Is Email Marketing spam by another name or a great marketing opportunity that you should be engaged in? Is there any situation where using email marketing is acceptable? Or is it a dying way to connect with would be customers that is no longer cost-efficient and relaiable?
Email marketing drifts in and out of favor with web based companies, but has become increasingly popular of late for getting the word out about products and services – by way of free information. However, as more and more businesses turn to email marketing, email recipients are becoming jaded and hit the ‘spam’ button on their email window. If it was only a tiny number of companies using email marketing, it would likely be very effective, but when everyone is doing it – to many people it is just an annoyance.
When too many people receive unwanted email, the word gets out – resulting in a concerted effort to brand you (and your business) as a spammer. This can quickly evolve into a be a marketing nightmare. The last thing you want is thousands of people not only hitting spam when your email arrives, but reporting it as spam. Add to that the fact that no company wants to be associated to words like “spam”, “nuisance” and “garbage”, email marketing can be difficult territory to tread in.
That’s not to say that email marketing is no longer a viable marketing technique. It just needs to be approached with caution and handled with care to avoid a serious marketing backfire.
A few rules of thumb:
Ask First. Don’t send out mass emails to lists of people you have obtained in any way, unless you have their permission to email them. Make sure you give everyone you email a double opt-in just to be sure they want to hear from you. Limit your emails to the select group who say ‘yes’ when you ask, and save your time and money as well as your reputation. This is very important and should never be ignored.
Only send emails to folks who opt-in. The best way to ask people to ‘opt in’ is through an online form that allows them to check a box if they want to get your emails. This checkbox can be located in your shopping cart checkout form, a newsletter sign-up form or a “contact us” form. Leave the checkbox blank, forcing them to consciously perform an action in order to start receiving emails. This protects you later if you are accused of spamming anyone that followed this process.
Make it easy to unsubscribe – if someone wants to opt-out, give them multiple ways to do it. Taking people off the list should be every bit as much of a priority as putting them on; so give recipients the option of unsubscribing from the list. This can be taken care of in the form of a simple link at the bottom of each email: “click here to unsubscribe”. Just make sure you follow through on this just as vigilantly as adding them!