Email Marketing Campaigns: Avoiding Mistakes
Itís human nature to make the odd mistake. However, there are mistakes which we simply cannot afford to make, the kind that has huge consequences.
Doctors canít afford to misdiagnose patientís illnesses and surgeons make critical decisions that donít allow for the slightest mistake because it could cost a patients life.
As for government officials and presidents, there mistakes have a vast affect on the futures of the countries that they rule.
In the same way, making mistakes when developing an email marketing campaign, can cause you to not only lose money, but perhaps more importantly wreck your brand image. The least you can do is to be wary of the mistakes that can be made.
'Better the devil you know than the one you don't know'
Although, making mistakes is part of the learning process, a well planned marketing campaign can serve you well in the long run. Nearly all marketers, new or experienced have made a mistake or two. You have a chance to learn from their mistakes.
1. Seek permission first
Before investing your time and money, ensure that you have permission from every single one of your recipients. Permission means people requested email marketing from you. It's easier than you think. Itíll result in fewer spam complaints, better deliverability, decreased legal liability, and most importantly, better open and click results.
2. Know the difference
Thereís a distinct difference between "Transactional" emails and "Email Marketing". If a list of customers has purchased products from your e-commerce store, they'll be expecting email receipts, and email shipping notifications-These are "transactional" emails. Transactional emails should be sent from your own server. Email newsletters, coupons, and promotions, are "marketing" or "commercial" emails. If you send a "commercial email" to a list of people without their permission, itís called an "unsolicited commercial email (UCE)" otherwise known as spam.
3. Do not rush
The biggest mistakes occur when marketers insist to have their campaigns done ASAP! Usually they end up not doing proper design and coding and donít give much thought to content. Subject lines arenít thought through (this is considered one of the most important factors in your open rate).10%-30% of recipients click on the "this is junk" button in their email program which causes alerts to get sent out to their ISPs, which in turn blacklists the sender for spamming. Email marketing requires a good amount of planning, testing, and measuring.
Some marketers have created nice email signup forms, and are only now getting around to sending emails. Even though they responsibly acquired every recipient's permission before sending, those recipients forgot signing up. So, when a suddenly an email newsletter " pops up from out of the blue, they report the sender for spamming. This scenario happens often. A lot of email experts say that permission goes stale after only 6 months. If you're not regularly contacting your list, assume that the old emails have already forgotten you. Bright idea? Send them a "remember me?" email.
5. Purchasing email lists
Try not to buy a "totally legitimate list of 30 million opt-in emails" via some sketchy piece of spam. In this case you should Ďjudge a book by its coveríĖif it looks dodgy it probably is. Although, there are still some vendors out there who are selling "opt-in" lists the old fashioned way. They collect email addresses, and ask members if they'd like to "receive special offers from 3rd parties." Then, they just sell those email addresses to other people. Technically, that's not illegal. The correct way to do it is to keep the list, and then send special offers on behalf of 3rd parties. Be wary of any groups that'll just give you a big list of emails. They should be doing the delivery for you, so that their recipients will recognize the sender, and so that you won't get reported for spamming.
7. Test. Test and Test
You should test your campaign in various email programs. HTML emails look different, depending on which email program you use to view it. Just because it looks good in the preview window, or when you send a test to yourself, it doesn't mean it'll look like that for all your recipients. You need to setup a few accounts with free email services like Yahoo!, MSN, Hotmail, and Gmail. Setup "home accounts" with AOL, Earthlink, Comcast, and Roadrunner. Test on different computers and operating systems, like Macs and PCs. If you don't have the budget to build test computers just enlist a few volunteers at the office, or family and friends. Send them tests, and ask if they can tell you if the email looked weird in their programs.
8. Image is key
Don't send a big email campaign to your customers, and use your "@yahoo.com" or "@aol.com" home email address. Use your website's domain! You should already have email accounts setup under that domain. Some people like setting up an additional "firstname.lastname@example.org" address for their emails.
Some marketers send dozens of campaigns but they never continually review their reports. As a result, they don't notice when their list is very steadily shrinking. See if you can improve your open rates, click rates, and conversions continual basis. Being aware of possible mistakes is better than trying to rectify a balls up. Surely, the effort will be worth your while.
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