The Dos and Don'ts of Email Marketing

Don't try to email the masses using the email program on your computer. Email programs such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and others were not designed for mass emailing. Sure, they can send a message to multiple people, but if you are trying to market using email, these programs just don't have the tools and the horsepower necessary to get the job done right. First, there are no tracking capabilities with desktop email programs and if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Second, most service providers allow only 50 emails to be sent at one time. Third, sending mass email using these programs does not meet SPAM law requirements and is just plain unprofessional. Most mass emails sent this way will not even reach their destination due to strict and unforgiving SPAM filters in use today. SPAM has become such a problem that even email that you want sometimes gets caught in the filter; your unprofessional attempt has no chance! Finally, most people sending mass email using these programs don't do it correctly. They put all the email addresses in the "To:" field, which lets every recipient see everyone else's email address. Even worse, you run the risk of unscrupulous types adding these people to their lists, which leads me to my second 'don't.'

Don't add people to your list that didn't ask to be on your list. There is a term called "Opt-in." Opt-in is the act of someone asking to be on your email list. They "opted" to be included when you send email which means they find what you have to say worth receiving and they have given you something very valuable in return for this information, their "permission" to market to them. So try not to blow it! This leads me to my final 'don't.'

Don't be annoying. You should not abuse the privilege of someone's opt-in status. The average Internet user gets close to a hundred emails a day. If they joined your list, try and respect their time and permission. Send email when you have something worth sending and don't abuse the right, otherwise it will be taken away. Alright, on to the 'dos'!

Do segment your list. When you use a good email marketing program, you can segment your list to send the most relevant information to the people that can use it most. Doing this will increase the overall results of any email campaign instantly. For instance, Harley Davidson is one of our clients, and we handle their email marketing. They segment their list in a few different ways. For example, Do you own a Harley Davidson Motorcycle or not? If you do, what model is it? Now that they know what model motorcycle you have, they can email you when they have information related to your bike, such as specials on parts, service or gear. If you don't ride, you may not receive emails about upcoming group rides. The point is, by filtering who gets what information, you insure that people only see what is relevant to their needs, and that's how you build a good, targeted, valuable list that people look forward to and even anticipate receiving.

Do use a catchy subject line. However, you cannot be deceptive and the information contained within the email must be relevant. For example, the title of this article, "Fail to email? plan to fail" is catchy; relevant to the information contained within, and is not deceptive in nature.

Do have a plan for emailing. This just may be the most important aspect regarding email marketing. You would not build a birdhouse without a plan, so why market your company without one? If you are one of the opt-in recipients of Barnes & Nobles' email newsletter, you know that it comes out once per week, always on a Wednesday and after 1PM. Why Wednesday at 1:00PM you ask? Because they have a plan. Research has indicated that Mondays and Fridays are bad days to send out marketing material as people are either starting or ending their weeks. Mornings are bad for email as most people are bombarded with email first thing in the morning and adversely, end-of-the-day emails get little attention as people are tired. So, after testing multiple timeslots on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we determined that the largest percentage of people opened and read our emails at 1PM on a Wednesday. Now, if we did not have a plan and a professional email marketing program, we would not be able to determine how to make our email marketing as effective and efficient as it could be. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of constructing proper emails. You are sending communication from your company to another. The end result of sending a poorly constructed or difficult to load and open communication will send the wrong message about your company.

Each email you send leaves an impression about your company on the person reading it. Should your email be riddled with typos, marked as "junk" or "SPAM," use ridiculous colors and fonts, take too long to load or just plain poor, how do you think that reflects on you and your company?

By Jay Conrad Levinson, founder of Guerrilla Marketing




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