Archive for 7 July 2008

Must-Dos (and Don’ts) for E-Mail Marketing

A couple of my clients have been going through some tough times with their e-mail promotions and their trials and tribulations highlight some of the big dos and don’ts in the e-mail age.

DO:

  1. Use a professional e-mail marketing service
     I can’t stress enough the importance of using an “e-mail house” for your promotions. These services provide easy-to-use templates for announcements, newsletters,  invitations, etc. where you can add your own logo, graphics, and more to create a customized look. But most importantly these companies have “white list” agreements with most of the major internet service providers so that your e-mail is less likely to get bounced as spam or shunted to the recipient’s junk folder. 
     
  2. Pay attention to the subject line
    Oh, you’ve worked hard on your list and you have a great offer, but you send it out with a lame subject line like “Spring Into Savings–All April Long” or “We Have Your Decorating Answers”. What’s wrong with these? They’re written like advertising copy, where the rest of info to support the claim is usually able to be quickly scanned for confirmation. But with an e-mail you only have your subject line to capture attention. When it comes to e-mail marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside; they don’t sell what’s inside.
     
  3.  Keep your lists updated
     First, you should have multiple lists. One for vendors, one for previous customers, one for leads, one for press, etc. Then you should also be able to overlap and sort them past on the purpose of the e-mail. Perhaps everyone gets your e-mail newsletter, but only certain customers are notified of a special offer and so on. If an e-mail is returned as undeliverable, you will be notified, but it’s still up to you to check on the reason why. Perhaps it’s a simple typo, or perhaps the company changed it’s e-mail protocol. Don’t assume every undeliverable is no longer any good, a minute of research could save you a valuable contact. On the other hand, be sure to purge your list of addresses you can confirm are no longer valid.
     
  4. Check your stats
     E-mail marketing services allow users to track the performance of an e-mail, showing open rates (25% should be what you’re aiming for) and click-throughs to any web address embedded in the e-mail. Once you’re confident in the quality of your list, it’s not a bad idea to run a few experiments… try different subject lines to different portions of your list on a newsletter to see which pulls the higher returns or try two different versions of a similar sales offer, etc. This way you’ll get a better feel of what your base responds to. 

DON’TS

  1. Get labeled as a spammer
    Most e-mail marketing services require that you have a relationship with a contact prior to adding the name to your list. This is commonly known as permission-based marketing. Obviously the e-mail marketer cannot verify that relationship prior to sending the e-mail, but anyone who receives your e-mail will have the automatic option of reporting it as span and will be immediately unsubscribed from your list. You will not be able to add them to your list again. And is your e-mail receives over a certain percentage of unsubscribe requests, the e-mail marketing service may ban you from the system.
     
  2. Abuse/Overuse your list
    The relatively low cost of e-mail promotions makes it tempting to send a flurry of news, updates, promotions and more to your list. After all, there’s a lot going on in your business they should be aware of, right?  But I’m sure we’ve all been on the other end of endless e-mail campaigns from the catalog we bought from once, or the charity you sponsored your sister’s walkathon team, or whatever. Don’t go from being a must-read to an automatic delete.
     
  3. Forget to make an offer 
    Even a news announcement or a general newsletter should include some type of offer to continue the relationship…“Click here for the rest of the story…” “Check out more photos on our website” etc. Because getting them to open your e-mail is only one part of the process.

Your website hosting agreement may include an e-mail promotional opportunity, or it may be available through them for an upcharge, but my preference here is to go with a specialist. Here’s a list of some of the leaders in this field.

Constant Contact
Topica
Rapid Reach
Bronto
Murgent
Icontact
and newcomer Emma.

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7 July 2008 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment


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