Email marketing is a constantly changing entity. This form of marketing has evolved into a new beast over the last decade; one forced to take on a tame and intelligent form. Gone are the days when the eager marketeer could scrape email addresses from websites and bombard unsuspecting recipients with sales emails for products, services or events they aren’t interested in. And thank goodness for the change!
Is your inbox cluttered with unwanted email promotions?
Even with targeted email marketing, whereby the person pressing the send button has actually taken time to find out if the email is appropriate for the recipient, is it actually wanted? This is key. If the email is not targeted to the right person and one who has given permission to be contacted, it will not be opened, and the only action taken will be delete or worse, marked as spam. If the emails you send out get marked as spam, you can end up in a world of trouble. At that point, even genuine emails that you try to send to your regular contacts, colleagues and family will no longer get through.
Quality over quantity
Plan your email marketing meticulously, particularly who you’re sending it to. Get permission to send emails to your contacts, whether your email is a newsletter, an announcement, or a sales promotion. The best way to do this is to ask people to opt in to receive your emails and be very clear on what your contact is giving you permission to send them. If your email service provider/email marketing software has the functionality, use a preference centre. This allows your contacts to tell you what they want to receive from you and how often. You’ll see the percentages of open rates and click throughs to your website soar when you only email people who want to hear from you.
Avoid the lure of purchasing cheap email data lists online. Chances are the email addresses will be general – admin, office, info – rather than personalised with a name. Remember that if a list is for sale, then others will already have bought the list and anyone on there will have received countless unsolicited emails. The last thing you need is to get flagged as spam. This can get your entire email marketing operation banned from email service providers.
Segment your lists
Segmentation is often overlooked, but gives a huge boost to the success of your campaign. It is imperative to break down your lists and only send relevant emails to each section. This might be based on the recipient’s interest, geographical location, previous purchase history with you, or their age, gender etc. Consider whether the teenage boy on your list really want to receive your email promoting the latest anti cellulite cream or incontinence pants… maybe, but unlikely for the mass.
And the ultimate question, how do you collect email addresses? There are data laws telling you what is and is not allowed. Basically, don’t send email marketing to anyone who has not given you permission. If you meet someone face to face and they give you their business card, this probably means they are happy to hear from you. But even with this scenario, think about what you’re sending. Whilst that person may want to keep in touch, they might not want all your sales promotions.
Ideally have a form on your website that allows you to collect email addresses. Good examples of this are newsletter sign ups, or encouraging people to sign up to receive a freebie. You can also use printed marketing materials to gather email addresses, for example shops often have a stack of postcards on their sales counters, and in return for giving your email address, you receive special offers by email. Be creative and be clear.
When it’s time to say Goodbye
One last point to mention in terms of data laws and email marketing; unsubscribe. By law you must include an unsubscribe option on all marketing emails. And it must be quick and easy for your contacts to unsubscribe. Hands up, who loves those unsubscribe buttons that take you to a web page that asks “Are you sure?” then “Tell us why?”, or one that forces you to enter your email address to activate the unsubscribe? This might provide useful feedback for the marketeer, but is unnecessarily annoying to a possibly already disgruntled person. Let people leave on good terms. An unsubscribe might not mean you’re no longer loved, if you have a strong brand, the recipient just might not need to hear from you.