5 years ago, I would have told you the most important tactic for email marketing was building your list. Today, that would probably be the last tactic I would recommend. Email marketing has evolved from a shot-gun approach to highly targeted sharp shooting. In this post, I’ll list some of the best ways to derail the effectiveness of your email marketing machine. Remember, these are ways to ruin your program, not improve it.
1) Not Removing In-Active Subscribers: Inactive subscribers are the most likely to mark your email as spam, which can severely damage your reputation. Remember, if as little as 1% of your list flags you as junk, this can prevent the other 99% from getting your mail. Play it safe and automatically remove people who haven’t opened or click after a certain timeframe.
2) Not Using Double Opt-in: Double opt-in is a great way to (a) reduce the amount of invalid emails on your list and (b) ensure that those signing up really do want to be subscribers. Many ISPs, such as Hotmail, require double opt-in order to obtain whitelist status.
3) Increase the Frequency of Your Emails: Recently, I took a survey of customers receiving one of my clients email newsletters. We found that the average subscriber preferred receiving 3.1 emails per month. Unfortunately, my client was sending around 6 per month. Most email marketers send too many emails rather than too few. Don’t send an email unless you have something good to say, otherwise you will be like the boy who cried wolf.
4) Offer Incentives to Get Emails: Many websites offer incentives such as freebies or a sweepstakes entry in exchange for an email address. This might be a bad idea. Users who signup with incentives like this likely just wanted the freebie, and they won’t necessarily become an active subscriber. They might not even remember you, and mark your email as spam.
5) Automatically Enroll Subscribers: At checkout, many e-commerce sites don’t give customers the ability to opt-out of their emails. Always, always, always let people opt-out any time you collect contact information. An opt-out is much better than having them later click the “junk” button to complain.
Many of these suggestions may be very counter intuitive or even controversial. Please leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or have anything to add.