In internet-terms, email is as old as time itself. Email is the old guy sitting in the pub proclaiming “I remember when this was all fields”, or the middle-aged woman sitting at your bus stop tutting about “kids these days” but is everyone really using email to its full potential?
Sure enough, since Google invented the internet (you know, back in the stone-age) people have been using emails to send each other chuckle-worthy pictures of cats playing the trumpet, but how many times do you get an email newsletter or a well considered email communication from a company that you read all the way to the end, or even dedicate 2 minutes of your time to reading in any capacity? I'd wager it is a rare occurrence.
Why is it, that the human race can put a self-sufficient, probably vegetarian, robot on Mars, yet most of us are still having trouble sending someone at the other side of the office, an email that doesn't look like it was put together by a blindfolded chihuahua wearing mittens? With this in mind, I'd like to aid those in dire need of an email marketing overhaul. It's time to stand up (or sit down if you prefer) and reclaim those in-boxes.
Part 1: Do you really need to send an email?
First things first. Do you really need to communicate with hundreds, perhaps thousands of people via this exciting new medium of email, when there are alternatives at your disposal? Are your target market even using email?
If like your nan, and 499,999,999 others they use Facebook to regularly communicate with their brands and plebeians of choice, then perhaps an email isn't necessary. Do your target market all use Twitter? Do they already visit your site regularly? Do they prefer to receive messages in morse code? Smoke signals even? Consider the alternatives, and make sure that an email is definitely the best option for you. Your digital strategy is your friend at this stage.
Another crucial point is the acquisition of email addresses. Without recipients, you might as well just go up to the roof of your building and whisper your email in the hopes that the wind is blowing vaguely towards your customers.
Not only that, but you can't just email any old address and expect people not to be completely outraged, and duly flag your heartfelt and endearing messages as spam. So how do you get email addresses? Well providing your not selling some sort of sexual enhancement pill you'll likely want to do this bit legitimately.
There are some handy guidelines for sourcing email addresses. For a start, lists of email addresses should not be purchased. More often than not, these lists are far from legitimately sourced and should be avoided like Primark on pay day.
Often companies will collect emails when users register for an account somewhere on their site. It's important that users are made aware of their opt-in at this point. Other companies may choose to gather email information at point of sale. Again this is somewhere that it should be made clear what recipients are signing up for. Any recipients must have opted in to receive communication from you recently, and must be aware than they will be emailed directly.
So with your list of recipients overflowing, it's time to move on and create the email...
Tune in next time for Part Two: Creating your masterpiece.