Email Marketing - Do's and Don'ts
08 September 2008
If you use email to communicate with your market, this article is a must read.
Like it or not, Email marketing is here to stay. As a digital marketing agency, it’s our business to stay up to speed with developments but for many, it’s a minefield. How many ugly, non-functional, broken mass emails do you see every week? I get hundreds and I’m talking local organisations, not the Viagra crowd here.
So what can you do to avoid being an email numpty and contributing to this inbox litter?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Do Test Your Email. Just because it looks OK to you doesn’t mean it looks OK to anybody else. There are scores of email programs and each will display your email differently. Outlook (2003 onwards) blocks all images by default. What do you mean that your key message was in a graphic?! Maybe that’s why nobody clicked...
Do offer an unsubscribe link. You’re obliged to by law.
Do use a good quality list and treat the recipients as people. You’ll do far better building relationships than talking at people. Your recipients are all potential advocates of your brand and it’s your job to build the relationship to the point where they become just that.
Do think about presentation. Presentation counts for a great deal and you’re out to impress. What will your market think when they receive ugly, off brand, broken or inaccessible communications from you?
Do include a call to action. It’s easy to forget or shy away from but it will increase your response rates and recipients value directness – it saves time and precious attention.
Do consider using a professional service. It’s not appropriate for everybody – the communication might not be that important or you may just be getting started. At some point though, you will be communicating to the most important people in your business – customers. Amateurish communications stand out and they will judge you accordingly.
Do keep it short and simple. Bear in mind the environment you’re operating in. The inbox is best suited to short communications. If you give away the whole story, what reason does your reader have for taking further action? Often it’s better to use a short paragraph and stop partway to engage the curiosity of your… [More]
Do Spellcheck. It san obveyus one but freequently overloked. Get at least one other person to proof your copy as a minimum. This helps to avoid “Copy Blindness” – when you have written something yourself, it’s impossible to see it with fresh eyes.
Don’t let convenience make you sloppy. It’s very, very easy to CC a big list with a pointless or counterproductive communication. It’s easy and convenient to cut your own hair too..
Don’t put your list in the CC field. Ever! If you absolutely must use a mail client like Outlook to send mass email, rather than professional email broadcast software, use the BCC field. If you do use the CC list, you are on questionable legal ground as you will infringe the privacy rights of everybody on your list by effectively giving the list to all of the recipients. Some of the worst scenarios I’ve seen involving mass email come down to this schoolboy error. I remember one company where a supplier hit “reply all” and took the opportunity to tell the entire list that the company didn’t pay their bills and that their product could be bought at lower cost elsewhere!
Don’t get blacklisted. If you’re using your own email account (rather than a professional) to manage your email broadcasts, you’re basically sending bulk email through your ISP’s mailserver - they only provide that to you for conventional email use. Fall foul of enough spam filters or complaints and both your email address and the IP address of the server are at risk from blacklisting. Not good..
Don’t Spam. It’s not worth it. Everybody on your list should have given you their permission. In B2B mailing, that could mean having given you a business card, but beware – consumers are better protected.
Don’t worry too much about timing. At least not to the point where it prevents you from acting, anyway. Sure time of day is important but not as important as getting great content out to a responsive list. If you send on a Sunday night, your email may get lost in the Monday morning deluge. If you send on a Friday afternoon, you may get more attention for light-hearted content as people wind down. Tuesday lunchtimes are regarded as a good time for maximising response rate.
Don’t “Fire and Forget”. Broadcast software is fairly advanced and affordable now and can provide very accurate tracking, not just of bounces and successful deliveries but links clicked. Every email you send should be giving you a snapshot of what people are interested in Right This Minute.