eat freshly-made delicious nachos?” Well, um, yes I do. Okay, I just have to get in line here to get them? Cool. Where do I stand?

Sell Me What You’re Sending Me, Not Your Darn List

Let’s try this out with your email list. “Hey, buddy, do you want to get email only discounts on our products?” or “Hey, buddy, do you want to see expert product demos in a video that you can personally play on your laptop when you’re not so busy?” Well, um, yes I do. Okay, I just have to give you permission to send me the good stuff? Cool. Where do I sign up?

It’s That Simple

If you want people on your lists, treat them like individuals. The list is only a means to an end. Yes, email marketing makes it easy to send mass email campaigns to willing customers. But with the personalization and list segmentation tools available in our email marketing software, it winds up being a very personal experience for your subscriber. The fact that they are on a list need never come up.


by Paul Rijnders

Paul Rijnders is the Product Strategy Manager for Benchmark Email, where his focus includes product development, research, technical writing, feature development, testing and launching of SaaS products and iOS apps that interact with our software via API. He is the human junction between the executive and marketing teams that request the product, the IT team that builds the back end, the design team that creates the front end, the content team that gives the product a voice and the eager sales and support teams who will eventually take delivery of the product. Paul is a product of the CSUF advertising program, He now rounds out his schedule teaching college level courses to multi-media undergrads on two California campuses.