Is Your E-mail Marketing In Line With Industry “Best Practices?”

E-mail marketing remains a powerful and cost effective way for reaching existing customers and new ones; particularly since e-mail recipients via their mobile devices such as the iPhone and Blackberry, can access their e-mail messages. 

However, for e-mail marketing to work effectively, business owners should embrace industry best practices in order to prevent disaster.  Incorrectly implemented e-mail campaigns can quickly erode relationships with your customers as well as damage the image and reputation of your business.  In worst-case scenarios, your business could put itself at risk with unpleasant legal ramifications. 

Before I share with you some e-mail marketing best practices, it is important to underscore the importance of having an e-mail database of “quality contacts.”  e-mail marketing best practices will carry very little value if you don’t have a quality e-mail database.  Very briefly, this is a database of individuals that have opted in to receive your e-mails. This is also referred to as permission-based marketing and is a crucial driver behind whether your e-mails are quickly deleted from inboxes or end up in recipients’ spam folders. 

You should avoid buying or renting e-mail lists.  Even if someone has agreed to receive unsolicited e-mails from third parties, this does not mean that recipients will be receptive to or even open your e-mail for that matter.  Sending unsolicited e-mails is quite simply SPAM mail and can very quickly damage your business’ reputation as well as subject it to legal implications.        

Here’s a handful of industry best practices to keep in mind with your next e-mail marketing campaign:

  • Test, test, test!  personalise the subject line; e.g., “A special offer for the Jones Family!”  Remember not to go over 35 characters. Test different lists, as they’re not alike.  For example, a list of e-mails that you collected from a tradeshow, may respond differently than other e-mail lists    Test different offers, promotions and marketing messages and make the e-mails time sensitive; e.g., “Valid this week only.”  This will have profound effect on your click rates.
  • personalise the subject line; e.g., “A special offer for the Jones Family!”  Remember not to go over 35 characters.
  • Test different lists, as they’re not alike.  For example, a list of e-mails that you collected from a tradeshow, may respond differently than other e-mail lists   
  • Test different offers, promotions and marketing messages and make the e-mails time sensitive; e.g., “Valid this week only.”  This will have profound effect on your click rates.
  • Segment the e-mail list based on what you know about the customers; where they live, how much they spend, last time they purchased from you, etc. 
  • Include a privacy policy and any disclosures pertaining to list sharing
  • Include an unsubscribe option in every e-mail
  • Include a Customer Service contact e-mail and/or phone number
  • Don’t e-mail the same individuals too frequently and have a consistent mailing schedule
  •  Use a From name that will be familiar to your recipients; whether it’s a company name or the name of an individual.  The From field is the very first thing that e-mail recipients look at.
  • Avoid excessive use of CAPS or exclamation points (!!!) in the subject line and body copy as this may trigger spam filters
  • Avoid words in the subject line and body copy that will trigger spam filters
  • Make sure all e-mail subscribers opt in and that e-mails are relevant to the recipients based on what they requested
  • Send both an HTML version and a text version when e-mailing newsletters/reports.  Attaching a PDF version of the newsletter is also helpful.
  • Know your target audience through research insights

These e-mail marketing best practices are an excerpt from the FREE eBook “Top 10 Best Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business.” The eBook also covers other marketing topics such as mobile marketing, video marketing, search engine optimization and search engine marketing. You can download it for free at SmallBusinessMarketingAdvisors.com.   

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