Email Marketing – Just the Facts

blogging communitiesRecently, I had an interesting discussion about email marketing with my networking group.  There seemed to be some confusion as to how email marketing can be used to grow your business.  After leaving the meeting, it really got me thinking so I spent some time looking into the matter even more.  I thought some of you might be interested in hearing a little about email marketing too so I’m sharing it all here.

My focus is always on best practices so while the details might be a little fuzzy to me, the impact is the same – BOTTOM LINE: treat your clients/potential clients the same way you would like to be treated.

For those of you who aren’t sure what the law says, I would encourage you to check out the CAN SPAM Act website.  This covers the legal aspects of how you can use email to contact others.  The most important pieces, in my humble opinion, are to be honest, transparent, and give people a choice – put that opt out button right up on top where everyone can see it in case they prefer to connect with you in another way or not at all.  As the MailChimp says, “Maybe they’re just not that into you” – don’t take it personally.

To take this a step further, if you are using an email marketing system such as Constant Contact or MailChimp (like me), they have additional rules you need to follow.  These systems are “opt in” systems, going one step further than the law says you have to.  Opt in basically means you HAVE to have permission from them to add them to your list.  Direct permission.  As in, “Hey there.  I’m so glad we’ve connected.  Can I add you to my email list?”  and they say, “You sure can.” Or they add themselves via your website or another location where you have a sign up box.

I know it’s easy for people to unsubscribe if they don’t want your emails but, hey, why put the burden on them?  Why not just ask to be sure to begin with?  It will make a huge difference in your relationship with them.  People like to be asked first.  Don’t you?

Additionally, Constant Contact and MailChimp do not allow you to enter names from any kind of a list.  You can’t purchase a list, rent a list, borrow a list, or steal a list (not that I am suggesting you would).  They also prohibit you from entering names from an association or organization you belong to.  Remember, MailChimp and Constant Contact are opt in systems.  If an organization has an opt out list, it does not meet the requirements of an opt in system.  These are two different terms.

I subscribe to Website Magazine, which is a great tool for success using the internet for your business.  As luck would have it, in the new issue I received a couple of days ago, they had a complete article about email marketing.  Based on this article, did you know…

  • You should be keeping an eye on those who don’t open or click on your campaigns.  After 180 days of no clicking and no opening, these people should be removed from your list to ensure your “deliverability” doesn’t suffer.
  • Your emails are best sent at nice, regular intervals.  Too often will upset your audience and if you haven’t emailed your list in 60-90 days, many experts suggest you throw it out and start over.  They may have forgotten all about you and, if that’s the case, will tend to mark you as spam.
  • You shouldn’t use all images.  To get past most spam filters, you need to have text.  Remember, people won’t see the images unless they take one more step in their email and click to view them.  Keep images to a minimum and focus on ones that really add value.
  • And this one was really interesting to me:  Did you know, according to Return Path, email service providers say that about 20 percent of permission-based email messages get reported back to you as delivered BUT aren’t actually received by the intended recipient?  They hang out in limbo-land but you never get notification because to notify EVERY email sender that an email has bounced would take too much time and bandwidth.

Guess how I spent my evening yesterday?  I deleted 200 email addresses from my email list.  Even though all these people asked at one time or another to be on my list, they hadn’t opened an email from me in over six months…I share this with pride because I had the courage to set them free.  If someday, they realize that they miss hearing from me through emails, they can always subscribe again.

I’m always preaching about quality vs. quantity and I’m walking my talk.  What value is it to have these people on my list if they weren’t reading my emails anyway?  Heck, I don’t even know if they were receiving them based on the 20% of emails hanging out in limbo-land.  Either way, it was best to clean up my list, improve my chances for getting my emails delivered, not being viewed as a spammer, and energetically I’ve now made room for all those people out there just waiting to subscribe because they want to check out the valuable information in my emails.

If you currently use email marketing for your business, what is one thing you are going to do moving forward to take it to the next level?

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