Mar 10, 2014

Email Marketing Dos and Don’ts

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 15 years, you know that email has become a very prominent marketing tool for businesses.  The reason? It works!  Compared to all other online marketing methods, email consistently delivers the best click-thru and conversion rates.

Here are some tips to help you get the best results from email marketing.

Email Marketing DO Follow the Rules

This first tip isn’t a fun one, but it is the most important for a couple of reasons. 1. Following the CAN-SPAM rules makes the internet and email better for the whole internet-using community. (Don’t you hate getting Junk messages too?) 2. When people complain about your email or mark it as SPAM or Junk, that actually get’s reported and can seriously affect your reputation as an email sender.  Get enough complaints, and you could be blacklisted!

CAN-SPAM Rules for Beginners

  • Make sure you’ve gotten permission to send bulk email to someone in the form of an opt-in.  Just because someone filled out your website’s Contact form and provided an email address does not mean you have permission to send bulk emails.  They need to have checked a field that says something like, “yes, I want to get emails from you about special offers.”
  • Allow people a clear way to Unsubscribe or opt-out with a link somewhere in every message.
  • Let people know who you are and where you are located in the email.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines or headlines.

DON’T Buy Email Addresses

While this is not explicitly against the CAN-SPAM rules, it can fall under “getting people’s permission” to send emails.  Plus, if your list is less than perfect or clean, you run the risk of a high number of bounced emails or complaints, which can get you blacklisted (meaning email from your web server or domain name just won’t be delivered anymore!).

It is very tempting to go this route.  After all, sending an email to 40,000 people must be better than sending an email to 400, right?  Not necessarily. If none of those 40,000 people want what you’re selling, you just wasted your time and effort.  Meanwhile, those 400 highly-qualified people that requested you send emails to them have already expressed interest in your business or product, making them much more likely to open your email and click on a link.

DO Think Carefully About Your Subject Line

Your email has two big hurdles to get through before it can deliver your message.  First, it has to get through SPAM and Junk Mail filters.  If your subject line is too SPAM-y, it will likely never reach many of your subscribers’ in-boxes.

Some things to avoid:

  • Words and phrases like FREE, mortgage, insurance, act now, casino, limited time, coupons, click now, open immediately, HURRY, etc.
  • Prices, dollar signs, or words and phrases pertaining to money
  • Excessive punctuation, especially !!!!!!!
  • ALL CAPS
  • These words: help, percent off, donation, and reminder

After you get through the SPAM and Junk Mail filters, you need to convince your recipient to actually open your email.

Tips for Actionable Subject Lines:

  • Make sure people know immediately what’s inside and who the message is from
  • Make it intriguing, but in a way that makes your offer or content clear
  • Avoid cheesy or flashy language
  • Don’t get clever
  • Keep it simply and short (50 characters or less)
  • Don’t use the same subject line for your newsletter over and over again. Indicate that there is unique content to be found.
  • Try a subject line framed as a question

DON’T Flood Your Subscribers’ In-Boxes

Your customers and potential customers trusted you with their email address.  Respect that show of good will with one of your own and don’t abuse the privilege you earned. Only send an email when you have something new, valuable, or unique to communicate with your customers. Send emails too often, and first they’ll start to be ignored, before finally people start to unsubscribe.

DO Make Sure Your Subscribers Benefit from Your Emails

Give your email readers a reason to subscribe and keep opening your emails.  If you’re a retailer, make sure you’re sending compelling, relevant offers that they’ll only get via those emails. Share tips, inspiration, relevant news and information. Be friendly and generous.

DON’T Send People Information or Offers They Don’t Want

Try segmenting your email list, so you can send highly targeted email messages.  For instance, let’s say you’re an apparel retailer that sells Women’s, Men’s and Children’s clothing.  Use groups and segmentation so you don’t end up sending the gentleman who has only ever clicked on or purchased men’s clothing an email featuring your Spring toddler line.  Personalizing emails in this way can help you increase your click-thru rates and overall campaign effectiveness.

DO Test

Testing should have two phases. Test your email before you send it to customers to make sure it displays properly in multiple email readers and programs (how does it look on an iPhone, for instance). Be sure you’re sending a plain text version for email readers that can’t display HTML or images.

When it is time to send your email, consider A/B Testing to help you identify the most effective subject lines, delivery times and days, and email content.

DON’T Forget About Mobile

As mobile connectivity and usage continues to grow, it has become increasingly important to make sure your emails display well on mobile devices. In particular, you might consider responsive mobile emails that deliver an optimum display for smart phones instead of forcing your email readers to zoom and scan. Also consider the links in your email.  If someone on a phone clicks a link in your email, will they land on a website that is mobile-friendly?

Our online marketing department can create monthly email campaigns that will increase your sales. Stop waiting to  find out how many leads you are missing out on.

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