Tips to avoid being marked as spam

As the daily deal push continues to gain traction, there is a huge opportunity for small businesses to utilize email marketing to turn e-commerce customers into long-term, raving fans rather than one-time buyers. Although many local businesses attempt to use email marketing, a surprising few of them are effective. Below I will outline the key components of a successful email marketing campaign and examine proven methods to target your audience, grow your mailing list, and avoid becoming spam. Although these methods have proven successful with daily deals, these tips can be applied across various email marketing campaigns.

Target your audience
It's a common misconception that you need an ever-growing list of email subscribers to run a lucrative email marketing program. However, some of the most successful programs are those sent to a small, but highly-engaged loyal following. While a large email list can scale at a faster rate, the ability to turn those audiences into repeat customers is very limited in comparison to those who curate emails to a targeted consumer base.

In order to strike a balance, know your target audience and send useful and relevant content, not just a sales pitch pushing your product. Providing real value in your email campaigns will promote organic growth for your list. Key components that encourage organic list growth are:

  • Great content: Folks who opt-in on their own are doing so because you have compelling content, and taking advantage of your program is just an added bonus for them.

  • In the vein of great content, invite guests to submit their new content. Crowdsource and take advantage of their following to gain exposure to new followers.

  • Social media engagement: Post your content on any network you are involved with (if you're not involved, get involved!). Sharing is important. Remember, having a loyal follower share your content is as good as gold. People feel more comfortable opting in to your publication if it's been recommended by a trusted source.

If you're a large media corporation, you have to balance the corporate need for a wider audience with the understanding that the expanded reach does not equate to engagement. Again, quality over quantity is paramount. Successful marketing campaigns use every opportunity to reach people and invite them to engage with the curated content -- and doing so in a CAN-SPAM compliant and consumer-friendly manner.

  • Content is king. Just as niche publishers should focus on content, it's just as important for our larger publishers, too. Making sure what you are doing is relevant to your audience is a fundamental, invaluable strategy.

  • Promote sharing among your followers; reward them for sharing your content with friends and family.

  • Be creative but keep it above board. Using your subscribers' information in ways they did not intend it to be used will only erode trust. Running promotions and putting your brand out to your existing subscribers in a creative way is great, but let them decide to opt-in for further communications or you risk being known as spam.

Growing your list
Contrary to the old euphemism, the size of your list doesn't matter, although it's important to look for opportunities to add to it. Here are seven tips to keep in mind:

Location is key: Make sure your users can find your subscription box -- don't hide it! Post your subscription form on every page of your website, in any transaction pages and in your customer support emails. Placing the subscription form above the fold makes it much more visible.

Leverage existing e-commerce: If your site sells anything (from your daily deal to a shop with swag) make sure to place your subscription opt-in information on the page during the transaction process.

Market yourself: Use paid search and search-optimized landing pages to drive traffic to a landing page. You've already built a great brand; now leverage the power of that brand in conjunction with your new or emerging daily deals site to draw in more subscribers.

Leverage your current lists: We say this with a little bit of hesitation. While you should absolutely reach out to your existing lists, you do need to get their explicit permission (i.e., they need to opt-in to your emails).

Cross-promote: Run promotions in your existing campaigns to prompt your subscribers to opt-in to your emails (use those landing pages!).

Share: Include ways for your loyal subscribers to "send to a friend" in your emails, on your landing pages, etc.

Be social: Get engaged on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and the like. Having your content go viral will also drive people to come back to you and subscribe so they can see what other great information you post in the future.

Avoid spamming
So, you have been a good marketer. You've gotten your subscribers to opt in to your emails, and you feel like you send them relevant content. Unfortunately, some of your subscribers disagree. It's heartbreaking to open up your ESP client and find that your subscribers are reporting your emails as spam. What happened?

Here are a few reasons complaints may arise:

  • No one can find your unsubscribe button, but the "Mark as Spam" button is front and center in their email client. Solution: Make it easy for your customers to unsubscribe.Don't hide the link, but put it somewhere easy to find.

  • Some people distrust unsubscribe links or can't remember subscribing to your emails. Solution: Remind your subscribers that they did opt-in to your emails, and personalize things so it doesn't feel like you are blindly reaching out.

  • Your message wasn't relevant. Solution: For us, we send content that speaks to our audience. If we know most of our audience is female and interested in salons, we don't send a deal for half off tickets to see Rampage and Kongo duke it out on UFC. Segment your subscribers based on their interests and your niche as content creator.

For those of you who already have a loyal following, email marketing is the best form of direct marketing you can use. Take advantage of your loyal customers by providing enriched, relevant content.

Martin Tobias is CEO of Tippr.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

 

Comments

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis November 28, 2011 at 3:03 PM

It's also to be mindful of how often you send email messages. There is no reason to send them everyday. If people are being bombarded with emails from you they will be annoyed. You need to find the right balance and send messages when your audience is most receptive to receiving them.

Rolv Heggenhougen
Rolv Heggenhougen November 28, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Maybe one should look at another marketing opportunity and that is the emails we all send from our corporate email addresses every day. I represent a company that has developed a solution for just those emails and thus this post.
The basic idea behind WRAPmail is to utilize the facts that all businesses have websites and employees that send emails every day. These emails can become complete marketing tools and help promote, brand, sell and cross-sell in addition to drive traffic to the website and conduct research. WRAPmail is available for free at http://www.wrapmail.com.
WRAPmail also helps search for missing children with every email sent by incorporating an optional RSS feed from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children