We're all familiar with having to opt out of some service or group to which you never opted in--whether it's a WhatsApp group, a Facebook group, an email list, or even a Twitter thread you never asked to be a part of. As consumers, we hate when it happens.

As marketers, we often convince ourselves that this is a good strategy. It's an easy, painless, and often free way to expand our audiences.

This couldn't be farther from the truth.

Not a day goes by without someone adding me to some random Facebook group that's totally irrelevant to me and my interests. The notifications from the group begin to pour in, so I leave the group and message the person, telling them not to add me to groups without my consent. Or, if it's a repeat offense, I unfriend and block them. Enough is enough.

Most of the time, the person responds, "What's the big deal? Just leave the group if you don't want to be a part of it."

That's the thing, though. It's not my responsibility to opt out. It's your responsibility to make sure I want to opt in, in the first place. It doesn't matter if it is one or 10 clicks. It doesn't matter if it takes me three seconds or three hours. I never asked to be a part of this group, and forcing me to leave it is basically saying that you think your time is more valuable than mine.

So why do people do this in the first place and what are they missing that proves all their assumptions wrong? 

Don't cut the wrong corner.

I often get the questions: "How do you get so much done in one day? How do you accomplish so much and how do you not burn out?" The answer is: shortcuts or life hacks. 

I'll give you one example. A while back, I found myself writing certain phrases or words many times throughout a day--my email address, name, phone number, or anything I repeated regularly in everyday conversations.

So, I set up a shortcut on my iPhone. Every smartphone has this feature built in. You have a sentence you write often? Set up a shortcut that when written, the device replaces it with that phrase or sentence. This saves me hours every week.

Shortcuts are great for that kind of thing. You know what they're not great for? Relationships.

You want someone to use your product or be aware of your content? Reach out, build some trust, establish a relationship. Don't add them to your email list so they get bombarded with your promotional material, even though they never expressed any interest in receiving those emails. 

Yes, doing this will indeed reach a wider audience almost instantly. You know what will happen next? That audience you just reached? Consider them alienated and lost, potentially forever, as customers.

Relationship building is not where you should be looking for shortcuts. Cut corners in other places and spend time on finding and connecting with your audience. 

Yes, this applies across the board.

The principle is quite straightforward. Did the person you are about to communicate with ask for that communication? If not, hang up, close that email, delete that tweet, and shut that Facebook group invite box. 

After you do that, open up your choice of messenger and type the following words: "Hey, I'm starting a Facebook group and email list about cars. I'd love for you to join. Would you be interested? Happy to add you."

See? Was that so difficult? Spend that extra minute and you'll see that in the long run, you'll have better metrics--and more importantly, you'll have a more authentic and  engaged audience. 

Published on: Apr 3, 2018