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Friday, May. 13, 2011 at 10:30 am

Give Email Recipients a Reason to Care

By Natalie Hart
May 13th, 2011

Email campaigns can be a website’s best friend or worst enemy. They have the ability to entice recipients or turn them off. So, to help you create newsletter campaigns that won’t make your recipients cringe, I’ve outlined a few guidelines:

1. It may sound obvious, but don’t create an email campaign unless it’s something the recipients actually will care about. I receive many email newsletters. Some are great, some are terrible and some are just plain useless. I continue to receive the latter two under the pretense of doing research for posts like this one, but every time they enter my inbox, I think WHY?! Only create campaigns that visitors care about. What that means will vary by industry and type of recipient, but in general, if something is new, newsworthy or has won an award, it’s worthy of being shared. A new product, a new sale or new findings all fall under this category. Outside of this, you should probably think harder about why you’re actually putting together this campaign. If you’re just sending the campaign out of fear your followers will forget you, you may be frustrating them more than you’re appealing to them.

2. If you have their name, personalize your emails. Example: Hi Natalie, did you hear about our new shoe sale where all of our boots are 200% off?! (Hey, a girl can dream).

3. Don’t overlook a subject line. While some recipients won’t read it, why wouldn’t you want to optimize your subject line for those who do? Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. It should connect back to my #1 suggestion – why the recipient should care. Benefit-oriented copy in the subject line will entice your recipients to open the email. Avoid “wewe” copy.

4. Mold your format to the personas who will receive your email. If you know your recipients are mostly competitive, use benefit-oriented copy in bullet format, followed by a Call To Action (CTA). For methodical types, have narrative copy with links for more information etc. To get started, check out the general format detailed on the right, and try following that.

5. Test! Unsure about who your recipients are and how to apply #4 – test your emails! Testing is a big part of our approach to gaining insight about our clients’ customers. Testing different variations of emails for click through rate or other metrics gets you results quickly and can provide a significant amount of insight about how to craft future emails. Just remember, those recipients of your email campaigns don’t necessarily represent the personas of all visitors coming to your site, so be wary when applying email test findings site-wide.

6. Lastly, make sure recipients can unsubscribe easily. Just in case recipients decide they don’t want to receive your emails anymore, give them that option. There’s no point in frustrating them with repeated, unwanted campaigns, and there’s the added possibility of being marked as spam.  If that’s not enough to inspire you to include an unsubscribe option, then perhaps the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM law requiring all commercial email to have a clear, functioning unsubscribe option will do the trick!  ;-)   Check out the CAN-SPAM requirements for your email campaigns now, and save yourself the hassle and expense of any complaints.

… Good luck!  And don’t forget to let us know how it goes!

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Comments (23)

  1. i’ve always been scared to bother my customers with these type of mailing lists. When we take an order, we ask for the customer’s email address. Roughly 6/10 specify not to send them junk email (not saying mine is junk, but they may think so).

    i know personally that if a company/website contiuosly spams me with mass emails, i would not buy from them just based on principle.

    i also do concede that there are certain websites who’s emails i look forward to getting.

    just my opinion

  2. Unsubscribe link! Most people are reluctant to insert this… This is really important to maintain your reputation without marking as spam.

  3. We have found regular monthly emails to our clients and prospects containing useful information as well as our marketing message to be highly effective over time.

  4. I totally agree with you. The part that I hate the most is people sending emails for a software that we downloaded ages ago. I still get useless emails from a site where I had downloaded a photoshop plugin some years ago.

  5. I agree with you. The whole point of these emails is to build a relationship with those you are sending these emails to not annoy them on a regular basis. Building the rapport with these individuals will help them feel more comfortable when they actually want something you are selling. Personalizing emails may take some time, but the response you get in return will be someone who trusts you and will return as a customer time and time again.

    Thanks for the great advice Natalie.

  6. I think we can sell products to the customers mail, provided that: 1, guests are interested in your product; 2, to maintain a certain frequency, such as once a month.

  7. i’ve always been scared to bother my customers with these type of mailing lists. When we take an order, we ask for the customer’s email address. Roughly 6/10 specify not to send them junk email (not saying mine is junk, but they may think so)

  8. email spamming is too much high now a days. I daily receive lot of emails from different affiliate companies , nothing bust just crap. And I didn’t buy from them even they have some good offers.

  9. If you are worried about harassing your customers, you can always send an e-mail asking for their confirmation & explaining what is included in your newsletter. (coupons, industry news, etc.) People usually appreciate being asked and will give your newsletter a try.

  10. I have to say, although your advice is generally useful, I really don’t appreciate it when spam emails use my name.

  11. Probably one of the most annoying things I find is the companies you provide your email address to so as to receive information and they send that many emails to you which are worthless that you initially forget that you signed up to their service and start marking them as spam.

  12. i think that if you put an unsubscribe link in the email body, that will scare people even more.

    people will see that and be scared to click on the link thinking that it may lead to a virus or some spyware.

  13. Now a days marketers are firing off email without caring whether their unsubscribe option button even wrks or not ! I hve tried unsubscribing many newsletter and still i find them in my inbox.

  14. We used to send out a newsletter come rain or shine every month thinking that our customers expect it. We’ve recently changed this to send only when we have something newsworthy or useful but still limit the sends to only one every two week maximum.

  15. Not a good example “Hi Natalie, did you hear about our new shoe sale where all of our boots are 200% off?! ” I would have sent the sender to the blacklist. Firstly I do not like to receive emails with the suggestion to buy something. Secondly, I do not like when I was drawn by the name of the person whom I do not know and he knows my name.

  16. Thanks for a great article. Really like the idea of point number 4 – haven’t thought of it before.What kind of results are you seeing from formating this way?

  17. To some extent I agree with Antown. I feel uneasy when I see an email from someone who knows my name and I have no idea who they are.

    Everything else in your article is top notch. Giving people emails that actually add value is so important to getting positive response, and not just getting put on the spam list.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. The thing with email blasting is the propensity of emails getting labeled as spam and hence the discontinuity of information intended to reach target audience. They key to successful email campaign is moderation. I would have to agree that one must give recipients a reason to care but on the other end, as sender or source of said emails, show also that you care by not spamming them. Spamming is the best way to lose followers.

  19. It’s such a fine line creating an email campaign. Email is such a great way to connect to all of your customers or readers, but it’s also an easy way to annoy them.
    I think the most important part of an email campaign is the title copy. People are now very adept at determining what is spam and what isn’t. So, you really have to know how to catch their attention in the right way.

  20. Promotional emails can sometimes be annoying. We’ve all experienced it for sure. The best way to get rid of this possibility is not to send out emails everyday to the same person. A strategic interval is necessary.

  21. Aside from allowing your readers to unsubscribe, unsubscribing them should never take so long (I’ve read somewhere between 1-2 weeks to be taken off the list!). How difficult and time-consuming can it be? It only makes you more undesirable/spammy.

  22. Email campaigns work for some customers and are a real turn off for others. Do not try to please everyone…or you will lose everyone. Know your customer base and cater to them only.

  23. I send out emails asking for feedback on recent sales, prospect emails, referral emails, anniversary/special event emails, etc. I have found that keeping the content short helps quite a bit as does an engaging title. I always provide an opt-out and I monitor the emails to determine whether the recipients are actually opening the post (the goal).

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Natalie is a Persuasion Analyst with FutureNow.

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