Email Marketing: Fruitful or Annoying?

Email marketing SpamMy hotmail account has precisely 1034 unread messages right now. Probably 1044 by the time I’ve finished writing this post. I apologise if this has brought on palpitations for avid email checkers but I check the important stuff, honest I do.

The problem my overstuffed little inbox faces is one I fear plagues many an inbox. There’s so much spam that I have to search for the really meaty stuff with an eye so well trained that finding my phone bill takes on the prominence of Where’s Wally.

I’ll be the first to admit I need help. I’ve got in so deep that crawling back out will be a long hard slog and deleting all of that lot will probably bring on a case of carpal tunnel syndrome in my index finger. Why did I get in so deep? Well everyone was doing it, signing up for email lists left, right and centre, it’s just what you do.

Except half of them I didn’t sign up for, and now the third party leeches are oozing into my inbox with their email marketing that comes so thick and fast I can’t be bothered to acknowledge it, read it or even delete it.

It’s not that the email-happy ‘can’t wait to save me money’ purveyors of pestering are finding their content falls on deaf ears; I do check a new corporate acquaintance every time it stops by my inbox. The problem is it’s all too often untrustworthy and spills in far too frequently for me to ever open an email from said annoyances again.

As someone who has previously been given the honour of compiling a monthly e-newsletter, the constant faceless and more often than not identical email marketing examples I read really get my goat. What happened to original content? Some claim email marketing is dead and that social media platforms such as twitter and facebook are taking over. While this prediction is plausible my poor overflowing inbox would strongly disagree.

While so many get it wrong, Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to get your message across and, as useful as social media marketing is, email marketing still maintains that competitive edge – it’s personal.

So with my inbox coughing email marketing travesties as we speak, let’s take note of the good, mass delete the bad (when I get round to it) and highlight how to do email marketing the right way.

First things first, make it easy to subscribe

A bold but subtle sign up form on your homepage or blog is generally considered one of the most transparent methods of getting people on your mailing list. Not only are your readers fully opting to receive your juicy content, therefore making them interested in what you have to say and sell, but you can also use this opportunity to learn a (little) about your recipients. For example, collecting birthdays is usually territory reserved for restaurants and bars but everyone likes a treat and rewarding your customers/fan base on the big day will add that personal touch.

Targeting consumers with no use of your products and services is obviously pointless. So ensure you’re tapping into your target market by making sure they know what they’ll be receiving before they hand over their precious email address.

Don’t be misleading

‘50% off, well don’t mind if I do!’ Becomes much less exciting when your readers then find they have exactly 1 hour on a Tuesday to reclaim your offer. And they have to buy 3 products to get 50% off the cheapest. Shiny offers that don’t deliver and can sometimes be downright cheeky (eh, H&M?) are a sure way to make sure your email marketing campaign never sees the light of day again.

Making any discounts you offer exclusive and transparent will make you appear reputable and carefully placed offers (instead of weekly spammy savers) will be much more likely to create an influx of sales and sign-ups.

Make the most of the intimate connection

While you don’t have to light the candles and whack on some Barry White, the little personal touches help give your brand a voice. Nobody expects you to write personal letters for everyone in your mailing list complete with a spritz of cologne for good measure, but signing off with a name and not just a company stops your carefully crafted campaign looking like an impersonal corporate ploy.

Building rapport with your audience and allowing an option for your readers to contact you gives the impression you are actively engaging with your audience, not just churning out money grabbing faceless campaigns. Keeping the tone and design of your company in an email newsletter format can also help create the familiarity and trust your brand evokes. Using your branding in the form of colour schemes and icons is an obvious example but email marketing in a flyer-type format or newsletter can really allow you to add the little touches that give your brand its flavour.

Speaking to your ideal reader and not just flouting your wares is important in any marketing campaign and focusing on your customer’s want and needs (and not just your company) will show them you’re interested in what they think. Common examples of effective email campaigns keep customer service at the forefront of their message, whether that’s telling people about new features in their campaign or ending with a request that you tell them what you think.

Write for people not spam filters (but be a bit aware of spam filters)

Using your links carefully is important in making sure you get yourself a prime inbox slot and don’t end up in the crummy junk box down the road. Many instances of ‘click here, free,free,free!’ may make you flag up every spam filter going and although these links and ‘desirable terminology’ can be crucial in an email marketing campaign, less can be more. Asking to be marked as ‘safe’ outright in the first few friendly emails might seem brash, but the expert consensus is that it can get the job done.

It goes without saying but only send to people who specifically opted into your mailing list. Sending to people who purchased from you but were unaware you may use their email for marketing purposes probably won’t go down well and popping by unannounced will just annoy your recipients. Including clear ‘opt out’ options and unsubscribe options also helps you look less like a ‘spammy’ annoyance and more of a reputable brand.

Getting yourself to inbox heights also requires quality worthy of such a position. At Fluid we’re all for making digital compatible and considering many people will access their emails via their phones, it’s important your campaign shows up in all its glory on a range of devices. Careful editing will also reflect the professional nature of your brand and good content and a digestible layout will make for a much more pleasant read – ‘unmark as junk’ here we come!

But is it just me or is anyone else thinking that in light of recent revelations calling ‘junk mail’ after the prime meat product ‘Spam’ isn’t very appropriate anymore? Surely ‘Tesco value burgers’ would be more fitting to describe the hodge podge of random bits in our ‘untrustworthy’ folder…

  • Written by on 8th March 2013 at 10:21
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