Wanna eBlast Your Customers? Careful.
The term “eBlast” commonly refers to sending emails en mass to your customers and subscribers. I hate the term. It implies a shotgun approach to marketing that runs contrary to any Campaign Management Strategy. The temptation for business owners is to blast or “eBlast” a solicitation to every customer on file with an email address, rather than segmenting those customers into smaller lists for targeted campaigns. A shotgun approach to email marketing simply increases opt-outs, which degrades the quality of the master email list, and causes customers to snarl. By segmenting your customers into multiple, smaller email lists according to their attributes, you will increase email open rates, read rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Likewise, you decrease opt outs by avoiding the folly of sending an email to someone who would never be interested. For example, if you’re a bank, why would you send an email about IRAs to a 20 year old who has $100 in her checking account and no savings?
A lot of my feelings towards email marketing came from early experience. In 2006, I co-developed an eMarketing platform that allowed businesses to create and manage well-segmented email lists for mailings compliant with the 2003 CAN SPAM Act. We had customers in various areas of the country and facilitated all email traffic through our own mail servers; something I would NOT do again. We learned a lot the hard way through that process. Although a powerful and flexible platform, I abandoned it for two reasons: (1) risk, and (2) big players entering the picture who established relationships with ISPs to better avoid black listing and spam filtration. What is “black listing” you ask? Getting your email or even your website flagged as malicious and thus blocked from customer view. Kind’a defeats the purpose, huh? Today, there are multiple vendors with strong solutions for email marketing including ConstantContact(R) and VerticalResponse(R). As with any application, you can use it the right way or the wrong way. Here are a few recommendations:
- Segment your customers by their attributes, products, etc. Place them in separate lists and keep them updated.
- Make sure your recipients can opt out of a single “type” of mailing, i.e. Promtional Mailings, but can remain opted in for others.
- Don’t send a “print ad” as an email. People don’t respond to them the same way in this medium, and it will likely get flagged as spam.
- Try to offer something of value in your email. People want instant gratification.
- Keep your message short and sweet, with a simple “call to action.” Hyperlink the call to allow them to carry out the action, even if it’s just to visit your website to learn more.
- Don’t use phrases like “Free,” “Act Now” etc. Content filters move these emails directly to the recipient’s junk folder.
- Don’t send email to the same recipients too frequently. They will eventually opt out.
- Don’t send attachments. Just host and hyperlink to any document you need to.
- Make sure you can track the effect of your campaign on sales.
- Select a platform that allows you to see open rates, read rates, bounce rates, and opt-outs.
- Download your opt-out lists and honor them in other email correspondence. Keep the list in case you change providers later.
- Understand the CAN SPAM Act.