The Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of E-Mail Marketing
The best practices and biggest mistakes magazine marketers make when it comes to e-mail.
There was a time when e-mail marketing was virtually fool-proof;send out 50,000 e-mails to your database and watch the responses roll in. Some marketers even thought direct mail would become obsolete.
But they were wrong. Soon came the world of CAN-SPAM laws, Junk folders, bounce backs and the surfacing of consumers who had become Web savvy enough to create fake e-mail accounts. Marketers had to be smarter;and more importantly, more targeted;with their e-mail efforts.
How do you do it? Follow these top tips to ensure your e-mail gets past SPAM blockers and actually opened by the recipient.
1. DO test creative ideas, offers, subject lines and frequency, constantly. There is no golden rule to frequency, but just because e-mail costs less than direct mail, doesn’t mean you can get carried away. Marketers often violate the permission consumers are granting for contact and end up on SPAM lists.
2. DON’T use the "throw it up against the wall to see what sticks" theory. "Use targeted e-mail marketing efforts. Know your audience and make sure your e-mail copy is relevant and moves them to action," says Jodi Svenson, director of audience development at MeisterMedia Worldwide.
3. DO make sure your e-mail service provider is coming through on the deliverability rate they guaranteed you when you first chose them as your provider. "As circulators we fold our hands and say, ﾑI did my part’ and we just assume that the company and e-mail support staff are doing theirs," says Bobbie Macy, circulation director at October Research Corporation. "Circulators don’t worry about whether the message is being sent out with a shared IP address or the reputation of the IP address. All the hard work you do to capture e-mail addresses and other creative marketing strategies are all for naught if the e-mail address you have now are not being delivered."
4. DON’T assume that more bells and whistles means you will see better results. Test both HTML and text e-mails to keep efforts fresh. "I am planning on a test to see if women in our market respond better to HTML than men," says Macy. "It might give me a boost in response but we’ll have to see."
5. DO use HTML if you want to instill brand recognition with recipients. This way you can insert logos and familiarize your audience with your brand.
6. DON’T use excessive copy bolding, all caps, the word "free" in the subject line or too many color font changes. All of these are instant-SPAM red flags, says Svenson.
7. DO know the privacy laws like the back of your hand. Use targeted lists and make sure your message is relevant to your audience.
8. DON’T make e-mail messages too long or require too much action from the recipient. "The most successful campaigns we have done were messages that were short and simple and didn’t require the subscriber to do a whole lot," says Macy. "A simple, ﾑYes, I’m interested’ and reply works best.
9. DO look into services like Return Path, Pivotal Vericity and Habeus to help you manage your SPAM messages. Try creating decoy e-mail addresses at the different ISP’s to see how they interpret and deliver your message.
10. DON’T forget to keep your file clean. Reputation is a huge factor in deliverability. If a sender does not clean their lists, they can actually negatively impact their reputation which in turn negatively impacts their deliverability. "Get rid of e-mail addresses that are hard bounces, bad domains and user-not-founds," says Svenson.