email marketing sri lanka

Sri Lankans Are Doing Email Marketing Wrong!
Let’s end the corporate email spamming culture – learn to do email marketing the right way.

email marketing sri lanka

Sri Lankans Are Doing Email Marketing Wrong!
Let’s end the corporate email spamming culture – learn to do email marketing the right way.

Have you ever thought about doing an email marketing campaign for your business? A quick google search will get you plenty of “email marketing” companies who will send your promotional artwork to 150,000+ Sri Lankans for a mere Rs. 3,000! (20$) That’s just Rs. 2 Cents per emailSounds like an awesome deal, right?

WRONG! Let me explain…..

There are three ways to find emails to do your email marketing campaign:

  1. Rent out an email list
  2. Buy an email list
  3. Build an email list

Out of these three, what most Sri Lankan companies do is rent out an email list through above-mentioned companies. To find out why; we talked to a few marketing managers and CEO’s of some large-scale Sri Lankan companies who have previously rented out email lists for bulk email blasts. All the answers we received could be summed up with this statement:

“Renting out email lists helps us to get our message across to a large number of people in a quick, easy and inexpensive way.”

When you put it like that, it really does sound like a good idea; doesn’t it?

But the truth is far from it. Renting out email lists is a huge waste of money, and it could do more harm to your business than good. Let’s dig deeper to understand why it is one of the worst things you could do for your brand.

What’s wrong with renting out email lists?
  • You’ll come across as a spammer and your reputation will take a hit

What all the email renting companies fail to mention is that almost all of their emails are getting sent to the spam folder. Email services like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail etc. are quite smart in identifying these types of emails and treating them how they deserve to be treated; straight to the spam folder!

The moment you send bulk promotional emails without the consent of the receiver, you are officially considered as a spammer.

How would you like to see your brand’s email next to an email that promotes some magical penis enlargement pill? Or next to an email that promises a mistress; or guaranteed sex on the first date?

Sri Lanka Email Marketing

Do I buy a printer? Find myself a mistress? Join a sex dating club? or pay rent? Questions!

Not a very warm introduction to your brand, is it? You are doing more harm to your brand than good. You are bound to piss off some people who will never even consider your brand in the future. In extreme cases, may also receive negative reviews on your social media or on blogs and other public forms. You wouldn’t like it when someone searches for your brand name on Google and the first thing that pops up is an angry rant from a pissed off customer.

If you ask from the email renting companies, how they acquired the email database, some will give you a cryptic answer along the lines of “we have tools”.

Trust me, that is a better answer than some of the other agencies claiming that all the emails in their database are “opt-in”; and thus, they cannot be considered as spam.

Would you give your email to these agencies to spam you with random promotional emails? Have you ever come across a situation where someone would voluntarily sign up to receive random promotional emails from brands they might have never even heard of?

There could be some exceptions, but how did those so-called “email renting agencies” find such large numbers of people who generously decided to receive spam to their inbox so the agencies can make a profit out of it?

Even if those emails are actually “opt-in” like they say they are, none of those people actually signed up to receive promotional messages from your brand! It’s not really opt-in, is it?

  • There is no way to authenticate the database info and stats provided by the shady agencies

None of the email renting agencies in Sri Lanka provides real time reporting or a static spreadsheet which shows how the email campaign is doing. (Although I should mention that one email renting service mentioned that this could be arranged if you specifically request for it) What they do is, send you a badly made report or a screen shot which shows some numbers including open rate, click rate etc. at the end of the month or a specific time period. There is no way for you to check the authenticity of the database or the reports they present.

Just think. They are here to make a profit, and to do that they want repeat business, right?

So, what’s stopping them from inventing numbers to impress you? Whether you trust the shady email renting agencies or not; I’ll let you take a call on that!

  • Emails are non-responsive

What Sri Lankan email renting companies are doing is, sending an image/poster which includes your promotional message; even though the email might be HTML, none of them offers a responsive email design, meaning they don’t adjust the size of the email according to the size of the screen it’s viewed on.

Various sources indicate that majority of the emails are opened on mobile. (non-specific to Sri Lanka, but it’s safe assume the same applies to Sri Lanka by looking at the social media usage, which is dominated on mobile) Which means, majority of the email receivers will hardly be able to see your poster on their mobile devices. Which will again contribute to lower response rate.

Sri Lanka Email Marketing

Good luck reading the text on this email flyer!

  • People can’t reply back to your emails

This should be pretty obvious. You’re sending emails using someone else’s email address which cannot be replied back. Case closed.

  • No personalization and cannot specifically target the audience

You have no information about the interests, geographical or demographical data of the email receivers. I think we can easily throw the personalization and targeting arguments out of the way.

  • Poor response rate and ROI

You simply cannot expect a good response from someone who doesn’t know your brand and did not chose to be bombarded with your promotional messages. You also can’t expect many people to check spam messages either.

Assuming all the emails are sent to ‘real people’ as the email renting agencies would suggest; due to lack of personalization and targeting, your promotional message could very well be irrelevant and annoying to the receiver. What makes you think you will have a positive response from them?


Alright then, if renting out email lists are a bad idea, what should I do instead?

Good question! But I’m sure you wouldn’t like the answer; because is neither a cheap nor a quick solution. The correct way to do email marketing is to build an email list from the ground up. But if you’re looking for a quick fix, I have also given you some better alternatives below.

Long Term Solution – Build an email list

In simple terms, this means building a database of people who already knows and have interacted with your brand and expressively agreed to receive email updates directly from you. Now you would think, why would anyone do that!?

And the answer is “value”! As long as you add value to your customers through your emails and other means, they would be happy and interested in receiving and checking out your occasional promotional messages.

So, how do I add value and sign people up for my email list? There is no one simple answer, as there are many complicated methods that warrant a separate article. Below are some of the more obvious methods you can try:

  • Website
  1. Create engaging and valuable content to your target audience and publish on your website to capture the visitors through a sign-up form which promises more valuable content. (This article is a perfect example for that)
  2. Create some unique and valuable downloadable content such as an e-book/ guide or a video and capture the emails using a download form.
  3. If you have an e-commerce site, make email acquisition part of the checkout process.
  • Social Media
  1. You can collect a database of emails using Facebook Lead Generation ads. (Lead forms)
  2. Use social media call to action buttons, links and ads to direct people to the website to be converted thought above mentioned methods.
  • Email
  1. Email valuable content that your receivers will be tempted to forward to others. You could add social sharing and email to a friend buttons to your emails to further encourage this.
  2. Link to valuable content on your website through your employee email signatures.
  • Search Engine Marketing
  1. Leverage Google AdWords PPC ads to send traffic to the content on your website.
  2. Leverage Search Engine Optimization to send traffic to the content on your website.
  • Traditional Methods
  1. Collect emails from interested parties at offline events, meetups etc.
  2. Collect email addresses from your customers at your physical stores. (By offering a discount, freebie, online receipt etc.)
  3. Add a QR code to your printed material to send traffic to the content on your website.

As I’m sure you have already noticed, the whole process revolves around “valuable content”. And valuable content doesn’t come easy or cheap. You’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to create content in order to build an email list.

Don’t have enough time or expertise to pull it off? Don’t worry! We can help you out with that! We believe email marketing should not function as solely a single marketing function. Instead, it should be a part of your overall marketing strategy. The success of email marketing clearly depends on the successful implementation of all the other digital tools such as your website, content creation, social media and search engine marketing. This is the reason you won’t be able to find email marketing listed down in our services page as a separate service. We simply cannot provide it as a separate service; we need to have full control over the whole digital marketing efforts of your organization.

For those of you who are looking for immediate results and just can’t wait to slowly build an email list, can try out the following quick fixes. They are not the same as building an email list; but still are much better options than renting out email lists to get across your promotional message.

Short Term Solutions
  • Gmail ads through Google AdWords

If you’re dead set on advertising through email, this could be a better option for you. Since Gmail is a part of the Google Display ads network; you can advertise on Gmail. The ads will be shown under the social and promotional tabs on Gmail (If not, under the primary tab) on top of all the other regular emails.

Sri Lanka Email Marketing

Highlighted “email” is actually an ad!

And when you click on the ads, they will expand as a normal email would do and present you with its content. The receiver has the options to view the ad, visit the directed website, save it to the inbox as a regular email and forward it to a friend.

Unlike bulk email addresses, you can specify who you want to target with your ads, may it be demographical, geographical or by interests. If you do it right through an experienced service provider, you will be able to reach your perfect target audience to maximize your ROI.

  • Social Media Ads

Social media isn’t meant to be used as a platform to push promotional messages. It’s supposed to be used to build relationships with your customers. But, if your sole objective is to get your message across to a maximum number of people in Sri Lanka at the lowest cost, Facebook ads are still much more effective and overall a better option than renting email lists. Of course, that claim will depend on so many different variables such as ad type, target audience relevancy, images/videos used, headline and text, ad optimization etc.

Even assuming an extremely generous open rate of 10%, and a click-through rate of 1%, out of the 150,000 emails you send for 20$, only 15,000 people will see your ad and only 1500 will click on your ad. If done right, you will be able to reach a bigger and more targeted audience using Facebook advertising with the same 20$ you would spend on renting an email list. It’s an upgrade on both quality and quantity fronts!

  • Sponsor a mailing

This may sound weird after preaching so much about why you shouldn’t rent out email lists. But here me out, this will make sense in a bit.

Let me explain using an example, assume you’re the owner or the marketing manager at a restaurant and the food reviewers at Yamu just reviewed your restaurant and gave you an awesome 5-star review on their site. What you could do is possibly reach out to them and if they allow, ask to have a sponsored email of the review sent out to all of their subscribers. (This example is based on the assumptions that the good people at Yamu will agree to such a thing and their email list is an opt-in)

This is a very scarce opportunity for Sri Lankans to come across solely because not many publications have built their own email databases.


Do not rent out email addresses. Build an email list of your own. If that’s not an option due to budget and time constraints, you’ll be better off using other digital alternatives such as Gmail ads, social media ads and sponsored mailers to get your message across.

Help us end the corporate email spamming culture in Sri Lanka. Spread the message! Share this article with your friends and colleagues!

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