Out of all the emails you receive, how many of them are actually useful? And how many of them are nothing but junk?
If you’re like 99.9% of people, you probably receive way too many emails! Chances are that many of them are from mailing lists you inadvertently signed up for, such as one-off purchases and random websites where you’re forced to sign-up an account in order to view the site (like 2 real estate websites I was trying to browse last night). Whatever the source may be, one thing they have in common is the burden of unwanted messages.
Think like your customer
If you’re like me, you absolutely despise these unwanted messages which are forced down our throats. I do a lot of online shopping, so if I were on the mailing list for every place I’ve made a purchase, my inbox would be filled with hundreds of messages per day. Unfortunately, just about every store automatically signs you up for their list as soon as you make a purchase from them.
My guess is you probably feel the same way as me – as a customer, you don’t like it. So that brings us to the question: Are you giving your own customers the same respect? Are you treating them how you would want to be treated? Remember these ethical obligations to care for customers.
My success with being the opposite of aggressive
My online business is a credit card forum (those three words happen to be the name of the site, too). I started it in 2008 but for the first 2-3 years, this message board wasn’t very active. I couldn’t figure out why this was, because the traffic level and rankings should have painted a different picture. Then I started to think like my visitor (customer) and drew these two conclusions as to why more people weren’t signing up:
Reason #1: Registration is a deterrent. Being such a niche topic (credit cards) it’s very unlikely you would want to participate in this forum on a regular basis. You’re probably just there to ask a question or two about balance transfers, frequent flyer rewards, etc. It’s highly unlikely that you want to be on a mailing list for a site like this, right? As a result, you’re probably reluctant to register (the risk of spam outweighs the reward of getting a question answered).
Reason #2: The financial sector is untrustworthy. Let’s be honest here… peddling credit card offers isn’t exactly doing the work of Mother Teresa. But even if my site was in another financial field (like insurance, investing, banking, etc) they all share one common trait: people are skeptical of them because they know how aggressive these industries are with marketing. As a result, this automatically puts my site at a disadvantage, because people “assume the worst” that by registering, their inbox will be filled with spammy credit card emails and the like.
So I addressed these two issues by nipping them right in the bud on the forum registration page. First of all, I make clear in a big, bold font that “this is a spam-free zone” and that by signing up for the forum, there won’t be any forced newsletter or mailing list. Secondly, I spell out the only 3 circumstances they will ever receive an email from CreditCardForum.
What happened after I did this? Member registrations surged like a rocket! By addressing those concerns upfront and taking the unconventional approach of having no mailing list, suddenly people were many times more likely to complete the registration page after landing upon it.
How can you apply this to your business?
Whether your site is like mine or something completely different, the lesson holds true for all of us: sometimes being less aggressive with your site registration/mailing list will actually result in more business for you at the end of the day. By taking a gentler approach, you won’t be scaring people away right off the bat. And it should go without saying that one-click removal from your list is a must-have feature.
About the Author
As a popular website for reward card reviews, CreditCardForum is the brainchild of Mike Dolen, a full-time Internet entrepreneur. Despite how large CreditCardForum has grown over the past four years, he continues to personally write all of the editorial reviews for travel rewards and cashback cards which are found on the site.