What is spam anyway? Is it emails for get rich quick schemes? Mail order spouses? Or is it any email that wasn’t crafted properly? From the customer’s perspective, the difference can be pretty narrow. So, how do you make sure your email isn’t perceived as spam?
First, the legal part. In case you didn’t notice, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 didn’t exactly clean out everyone’s inbox. But it did make deceptive email marketing illegal so bad guys could be prosecuted. Here are the rules:
- You can’t use misleading header info – meaning your “from and “reply to” must be legit.
- You can’t use deceptive subject lines.
- A commercial email must be identified as an ad. (This means you can’t pretend your email is a personal communication, not that you have to put the word “Ad” in it.)
- You need a postal address on the email.
- You must have a clear and conspicuous opt out link that works within 10 days.
- And you’re responsible even if you use an outside firm for your marketing.
Follow those and you’ll avoid fines and stay out of jail. But if you want your emails to generate a response, you need to take it up a notch. So here is my rule – before you blast an email, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you going to make money? If an email isn’t going to generate revenue, don’t send it. Think of each name in your list as a precious and perishable resource. You only get so many chances to engage with someone, so don’t waste a single one. In my opinion, the worst offenders are press releases, holiday cards and internal company news.
- Is the email meaningful and important to the customer? Read the email from the customer’s perspective and ask “what’s in it for me?” If your customer isn’t going to see value, come up with something else.
- Are you emailing too frequently? If your emails are meaningful, you can blast pretty often. A good rule of thumb is once a month. If results are good, test going to twice a month and check your response and unsubscribe rates. If they hold, you’re good. You can keep testing more frequent cadence until you see negative return – those metrics will tell you when to slow down.
- Are you treating every name in your list the same? Segment your emails to meet your customer’s individual needs. The more you segment offer, creative and cadence, the better. It’s a great idea to ask the customer up front how often they want contact, what offers are meaningful and what they want to hear. Then you can provide exactly what they want.
- Is this person really engaged with my company or is it just an email address I have? Just because you have an email address, doesn’t mean you have the right to add that customer to every email campaign. Think of a new email address like a new friend. Go slowly. If it’s the first time you email someone, send a soft offer first – something that will allow them to respond and tell you what they would like to hear. After you get that, you’re good to go.
Sometimes an outside review of programs can bring a fresh perspective. If you’d like some help, let me know.