8 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About E-mail Marketing

I was reading Seth Godin’s blog entry called “8 things I wish everyone knew about email” and as Mr. Godin often does, it got me to dig a little deeper. What did I wish everyone knew about e-mail marketing? Remember, there is a huge difference between e-mail and e-mail marketing. The result, for better or worse, is this column.

  1. E-mail marketing has a huge ROI but it isn’t automatic. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work, smarts, and creativity to achieve this kind of return on investment. Oh, you have to work hard to track and measure it as well. If you do have a return on investment that would make your CFO happy, be sure to let the CFO know this important fact. Too often e-mail programs (the great and poor ones) stay off the radar.
  2. E-mail creative is very different in almost every element than any other marketing creative, including other digital mediums. Businesses often treat e-mail as an afterthought, using it to drive traffic to their spiffy microsites. Guess what, it shows.

    I asked my company’s director of creative services, Michael Harvey, to summarize this situation and he told me “email doesn’t support a lot of the ‘bells and whistles’ you’d find in more traditional digital media (advanced interactivity, animation, sophisticated/consistent rendering) therefore you have to be even more creative to still produce a dynamic and engaging design.” Which leads us to our next thing I wish everyone knew about.

  3. Your e-mails do not show up looking the exact same way for all of your users. Images don’t magically show up for everyone either. In fact, fellow columnist Jeanne Jennings pointed out only 33 percent of those surveyed by MarketingSherpa have images turned on by default.
  4. CAN-SPAM (and other international spam laws) aside, e-mail marketing occurs when permission is granted. Spam is when there is no opt in. I don’t think permission differs from business to consumer to business to business and I believe e-mail and business rules don’t change either based on who you are sending to. Even if the Harvard Business Review says otherwise.
  5. E-mail marketing managers really want and need management’s approval (just like everyone else in the business world that feels occasionally marginalized or taken for granted). The chief marketing officers of the world should embrace e-mail beyond its quick and easy revenue stream mentality and see it (and its practitioners) as a long-term digital bridge to your best customers.
  6. Even your best customers don’t read really, really long e-mails. Length does matter. The job of most e-mails is to get your attention and solidify that interest and relationship and drive you somewhere else, whether that is a landing page, retail store, white paper library – wherever.
  7. E-mail marketing and marketers want to be your friend. E-mail marketing should be the go-to complementary tool for whatever sales and marketing effort you have in the pipeline. Need traffic to your new website? E-mail can assist. Can’t get above a few Twitter followers on that corporate account? Enlist e-mail to demonstrate why someone should follow you. E-mail is the digital glue for any company and ensure that you consider it well before any campaign launch.
  8. To grow your list, you have to make it easily accessible at any customer touch point, make the process seamless, and offer a compelling value proposition. I haven’t seen many companies grow their e-mail database in a significant fashion through burying their forms, failing to provide a clear idea of what a user would get should they sign up, or generally any reason to opt in.

What would you add to this list for anyone who needs to know something that matters in the e-mail marketing world?

Simms is off today. This column was originally published on May 6, 2010 on ClickZ.

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