Are you new to e-mail marketing? If so, heed this warning: Take things slow. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get excited about this new marketing tool – quite the contrary. It just means that there are a few things to consider before rushing to churn out batches of e-mails to your customers and other opt-in subscribers. Some of the most common mistakes that e-mail marketing newbies make include:
Too Much Contact
Most people are turned off by too much contact, so decide how many e-mails you will send in a month and stick to it. Set a policy for yourself that limits your posts to a certain number. The monthly newsletter is becoming a tried-and-true e-mail marketing staple for many business owners. If you think that isn’t enough, go ahead and increase it to a twice-monthly schedule – but stop there. Too much contact can send users to the “unsubscribe” button in the blink of an eye. One of the biggest e-mail marketing “rookie” mistakes is to disseminate too many blasts in the beginning, and thereby overwhelm the audience.
Forgetting the Audience
Take a moment to reflect on the names in your subscription list. Are they current customers, or people who may have forgotten about you? Worse, they may not have given you permission in the first place (if that is the case, you are in violation of the CAN-SPAM act). If any red flags come up, it’s time to adjust your campaign. Make your next message one that communicates an appreciation for those who have supported your business in the past, and offer a special they may be interested in. Provide opt out information for those who didn’t subscribe to you. These are thoughtful gestures that the audience appreciates.
Mixing Up the Message
Or to be specific, the server on which the message is delivered. If you have a list of customers who purchased products from your e-commerce store, they will expect receipts and shipping notifications to come via e-mail. These are called transactional emails, and they should be sent from your own server (or by using a transactional support service). They should not come from your e-mail marketing server. Your e-mail marketing server should only be used for e-mail marketing: newsletters, coupons, promotions. And vice-versa: don’t send out e-mail campaigns from your website’s hosting server. This can put your transactional emails at risk for blacklisting.
Buying Your List
Any service that claims to provide you “a legitimate list of 10 million opt-in emails” is obviously a shady outfit to begin with. Most likely, the list was obtained from opt-in lists on sites where members were asked if they’d like to “receive special offers from third parties.” That site sold the e-mail addresses to the company that is trying to sell them to you. Is selling e-mail addresses illegal? Technically no, but it certainly isn’t ethical – and it can get you in trouble for spamming, not them. However, if they are also performing delivery services for you, that is somewhat more legitimate. If they do that, the recipients will recognize the sender and you should not be reported as a spammer.
Attracting the Spam Filter
You might accidentally send the wrong kinds of emails or use language that offends your recipients and causes them to click the “Spam” button. Even using an unprofessional reply-to address can get you in trouble for spamming. And trust us—you don’t want to end up in junk folders or on blacklists. Another way that e-mail marketing newbies ask to be called spammers is by writing their e-mails as if they are used car salesmen. If you are tempted to write an e-mail that screams at the reader: don’t. It can be picked up by the spam filter in an instant, and the recipient will never read your message. Examples of this type of language include:
“THIS IS A LIMITED TIME OFFER – BUY NOW!!!”
“INTEREST FREE FINANCING? UNBELIEVABLE!!!”
“Sale ends THIS WEEKEND! Don’t delay!”
Spam filters look at items like multiple exclamation points, words in all caps, and erratic use of underlining, italicizing and colored fonts; these items send up an immediate red flag. If you don’t want your e-mail message to go to spam, avoid these practices. Just talk naturally, ask yourself what your audience would want to read, and then address the needs of the audience in your e-mail content.
Rather than making these newbie e-mail marketing mistakes, take the time to thoughtfully consider your e-mail campaign. Your audience deserves it, and it increases the chances that your campaign will be successful.