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You know what drives me nuts? When I give my email address to a marketer, essentially granting them permission to knock at my email door at their leisure and then they communicate with me in a way that has absolutely no relevance to me as a consumer. It basically means that they aren’t doing their homework. Or maybe they aren’t targeting their email opt-in lists at all and are just sending out mass messages and hoping something sticks.

The problem with this tactic is that I usually unsubscribe pretty quickly when I realize that an email marketer doesn’t understand my needs. And guess what? I’m not the only one.

We should treat our email lists as a precious commodity. Just because we are engaging more directly with our customers through social medial and interactive advertising, that doesn’t mean we can lose site of how effective email marketing can be…if done properly.

To help you wade through the email marketing waters, we have provided a few brief do’s and don’ts of email marketing to make sure that you don’t make some of the more common mistakes.


Segment your list
A sure-fire way to lose someone’s interest is by sending them a mass email that isn’t targeted towards their needs. There are a lot of different ways that you could segment your email lists. Some more common segments are “fresh leads”, “customers”, “win backs”, and “newsletter”. You can cater your segments based on the product or service you are offering but the bottom line is DO IT! And then craft your messages based on each segment. It may take a little extra time to communicate this way but it is definitely worth it.

Create a relevant, consistent communication schedule
Retailers are notorious over-emailers. I believe there is a happy medium in staying top of mind and driving our customers crazy. When you are defining your segments put an actual strategic communication plan into place. How often do you need to email your leads versus your win backs? What do you offer your current customers versus your leads? What subject performs the best with your win backs? All of this extra work up front will pay off in the end.

Write an engaging subject line
Punchy, engaging and short. Those words should describe your subject lines. With all of the emails people get today it is important that your subject line stands out and grabs their attention. Experts recommend less than 45 characters, short and too the point.

Test your email
Always test out an email by sending it out to yourself and your internal team first. This allows you to avoid sending out a message that might go directly to spam and can help you recognize any formatting or link errors before your customers do.

Offer an incentive
Emails should not be just a reposting of your blog or website content. Emails should be fresh, unique content that offer something valuable to the email recipient. Consider offering a free or discounted service, product or information. You need to be offering value or your email list will grow weary very quickly.

Never stop growing your list
Many marketers get excited when they meet some sort of benchmark they have set. And we aren’t saying it isn’t a good thing to celebrate when your email list reaches 100 or 1,000. But remember that people are going to come and go so it is vital to continue getting opt-ins in order to keep your list continuously healthy.


Consistently send out a “one-size-fits-all” message
If I am a loyal customer should you send me a 10% off offer available to first time buyers? No! In fact, this is likely to turn off a current customer and vice versa. So, this is where segmenting your list and strategically crafting your message comes into play.

About 5 years ago I registered for Old Navy’s email loyalty program and they email me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It’s just too much. I think when you clog someones email you are actually being counter productive. Figure out a good schedule and test it out. It’s ok to do a quick focus group or survey of current email recipients to make sure that their expectations are being met.

Ignore metrics
Email stats are your friend. Remember this! There is no better way to find out what is working and what is not working that to continuously monitor the stats of each email sent. You can learn things about how your lists are segmented, how different subject lines are performing with regards to open rate, what offers are getting the most clicks, and more!