It’s easy to separate the men from the boys, so to speak, in the world of email marketing. Many small business owners mistakenly think they are exempt from certain email marketing policies. However, the rules for email marketing are the same whether you’re a mom-and-pop corner store or a Fortune 500 company.
In order for your email program to be successful, to avoid coming across as a novice and – most importantly – to be compliant with CAN-SPAM regulations, you’ve got to employ email best practices. Unfortunately, small businesses are guilty of violating many of these email standard operating procedures. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Are you guilty of any of the common violations listed below? If so, now’s the time to come clean (and clean up your act). Your subscribers will thank you for it.
1. Sending without segmenting
Just because your list isn’t in the six-figure range, that doesn’t mean you can bypass segmenting your audience. After all, you want your subscribers to open your email messages, don’t you?
Approach your email marketing strategy as if you were writing a personal letter to your prospects and customers. Granted, you don’t have to send a different email to every single subscriber on your list, but you do want to segment your list according to interests and other variables.
If you simply send blast-batch emails to your entire list, your subscribers will become disengaged (and eventually unsubscribe). Conversely, if you send them relevant content they will be more likely to open your emails, click through to your site, and convert.
You do need to consider the size of your lists when conducting A/B tests. Again, it’s not the total size that’s important but the percentage of your list that you test. If your list is considerably small, you may need to test to the entire list. Not sure? Check out this split test calculator.
2. Buying email lists
Small businesses are often targeted by companies offering to sell consumer lists. While this may be common practice in direct mail, in email marketing it’s a huge no-no.
Do not be tempted into buying an email list as a way to build your subscriber base. The only way to grow your email list is to do so organically. Think quality, not quantity.
Make it easy for people to sign up for your email list on your website. Use print collateral, social media, point of sale, incentives and other tactics to encourage signup. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in all emails.
Never buy an email list. Period.
This leads us to a third common email marketing blunder….
3. Emailing without permission
Do not assume that you’ve got permission to send a promotional email to someone. The only email addresses on your list should be those of people who have opted in to receive your company’s emails. Better yet, use a double opt-in process for your email signups.
Emailing without permission can result in another type of list – the dreaded blacklist. If your company ends up on a blacklist, your emails can be blocked from ISPs. It’s a death knell for email marketers.
Yes, you can send transactional emails to people who have interacted with your business but may not actually be on your email list. The distinction is transactional vs. promotional email. If you try the proverbial wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing approach of disguising a promotional email as a transactional one, DON’T. Transactional emails should have no more than 20 percent promotional content.
If you don’t want the email police breathing down your neck, make sure you follow best practices. It’s the first step to maintaining – and growing – a healthy email list.