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What Not to Do in E-mail

  |  December 20, 2010   |  Comments

Ten practices to avoid and another 10 to embrace in e-mail marketing.

Last week, I had the fortune of speaking on a Shop.org Webinar titled, "Is Email Marketing Dead?" I thought it was a bit of a silly title and an even sillier question to ask. Of course, we know e-mail isn't dead, especially if you are in retail.

So Kevin Ertell, VP, retail strategies, ForeSee; Jessica Harley, an e-commerce executive with over 12 years experience managing e-mail; and I decided to approach the Webinar with some stats from Foresee regarding e-mail's continued strength in driving results. We followed that with two top 10 lists: one explaining what you should not do in e-mail marketing and one highlighting what you should do. The Webinar, which got great reviews, will be posted on Shop.org one year. (There's a fee unless you're a Shop.org member.) In case you want the CliffsNotes version of the two top 10 lists, here they are:

What not to do in e-mail. Don't:

  1. Stop e-mailing non-responders - these are your best social networks!
  2. Look at any stats other than CPOs (cost per orders).
  3. Ignore e-mail data capture's importance.
  4. Build for a PC anymore. Most e-mails are read on mobile devices now; (Flash doesn't work).
  5. Forget that your e-mail will never die.
  6. Over-discount.
  7. Overuse personalization.
  8. Beg. Win back e-mails can go too far.
  9. Get big brother with remarketing e-mails.
  10. Assume your customers are reading your e-mails as much as you are.

Now that you know what not to do, here's a recap of what you should do. Do:

  1. Put URLs in the subject line!
  2. Use YouTube for e-mail promos.
  3. Test auto-updates of content for older e-mails.
  4. Make your e-mails 3D (QR codes, digital catalogs).
  5. Make "exclusive e-mail" offers a priority.
  6. Format with images that are the same size as those on your site and HTML.
  7. Ask for feedback and respond to it.
  8. Use control groups to determine full impact of e-mails.
  9. Use an offer in order confirmation e-mail.
  10. Send a full early engagement stream instead of a single welcome e-mail.

There you have it! Now you can print this out and use it as a checklist for success.


Jeanniey is off today. This column was originally published on June 7, 2010 on ClickZ.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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