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How email can alienate

Email marketing can be one of the most efficient and successful business marketing strategies a company can employ, and has a higher return on investment than either direct mail or traditional advertising.

Allowing more interaction than a website, it is a cost-efficient way to build lasting relationships with customers, provide a call to action and develop and maintain brand awareness. Yet done badly, email marketing can simply irritate and alienate. Here are some common gripes and how to avoid them.

“I didn’t ask for emails.”

Make sure you get permission before you add people to your mailing list. Consent needs to have been given to receive email, which is not the same as signing up to your service. Purchasing an email list usually amounts to the same thing as unsolicited email.

“Why do they need so much information?”

Only ask for the contact information you really need. Keep it short and to the point. Your company email newsletter should be quick and easy to sign up to, or people will give up halfway through and not bother. Make sure you have a privacy policy that is transparent and easily accessible to all.

“What’s in it for me?”

Whether it’s useful information, free seminars, money-off vouchers or extra resources, your email correspondence needs to add value if it is not to be resigned to the junk folder or immediately deleted. Give your customers what they want.

“How do I opt out?”

It’s important that your customers know they can opt out of receiving emails whenever they want to, ideally with one click and without having to log in to your site.

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“It’s not what I asked for.”

Stay on topic and provide what you promised. If your emails are unrelated to your services and products or if the tone and message seems at odds with what people signed up for, this will create a confused brand and irritated readers.

“I am being bombarded with emails.”

Too many emails from one company are simply an annoyance, particularly if they are also lengthy. In general, the longer the message, the less frequently you should send it. Whilst people might be willing to open a daily message if they know it contains one simple tip or hint, they will be unlikely to open a longer, newsletter-style message more than once a week.

“Who’s it from, anyway?”

Write in a conversational tone and keep the messages from one person within the company. Customers are more likely to open and engage with an email if they feel as though they know the writer and understand the brand. Personalising your messages can help too.

“I can’t even read it.”

HTML and Rich Media messages which contain audio, video and hyperlinks can be very successful and encourage social interaction and dialogue, but it’s still important to ensure that you provide a text-only version of your emails for people who may not be able to open more complex formats on their device. Sending somebody something they can’t even open or read is not a good marketing strategy.

The key to successful email marketing is to only send targeted, relevant and interesting emails to people who have specifically asked for them. If it doesn’t add value, don’t send it. Simple ideas like adding ‘Please forward’ or ‘Please tweet’ can help to spread your message easily and build brand awareness without seeming to try to hard. Don’t forget to analyse the impact and success of your email marketing campaigns and adapt accordingly.

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