Spam is subjective. Broadly defined, it refers to all business outreach. When it comes down to individual definitions of spam, some people are more discerning than others. You might think that anything involving a Nigerian oil baron and his generous offer to share five billion dollars with you is spam. Or you might go with the more obvious: emails containing offensive subject lines, like the “Lolcats” your Aunt Mabel habitually floods your inbox with. Perhaps you look upon anything unfamiliar—including what someone else might consider legitimate, useful information—as spam.
The point is that you can’t guarantee that the information your business sends out over the Internet won’t be flung into the junk folder. However, there are certain things you can do to reduce that risk.
Why All the Skepticism in the First Place?
You can’t really blame people for being wary of unknown senders; it is, in fact, a wild cyber scam world. One time, I was informed that my father-in-law had been kidnapped in London and needed me to wire him $10,000 through Western Union to ensure his safety. That was quite the unbelievable hoax, especially considering I’d seen him just two hours before that email arrived, and he doesn’t live in a place where one can get to London in two hours.
Scammers are out there, and they need to be held accountable. These people are crooks who won’t bat an eye as they trick your grandparents out of their hard-earned savings. In the case of the fraudulent kidnapping, we actually played along with the scammer for a bit and nearly got him arrested.
So with all this cyber madness, it’s only natural for people to be uncertain about unfamiliar informational emails.
Reassuring the Recipient
People need to be certain that what they’re reading, and perhaps purchasing, isn’t a con game. I’ve had instances where people have asked me, “How do I know this isn’t a scam?” Ideally, you want to avoid this question altogether. Your company’s sales process, as well as your marketing material, can go a long way in reducing skepticism and increasing buyer confidence.
Barton Publishing, my company, offers consumer protection plans like BuySAFE and Trust Guard for our website visitors. This reduces both the perceived, as well as the actual, risk of making online purchases. We also offer a 365-day money-back guarantee, with the clichéd-but-true “no questions asked.” A lot of the protection you can offer customers is common business sense, like having a customer service support team to take phone calls and answer emails 24/7.
When it comes to sending emails, respect the inbox. Don’t inundate people with information. Don’t contact them too frequently. We avoid looking spammy by providing our real name and physical address, as well as by using a conversational—rather than stilted or formal—tone in our marketing. This helps people feel that we understand they are living, breathing humans on the other end of the fiber optic, and not just another number in a database.
Selling Your Informational Wares
Once you get someone to open your email, the work’s just begun. You have to convince him of your product’s worth. It can be hard to prove value when you’re selling something that’s informational, rather than something that has free samples, for example. What we do is provide a well-researched summary of the plethora of information available on the Internet. Customers aren’t keen on spending a vast quantity of time searching the Internet for information only to come up with conflicting stories. We separate the good from the bad for them, and we also work with a respected medical doctor as an added assurance that our information is legitimate.
Never underestimate the importance of time. If someone can get a valuable product that improves his life and saves him time, and if it costs less than a cell phone bill, he’s likely to look at it as a great personal investment.
Not many businesses believe in their products enough to back them with a full year’s money-back guarantee. Convince your potential customers that you really do offer that—tacked on to a great product with spectacular customer service—and you’re golden.
With all the spam out there, if your business is legitimate, you will separate yourself from scammers as you endure the ups and downs of the trade. Persevere with integrity, and people will notice that you operate differently from the cyber swindlers. Above all, they’ll know your business is credible.
Joe Barton is the founder of Barton Publishing and other websites that promote natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies (like simple grocery store items, herbs, vitamins, exercises, and more), instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs.