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30 Do's and Don'ts for E-mail Rock Stars

  |  August 30, 2010   |  Comments

The simple ways you can ensure your e-mail marketing expert status.

I had the honor of moderating a forum at the SES conference in San Francisco last week for the Email Experience Council. The topic was tips from e-mail rock stars and how to become one. After thinking about it for a bit, I started to get anxious. What do you say to a group of SF people, whose jobs rely on success in e-mail, that will help them be better, without boring them, confusing them, or telling them something they just plain don't agree with.

My awesome panel of Sundeep Kapur, Aaron Smith of Responsys, and Debbie Kane of Active Interest Media and I set out to share the top 15 things every rock star e-mail marketer should be doing, and 15 things you should never do. Our thought was this: if you are already doing and not doing what we have on this list, great! Take it back to your boss and use it to get a raise: you are a rock star! For the rest of us though, chances are you just might learn something during this session (and you don't even have to admit you did).

The panel was very well attended and received. So much so that it made sense to share this short list with you this week. Maybe you can see how much of an e-mail rock star you are. Enjoy!

Here are 15 rock star moves every e-mail marketer should include:

  • Know why your consumer should sign up for your e-mails
  • Use intrigue versus incentive
  • Build up "reverse preferences" (track what people do and don't do)
  • Run subject line tests
  • Use social media to drive up open rates
  • Test
  • Analyze
  • Use Web designers
  • Use clear calls to action
  • Keep important content/messages above the fold
  • Respect image blocking and the preview pane
  • Render tests
  • Create an iron-clad e-mail production process with tasks, individuals, and days of the week associated with each milestone
  • Run a test with every send – and (this is key) share your results with your stakeholders for short-term visibility; archive them for long-term learnings
  • Ask yourself these three questions:
    1. What is this e-mail about?
    2. Why do my subscribers care?
    3. What do they do about it?

Here are 15 things you should never do (or at least don't admit to them):

  • Don't assume something works
  • Don't convert print promotions directly to e-mail blasts
  • Don't overcomplicate your e-mail creative
  • Don't overmail your list
  • Don't undermail your list
  • Don't make subscribing – or unsubscribing – too complicated
  • Don't try to say too much with a single e-mail
  • Don't silo e-mail – remember your other channels, both offline and digital
  • Don't forget about the landing page
  • Don't assume what worked yesterday will work today, or tomorrow - keep testing and evolving
  • Don't ignore your reports and front line
  • Don't badger the lifeless (by overmailing your non-responders)
  • Don't say everything in the subject line
  • Don't be clueless (by having no call to action)
  • Don't forget to be timely


Jeanniey Mullen

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

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