Let’s face a reality here: direct email marketing works. If it didn’t I wouldn’t get 20 messages a day promoting everything from 600 horsepower crate engines to business card printing services. The key is to build a tight list of readers who want your information, create a list big enough that even if your open rate is 20% you’re still reaching a significant number of people, and then managing your content so its interesting and not a blatant sales pitch.
I’ve had great success with clients building email newsletter campaigns that essentially mimic what magazines did in the past: provide an interesting, entertaining and informative blend of feature stories, company news and product information. Done correctly, your database will grow and the newsletter will not only drive traffic to your site, but also increase brand awareness.
My friends at MailDog recently put up a fantastic list of direct email marketing mistakes and how to avoid them. Check it out below:
Ignoring CAN-SPAM Requirements – The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and other Federal Trade Commission regulations require that email marketing messages be permission-based, in addition to having a true identity in the “From” line, an accurate subject line, a valid postal address, and unsubscribe link in the email.Failure to do so could result in a significant fine from the FTC (up to $200 per complaint) OUCH!
Sending to Non-Opt-Ins – Sending email without having the recipients permission is one of the quickest ways to alienate prospects and customers… not to mention goes against the CAN-SPAM (see above) and Mail Dog’s permission-only policies (bad dog!). Having customers sign up, keeping accurate opt-in records and providing a quality email newsletter makes subscribers happy and keeps you out of the hot water!
Linking only to your Homepage – If your email links just send subscribers back to your homepage, you could be losing major impact points with your subscribers. Instead link to specific products or pages and don’t make subscribers hunt for the information.
Large, Image-Based Emails – Images are overrated, plus they are suppressed by more than 50% of emails subscribers’ software, so the key is to craft an effective offer and feature it using both text and graphics. And always remember to use ALT-tags on images.
Writing Whatever – Pay attention to your copy. It should be short, yes, but not at the expense of quality… and always have someone else proof read to make sure it all makes sense.
Lazy Subject Lines –A good subject line is the most important indicator of open rates. Be short, sweet, and specific. Good rule-of-thumb – spend the same amount of time writing the subject line as it takes to write the copy.
Only Using Email Marketing – Don’t treat your emails campaigns as one-offs, or segregate them from the rest of your marketing. If you have video on your website, be sure to include links to previews of that in your emails. Also, link to your social media pages like Twitter and Facebook to keep your customers engaged.
Sending Before Testing – Always send test emails! Check subject lines, copy, offers, and any other content you are including. Then double check and check again. Once an email is sent it is gone!