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February 29, 2016

Email Marketing to Children: Is it ethical?

By Ella Wilson

email marketing to children

Just had an interesting conversation with salesperson David Quinones. We were discussing the possibility of one of our clients email marketing to children.

Something about it seemed … off. But we couldn’t put our fingers on why.

Billion-dollar market 

Companies market to kids all the time. The current market for children’s products is in the billions – The Advertising Educational Foundation even estimates as high as $1 trillion – which includes their own spending and the spending other people do on kids’ behalf. With that much money on the line, it seems ridiculous to not market to children using email marketing, especially for small businesses.

David and I chatted and decided the unease we both felt about marketing to children lies in two things: the message and the method.

The method: Get parental permission  

Getting parental permission to market to children isn’t just best practice, it’s the law. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 requires that companies that want to collect children’s personal information, such as names and email address, must first get verifiable parental consent. The whole point of COPPA is to make sure parents stay in control of what information is collected about their children under 13 and how that information is used.

Not following COPPA regulations can lead to a $16,000 fine per violation. And if that doesn’t kill your marketing budget, what will?

The Message: Honesty is the best policy  

When it comes to the message, adults have developed a radar to know when advertisements are playing on their fears, making unrealistic promises, or are just manipulative crap. Kids don’t have that ability.

If you tell a kid she needs a certain toy to be popular, she’ll believe you. Then, when mom doesn’t shell out $50 for a machine that simultaneously grinds glitter into the carpet while whistling, (because mom isn’t a masochist), then that poor child is left legitimately thinking she isn’t going to be popular. Her poor little pre-teen soul is crushed and eventually she turns to drugs. It’s a slippery slope, folks. Market with care. The future depends on you.

Curb your enthusiasm

It’s sometimes hard, as a marketer, to curb our enthusiasm when it comes to pushing products. But kids are going to take your advertising messages at face value, so take extra care not to exaggerate the benefits or features of your product.

No child needs to be told (or inadvertently shown) that they need your product to be happy, popular, smart, accepted, or any of the other things boys and girls so desperately desire. Childhood is hard enough – don’t make it harder by pushing unscrupulous messages.

Is it worth it to email market to kids?

Oh yeah. Besides their multi-billion dollar spending power, kids are online in a big way.

  • According to a Common Sense Media report, The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens:
  • 53% of tweens age 8-12 have their own tablets
  • 67% of teens have their own smartphones
  • Teens spend 9 hours a day consuming media
  • Tweens spend 6 hours a day consuming media

If there’s one place you can get your message to kids, it’s online.

The parents are judging you – so act right!

One thing to keep very much in the front of your mind when you’re marketing to children is this: parents are watching you, and parents are scary. Parents are on hyper-alert when it comes to their kids, so one tasteless email or inappropriate social media post and parents will hit “unsubscribe” faster than you can take a selfie at the mall. Parents are the gatekeepers to their children, so you’ve got to get through them to make their kids your customers.

Need help email marketing to children?

With a top-notch team of Infusionsoft experts, designers, developers, and the world’s best copywriter, GetUWired can craft effective, tasteful sales emails that are kid tested and parent approved! Get started today by calling us at 877-236-9094 or visiting us online at www.GetUWired.com.

About Ella Wilson

Ella WilsonElla Wilson is GetUWired’s “Queen of Words.” This world-class marketing copywriter is a former journalist and travel writer who’s spent the last decade weaving gripping tales for publications coast to coast. She’s got her finger on the pulse of today’s marketing trends. Notable clients who have been graced with her powerful prose include FUBU founder and Shark Tank star Daymond John, self-help star and Emmy-award winner Rhonda Britten, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen.