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How to Avoid the FISUE Syndrome

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
16 November 2009

I have an explanation for why people click the spam button on so-called "legitimate" email: the "Forgot I Signed Up for Email" (FISUE) Syndrome.

This often happens when people sign up for Webinars, free trials or buy something online. They either forgot they signed up or didn't realize that being added to your regular email program came with their transaction.

You must make a clear case to your subscribers that your email is in their inboxes at their invitation. If not, FISUE Syndrome will claim another victim.

Was That Email Spam? Or Just Spam-Like?
Earlier this year, I received an email from a presentation company that I was sure I had never heard of nor done business with.

I was about to send the company a nasty email but decided to sort my emails on its sender name. Presto!

Turns out I had actually received five previous emails from this company, but several had different "From" names and branding. I also never received a welcome email. (I may have signed up for a company-sponsored Webinar several months earlier and provided my email address during registration.)

In short, I didn't know who this company was or whether I knowingly opted in for email, and I still don't.

Mistakes that Cause FISUE Syndrome
This company committed some of the common mistakes that lead to FISUE Syndrome:

  • From/Sender Names: Of the six emails I had received, the company used five different "From" names. Bad. Pick a simple, logical "From" name and stick with it.
  • Welcome Email: It did not send a confirmation email, let alone a well-crafted welcome email. It could have thanked me for opting in, told me more about the company or service, or linked to a white paper.
  • Design: The emails have an amateurish look and feel. This told me the company was not serious about email marketing practices and contributed to my sense that this latest email was unsolicited.
  • Frequency: I discovered that I received the six emails in August, September and October 2008, one in April and two in July 2009. No wonder I didn't remember this company.

How to Minimize FISUE
Follow some basic rules that apply when emailing to a new address:

  • Opt-in Process: Provide details on the opt-in and confirmation pages about your email program. Include frequency information, a link to a sample, your value proposition and your sender name and email address. Don't use a pre-checked box if possible.
  • Welcome Email: Immediately send a welcome email (within an hour after opt-in if possible) that restates subscription details, including how it happened: "Thank you for signing up for our Webinar and for subscribing to our newsletter, 'Tuesday Tips.'"

Remind subscribers exactly what they'll be receiving and when. More information on welcome emails can be found here:

  • New Subscriber Series: Consider a short welcome series of emails for new subscribers. Sent every few days, for example, these emails familiarize new subscribers with your email value proposition and help create interest in your future emails.
  • "From" Name: Brand your sender and subject lines to remind your subscriber of who you are. Generally, avoid using a person's name or cutesy newsletter title in the "From" name. Go with the name your new subscriber will most likely recognize. Also, consider additional branding in the subject line if you have multiple email streams or if your brand or company is not well known.
  • Reach Out to Inactive New Subscribers: Monitor new subscribers and have a program to get them engaged. For example, send a survey, special offer or value-added content triggered when new subscribers don't open or click on any of your emails in the first few months.
  • Transparency: You can reduce subscribers' concerns about whether they opted in to your email with details in the administrative footer area of every email, including:
    • Date the person opted in
    • Email address the subscriber used
    • How the subscription originated: "You subscribed to our 'Tuesday Tips' newsletter on November 19, 2009, when you registered for our Webinar."
    • Link to your preference center where they can see the information they provided you

    Investing the extra effort to make your emails unforgettable is your best defense against the FISUE Syndrome.




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