The Dos and Dont’s of Email Marketing

Email marketing is ancient compared to other forms of online marketing, but businesses use it because it flat out works. There are dozens of marketing firms that specialize specifically in email marketing and hundreds of resources via blogs and books for learning the ins and outs of the craft, but I thought it’d be a wise idea to create a short 101 post covering some of the basics. The goal here is to help prevent a major mistake and shed some light on some opportunities you that may have overlooked.

DO create a list

If you haven’t created an email list, you need to start as soon as possible. Create an opt in form on your site and consider giving away a whitepaper, ebook, or other product offering to entice visitors to sign up. Contests are also a good idea. I’m fond of using MailChimp and AWeber is another option to consider.

DON’T add people to your list who didn’t opt in

DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, take my business card and add it to your list. If I didn’t ask to be on your list, don’t put me on it. It’s a surefire way to make others upset.

DO understand the laws related to email marketing.

The CAN-SPAM Act was put in place to help enforce the rights of email users. You must always give readers the ability to opt out of receiving future emails and must comply with opt out requests immediately. You also must provide a valid physical address.

DON’T be spammy

Spam is a term that’s open for interpretation, however you know it when you see it. Spam is mailing your list with only the intent of selling. Spam is sending emails unrelated to what readers originally thought they signed up for.

DO send regular emails

Have a big product announcement, a really good blog post, or a valuable piece of news? Send an email to your list. There’s nothing wrong with providing relevant information based on who your readers are. They expect you to send them updates so don’t be shy about it. The frequency depends on what expectations you’ve set from the beginning. Experiment to see what works best and drives the most traffic. Keep in mind that emailing too frequently or not frequently enough can both hurt you. Find the balance.

DON’T try and do too much in one email

The point of your email is to get someone to visit a specific page on your site or to take a specific action. For email marketing, I like the ideology that less is more. Don’t include a bunch of pictures or long paragraphs of text to read. Tell the reader what’s in it for them and point where you want them to go next.

DO give readers an option to subscribe via email

Many (myself included) choose to subscribe to a feed via RSS, however RSS alone is simply not enough. Give readers the ability to subscribe via email and receive updates sent directly to their inbox. Options are a good thing. Google’s FeedBurner gets the job done.

DON’T buy email lists

I’m sure there is a camp of people out there who strongly disagree, but I think buying an email list is a waste of money and a deceptive marketing tactic. I’d rather have 10 people who’ve opted in as opposed to buying 100,000 emails of people who don’t know or care who I am.

DO consider creating a weekly or monthly newsletter

Newsletters are great if you can put in the effort to keep one going. It’s a good excuse to keep subscribers in the loop with the news items and products related to your business.

As always, leave a comment if you have a suggestion that hasn’t been mentioned.



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