Email Marketing Campaign Dos and Don’ts

Are you doing email right? Or making some elementary mistakes?  I was reminded of some basic dos and don’ts of email marketing recently when I tried to remove myself from a large organization’s email list.

This should have been easy: one click and done.  Instead it become a long, drawn-out exercise requiring going to their website, searching for a contact page, writing two emails (the website hiccuped while I was writing the first email and I wasn’t sure if it went through), and eventually getting someone to remove me manually.

Email marketing campaign “dos”

1) Send a follow-up email thanking new registrants or subscribers for signing up.

2) Require a double opt-in. This means both asking for the initial email address (and whatever additional information you need), and then sending an email to that address requiring that the person confirm their subscription. This can be done automatically.

3) Send an email within thirty days of the initial signup, with the first installment, issue, etc. If you wait longer, people will forget they signed up.

4) Include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email, as well as your physical address (this can be a P.O. box). Removal from your list should require only sending an email and visiting a single web page.

5) Create both HTML and text versions of your message.

Many people read messages on their phones or tablets while on the go.  Images (especially large ones) take longer to download and eat up data plans. Also, some have images turned off by default.  Add “alt text” tags describing the image to any graphics you use.  That way they’ll still be understandable, even if the image itself doesn’t show.

Email marketing campaign don’ts

1) Don’t make it difficult to opt-out.  Don’t require a login, a fee, or anything else other than a single click or a single reply email.  The penalties for violating these rules are severe: up to $16,000 per email!

2) Don’t skip testing! Send a test email to yourself to make sure it looks the way you want it to.  If you can, test it on different email clients (Mac Mail, Gmail, Outlook) and on more than one device (Windows desktop, Apple desktop, and phones).  Each will display your email slightly differently. Also make sure your links all work properly.

3) Never skip proofreading.  Try to have someone else look at it before you hit “send.” Or, take a break and go do something else.  It’s a good way to catch mistakes.

4) Don’t forget the rest of the CAN-SPAM rules.  You must include a real address (a P.O. box is fine) at the end of every email.

5) Don’t remove landing pages or links after a campaign is over.  People may be on vacation, or go back to your email weeks after you sent it). If it was a limited offer, add a message to the page with a link to a new relevant offer, or redirect it to the new page.

6) Don’t ignore frequency options.  Many people unsubscribe because they receive too many emails.  Offer them the chance to receive emails less frequently, or only on certain topics.  You can add the form for this directly to your unsubscribe link.

7) Never automatically subscribe existing readers to a new list.  It’s technically legal, but it will make your customers and subscribers mad.  If  you start something new, add information about the new publication to the old one and ask people to sign up.  Just don’t do it without permission.