Monday, November 28, 2011

The Thin Line Between Love And Spam

As the email marketing services have become more prevalent in today's marketing efforts, so has the ability for the common email newbie to become the next spammer. Email clients intercept your well intentioned emails for garbage, folks delete others based solely on the images, and junk folders continue to get filled leaving you unable to successfully deliver your promotion or newsletter on which you have worked so hard.

So how do we battle this? How do we make sure that our messages get to their intended recipient? There are a few things that I will lay out here, but keep in mind this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting those messages mailed out and read. Email marketing has become a science in itself, but it's a heck of a time to get involved if you're not already.

  • Watch your language -- Avoid words that spam killers look for like "free" and "money". While you mean well, if your email has these words in it it may well end up in a junk folder, or even worse, eliminated at the mail server where no one ever sees it. Some of the email services like ConstantContact.com actually have an "anti-spam checker" to give you an idea of whether your email will be seen as legit or spam by most filters.

  • Avoid too many images -- Let's face it, pictures are usually worth more than the words on the page. That's who we are, we love pictures. However, the tendency is to have way too many images which then become "marketing noise". Remember, you want to tease the reader making them want more. That's where you make those images hyperlinks to your web page or links to your product pages, really reeling them in. Oh, and before I forget -- NO TEXT AS IMAGES! Keep in mind; many email clients (Outlook for example) do not download any images until the reader gives it permission. If you have very little text and all images (including text banners that are images), your email will just look like a bunch of empty boxes with red x's, prompting for download -- at that point, tendency is to just delete it as there's nothing to attract the reader.

  • Always use the KISS method -- Remember, the objective of your email is to lead your reader to your website, drop you an email, or even give a call. Keeping that in mind, don't put too much on your email that they won't read it. As readers, we tend to be lazy -- get to the point or end up in the trash in many cases. You want to drop hints for promotions or articles, using the phrase "click here for more" as much as possible. In a newsletter for instance, a few well-placed paragraphs with "click for more" at the end of each allows the reader to pick and choose which articles pertain to them. The click through is the real success factor in email marketing as getting them to visit and spend time on your website is time that they did NOT spend at your competitor. Back to keeping it simple, just don't put too much on the page. Like the point about images, too much text, side bar menus, links, etc. can turn off your reader which is the worst case scenario.

This may sound a little overwhelming, jumping into a new area of technology always is. However, this is not meant to scare you off, just encourage you to move slowly and surely into email marketing. It's a wide open field and quickly becoming the most popular way of getting your message out. It's more cost effective them direct mail, and reporting on who's reading it, who's forwarding it, and who's not getting it is more readily available to you. With all email services you can get these reports which are almost immediate unlike your direct mail campaigns. However, just be sure you're careful before you jump or you'll end up in the trash.

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