Earlier this week the Metro Bank sent out an email to its customers advising that monthly statements were ready for clients to view.  In an effort to increase use of its online facilities, the email also advertised the company’s improved Internet banking services.  The email was simple and should have worked, it could have worked, but there was one major issue the bank hadn’t noticed: instead of using the Bcc (blind carbon copy) option, the bank had put all the emails in the “To:” field, disclosing the addresses of over 1,000 clients.  The bank tried to make amends but ended up many angry customers who were irate over their personal email addresses being disclosed.

Email marketing is a powerful tool in online marketing

Snafus like this aren’t uncommon, Domino’s Pizza had a similar problem ten years ago, and while they may not lead to major problems, they do reveal the poor planning and implementation that goes into email marketing.  The list of email errors is endless, ranging from bad grammar to unintentional spamming, yet many of them are avoidable. With companies using email marketing as part of an overall online marketing strategy, it is crucial to make sure the emails are developed and sent properly. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to help your business successfully launch an email campaign:

1.    Get permission first: Not only is it unethical to send marketing emails to people without their permission, it’s also illegal. The easiest way to get email addresses and consent is through a contact form on your website.  You can either include an opt-in clause on a pre-existing form, or make one specifically for your email marketing campaigns.  Rather than offering to send them your “latest” email, make sure to specify multiple mailings with something along the lines of “Keep me up to date by subscribing me to your emails.” We recommend having a double opt-in process, wherein a person agrees to be added to your email list, and then receives an email to confirm this decision.  The last thing you want is for somebody to think you are spamming them because they can’t remember signing up, and using a two-step system helps decrease the chances of that happening.
2.    Think about what you write: Your email marketing should be part of a larger marketing campaign, so put in the time and effort you would for any other strategy.  Make sure your copy is well-written, concise, and interesting.  Nobody is going to take the time to read through pages of boring information so grab their attention and tell them your news. Include clearly labeled links to help with your click-through rates (studies have found that bold blue links in-text work the best). Personalise your emails so they are addressed to each recipient; people are much more inclined to read something that includes their name.
3.    Good design is good for business: In addition to copy, the design of your email is important.  You’ve got two choices, either a text-only email or one that includes graphics and images.  Images will always help grab a reader’s attention quickly, but make sure not to use too many. Any images should be high quality and should reflect the product or message you are trying to sell.  If you don’t know how to use design programmes like Photoshop, find somebody who does so your email doesn’t appear amateurish. Finally, treat email as a professional means of reaching customers, so make sure the content adheres to your general corporate image.
4.    Proofread, proofread, and then proofread again: Once your email has been created, edit it, then spellcheck it, then have your coworkers read it. After they’re finished have somebody unaffiliated with your company go over it.  Your email needs to be free of grammatical/spelling errors and should be written clearly.  Make sure to remember to fill in your subject line—keep it short, compelling, and relevant (and no exclamation marks).
5.    Offer something special: People won’t read your email unless they feel that they will benefit from it, and vouchers are great for this; but, be careful that you don’t overdo the offers either.  Some companies include vouchers in every email and this can lead to customers anticipating discounts and waiting until they arrive before shopping.
6.   Develop a testing process: Before sending out any emails, test them on various platforms (including mobile) to make sure your email looks right.   Also, put into place some sort of approval system so no emails are accidentally sent out. This could include password protection or manager sign-offs.
7.    Use a professional mailing system: You may want to look into email marketing services that will allow you to design, test, and send emails while keeping your databases in a secure location.  These programmes also allow you to schedule emails so they are sent at a specific time.  They’ll also give you statistics on various success rates of your emails, all of which will help you improve your campaigns. By using one of these programmes you will avoid having to use a personal or business email, keeping your email campaigns nicely organised in a separate area.
8.   It’s all about the timing: How often you send your emails is just as important as what goes into them.  Aim for a regularly scheduled mailing that is appropriate for your business (weekly or monthly is usually most advisable) and keep to that schedule. What you want to avoid is sending so many emails that your recipients get tired of them and start marking them as spam or removing themselves from your list.  On the other hand, if you don’t send enough (let’s say you wait six months between each) then people might not remember they have registered for your emailer and consider it spam. You’ll have to figure out what works for your company and this usually ties in with what your overall purpose of the emails is.
9.    Unsubscribing: Just as your recipients need to opt-into your email list, they are also legally entitled to opt-out.  Every email you send must include a way for your clients to unsubscribe. We suggest a “manage your subscription” link that will take them to a page where they can change their email address, lessen the number of emails they receive, or unsubscribe. It is very important to follow a recipient’s request immediately.  It’s better to have fewer people on your email list than frustrated customers who take to social media and your phone lines to complain.
10.   Keep your database clean: In order to avoid duplicate emails or sending to non-existent addresses, keep your database up-to-date.  Not only will this decrease the cost of your email marketing campaigns, but it was also make your statistics more reliable.

Email marketing can be an effective tool in your online marketing strategy.  Its ability to reach people in a personalised way has allowed many businesses to reach target audiences and increase sales.

If you are interested in improving your business’s email marketing give us a call on 0116 254 9888.  We can manage your campaigns for you or train you on how to do it yourself.