Ever write one of these in grade school?

I have.

The anticipation was a killer.  You used your best handwriting.  Gave it to your best friend for delivery.  And then the long wait for its return…

If it was all crumpled up you didn’t even need to open it.  Nicely folded – chances of a big “YES!” were much better.  And frankly, I don’t even remember if I ever got a “Maybe”.  Good thing…because if I did the suspense probably would have killed me.

When it comes to email marketing, I’ve gotten a “handful” of some largely circled “NO!”s in red pen over the years.

They’re called Unsubscribes – the dagger to the heart of a marketer.

We’re not talking about a response to the quickly penned, “Do you like me?  Yes, No, Maybe” here.  No, developing an email campaign typically involves hours of writing content, identifying photos, testing links, verifying your distribution list, sending test emails, and allowing everyone in your department to put their own 2 cents in.

But eventually the time comes:  Delivery Time.

You know it’s here when you start receiving hundreds of “I’m not in the office today.  Please call Tami with your problem (and NO, I”M NOT CHECKING EMAIL!) auto responder messages.  After deleting 100 or so similar-sounding auto responder messages from your recipients, you continue to wait in anticipation for a real response.

Who’s going to be the first to respond?

What will our response rate be on this one?

Will my phone relentlessly start ringing off the hook with retirement pending right around the corner?

And then it arrives.  The Unsubscribe.

It’s not even a “Maybe”.  It’s either, “You’re irrelevant”, “You’ve annoyed me”, “I don’t know who you are and why you’re contacting me”, or possibly even all three wrapped into one.  The worst part:  you know exactly who holds you in similar regard to Miss Piggy.  After opening the Unsubscribe email you read the details from the recipient:

First Name: Bill

Last Name: Johnson

Email Address: bjohnson@mycompany.com

Date: 5/24/2012

Time: 11:17 am

PS.  You stunk at kickball too!

And then you have a choice to make.

A) Write a personal email to Bill explaining in great detail why he’s going to be the real loser in this and tell him you have been truly saving your best for last.

Or,

B)  Take a good hard look at your content and see why it may not have resonated well with Bill.

Your content may not even be the problem.  It’s possible Bill simply signed up for the wrong communication or his preferences changed over time.  (But it’s still hard not to take it personally…I KNOW)!

Regardless, there are great technology tools out there today for both novices and professionals alike to design, deliver, manage and track email communications.  MailChimp is my solution of choice.  Their messaging suits my style and their technology is top notch.

So whether you’re a chimp or a champ, content is always king when it comes to email marketing campaigns.

What tools do you use to manage your email communications?