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Test Your E-mail System

  |  September 20, 2004   |  Comments

Make sure all the e-mail processes and procedures you believe are happening in your company are, in fact, happening.

I recently read some interesting stats in Internet Retailer. In Mike Adams survey of 1,057 legitimate email marketers, two figures stand out: 66 percent of respondents failed to comply with CAN-SPAM, and 36 percent of those with valid opt-in rights didn’t send a single email. These companies aren’t spammers; these folks are striving to do it right.

Between failure to comply with CAN-SPAM and poor business practices, an alarming number of companies don’t use email to its full advantage. Talk all you want about how spam scares off marketers and clogs the pipes. Fact is, email done right is alive and well. For most of my clients, and millions of others, email works, to both acquire customers and retain them.

Here are some more stats that alarmed me:

  • 51 percent failed to provide an unsubscribe link.

  • 45 percent didn’t clearly identify the email’s source.

  • 12 of 1,057 organizations didn’t honor unsubscribe requests.

Why are legitimate companies failing at easy-to-implement procedures that would keep them above the law? Why do they risk legal action when the above-mentioned changes are trivial? There’s just no excuse.

What rankled me even more were the poor business practices this research revealed. Some 36 percent of respondents with Adams’ permission and email address never sent a single email communication.

These e-tailers obtained both email address and permission to market to him and never followed up. If that isn’t leaving money on the table, I don’t know what is.

Adams concludes, "To gather the emails of people who are interested in hearing from you then fail to deliver even a single message to those people is perhaps rightly characterized as a marketing sin."

Despite all the preaching about best practices and ways to make email work, I can’t comprehend why these companies don’t send email marketing messages to those who actually request them. What could the reason be? Logically:

  • A top-level executive said, "Let’s not email any names because there’s too much spam around."

  • The names were lost.

  • The names were accidentally omitted from a mailing.

  • They’re waiting to email the names at a later date.

  • Someone didn’t see any value in the names and destroyed them.

  • It was a programming error.

  • Two people each thought the other was supposed to add the names to the mailing list. Consequently, neither did.

None of these reasons makes sense. So, today’s call to action: Make sure all the email processes and procedures you believe are happening in your company are, in fact, happening.

Test the system yourself. Make a checklist of all the basics, then implement a system to ensure those tasks are done without fail.

Good managers routinely check processes to make sure nothing breaks or stops working. In our business, it’s even more critical. An accidental change in programming code can cause things to go awry without anyone even knowing it.

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Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

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