Email Marketing: If you can swing a hammer, it doesn’t mean you should build a home!

Posted January 21, 2010 by   in Client Communication, Content Marketing, Email Marketing

I think of myself as pretty “handy”. I enjoy doing small projects around the house but certainly know I have limitations when it comes to building things (especially when electricity is involved!) I’m lucky to have most the tools and actually know how to use the majority of them. I have multiple hammers and have driven a few nails over my 32 years.

Most of us have at least some building tools – like a hammer, and even though most would say they can use a hammer to hang a picture, or build a flower box, few would say they could use it to build something significant like a home. That requires a set of skills and experience many of us don’t have. I learned the lesson early in life when I misused a hammer and almost knocked myself unconscious… and I still have the scar to prove it!

Email Marketing is no different – maybe no physical scaring, but if you try to do it yourself you could be putting your business in harm’s way. Email marketing uses a tool, email – which is probably even more prevalent than a hammer these days. To do email marketing right, it requires a set of skills and experience many business owners don’t have – much like building a home. Just because I know how to use a hammer, I certainly wouldn’t try to use one to build my own home. In the nearly 10 years that I’ve been a marketer, I’ve found that Email Marketing is one of the most difficult aspects of marketing. It is extremely challenging – even for professionals that do it on a regular basis.

So why do so many people believe they can do email marketing without the necessary skills and experience? Based on the numerous conversations with clients that have tried it themselves, we believe it is due to a lack of understanding. There are simply hundreds of potential points of failure with email marketing. To be blunt, even though you know how to use email, or even one of the many “self service” systems available now for email marketing, you should not do your own Email Marketing unless you are an experienced professional. Your business may not be able to recover from the proverbial scar that could be made if you make even one mistake.

If not done properly, one simple email could cost you thousands of dollars in fines, damage your brand, harm your client relations or even lose customers.

Below are just a few of the finer details that many are not aware of with Email Marketing:

Email Permission:

Did you realize that if you send a mass email to someone without their permission, you are actually breaking the law? By far the most important aspect of email marketing is the concept of permission. Businesses sending emails without the recipients “permission” is SPAM and could be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, which means the sender could be subject to penalties of up to $16,000 for each separate incident. Just because you’ve exchanged business cards at a networking event, doesn’t give you the legal permission you need to add that person to your email list.

And even if you have a legitimate email list, there are a number of technical qualifications you must adhere to – like including your snail mail address in the email.

Email Design:
The design of your email plays a huge role if your email is received, opened and read. Did you know that there are over 18 mainstream email systems used and that the emails you send look differently in each of these various programs? Have you ever seen your email marketing in AOL? Yahoo? Gmail? Outlook 2003? Outlook 2007? Mozilla? If I am speaking a foreign language to you right now, then you may be sending poor-looking emails to your clients and prospects without knowing it – even if you are using a reputable “self-service” system.

Email Spam filters:
Are you aware that there are 11 mainstream Spam filters and that each have different definitions as to what looks like Spam? Do you know that the wrong characters and words in your email can affect whether your recipients even receive your email? If not, you are probably wasting money on emails that aren’t even being delivered to your recipient’s inbox – let alone being read. These are things that “self-service” systems typically don’t help with either.

Email Content
Once the email is delivered in the recipient’s inbox, the next most important piece is the subject line. Do you know what makes compelling subject lines – causing people to want to open and read your email? Are you aware that if your subject line is too short or too long, fewer people will open the email? Do you understand how images work in emails between email programs? Do you know when to use images and when not to use them? Were you aware that approx 30% of email recipients don’t even know that images are disabled in their email system – meaning they are not seeing your images?

Email Measurement
Do you understand keywords, hyperlinks, landing pages and other aspects in your content that make email marketing effective and measureable? Do you know the best days and times to send your emails to your target audience to assure the greatest open rate? Do you know what audience segmentation is and how it can add to your email effectiveness?

Much like building a home, email marketing requires the necessary skills and experience. If you think email marketing can be and effective marketing tool for your business, you need to leverage a professional who has spent the time learning the “ins and outs” of this marketing tactic.

Springboard Marketing has helped many businesses effectively use email marketing – and we can help yours as well.

We’ve got the scars to prove it!