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The Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing

I spent part of this last weekend between watching football games reading a new book entitled “The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing” by Eric Groves. Eric is the Senior Vice President of Global Market Development at Constant Contact. Constant Contact is the largest provider of email marketing software and tools for small businesses, associations and nonprofits. Eric wrote this book because he noticed that a lot of their users were not avoiding some of the biggest pitfalls when it came to using their services. Eric is big on lists about the do’s and don’t of implementing an email marketing program. In fact, the first chapter is a summary of all of the lists condensed down to 40 items to consider.

As I said in my last posting about the benefits of direct mail, I am a firm believer in Email Marketing. At AlphaGraphics, we started a practice in 2009 of sending out monthly email newsletters to our customer lists. We are also active in getting our customers and prospects to sign up for these emails. What I found out after reading this book, is that I can do a significantly better job with these emails by using the information in this book. I do use Constant Contact for my emails and I do highly recommend their service if anyone is serious about doing this on a frequent basis.

The biggest concern that Constant Contact has and the one I have always been concerned about is the number of spam complaints received from any of the emails sent. Eric stated that if an issuer can keep the spam complaints to less than 1 in a 1,000, then there should be no concern. Since the emails are sent out by the Constant Contact ISP, any large spam complaints effect both Constant Contact and the issuer’s domain name which could result in excessive blocking and filtering by the larger email providers or worse yet, a CAN-SPAM complaint. That is why Constant Contact makes the issuer assure them that they have permission to send emails to the recipients prior to accepting the list. The biggest gray area, however, is in the area of implied permission. Eric stated that if the recipient knows who you are, has done business with you in the past, or if you get them to give your permission then you probably can avoid any CAN-SPAM problems.

There is also a couple of chapters on how to decrease the number of emails that are rejected by the recipients and the number of unsubscribes. Some of the discussion centers around being recognized by the recipient, using a good subject title, avoiding spam words and giving the recipient what you promised when they signed up to receive your emails. The length of the emails was also discussed, which is an area that I struggle with. The longer the email, the faster the recipient will lose interest and unsubscribe. If you do have a longer message, it is usually better to give the essential information in a paragraph or two and then link to your website where the full information is available. This is also a great way to get the recipient to go to your website.

Although emails that promote your product are acceptable, the most favorably received emails are the ones that are informative in nature. Writing as an expert in your field are the best emails. Even though you don’t feel like and expert, you certainly know more about your field than a majority of your readers. Having a call to action is also very important. Getting the reader to go to your website to download a white paper, participate in a survey or receive a promotional offering is important when you consider why you are sending these messages out.

Constant Contact, as well as most of their competitors provides a lot of analytical information on each email that is sent. They can tell you how many people have opened your email and who they are, how many people forwarded your email to someone else, who opted out of future emails from you and how many emails were non-deliverable for a variety of reasons. These analytics allow you to adjust your message or your subject line to increase readership.

Eric does spend a lot of time trying to help the reader address the concern about content. He acknowledges that this is the weakest link in having and maintaining a long-term email marketing program. His biggest suggestion is to write like an expert but don’t say everything in the first email message. He also states that the value of an email marketing program is significant enough that you might want to consider hiring someone in charge of content whether it is an in-house employee or a consultant.

I do believe that anyone who is currently using an email campaign or are contemplating a campaign should both read this book and consider using a company such as Constant Contact for their provider. AlphaGraphics can help you design an email marketing program and has access to content writers.

You can reach us at AlphaGraphics at the following websites:
AlphaGraphics Mesa on Baseline 480-844-2222
AlphaGraphics Tempe on Elliot 480-413-1900
AlphaGraphics Phoenix – Northwest Valley 602-234-2944

Follow me on Twitter at: Steve’s Twitter Account

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