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7 emails you should never send

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Emails that offend; type 1

The email industry has been around for more than a decade. In that time, industry leaders have done a great job of creating best practices for marketers to follow to ensure the success of their email marketing campaigns. It's amazing to me, then, that so many bad emails continue to be sent.

In my inbox today, I've received three emails from one marketer, two emails that showed nothing but an ad above the fold, and a daily email that I really only want to receive once a week.

I know that we can do better than this. As a first step to getting us on track, I have created a list of offensive emails. Do you see your emails on this list?

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One-size-fits-all email newsletters
Most of us wouldn't be caught dead in one-size-fits-all clothing, so why do marketers think it's acceptable to send one email designed to fit the needs of all their audiences? These emails arrive in inboxes without customization and include massive amounts of information that cause recipients to keep scrolling and scrolling, despite being disengaged from the content.

A better practice is to ask subscribers for their email preferences during the opt-in process and create an email schedule that honors those preferences. For example, when subscribers opt in for a newsletter, ask what kinds of topics they want to get information about and how often they want to hear from you. Tailor your communications to subscribers' wants and abide by their preferences so they look forward to hearing from you. Your audiences might look smaller, but they will be more engaged.

 

Comments

chris bayes
chris bayes December 30, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Carissa, you are on the money. So many marketers think the game is numbers only when the reality is laser targeted focus on prospects that you have identified through research to be your market. Wasting time sending out endless emails without quality content and to those that don't want to hear what you have to say diminishes your name or brand.

Ian Orekondy
Ian Orekondy December 22, 2010 at 12:25 PM

The issue of image-based emails is challenging. While we know that often images are turned off, we also know that people often click the button that says "display images below". Comparing actual CTR results of text vs image-based emails, we often see higher overall engagement with the image emails, likely because that content is so much more attractive. So, I think the decision should be based on what will best convey the message.

Ian Orekondy
Ian Orekondy December 22, 2010 at 12:25 PM

The issue of image-based emails is challenging. While we know that often images are turned off, we also know that people often click the button that says "display images below". Comparing actual CTR results of text vs image-based emails, we often see higher overall engagement with the image emails, likely because that content is so much more attractive. So, I think the decision should be based on what will best convey the message.

Matt Seward
Matt Seward December 22, 2010 at 8:26 AM

This article is well done and the seemingly obvious pitfalls of e-mail marketing are often forgotten. It was good to see this refresher. For a cool blog post that features some obvious, but often forgotten, tips for effective holiday sales promos via e-mail, check out my post at http://tinyurl.com/33e7gbh.

Carissa Newton
Carissa Newton July 26, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Great comments all! In a few posts, there were specific questions that I wanted to address.

Alexander S: Many administrators feel that HTML bloats email and can present a security risk. The email experience council and Delivra's own experience shows that half of all recipients block images. This includes B2B.

Anna P: I agree with the point you make and provided that you can obtain this data elsewhere, I would say definitely do that. However, many marketers struggle with obtaining this type of recipient data and a preference center can be a great way to overcome this deficiency. Although they don't have to be implemented at the beginning of the conversation. You are right, requiring too much information at the beginning can turn recipients away. Another method would be to establish a preference center that can be accessed at a later time and then provide reminders to visit to customize.

Anna Penrose
Anna Penrose July 21, 2010 at 5:39 PM

In relation to your one size fits all point - I work a lot with small businessess with tiny mailing lists. Keeping in touch with their customers is important to them, and I always advise relevant, engaging content. All your post is ace, however, the only one I'd question is the use of preference centres and customisation at sign up. I know the benefits of doing this however not only can this put people off subscribing, but sometimes, with such a small list, it would be hard to warrent the time, effort and investment in setting up not only preference centres but also tailor made communications. A better way, for some, maybe, is to internally segement the newsletter - have a variety of content within that can be monitored to see which aspects of the newsletter are the most popular and relevant. Internal segmentation allows for targeting down the line based on behaviour and is less complicated than some custom settings at sign up. Fair comment?

Sridutt YS
Sridutt YS July 20, 2010 at 1:06 AM

Let me also add to that list - conference/webinar emailers that don't carry time conversion links and reminders on Outlook. You can't really expect anyone to make the effort to attend (Most webinars, being hosted in US time, are at late night in India) unless you take the effort to make their lives simpler. It's plain manners.

Alexander S
Alexander S July 19, 2010 at 3:56 PM

"About half of all corporate email administrators turn images off to save on server space and reduce the number of spam emails. "

Do you have proof of this? Server space these days is cheap - I don't think administrators are concerned about this anymore.

Pamela Ortega
Pamela Ortega July 19, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Great article. It sums up everything a marketer should know. I feel that many marketers in the industry still only thinking print and logo design, and when they are put to the task of email marketing they are lost and that's why there is so many bad emails pieces out there. I give you an example: I signed up to receive email promotions for about 50 hotels (excluding the large chains) and I can see that the hotel industry is very lost when it comes to email marketing; emails are sent inconsistently, 35% of emails are image only and the creative doesn't even look good, the message is irrelevant, and last very poorly maintained social media efforts.