Below is a New Zealand small business owners experience with an overseas business. He opted for the cheapest available discounting the local businesses because they were not cheap enough. He told me this story over a coffee in Wellington a few days ago.
I hear this all the time. What he ended up with going for the cheapest option was potentially blacklisting his brand and upsetting a lot of his customers. Had he decided to go for a local email marketing business his staff member would have been able to get the support she needed to get the job done.
Business owners need to understand that using cheap overseas service providers can cost your business more than you realise.
Sending bulk email such as HTML newsletters is not as easy as you think. You need to have training in the basics of email marketing not with a help guide but with a person training you. Most of us know that when we chose cheap we should not expect much – cheap flights is a classic example. However email marketing is not something that can be delegated to an unskilled staff member as an after thought as you will read below.
This is his experience.
A local business in Wellington, New Zealand (lets call them “ACME” for this post) decided to offer an email newsletter to their customers and prospects. They decided to select an overseas provider as they were one of the cheapest.
ACME had no IT skill in-house and no experience with email marketing. So they started to use the Email Service Providers system to create a newsletter and send it to all of their customers and prospects – the mailing list totalled nearly 2000.
The business owner delegated the task to his one-and-only staff member (let us call her “Jayne”) who at the time was just out of Uni with a degree in marketing.
The business owner assuming that Jayne, having a degree in marketing, knew all about email marketing and was confident she could do the job.
Jayne, had no idea about email marketing, she was never taught this in Uni – but she thought how hard could it be?
Jayne started to use the email system provided but in a very small space of time realised that it was not going to be easy. Jayne decided to contact support for help. She could not call support via phone as the number was in the USA and the boss would get very upset with international phone charges so Jayne opted to use email support.
So she wrote an email to support asking them to contact her and help her with creating an email.
After a few hours Jayne received a reply from support. The email presented a list of help guides to review online and a helpful “please contact us if you require any further help”.
Jayne started to read the help guides but got very confused about HTML newsletters versus text based, subject line length, issues with spoofing, HTML tables and CSS.
“CSS? What the hell is that”, she asked the boss?
The boss having a bad day managing his own workload told Jayne to “just do her best and send out the newsletter ASAP”.
Jayne, freaking out, contacted customer support again demanding that they help her more than just sending her a list of help guides.
2 hours latter Jayne received a very polite email stating to RTFM.
What could Jayne do? She had her boss yelling at her to send out the bloody email newsletter because it was urgent but she did not have a clue how to use the system and was confused by all the technical terms like HTML tables and CSS.
So she did what all small businesses end up doing in this situation – she hoped for the best and created the newsletter and sent it out. It took Jayne over an hour just to work out the basics but in the end it was sent to nearly 2000 people.
It did not take long for the phone to start ringing with complaints from important customers about the garbled email they received and “what were they paying out sending SPAM?”. Worst some customers clicked the “This is SPAM” button not knowing that in doing so they blocked all future emails from ACME.
The boss was upset!
How on earth can a marketing graduate make such a mess of an email! Not only had they upset important customers but little did he know that a lot of the recipients clicked the “This is SPAM” button and blocked all future emails from ACME!
The boss decided that he will do the next email newsletter himself because as we all know, the mantra of a small business owner is; “if you want the job done well – you do it yourself” – little did he know what was waiting for him…