How to build loyalty and stay out of the spam can.
Ian Lurie, Portent Interactive, Seattle, WA
July 2, 2003
Somehow, while I wasn’t looking, America has developed a new threat: Spam. It clogs email boxes, bogs down corporate servers and the Internet, and kills productivity. The Internet, I’m told, is doomed because of evil, smarmy firms shotgunning millions of emails pushing everything from generic Viagra to digital cameras.
With this argument comes the corollary that all email marketing is bad. And that’s simply not true. There is a right way to conduct an email marketing campaign. Done right, email marketing works – our clients see great boosts in site traffic and sales, and they have never received a spam complaint.
Done wrong, and your best intentions may go awry – most ISPs and businesses use automated spam filters, and a poorly designed but completely legitimate email campaign can easily get caught and marked as ‘junk’.
How can you use email as a marketing tool, and not get tagged as a spammer? Stick to these rules:
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, defies easy definition. But here’s a short version:
Only send email to those who expressly ask for it. Put a simple form on your web site – all you really need is the subscriber’s email address, remember – and only send email to folks who complete that form.
There are no exceptions to this rule, except one: If you have an existing customer list, and want to sign them up for the list, send them a polite email inviting them to subscribe. Do not sign them up and ask them to unsubscribe! That’s like eating the last piece of cake and then asking if anyone wants it – just plain rude, and far too late.
An opt-in only list will start smaller, it’s true. But a small list is a targeted one. Our pure opt-in lists see close to 40% ‘click thru’ rates. Non opt-in lists can’t claim anything close to those numbers.
And don’t forget: Bandwidth isn’t free, either. If you send out 1,000,000 messages, then you’re footing the bill, one way or another, for all of those bits and bytes flying across the Internet. An opt-in list reaches a highly targeted audience and uses fewer messages to do it, so you save money.
Keep it Small
Your email message should be no larger than 15 kilobytes: The total file size for all images and text should never be larger than this number. Anything larger will bog down computers with slow Internet connections and may be targeted and deleted as spam.
Remember that all your email has to do is get the reader to click thru to your web site. You don’t have to show your product in an extra large photo, or provide 10 paragraphs explaining your service. Save that for your site. Keep the message compact, and don’t use more than one or two images in your message. The result will be a small, fast-loading email message.
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