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Email Marketing Do's and Don'ts

Posted by Don Crow on Mar 9, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Email Marketing is a subject I've struggled with over the past six years. Maybe that's why my number was drawn when it came time to assign blog topics this month. Maybe, in some digital karma world, this is a meant-to-be type article.

You see, on the one hand I get far too many emails so I'm always looking for reasons to unsubscribe or otherwise get out of lists instead of on one. Pundits have called for the death of email for even longer, and while it hasn't quite happened, you sense we're on the verge of finally replacing it with __________.

And then, on the other hand, email marketing is such a huge piece of any successful inbound marketing effort it would be hard to imagine a world without it (email). When we meet with clients and review their SMART Goals, one of the things we always look at are their email campaigns. Whether they measure the wrong things, aren't measuring anything at all, or measuring the right things but with the wrong approach, we typically find that although email has been around since 1978, people are still struggling to make it work


Our approach to email marketing at Verge Pipe Media follows a very simple, and spartan line of thinking: less is more.

But it's not what you're thinking....

  1. Less equals, 'put less in your emails,' and
  2. More equals, 'put in more personalization.'

I'll explain in more detail with our favorite email marketing do's and don'ts:

email marketing Do's

  • Align your email messages with your overall SMART Goals. You should have a goal for your email lists just like you do for your social media platforms, and really, all of your marketing channels. Let's say one of your email goals is to drive end of month and end of quarter registrations for events. You should have end of month and end of quarter emails which offer an exclusive discount, deal, registration code or some other perk to incentivize the reader to take action! Put your email to work by encouraging behavior which helps you meet your goals and your subscribers feel more connected.
  • Segment your lists to fit with Buyer Personas. There are too many free to low cost email marketing programs out there that allow you to add contacts to specific lists and those lists allow you to send much more personalized and relevant emails to your subscribers. You may have a mass of emails, but they are still individuals with individual wants and needs from your organization - so give them the feeling that you're speaking directly to them not spraying over them.
  • Send more email. Yes, that's right, send more email than once in a blue moon. Studies show that higher email send rates don't result in more unsubscribes, it's actually the opposite. Why? It's easier to ignore the less frequent contact who instead of giving you a quick update (something you can read easily on your phone while in a hurry), is more likely to stay with you than the once per month, "here's all of our blog posts for the past month, plus some of our favorite recipes from Pinterest, plus the best of our Twitter feeed, plus...." I think you get the picture.
  • Treat your email messages like a very personalilzed social media post. Your brand, your organization, your entire existence depends on it! Keep your copy short, your images well thought out, and your mindset, "mobile." If your audience can't read and interact and act upon your email with their smartphone, you should just go back to spending your time and money on dumbs#%^ like direct mail. Oh by the can add social media share buttons to email now, thus making it easier to attract new subscribers, followers, and overall audience - but only if your emails are, (1) worth sharing and (2) easily shareable.
  • Remind them why they are hearing from you and how you got on their list. Anyone remember that old rule of speech 101, "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and remind them what you told them." Email marketing is still an extension of a face to face conversation, so it never hurts to give a simple reminder of why you suddenly appear in a subscriber's inbox.

email marketing Don'ts

  • Preach at your subscribers. If you want to alienate your audience, go right ahead and judge, berate, tell them where they are making mistakes, or otherwise belittle them. The way to motivate them to action is to share the journey with them and invite further interaction on your website, social media platforms or through landing pages artfully arrived at via a compelling (and relevant) call to action in your email.
  • Hide your unsubscibe button or link, and then fail to honor those requests faithfully and quickly! Here's a true story: I am was a huge John Maxwell fan. I've got most of his books, follow his tweets and at one point, signed up for one of his email lists. Over time, I realized the emails I was receiving was nothing more than the same content I was seeing in my Twitter feed. I clicked, "unsubscribe" and after the standard, "we hate to see you go" webpages, assumed I was good to go. I repeated that process 6 times over the next 2 months. Only after calling out his PR / Marketing team on Twitter numerous times did we finally get me off ALL the lists - I say, ALL because over time I found out I was on more than just the, 'alert me about training and conferences in my area' list. Hence the difficulty in unsubscribing - someone at John Maxwell's organization had taken the liberty to add me to multiple lists.
  • Purchase lists and spam people. Believe it or not, it's 2016 and the notion of interrrupting people to brag on yourself is frowned upon. In fact, there's a whole movement afoot to attract people to your brand instead of beating them into submission. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called the Inbound Movement.


And there you have it - email marketing do's and dont's from a guy who once worked at the company largely credited with the, "You've Got Mail" movement encouraging you to treat email marketing the way you do all of your inbound marketing tactics. Remember the Verge Pipe Media email marketing mantra: less is more!

If you're stuck sending bad email newsletters monthly-ish and want to reenergize your subscribers inbox, take a look at one of our most popular eBooks of all time by clicking the button below.

Create Email Newsletters that Don't Suck

NOTE: If you're in the East Alabama area, check out our, "Hurry Up, No Huddle Marketing" class on Tuesday, March 29th at the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. It's all about creating email newsletters that don't suck. #Appropriate

Topics: Email Marketing

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