Best Practices for Sending Out Email Campaigns
It’s natural to focus on promotional aspects when producing email campaigns. However, email marketing should not be just about this, there are also legal requirements and customer service aspects to be considered.
Email is a two-way communication and recipients will hit the Reply button as a convenient way of responding. Emails that say ‘please do not reply to this address’ are really saying ‘we don’t want to talk to you’, which is not a particularly good impression for a micro-business to present to its customers.
Instead, get your email system to forward replies to a dedicated mailbox and give someone in the micro-business the responsibility of regularly checking it and answering queries. You’ll also receive excellent feedback on what recipients think of your email marketing.
Remember also that you’re sending out the email for a purpose – and often that’s to generate a response. If the customer chooses to respond in this way, make sure you’re geared up for it.
Bouncebacks are automated messages sent on receipt of an email. They vary from ‘I’m out of the office’ to ‘this person no longer works here’ and ‘Mailbox full’. Some of these require action but others are for information only.
A good email system should have in-built rules that read the contents or subject line of the bounceback and act accordingly. For example, combinations of ‘Out of the office’ or ‘holiday’ get deleted, whereas all others would be forwarded to a reply mailbox for consideration. A hosted or bureau email despatch system should have this facility included within it, but if you’re using something such as Microsoft Outlook you’ll have to set it up for yourself.
This is a legal requirement in most countries, including the UK. In essence, you have to give recipients the ability to ‘opt-out’ of receiving future emails. Legally, there needs be a clear, simple and free way for recipients to do this.
Two common solutions to this are an ‘Unsubscribe me’ URL link, or replying to the email with REMOVE (or similar) in the subject line. You also need a method for receiving these requests and updating your contact list accordingly. As with bouncebacks, hosted despatch systems should have this included, otherwise you’ll have to set it up yourself.
Regardless of which method you use to despatch your email system (see Bulk Email Despatch Systems for details of the different methods available), you need to be able to update your own database with changes to email addresses.
One method is to have your main database as the central point for all information and then select relevant customers from it when you do an email campaign. Remember though that if you also have a web-based newsletter subscription and unsubscribe service, you will need to download the data from it periodically and load it into your central database system. How frequently you do this will depend on how many campaigns you do and the volume of database changes needed.
If you want to use personalisation, e.g. addressing emails to Dear Jack, then database management becomes hugely important. Inaccurate personalisation is worse than no personalisation. I’m unlikely to buy anything from a company that calls me Dear Roberts or Mr Jack. If you need help in managing databases then read Database Content and Management.
If you want to increase the sales effectiveness of your email marketing visit Making Email Campaigns More Effective.