Email marketing has become a rather complicated endeavour. If extreme care is not taken, email marketing can result in a 'burning' of the customer base.
I will examine the various hurdles to an effective email marketing campaign, and how to solve them.
With regard to the question of how, you can either do it yourself, using the various email marketing software packages available, or use one of the many email marketing services.
Using a service has obvious advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you do not need to worry about the technical details, and you will (hopefully) get a professional quality technical solution. The disadvantage is the added costs.
Setting up such your own bulk email server is outside the scope of this article, but there are many good resources available on Google, if you are sufficiently technically inclined.
Legal and Ethical
The major act government email marketing in the USA is the CAN-SPAM act. I will primarily directly deal with its provisions, but most of what is said here transfers to other jurisdictions. Though it is not always strictly necessary, it is best to obey the laws of all countries which you have significant customer bases in.
The CAN-SPAM act lists a few key points those engaging in email marketing must comply with:
- Every email must include the ability to unsubscribe.
- The From and Subject fields should not be deceptive.
- The header should be accurate.
- Every email should include a listing of a physical address associated with the sender.
- You may not send messages using an open relay.
- You may not send messages to email addresses obtained through email harvesting.
Complying with these term, while it may be avoided legally for some businesses or organizations, is good practice for any email marketing campaign.
Hearts and Minds
The key consideration to make before engaging in any email marketing, is the question: Will the recipient want to receive this message?
Here are some good questions to ask yourself before you begin your email marketing:
- Does the prospective customer expect to receive email from you?
- Has the customer agreed to receive email from you, if so did they do so honestly, or incidentally in order to get access to something?
- If the roles were reversed, would you enjoy receiving these emails?
Tricks of the Trade
- 'Cold emails' have an incredibly low success rate, avoid this technique until you have a significant amount of experience.
- Groupon is a great example of effective, ethical email marketing.
- If you are not using a professional bulk email service, ensure that your infrastructure is secure. (You will be the target of crackers in the spam industry)
- Whatever you do, do not start mutating your emails to avoid spam filters. If all else fails, use a whitelisting service.
If you want to read more on this topic, there are a number of very good books available on the subject of email marketing. Additionally, many of the commercial services associated with email marketing may be able to help you with portions of your campaign.
Email marketing is a very effective tool, when used responsibly. I hope I was of some assistance and wish you the best of luck in your endeavours.