If you had the key to someone’s house, would you feel comfortable using it to enter without the homeowner’s invitation to give them a sales pitch?
Common sense tells you that idea is ludicrous, right? The 2007 Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act works in much the same way. Just because you’ve acquired someone’s email address (the symbolic ‘key’), doesn’t mean you can use it to enter their inbox without their permission. Marketers are not only obliged to stay on the right side of this law, but they’re much more likely to be successful when they do.
Here’s a quick recap on the basics and best practice for email marketing:
- Provide an opt-in check-box when collecting email addresses from customers. Outline clearly what they’re opting into. Note: opt-in, not opt-out.
- Tell the customer who you are. Sender details should be clearly communicated in the ‘From’ field as well as the branding of the email creative. This will help your customers instantly recognise you as the company they want to hear from.
- Include an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the top and the bottom of the email to make it easy for them to opt-out. Remember, it’s better to encourage your customers to unsubscribe than for them to hit the ‘spam’ button, which lowers your sender score and reputation.
Even if you’re a marketer with plenty of common sense, it’s still quite easy to fall into some common traps around how you handle a customer’s data. One of these is when customers forget they gave you permission to contact them, because you may have waited too long between gaining that permission and then making contact. The fix here is simple:
- Ensure your online sign-up form is hooked up with your CRM and/or marketing automation programme so a welcome email is triggered as soon as a customer registers.
- If you’re collecting data via a paper form, ensure the data is transferred into your CRM within a week.
- It’s also in your best interest to reiterate to the customer in your welcome email how and when they subscribed, so this jogs their memory.
Just as you’d take care not to overstay your welcome should you be invited round to someone’s house for afternoon tea, neither should you spend too much time in someone’s inbox. To ensure you continue to be welcomed, be mindful of how many times you turn up in your customer’s inbox. Establish pressure rules on how often and how many emails you send them within a certain timeframe.
You should also regularly review your email content to ensure it’s relevant to the people you are contacting. Imagine being invited to a formal dinner party and turning up in your beach gear – not only do you stick out like a sore thumb, but it’s a sure way to not be invited back again!
Remember, when a customer gives you their contact information it means they like you and they want to hear from you. This is good news and a sign of trust that, like any relationship, needs to be nurtured and not abused.
It’s really about common sense. So the next time you’re planning your email marketing campaign, take a step back and think about how your digital marketing tactics and actions would translate back to the physical world.