E-Mail Marketing

Email Marketing: Hitting the Target  

Source E-Business live

Although email is a low-cost method of communication and can be handled in-house, email marketing should be approached like any other means of directing marketing - in a professional manner. This means preparing properly, by researching your target market and compiling proper mailing lists. 

Mailing lists

Without a strong mailing list, your commercial messages may not have any effect, and end up being merely a waste of time and resources. There are two main ways to get your hands on a good email database: buy one from a company that compiles such databases, or compile your own.

Buying lists

When buying lists, you need to examine your target market carefully. There is little point in spending cash on a large mailing list if the demographics don't suit your product. There are a few pointers to bear in mind in order to make the most of a purchased list.

  • Don't cut corners. Buying older or expired mailing lists may be cheaper, but it could prove to be a false economy. You could get more bounce-backs - delivery failures - or a poorer response rate from this kind of list.
  • Keep it up to date. Remove email addresses after they bounce a few times. Performing regular spring cleaning will not only ensure that you don't waste time sending email to dead addresses, but it will also make your marketing metrics look better.
  • Keep it manageable. Email sent to a large number of recipients is more likely to be picked up by a spam filter and tagged as junk mail. 

List compilation

When compiling your own database of email addresses, it's advisable to send confirmation links to recipients requiring them to reply in order to receive future marketing messages. This will eliminate the possibility of both malicious sign-ups - when a person deliberately signs someone else up for a mailing list without their knowledge - and errors in email addresses. It will also give the addressee a chance to consider whether they really want to receive your emails, helping to ensure that future messages from your address won't get mistakenly marked as spam.

Spam filters

There are many reasons why your email may not reach its intended recipient, but the two most likely causes are the Internet Service Provider's spam filter and the recipient themselves. While circumventing an ISP's spam filters may be a case of trial and error, there are a number of steps you can take in order to keep your newsletter or promotional offers from being incorrectly identified as nuisance mail.

According to a study by Jupiter Research, many consumers don't know how to opt out of commercial mailings, and simply tag the messages as spam instead. Although you won't be able to avoid this completely, you can minimise the chances of this happening by making it easy for recipients to opt out of receiving mailings. It is also helpful to use different addresses to send promotional offers and company newsletters or updates, to ensure that not all of your messages get blocked. 

Content matters

To avoid getting binned, keep your email content simple. Visually, it's best if you stick to a consistent style for your newsletter or product offers; this will help your customers recognise your marketing messages. Also, avoid using too many fonts, colours or flashy graphics in your messages, as these are also classic signs of spam and could result in your email being filtered out.

The subject line of your email is vitally important: not only will this grab your reader's attention, it could also make the difference between your email getting through an ISP's spam filter or being blocked. Spam filters are trained to recognise certain subject line elements that indicate the likely presence of spam, so it's useful to bear in mind the following tips when writing subject lines.

  • Keep it simple. Avoid using too many capital letters or exclamation marks.
  • Avoid obvious "spam words". Take a look at your own junk mail folder. How many emails in there contain the words "free", "success" or "cash"? Don't use these kind of words in your subject line if you can help it.
  • Use a spell checker. Nothing screams "spam" like a misspelled subject line. Check your email message carefully prior to sending for any spelling errors. At the very least, such errors will make your firm look unprofessional; at worst, your mail won't survive the spam filters.
  • Use a spam checker. There are several free spam checker tools available online that can scan your email marketing message and alert you to possible junk mail filter triggers. These tools include SpamCheck, E-zine Check and Cooler Spam Checker

Spam legislation

A word of caution: email marketers must be wary of spam legislation. With regard to Irish consumers, unsolicited emails or other electronic messages should not be sent unless the recipient has consented to receive the communication. If the recipient has provided contact details and is a customer already, promotional messages can be sent, as long as there is a clear "opt out" option.

Different rules pertain to business-to-business marketing, but the same stipulation applies: the opt-out choice must be clearly evident.