An Open Letter to Marketers: Make Love, Not Spam

    by Mike Volpe

    Date

    February 14, 2013 at 8:30 AM

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    In much of the world, today is Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love. But this letter I am sending you is not a love letter. This is an open letter to the marketing community about one big way in which we're not being lovable.

    We, the marketing industry, have a problem with spam.

    I don’t mean the messages sent by hackers in a basement from a third-world country about transferring millions of dollars from Nigeria, or how to buy Viagra without a prescription. I mean what many of us marketing folks do as part of our jobs at legitimate companies. Marketers send millions of emails to people without their permission every single day ...

    ... Here's what happens: We want to reach new people, but finding new people is hard. So, we buy lists of email addresses from hundreds of services like ZoomInfo, Data.com from Salesforce, Dun & Bradstreet/Hoovers, and InfoUSA. Or maybe we have an employee create our own mass email list by scouring the web for email addresses at target companies. We import these lists into our CRM, email, or marketing automation system. Next, we start “communicating” with these people via blast emails. Sure, we try to make the emails funny. We set it up so it looks like it was a personal message from a sales rep. We use every trick in the book to trick people (and maybe trick ourselves) into believing that this is okay. But it's not lovable, and as a marketing community, we should work to up our game. (Note: The official policies of most of these systems do not allow you to do send type of email. But most marketing professionals will tell you confidentially that they do it all the time, and that the vendors look the other way.)

    We can be better than this. Marketing is hard. Reaching new prospects is hard. But we believe that if we put our energy and resources toward making marketing people love, we can get more inbound leads and rely less on sending spammy emails. And when I say we all can be better than this, I'm including HubSpot.  

    A few of the things we're personally resolving to do include revisiting our own email practices and policies to see where we can improve. We'll also continue to provide resources such as blog posts like "The Laws Marketers Need to Know" and ebooks like How to Make Love Not Spam to help marketers make sure they're both complying with the laws related to spam and not implementing any other spammy marketing methods. Finally, we’re launching Make Love Not Spam to share inspiration and ideas for how to make marketing people love instead of sending spammy emails. 

    In this open letter, I am urging you -- marketing professionals worldwide -- to join us in reducing spam. And I believe that by communicating with customers as people instead of seeing them as numbers on a list, we can make marketing a more lovable and more noble profession. We would also love to hear your ideas on how marketers can do a better job of not spamming. Please add your thoughts to the comments section, and we'll send 50 of you "Make Love Not Spam" t-shirts for sharing your insight.

    Call me crazy, but I think if we can do the right thing as an industry and remove some of the unwanted clutter from our customers' inboxes, we might be giving them the best Valentine’s Day gift we have to offer.

    For the love of marketing,

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    Mike Volpe
    CMO @ HubSpot


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