Is Email Enhancing or Destroying Your Reputation?

Email was invented in 1971 and became popular during the late 90's. We've been using it seriously for 20+ years. Some of you reading this will remember how amazing it was when we all started using it. Remember your first email address? Mine was with Yahoo! Millennials will snigger at this, I know they will, some haven't even got an email address!

And although we've had enormous change with email, most of us are still basically using it for the same purpose. To send messages, share files, photos and opinions. 

And of course with all new inventions email soon became a method for spammers to hack servers and send us all emails promoting goods and services we weren't looking for. (SPAM) 

And then there is the ’Email Newsletter’. If by chance you shared your email address on a website or purchased some goods online your email address could be added to a list. The owner of the list could then keep you informed of their news, which often included promoting their goods and services too. You may have even wanted those newsletters, but now they are a pest!

Over time newsletter clients, like Constant Contact, Mailchimp and others started to emerge and provided some rules around uploading email addresses. One of those rules would be obtaining authorisation from the email owner before adding them to a list. However as long as you tick the box that confirms you have authorisation, they allow you to upload your list. And then you can legitimately email (SPAM) your contacts.

Let’s not forget Data Protection in Europe.  The Data Protection Directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data) is a European Union directive and was adopted in 1995. It regulates the processing of personal data within the European Union. In essence it means when you hold personal data, like an email address, you must have obtained it with the owners permission and provide any recipient of your email newsletter the opportunity to unsubscribe.

Nowadays the best process for obtaining authorisation for using someone’s email address is using a double opt-in process. That means the email owner has to confirm authorisation and knows without a doubt that they are being added to an email list. This is by far the best process in my view. BUT many don’t bother with this process.

With the creation of LinkedIn, it means that your connections have access to your email address. They can download your email address to add to their email list whether they have your authorisation or not and then start to email you their newsletters (SPAM). 

I've been unsubscribing from newsletters for over 4 years and receive very few unsolicited emails these days. However I still receive around 4-6 newsletters I never signed up for per month. Plus the instances of poor practices in those emails, where you are unable to unsubscribe seems to occur more often. I send those senders a polite email to ask how I got added and ask to be unsubscribed. Below is the text of a recent (March 2016) email I sent to the sender of an unsolicited email I received.

You really need to be considering your ‘Email Newsletter Strategy’. Are you really adding value to your readers or are you promoting, selling, funnelling and spamming?

Now let’s discuss the ‘email signature’. Have you got one? How much detail do you think should be in your email signature and do you really believe that the receiver needs all that detail? The chances are that the receiver is already known to you, you’re probably already connected on Social Media somewhere and they more than likely have your business card. Here are some of the crazy things I see in email signatures:

  1. Email address. Why? They have just received your email with your email address on it, why on earth do they need it in your email signature as well?
  2. Website address. If you using a business email address then they will already know the domain address of your website, after all it’s in your email address. And if it’s personal email then you won’t need to share a website address do you? And small businesses who still use a free personal email address should really examine what they are doing to their Brand.
  3. All your Social Media channels. Do you really think they have time to click through to all those URL’s and connect or follow you there? If they were so interested in you, they would take the time to search for you on those channels anyway and may have already done so before they even get an email from you. The chances are that you’ve also already done this and at least have connected with them on LinkedIn. It’s totally redundant and just lengthens the email message.
  4. Logos and Images. And although Broadband speed has increased and  mobile internet is getting faster, attaching images to your email is totally impractical. Branding I hear you say? Rubbish! Have you seen how your Brand gets destroyed when you start emailing back and forth and all those images get removed, scrunched and destroyed in some way. The email thread is a mess, more scrolling required to discover the real text that has to be read and with all those missing image links, additional contact information the important text can easily be missed, often resulting in quotes like ‘I never saw that message’. I’m not surprised, it was hidden in between unnecessary promotional nonsense.
  5. Street address. Seriously? You’re kidding right? Why would they need that in an email? You are emailing each other, not sending each other postcards. If you do have to visit you almost always look up their website and find out directions and jump on to Google Maps.
  6. Disclaimer. Thank you 80’s  and 90’s lawyers! They all scared the s..t out of us, because we weren’t sending letters any longer and it was entirely possible that your email could end up arriving somewhere else and then you’ve said something so awful that they could take you to court. OMG! The disclaimer is often 3 times longer than your actual email message. And you really think it protects you? The receiver has nothing better to do then read your disclaimer every time they receive an email from you? (Raising my eyes to heaven)
  7. Environmental Statement about printing. How many folks actually spend time printing emails out, apart from lawyers? Enough said.

If this sparked any interest, you can read this thought-provoking article by Kevin Zawacki @kevinzawacki on

This is 2016 and none of the above is needed any longer. Let’s use email as it was intended. Keep it basic, short and to the point. and Don’t copy the world to ‘cover your a..’.

Reduce your email signature to your mobile number and one keyword for search. After all you don’t have a massive email signature on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube etc. The world is changing, please join me in spreading the word about email signatures and get them reduced to just two bits of information.

Email won’t exist forever, certainly unlikely in larger organisation. There are now other products on the market who make internal communication more productive and simpler. Email is likely going to be reinvented by Social Media and Messaging apps like Slack, Asana, Trello, Yammer and others? I’m looking forward to it, because it could signal the end of email as we know it. Yippee, no more spamming!

So let’s ask the question again. ‘Is Email Enhancing or Destroying Your Reputation?’

Answers on a postcard please! Just kidding, comments below please or via email if you wish, michael@guess the No seriously, I need you to guess the domain. For starters it's easy if you did some research and secondly, I would like to avoid the spiders adding me to a list.


Did You Add Me to Your Mailing List?

One dysfunctional side-effect of the Internet are email lists and newsletters. I've already questioned whether the newsletter is on the way out in my ’Are You a Modern Seller’ blogpost. 

For over 2 years now I’ve been unsubscribing from newsletters and for the majority of those (95%), I’ve never ever asked to be added to their list. I'm not talking about spam mail. I'm talking about genuine newsletters and announcements, ranging from contacts I know or have met in the past to vaguely familiar people or companies and completely unknown companies.

How did they get my email address?

I know most lift it from my LinkedIn profile and that means they are a first level connection. From my website? Sure it's on there, so they can lift it from there too. From sign-up forms when I’ve downloaded research, white papers, interesting reports? Yep I'm guilty of that. Usually though I remember the ones where I've downloaded stuff and then I quickly unsubscribe from those when I receive the first promotional email.

How then should I get people on to my email list legitimately?

Using double opt-in or better still opt-out! It's the only way. You could have something that folks will be interested in downloading and on that web page you let them know that it will add them to an email list and state for what purpose. If you use the correct process, they will receive an opt-out email after completing the form. This means they can download the content and unsubscribe instantly, without ever receiving another email from you. Now this is real choice for the reader of your content. 

Will they remember you for this? Of course they will!

I highly recommend that you investigate what process you have in place for emailing folks and whether your process is filled with integrity.

  1. Are you scraping email addresses from LinkedIn?
  2. Are you collecting from websites?
  3. Are you using something like Nimble to transfer addresses to Mailchimp?
  4. Are you using external apps to transfer from your contact records to email clients?
  5. Are you adding addresses from business cards?

Please think carefully about these and maybe other processes and practices in operation inside your business. How would you feel if you knew that your contacts or connections were doing this?

Any recipient of your newsletters or email announcements must have had the opportunity to choose whether they wanted to receive your email. And more importantly, at any time they should have the opportunity to unsubscribe.

I'm astounded that some people still use the bcc: method to send their email out to their contact list from Microsoft outlook or Apple mail.

Once you change your approach, you will feel better about your process and know that you are treating your contacts, connections and acquaintances with integrity and respect. 

I know for a fact that this is how you would like to be treated. 


Image credit: @gapingvoid


Is your speed reading working?

I am finding the volume of tweets, links, posts, articles a touch overwhelming at times, so this short article explains how I manage this in today's super digital age. Ideally the following tools are needed:

  1. iPad or iPhone
  2. iBooks
  3. Safari or equivalent browser that allows you to save a web page as a PDF
  4. Or a PDF converter
  5. Dropbox

Basically I leverage my iBooks app as much as I can, by saving PDF documents to it for reading later.

Articles and the like come at you like a formula 1 car at top speed sometimes and this is how you can stop it in its tracks.

Apple's Safari web browser is a major plus but not essential.  Whenever you find a link that provides you with an interesting article, but you don't have time to read it, immediately convert or save it as a PDF into Dropbox.

Then retrieve it from your Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone and open it into iBooks.

Now you can decide to read them when convenient to you and not when the article catches your eye via a tweet, email or something else.  Plus you've got the article for future reference in a meeting, discussion with your colleagues or clients.  I've found it very handy.

And if you have found other ways of capturing your links, please do share.

The other way where I can interact with them is on Flipboard, the best iPad and iPhone app in my opinion.

Let me know how you get on.




My First 'Social Letter'

  1. The 'Social Letter' will only come out once per month
  2. If after reading it you don’t believe there is any value in it, just unsubscribe at any time
  3. And I will share just 3 topics with 3 tips each month around my own learning in Social Media and Social Learning

Anything in this 'Social Letter' is based on my own personal opinion and has been developed through my own research and daily experiences.

This month my 3 topics are;

Social Language

Personal Exposure

Social Tools

Social Language

Michael, do you agree that the Internet appears to have found its niche? Social Networking has exploded across it like a tsunami and instead of sinking we have all taken to our boats and are exploring the high seas to see what effect it will have on our daily personal and business lives. Why is it then that I still hear such outdated language via email, blogs, press etc?  Why is our language not changing or are we just afraid of letting our guard down?  Here in the UK I believe it is going to be particularly difficult for us to speak in a different (social) language, we just seem to be afraid of being more social in our discussions.  A ‘Social Language’ that is more engaging, more holistic, more inviting and asking both clients and friends to join the discussion.

My 3 tips for a new Social Language are:

  1. Stop promoting yourself or your business (people do not like being sold to on Social Media)
  2. Start listening and communicating
  3. Become more engaging by asking great questions and sharing views

Personal Exposure

Are you worried Michael about your own personal exposure on Social Networks?  Let’s turn the clock forward, let’s say to 2020.  A lot of teenagers will be well out of University, looking for jobs.  Guess what their employers will be looking at?  Their Social Network footprint and their language in those networks.  There is no better way to get to know a person, then to look at their Social Networking sites and see what they have been up to.

Sure lots of students will be trying to hide their profiles from their employers with the fear of being ridiculed for the games they play, their chats with their friends, the apps they use, the places they check-in to and much more.  Now, it's not that difficult to learn about someone,  so much of what you say or do on Social Networks is indexed by Google.  Good luck to those students who will be trying to hide 10 years of social media exposure! This infographic (to download click the link) illustrates nicely the case for transparency versus the case for anonymity.

I know you are happy Michael for your business profile to be in the social domain, but what about your personal profile?  Why do we say, I want to keep my private life separate from my business life?  I don’t want people to know that much about me, but very happy to share what I do for my work, because I could earn from that.

Well I have some news for you.  People buy people first and when we are in a business lunch or networking event and after we finished talking about what we do for a living, we start asking questions like...where do you live?...where are you going on holiday? many kids do you have?...what sports do you follow?...who do you support?...and so on.

I think you are probably getting my message, we all need to start getting used to the idea that you need to be more personal on social networks and share something about yourself.

My 3 tips for creating Personal Exposure are:

  1. Make your profile open, so that anyone can find you on Social Networks and can get to know you
  2. Consider the view that everyone is a personal contact, don't consider them to be different, just because you met them in the workplace
  3. Be careful to judge people that blend their personal and business lives (this is done regularly on Twitter)

By the way here is a great blog post by Social Media Examiner;

Its called Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide.  Some great learning in there for you and how to develop a more personal relationship with everyone!

Social Tools

Certainly in my research and learning, I have come across so many different sites, tools and apps that can help me in my social media endeavours.  So, Michael I decided to share a couple of tools with you, that help me keep track of all of these.

The first one is Google Bookmarks.  A great way to have all your bookmarks available on the Internet (Or do we now say the Cloud?).  I found that having these in the 'Cloud' is really beneficial.  You can also install a plug-in to your browser, which then allows you to quickly add them when you are on a site that you need to bookmark.  You can also keep bookmarks organised by list for easy retrieval.

Start creating your bookmarks here:

The other tool I use is  Here I can record all the different Social Media tools I use, currently I use 58 different ones, whether through the web, desktop or mobile.  They have a library of all the different tools and its a great way to learn about what they can do for you and keep track of all the different ones you have signed up to.  I have looked at many other tools too but these two for me have made life a lot simpler.  Plus you can share it with your colleagues too.

My 3 tips for managing Social Media Tools are:

  1. Save all your bookmarks inside Google Bookmarks, for easy sharing or retrieval.  And get the plug-in for your browser.
  2. Create a spreadsheet on your personal computer and record all the urls, usernames and passwords and make the sheet password protected.
  3. Use a tool like oneforty to record all the tools you use and also find other tools.

For next month I have in mind to cover the following 3 topics:

Are you ready to go back to school?

Does using video to teach your colleagues work?

Do you really understand Social Media?

Michael, if you have time to discuss this 'Social Letter', ask more questions and engage with me, please stop by on Let me know if I met my promises and any suggestions on how could I make it even greater for you next time?

Have a great month and I hope to catch up with some of you either face to face or in those amazing social networks.


More about me!

Is the Email Monkey Male or Female?

After a few years absence from the email newsletter scene, I decided to venture out and try it again.  I used to be with constant contact, but having seen better alternatives, I decided to give MailChimp a go. I had used them previously for a small list and now that I have changed direction in my business it was time to email a bigger list.

I have spent some time building my list of trusted contacts on LinkedIn, so I thought why not start with them as a base and build from there.  After all most of them do know me and if I ask nicely, maybe they will just stay 'opted-in' to my list.

I got down to drafting my email and this time I had to refrain from selling or promoting what I can do for them.  So thinking of writing something that would get them to genuinely believe me and that I wanted to have their permission before they would receive the first newsletter.

So an opt-out email was the plan and making it clear that I only wanted to send them an email in the future with information they could use, free of charge and no selling.  Tough one really because sending someone an email, they automatically think you are selling to them.  I think we have just been conditioned this way.  I really did not want to do this, my aim is to give something away for free to people who have taken the trouble to link or follow me.

If you wish to have a read of it by all means check it out here:

I was reasonably pleased with it. I know you can always improve it, ask some others to proofread it, but I decided it was good enough to get some feedback.

Oh boy, feedback I got indeed!  But not what I had expected.  I got unsubscribes, plenty of them, but that’s what I wanted, so that was ok.  I sent emails out to 663 people and I got 50 unsubscribes.  Fantastic, at least people were reading my email and they responded.  It means 613 did not unsubscribe yet!

What I had not expected was to receive written feedback as well and in some cases great feedback.  So instead of paraphrasing it, here are some of them for you to read for yourself;

Hi Michael…I can hear the Bee Gees song in my head ! Happy to receive your newsletter..I use Linkedin, Twitter, Google alerts and my website….not Facebook so much.  Mark

Like the idea! Nice way to start it as well by offering people the opt out. Will keenly keep an eye out for your first one. Jack

I *love* this approach! I’ve been toying with whether I should send an e-mail out to my user base, but am a very strong believer in “permission marketing”.

This is a wonderful approach. Do you mind if I S.W.I.P.E it? Richard

Yes, go for it!  Look forward to receiving your next newsletter. David

Certainly, I will look forward to your updates etc. Karen

See below - high praise indeed coming from Jeremy, somebody who I consider a leader in our field! If you’re not reading his blog – go read it now! Richard

Brilliantly done! Jeremy

I just wanted to drop you a quick line to say I think your newsletter is great. As a graphic design agency, helping businesses with newsletters is something we do pretty regularly - I found yours warm and engaging while still being professional and informative. It's obvious that you do this for a living! Liz

That was delightful email,and yes permission granted. Dev

I'm intrigued, count me in. Rene

Thanks - I really appreciate the fact that you've asked, and I'm happy to hear what you have to say. Richard

No problem with you contacting me in the future. Ken

Sounds good right?  Well what I had not expected was this email from the Monkey!

We want to make you aware that that your campaign from your account with the username stayingaliveuk  generated an unsubscribe rate of 3.05%.  At this point this is just a notification of the activity occurring on your campaign.  Your account is still active but we want to make you aware that we will continue to watch this campaign and may send additional warnings.  As an ESP, we’re required to enforce an unsubscribe rate of 1% or less (1.01% is considered to be over the limit). When this is exceeded, ISPs and SpamCop organizations begin to question the integrity of your list which can cause blacklisting or blocks for both your domains and MailChimp domains and IP addresses. It can also indicate there are readers on the list who do not want to receive your content and were not expecting to receive it.  If the unsubscribe activity continues and exceeds the 1% limit this can lead to account suspension and further investigation into the matter by our compliance team.  At this time we want to make you aware of the activity and provide some steps to help reduce the issue in the future.

Not so great then after all!

There I was thinking carefully about not spamming people and asking them for permission and BOOM, I got my wrists slapped by the email monkey!  I was a bit concerned to say the least.  Thankfully they have confirmed that my account is still active, so I will be able to send my first newsletter out as planned very soon!  So if you are planning a new newsletter to a new audience, using a new email tool, be careful!