Category Archives: Email Marketing

Email campaigns: how to avoid sending spam

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How to avoid sending spam

So you've read our blog post about using email in your marketing, and have decided to go for it. But before you grab a long list of email addresses and start hitting send, you need to consider spam.

What is it?

We've all had it. Spam is basically electronic junk mail. It's defined as an unsolicited email, i.e. one that the recipient did not ask to receive.

Make sure your recipients have actually opted in to receiving mail from you, because the last thing you want to do is antagonise your potential customers. More to the point, sending unsolicited emails is illegal - although we're not sure how many cases actually make it to court...

How can I avoid sending it?

  1. Make sure your list of email addresses is clean and up to date. If you get a high bounce-back rate you might be marked as a spam sender.
  2. Don't use 'blitz' or 'spray and pray' approach. Segment your recipients and make sure your messages are targeted correctly, i.e. what you are sending is actually of interest to that segment.
  3. Add an Unsubscribe link. This is a legal requirement.
  4. Don't bombard your contacts, or they'll get bored of you and unsubscribe.
  5. People's spam filters check for html code. Opt for plain text emails, high quality html templates, or professionally coded emails
  6. Avoid multiple exclamation marks, coloured fonts, all capitals and 'spam trigger words'. Check out our list below.
    • Free
    • Visit our website
    • Opportunity
    • 50% Off
    • Click here
    • Call now
    • Subscribe
    • Bonus
    • Discount
    • Save up to
    • Winner
    • Prizes
    • Information you requested
    • Important information regarding
    • Guarantee, Guaranteed
    • Special Promotion
    • Great Offer/Deal
    • All New
    • One Time
    • Order Now

Obviously some of these words are common business phrases so it's hard to avoid them. We suggest that if you must use one of these phrases, just use it once per email otherwise it could be blocked. Try to use synonyms like 'complimentary' instead of 'free', or change the wording slightly so you don't get picked up by spam filters.

A good way to deal with these issues is to use a a web-based email marketing service like MailChimp or Mailigen. These services are free up to a certain level, so are great for small businesses who want to give email marketing a try.

If email marketing sounds a bit too daunting, drop us a line and we'll see if we can help.

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11 reasons why email marketing is still worthwhile

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Marketing messages

Email marketing was one of the first channels used in digital marketing. However, this doesn't mean that it's no longer of value.

Perhaps you're an SME or a start-up with a limited budget. Email marketing is a great, low-cost way of getting your message out there. So why should you give it a try?

  1. It's cheap
  2. Emails are a targeted, direct way to contact your subscribers, including current and previous customers as well as prospects
  3. Email campaigns help build a relationship with your database, and target subscribers at different stages of the lifecycle
  4. They can prompt sales from new customers, encourage repeat purchases, increase sales conversion and up-sell/cross-sell other products or services. You can even use email marketing to highlight location specific offers and drive people offline to your shop
  5. They help increase brand awareness, keep your brand fresh in your subscribers minds and drive targeted traffic to your website - so that when they do require your product or service, you are first in their mind
  6. You get trackable, measurable results from campaigns. They're a highly measurable form of marketing with statistics available to delve into every part of what happened during your campaign, when it happened and how often it happened. By using all the data available your campaign can be monitored, tested and optimised to ensure the highest result possible is achieved
  7. Fast delivery – email is perfect for communicating with customers for limited time or availability offers
  8. High ROI (Return on Investment) – a percentage of marketers use email campaigns, with many acquiring 50% or more of their business through this channel
  9. Email can catch people on the move viewing email on their mobile devices
  10. You can personalise communications using the data collected in your database
  11. You gain feedback from your customers. For example product reviews can be directly asked for through your emails, as well as giving you the opportunity to deliver online surveys to subscribers and increase the amount of data you hold about them; enabling you to personalise your campaigns further with this information in the future

So should you use your existing contact list or buy one in? Your own list will be of more value and the recipients are likely to be good prospects, and possibly even 'warm'. Bought lists can be very expensive and may not be as targeted as your own.

Don't forget that it's illegal to send unsolicited emails, so your contact list should have 'opted in' to contact - for example by signing up to a newsletter or entering their business card into a draw at an exhibition.

Try using a free, third-party email provider like MailChimp. It's free to send 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers so is a great starting point. We also love Campaign Monitor, although they charge small monthly fee.

Give us a call if you need help putting your email together - even if you're already using MailChimp or Campaign Monitor, a well-designed email newsletter will have much more of an impact and a higher click-through rate than one put together by a beginner!

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How to get started with email marketing

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Email marketing is a simple and proven method of promoting your business.

It can attract new customers and maintain close relationships with current ones, or remind lapsed customers that you still exist. You could opt to send emails using your usual email client (for example Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird). However, it looks much more professional if you use specialised email marketing software.

A vast array of email marketing software is available and most companies offer relatively low prices, with packages to fit every business size and need. There are even free-of-charge solutions available (although of course you will need to invest your time - or ask an agency like us to manage it for you).

Managing your contacts can be as simple as having a list of names and email addresses, or a database of subscribers segmented in various ways. It's just a matter of determining which features and tools you need and what budget you have.

Try before you buy
Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month, and invoice you based on your number of subscribers (i.e. how many people are on your list).

If you have a small list of subscribers, your best bet will be a company that offers a free or low-cost plan for a few hundred subscribers, or even pay-as-you-go. MailChimp offers a free package and is very popular with small businesses. Many services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Some companies offer discounts if you pay annually rather than monthly.

Getting started shouldn't be daunting. Generally, you'll know right away whether you like a user interface (UI) or not. Most packages will offer a free trial so you can have a look around before you commit (note that some free trials require a credit card, so if you’re not happy make sure you cancel the trial before you're invoiced).

Check out the customer support. Some companies offer 24/7 phone support, live chat, and email help, while for others you need to rely on online documentation and limited live support. The best services offer a combination of FAQs and live support via chat or phone.

Creating your first campaign
Whether you already have a list of subscribers or are starting from scratch, email marketing software can help. It will let you add contacts manually (using copy and paste) or by uploading CSV or Excel files. Some allow you to import Gmail and other webmail contacts, or other data from CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software such as Salesforce.

Managing users who unsubscribe is also easy, as you're not accidentally contacting anyone who has opted out.

Next you need to build your first email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a pre-designed template. Most services have drag-and-drop tools so you can choose to include, plus image libraries to store assets like logos and photos.

Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential, as you may accidentally use words that send up red flags and direct the email straight to your subscribers' junk folders - or worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach your customers’ inbox.

Responding and reporting
Beyond sending newsletters, the best email marketing services also offer custom auto-responders. These help you stay in touch with customers via automatically generated emails based on special occasions (like birthdays or anniversaries), welcome emails for new subscribers, or thank you emails for purchases.

Obviously, using email as a form of marketing is no use unless you can track your successes and failures. All of the services available should offer tracking and reporting, whether it's simple open and click rates, charts and statistics, or even integration with Google Analytics. Using this data you can make adjustments based on what does and doesn’t work.

If you’re growing your business, you may also be looking for a CRM solution. The more advanced email marketing services cross over into CRM. A handful of these services are ‘one-stop shops’, either offering both email marketing and CRM out of the box or as add-on services.

Some of the best email marketing services are listed below – but others may be available! If you don’t feel confident enough to get started by yourself, drop us a line. We manage email campaigns for a number of our clients, including design, writing the words, broadcasting the emails, reporting, and maintaining the contact database.

Campaign Monitor
Zoho Campaigns
Constant Contact
Salesforce Marketing Cloud

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Email marketing – our own top tips

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Email marketing tips

Why is email marketing a vital tool for small businesses? Mainly because it's fast and cheap. But that's not all - email marketing offers opportunities to directly target messages to the right people at the right time.

Email marketing can present some pitfalls, however. Random and constant emailing will be seen as spam. You must have permission to email the recipient, and if you want people to respond positively, you must send messages that are genuinely of value to them.

Here are some top tips we've gleaned from our own experience of email marketing.

Sign-up tips

  • Avoid asking for unnecessary information. For example, you don't need to ask for postal addresses. When people are confronted with this they are more likely to drop out.
  • Make it eye-catching on your website, e.g. by using a pop-up or an envelope symbol.
  • What's the hook? People need a reason to sign up. Tell them what to expect from being on your newsletter list. You could incentivise it, e.g. offer a free online course or white paper, or perhaps a discount code if you run an eCommerce site.

What should I send?

  • Research your competitors. This can be very valuable. Look for things that your competitors aren't doing, or are doing badly. Sign up for lots of newsletters and use those ideas for inspiration (but we're not encouraging you to plagiarise!).
  • Hold back some unique content. If you share identical content across all your marketing communications including your newsletter, customers will find little value in it and may unsubscribe.

How to write it

  • Think about your audience and write as if you are addressing just one person.
  • Don't make it too long, and be concise.
  • Break copy into chunks.
  • Think about what you intend the user to do at the end of it. What action do you want them to take?
  • Keep it relevant.

Good email practice

  • Get consent – opting in is a legal requirement, although many businesses see an exchange of business cards as permission.
  • Don't email too often.
  • Check if you need ICO registration. You can complete a self-assessment quiz on the ICO website.
  • Avoid using your own email client such as Outlook or Gmail - deliverability can be reduced, especially if you're on shared server. It's better to use a sending service such as MailChimp.
  • Do list housekeeping. This helps to cut the volume of non-openers.
  • Make unsubscribe very easy. This is another legal requirement. If people can't find your unsubscribe link they will mark your email as spam - and that will ultimately count against you.
  • If using images, keep file sizes small.
  • Use personalisation, at a minimum the recipient's first name. As well as being polite, this helps to start a positive relationship.
  • Plan your activity. This prevents you from repeating yourself.

It's worth taking a bit of time to think about what you're doing (and why) before you hit that 'Send' button. Follow some of our tips above and you're more likely to get a higher open rate and avoid the spam folder. And our best tip: only send when you have something of value to say.

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