Six Email Marketing Reminders
By Mark Brownlow
When you're in the campaign trenches and knee-deep
in metrics reports, it's easy to lose sight
of some broader issues concerning your approach
to email marketing.
Here are some reminders to help you step back
and reevaluate your efforts.
1. Don't let legislation drive you to distraction
Compliance with anti-spam legislation is
(obviously) critical to email marketers. But
don't let it distract you from other key marketing
issues. Otherwise, it's like ensuring your
restaurant conforms to food hygiene regulations
and then forgetting to cook meals that people
actually want to eat.
For example, the focus on CAN-SPAM compliance
led some marketers to forget that recipients
and legislators don't necessarily share the
same definitions of what's acceptable. Just
because the government says it's legal to
send the email doesn't mean you should.
Legitimate email marketing was always based
on the concept of permission. Successful email
marketing is still based on that premise,
not on simply meeting some legal requirement.
That means relevant, valuable emails sent
to people who asked or agreed to get them.
We would all do well to go back to some of
our email marketing primers and remind ourselves
of basic permission issues.
2. Revise your understanding of what email
One of the positives arising from CAN-SPAM
discussions is the wider awareness that marketing
emails cover more than just dedicated campaigns
or retention-oriented newsletters.
Every email contact with a prospect or customer
is a marketing opportunity?aa point overlooked
by many top companies. Not always an opportunity
in a direct marketing/sales sense, but certainly
in a brand-building or relationship-marketing
So take a look at your organization and ensure
that there are no gaps in your email communication.
In particular, be certain you're making the
most of all outgoing email to reinforce brand
messages, encourage customer communication
or cement customer relationships.
Consider, for example, the voice and style
you're using in the following:
- Subscription confirmation messages
- List welcome messages
- Unsubscribe confirmation messages (not
everybody is leaving for good!)
- Transactional emails such as order confirmations
- Customer service emails (including automated
"we got your message" messages,
many of which start off with an oh-so-friendly
"DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL!")
3. Avoid complacency
If your automated email marketing campaigns
or initiatives are generating good ROIs, don't
get pampered into inactivity.
First, a good result isn't the same as a
Second, the email marketing environment changes
so quickly that you need to be flexible enough
to respond to new challenges and exploit new
So keep on testing, testing, testing to find
incremental improvements. And monitor performance
and the market to spot critical developments
demanding a response.
Constant improvements in email marketing
practices are raising the quality bar across
inboxes. A few years ago, people were excited
to get an email... any email. Now, your email
is constantly being compared with the rest
of the inbox, and facing ever-tougher criteria
to qualify for reader attention.
Equally, email technologies constantly open
new opportunities to get more out of your
lists. For example, are you integrating customer
and marketing databases to optimize contact
frequency across all channels? Do you segment
your readership? Are you customizing emails
based on a recipient's past clickthrough behavior?
4. Check your assumptions regularly
The dynamic email marketing environment also
means that things which held true yesterday
don't necessarily hold true today. Studies
show, for example, that the supposed "best
day to send marketing email" changes.
Numerous factors outside your control affect
reader response to your missives. Keep a constant
test regime going to monitor changes in preferences
and winning response triggers through time.
More important, look critically at generalized
conclusions that are published (including
in articles like this!). Each company has
unique audiences, offers and objectives. So
the insights from one company's campaign or
a survey's "average" result might
not apply to your situation.
It's the T word again: test!
5. Don't buy a wreath for the email marketing
As part of the traditional economic development
process, it's incumbent on supporters of new
technologies to cast doubts on the viability
of the older ones. I suspect that back in
the 1870s one of Alexander Graham Bell's assistants
pronounced "the letter is dead."
Some proponents of RSS technologies, for
example, like to describe email marketing
in the past tense. But don't believe a word
What is happening is that email marketing
is getting more sophisticated and challenging.
There is no more low-hanging fruit.
Don't get down about the medium because of
a few PR sound bites from those touting alternatives.
Base your strategic and budgeting decisions
on hard data, campaign experiences and objective
Having said that...
6. Consider other delivery technologies for
your email content
Just because email marketing is alive and
well doesn't mean you should stop investigating
new forms of content delivery. Integration
has become the watchword in e-commerce, with
the realization that the more channels you
offer the shopper, the more they'll spend
and the more shoppers you'll get. That's a
lesson email marketers can learn.
Are you integrating your email efforts with
other marketing vehicles? And might you tap
into new or improved markets by offering alternative
ways to get the content previously reserved
Top of the list here is RSS feeds. Some customers
or prospects are likely to prefer RSS to email.
So consider giving them the choice. It's not
an "either or" scenario. You should
be concerned with overall marketing success,
and not protecting email as a marketing medium.