Category Archives: Email Marketing Tips

CAN-SPAM act compliance and email subject lines

5826077_sDuring the holidays and at the end of the year, it’s common for companies to send more email and make more special offers.  But be careful with those subject lines!  You want to be sure they are in compliance with the law (the CAN-SPAM Act).  You also risk annoying your recipients.

As an example, I received an email solicitation from an area publication to which I subscribe.  And from which I have bought advertising.

The subject line said “Thank you and a gift.”

I figured, okay, a little appreciation.  Nice.  I open the email.  There is no gift offer.  There is an offer of a discount, which is not that great actually, to subscribe for another year.

Was I annoyed?  You bet.  Where was my “gift?”

Does this sound innocent to you?  Calling a discount a gift, well, why not?  Just marketing speak, right?  Well, sure.  You can be cute with words in marketing for the holidays in a lot of advertising contexts, as long as you aren’t outright deceptive.

But when it comes to commercial email subject lines, the law is really clear about truth in advertising.  Everyone who works in commercial email knows this now, but I’m sharing this with you, so you don’t make the same mistake.

Your subject line has to deal with the content of your message.  Sure, it has to tempt the recipient to open it.  BUT you have to deliver on what you promise in a subject line.  For example, you cannot say in a subject line: Free cheeseburger coupon inside!  and then when the reader opens it, the body of the email mentions the caveat: with the purchase of a drink and fries.  Free offers — and all offers — mentioned in emai subject lines have to come with no strings attached.

A discount is not a “gift.”  A gift is something that is offered for free, with no expectation of return.  The subject line would have been in compliance if they had said “Special Holiday Discount for Subscription Renewals,” for example.

What is working for your holiday email marketing efforts?

Time to get started with email marketing

Email marketing has the highest ROI of all — $46 on the dollar. And it works even better when used in conjunction with other tactics.

Your friends at Fletcher Prince can help you set up a year-round email marketing campaign of custom-designed newsletters and announcements.

  • Copywriting and design
  • CAN-SPAM Act compliant
  • Contact list management
  • Free services for partners who qualify

Our May Newsletter is packed with event info and social media tips

Do you subscribe to our email newsletterYou can check out the May issue right here.  We send it to our contact list every month.

It’s important to us to provide useful and valuable content to our colleagues and professional contacts.  A couple of articles we include every month: upcoming PR and social media events for communicators, and monthly ideas for your blog, Twitter, and Facebook updates. We also include a short and informative video.

Email marketing is an important part of our marketing mix, and we hope you are also using it to its full advantage.  The Direct Marketing Association reports that email marketing has the highest ROI of all techniques.  We’d be happy to talk to you more about that, including our Constant Contact partnership program that offers you many free benefits as a participant.

If you have ideas or events we can share in our June newsletter, please email me and let me know.   Enjoy!

Effective Communications: for initial contact, don’t use email

It happened again, today. Someone got lazy and tried to use email to do a letter’s job.

This person had important information to relay to a small group of parents — me, included — under 100 people.  It involved registration, attending a meeting and receiving specialized information, just for this group.  She had never communicated with this group before, other than a brief meeting.  She needed them to be in a specific place, at a specific time, and fill out forms.

She decided to go with an email communication.  She did no other follow-up or other communication with the parents.

Not all the group members received her email (she was completely shocked by this), and missed out on important information regarding their children.  Where did the communication break down?  Not on my end.  And now I’m steamed!

What you need to know about email deliverability

She and most people don’t know that up to 20% of email is never delivered to recipients.  Bump that percentage up much higher if you’re using a commercial email service, emailing to school or government addresses, including some HTML in your email, or if you make certain kinds of errors.

And when I say 20% of the email is never delivered, I’m not saying “just to the inbox.”  It doesn’t even make it to the spam folder.  For the recipient, it never existed.

Don’t send email for initial communications, ever

For initial communications to new group members — communications containing important details, to ask for business, or to schedule meetings, email is not the way to go.  You could send an email greeting to a group asking them to confirm that you have the correct address and to request them to add your email to your inbox.

For groups under 100, I would advise sending first class “snail” mail four weeks in advance of an event or needed action, and following up with phone calls a week or two later to make sure the information was received.

When To Use Email Communications

When you have established a contact list that you have confidence in, that is fully opt-in and accurate, and you have previously established communications in other ways, then you can move to email communications (however, you should supplement this with mail and phone calls).

The typical open rate of emails sent to a house list is nearly 20%, according to the Direct Marketing Association.  Of those, for a sale or other desired commercial call to action, the response rate averages about 2%.

The emails we send for ourselves and for our clients average more around 40% to 50% because we use highly targeted and carefully managed contact lists.

Email is NOT for prospecting

What if you’re reaching out to new and potential clients?  Should you use email communications?

Let me ask you something.  If you were going to ask someone for a date for the first time, would you send them an email???

When it’s really important that you get someone to take action and you two don’t have “history,” you have to get a bit more personal.

Besides, it’s illegal.  You can’t send commercial email to someone who has not specifically given you permission.  If you are a nonprofit or government entity, you shouldn’t do it either, not without explicit permission.

Sometimes, you have to just pick up the phone

Like it or not, telephone calls and well-designed, first class mail are still the ways to go when it’s absolutely essential that people receive, process, and act on information they are receiving for the first time (or the first few times).

Stay tuned this week for more blog posts about how to make your communications more effective.

Is summer the right time to send email newsletters?

With the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, it’s easy to disregard the impact of email marketing. However, email marketing can increase your company’s popularity on social networks and has been found to be a highly effective marketing technique.

And summer is a great time to send email newsletters and announcements.  I do feel with social media, you have to be on top of it every day.  I don’t recommend auto-scheduling your social media updates.  But email is different.  You can take care of a whole summer of content and promotions, schedule it, and head to the pool 🙂

Summer is also a great time to start building your email contact lists with friendly outreach now, so that your program will be robust and in gear in time to do some some heavy-duty marketing later, such as in the fall, around the holidays, or at the end of the year.

Last year, we implemented a successful email marketing campaign for Fall Properties.  The newsletters had much higher than industry average open rates, as much as 50%, instead of the average 12%.

What made their clients open these newsletters?  Email marketing best practices, including

  • We started with a clean, permission-based list. That is where trust begins, and it cannot be emphasized enough. It’s better to have a small list of people who really want to read your email communications than to have a large list that may result in your email communications being marked as spam.
  • We created an attractive design.  Branding is important.
  • We wrote informative subject lines.  Subject lines are what get email opened.
  • We put the emphasis on local-specific, seasonal content that was interesting to their clients, with less emphasis on promotion (but still some).
  • We included video in each email newsletter. This was often the promotional piece of the newsletter.  The click-through rates for the videos were quite high.

We are a Constant Contact partner, and we’re experienced in creating appealing email campaigns that get results.  Check out our online portfolio of email newsletters, and contact us to create an email marketing campaign for you.

Want to try it on your own?  Use our Constant Contact link to get a free 60-day trial, plus complimentary  help from us as you get started with your email program.

Want more information about email marketing in the summer months? Read these articles for great email marketing ideas…

3 Easy Steps to Boost Summer Bookings – Without Blowing Your Budget!

Tips For Keeping Customers Engaged Over the Summer

Summer Email Marketing Tips

Social Media and Small Business: New Trends

Thanks to Constant Contact, we have some good information on what small business owners use and value, in terms of marketing approaches.

According to a recent survey, nearly all small business owners (95%) have a website and use email marketing (91%).  The majority of small business owners are using social media (73%) and almost half are using blogs (43%).

Think the quarter of small businesses who are not using social media are missing an opportunity?  Don’t worry; more than half of those respondents (62%) plan to jump on the social media bandwagon within a year.

Facebook is the number one search term on the web, so it may come as no surprise to you that Facebook was found to be the clear winner among the social media options small businesses choose; 95% of small business owners who use social media use Facebook.  What is interesting is that represents a leap of 44% since about this time last year.

Also compelling to note is that while 60% of small business owners who use social media are on Twitter and LinkedIn, those platforms were seen as effective by less than half of these users (47%).  On the other hand, while less than half of social media users are on YouTube, nearly 3/4 (73%) of them thought YouTube was an effective way to market to their customers.

I feel this reinforces what I have been saying about the power of online video — it will differentiate the small business, it will achieve SEO benefits, and although it involves more effort, it does work.

Surprising to me was the result that 69% of respondents said they use online advertising.  Also reassuring for our newspapers was the finding that 77% of small businesses are using print advertising.

When asked which tactics were very effective or moderately effective, the ranking looks like this:

1. Email marketing was ranked as most effective among the options.  It is the first choice small business owners make when connecting with customers.

2. Websites came in as a close second.

3. Online advertising — surprise, surprise!

4. Social media.  Also most of the respondents who are currently using social media (81%) plan to increase using it, demonstrating that small business owners see real potential in social media as a marketing tactic.

5. Blogs.  The marketing power of blogs continue to be underestimated, although their SEO power is matched, perhaps, only by YouTube video.

12 Days of Marketing Communications. Day 4: Email Marketing

The Realtors of Fall Properties

The little email newsletter reminds me of the good kid in the (marketing) family who always does her homework and always hangs up her coat, and never gets quite the attention that her noisy and sometimes misbehaving siblings (Facebook and Twitter) seem to get.

And yet, email marketing is the powerhouse of marketing.  As you probably know by now, Fletcher Prince is a Constant Contact business partner. That’s the commercial email service we use.  And we’ve learned how to integrate video and social media features with email announcments and newsletters.

When you add email marketing best practices and scrupulous contact list hygeine to your marketing program, you will see results.

We have been working on a modest email marketing campaign (one newsletter every other month or so) for one of our clients, Fall Properties.  Real estate email communications, as a category, usually gets 12-14% open rates; our newsletters for Fall Properties are getting 37% to 47% open rates. The click-through rates were also double the industry standard (hint: include YouTube video, because people find it irresistible).

(The email marketing work we have done for Fall Properties was integrated with the Facebook Page and Twitter accounts we set up for the real estate firm at the beginning of 2010).

Try email marketing in 2011 — with the recommended send rate of two email communications per month.  Ask us how to get started with email marketing.

Social media vs. email marketing

Okay, it doesn’t have to be either/or.  A company can do both.  But here’s a reality check:

  • Only 5% of Americans are on Twitter (The Harris Poll, April 2009).  Of that group, only a fraction send messages on Twitter.
  • Less than half of Americans with a college degree are on Facebook.
  • More than 80% of Americans (employed) have an email account (Pew, 2008).

How do you like them apples?!

Here’s my advice: use social media with email.  Use email to get out your blog posts, for example.  But don’t over-rely on social media.  The return isn’t there yet.

Marketing effectively with email

Do you send email regularly to your customers or clients?  Smart move.  But are you sending too frequently?  And is the content meaningful for your customers?

According to eMarketer, most people unsubscribe to commercial email because the content is not relevant to them.  Other reasons people unsubscribe is because they are emailed too frequently, or because they are afraid their personal information will be shared or sold.
Reasons Internet Users Worldwide Unsubscribe from Permission-Based E-Mails, by Region, April 2009 (% of respondents)

At Fletcher Prince, we recommend that our clients touch base with their customers no more frequently than twice a month.  This amounts to, for example, a well designed and concise email newsletter, and a post card-style update, special offer, event reminder, or greeting card.

How to Build Your Email Contact List

Spam. We all get it and we all hate it. But did you know there are laws about spam? There are also best practices to ensure that your email has the best chance of arriving in its destination.

Well-managed email campaigns are permission-based. Rented or purchased lists are not a good thing! So, how do you build your list? Start with your customers, members, and constituents. Next, put a sign-up button on your website. Now, you’re on your way to building a healthy, permission-based list.

A permission-based list means that you have a relationship with the person you’re sending to, and that they know who you are.
Ideally, they should also be expecting to receive email from you.

However, it’s considered permissible to email a customer who has purchased something from you within a year even if they haven’t specifically stated that you could email them. That’s because if someone buys something from you, it’s considered a relationship. The same can be said for paid membership organizations. But it’s best to give these members of your list the option to confirm their subscriptions when they receive your email communications.

Do you collect business cards at networking events? Ask your contacts if it’s alright to add them to your newsletter list. If you’re hosting an event, put out a sign-up list.

Like all new media, email is a viral form of communication that is only as good as its content. Provide useful, relevant, timely, and engaging content to your list members, and they’ll share your email with their friends and colleagues. Those people will also subscribe…and your list will grow.

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