5 Email Marketing Best Practices: A Practical Guide for the Small Business
Email marketing is a powerful way to reach consumers and other companies, but a small business that misuses this tool will quickly find its emails automatically sent to the spam folder. Businesses should establish and follow email marketing best practices to avoid the virtual landmine of poor public opinion. Here are five of the most effective best practices.
1. Only Send Emails With Permission
Permission-based email marketing is one best practice you should never ignore. Only send emails to consumers or businesses who have signed up to receive them. Unsolicited email is spam, and recipients will quickly mark it as such. While an existing business relationship usually implies consent for email delivery, companies should always have permission from new contacts before they send email marketing messages. According to the security firmTrustwave , 74.2 percent of
2. Always Provide an Opt-Out
Every email a small business sends to its contacts needs to have an obvious way for the recipient to opt out, such as a web link or email address, and should include simple and straightforward instructions on how to complete the opt-out process. Once a recipient opts out, businesses should confirm the choice via one last email. They should then refrain from further communication unless the recipient contacts them again.
3. Keep Records
This best practice dovetails nicely with opting out: Small businesses should always keep records of when and how they obtained consent to send emails. In addition to time and date, consent records should contain IP or URL data, if the contact came from an online interaction. These records should also include details about what type of consent was received, whether through a business card, telephone call, website form, or paper sign-up sheet. By keeping up-to-date records, small businesses can not only rest assured they have proper permission to send marketing emails, but can also provide proof of consent if ever requested to do so.
4. Deliver Consistently
Keep a consistent delivery time, like 1:30 p.m. every Thursday, to help streamline the flow of marketing emails and ensure they don’t appear as junk mail. Also, use a consistent format in marketing emails so recipients don’t classify them as spam. Even if a business or consumer opts in, they may mark the email as spam, if the subject line contains multiple exclamation points or words in all capital letters. In addition, keep the sender name in emails consistent; small businesses should use either the company name or the name of a specific individual. Send both HTML and text versions of an email to contacts, because approximately 5 percent of users can’t view HTML documents.
5. Consider the Message and the Medium
Small business email marketing best practices should also include examination of both the message the business sends and the medium it uses. Recipients are far more likely to read and answer emails that contain information they specifically requested or involve their recent purchases or dealings with a small business. The rise of smartphones and tablets, meanwhile, forces email marketers to consider the increasing diversity of electronic mediums. Formatting used for a desktop email typically won’t display properly on a smartphone’s web browser, meaning recipients will likely trash the message rather than read it. In the same way that physical location drives traditional marketing campaigns, device type must play a major factor in email marketing.
By following these simple best practices, small businesses can both respect third-party consent and make the most of email marketing campaign budgets.