The Don’ts of Email Marketing

Working with various brands and industries we are witnesses to a lot of different approaches to email marketing on a daily basis. We may find some of these to be truly innovative and we gladly watch as they skyrocket the results of our clients that use them (of course we also share them with you on this very blog). However, we also see a number of accounts using so called marketing “tricks” that are supposed to increase the results, but often have the opposite effect.

Today we are going to concentrate on the bad practices, or the things to avoid in your email marketing campaigns (no matter how much advertised to you they will be), explaining why they are bad for your business and how they cause you unwanted problems.

Thinking about those email marketing “tricks” there are 2 main sins that we can focus on:

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1. Misleading content, subject lines

“Fool me once, shame on you…”

Sending messages to your customers, that are oriented on generating opens and clicks by tricking them into believing that the message is about something else, may be very tempting. In theory it may seem that it works, however this tactic is very deceptive, remember that lies tend to surface sooner than later.

To be more precise we are talking about message titles in form of:

  1. Re:
  2. Fwd:
  3. Transaction Confirmation
  4. Your Purchase Has Been Processed
  5. Mailer-Daemon

no_spam

In practice you only get one shot. After your subscriber actually follows your link and notices that it is something completely different than claimed in the content they will not fall for the same trick again. Furthermore, they will not trust any of your other links as well, so in essence you are basically robing yourself of a subscriber that could make you more revenue in the days to follow. Same goes for misleading subject lines (they simply won’t open your messages again).

However, it is most likely that they will not open any of your messages at all. In todays age of email marketing, this practice is overused by spammers and chances are, that people on your list have already received this kind of message before, therefore they learned not to trust them. This also brings up the fact that by using this kind of messages you are automatically places in ‘league’ with those kind of senders, and that is something you never want to happen.

This trick, from a business point of view is useless and not worth even trying, but it’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t use this tactic. These kind of emails are strictly prohibited by most of published law regulations for email marketing (including the Can SPAM Act and the soon to come CASL regulation). Not to mention that it will get you on the bad side of the Compliance Department in the ESP you may be using.

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2. Don’t be afraid to let them go.

The 2nd trend that we see a lot is a deliberate attempt to keep you subscribers on your list by attempting to hide, or even not include the unsubscribe link.

I know the value of fighting for your subscribers, but this is simply not the way to go. I bet that at some point in your life you dealt with a situation where someone tried to force you into something that you simply did not want to do, and I think you can agree that in 99% of those situations the result was the exact opposite. The more they force you, the more you get iritated and do not want to do whatever you are being pressured to do.

This is exactly what we are dealing with here. The result however, may be much more negative that you realize. Believe me when I say this: those people will find they way out of your list and the harder you make it for them to do so, the more effort they will devote to  hurt your business in the process. Starting from marking all of the messages they receive from you as spam (lowering your deliverability in the process), finishing by reporting your message with all legal and anti-abuse organizations they can find. Again there is a legal issue over here, that is treated even more seriously than the misleading subjects/content matter.

You also need to remember that it is you who has to pay the cost of keeping those addresses on your list. Here I would go so far as to say that it’s not only smart to allow for easy unsubscribing for contacts, it’s best if you are also proactive about it by removing your old and inactive subscribers, making yourself room for new, engaged clients without the need for additional cost.

There are also so much better ways to fight for your subscribers, like opt-down options, bonus offer on the unsubscribe page, or pause option, just to mention a few of the top of my head.

unsubscribing

I know that you can find a lot of articles that put their focus on what you should do in your email marketing campaigns, but there aren’t as many articles focusing on what you shouldn’t do. Working in the compliance department I often deal with accounts that forget about the “don’ts” of this business and I can tell you right now: they are equally important.