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7 Don’ts for Email Marketers

Email, the blast ’em out and collect the money standby of direct marketers, just got a lot more complicated. Challenged by emerging technologies and plain old routine, email marketers have to step up their games to maximize ROI in a time when consumer behavior changes like the seasons.

“There’s been pretty much one way of doing things in email—one way that customers signed up and one way you sent your messaging to them—and that’s not the world we’re living in now,” says Jim Davidson, manager of marketing research at email marketing provider Bronto Software Inc.

“The blast mentality is still prevalent: ‘We have this huge list and we want to make use of it, so let’s send an email to every customer we’ve ever had, as often as possible,’” adds Portent CEO Ian Lurie. “Too many marketers are on autopilot when it comes to email. They cede too much control to creative teams when there should be a marketer there to work on useability and interface.”

Direct Marketing News asked Davidson, Lurie, and other email experts to share with us their best advice for marketers to change their old email ways. They said:

  • Don’t forget the channel changers.

Help your customers send information to another device, set reminders, or use email content while in your store. Many customers will start shopping on one device and complete the order on another. “Completing a purchase on a mobile device is becoming more common,” Davidson says.

  • Don’t drop the data.

Collecting device usage data is not as complex as it used to be. See what’s readily available and develop a plan to, say, associate opens, clicks, and conversions to specific mobile devices. “Don’t rely solely on email-only response data for analysis. Look at all interactions and customer data points,” says Lynn Dusek, VP of customer strategy, at Yesmail Interactive.

  • Don’t write a book.

Try this: Hold your mobile device next to your computer monitor. Which device is easier to read from? You can’t expect subscribers to consume massive amounts of text on their mobile devices. “Keep your phrasing simple and clean. Keep your paragraphs to no more than two sentences,” Lurie advises.

  • Don’t overlook transactional messages.

Order and shipping confirmations are sent during a peak engagement period of the customer life cycle. These are highly personal. Consumers are excited over their purchases and open these emails. “This is an opportunity for online retailers to gain additional sales with promotional messages,” says Davidson. “Marketers see these as system messages, not marketing messages.”

  • Don’t short the shortcuts.

Many mobile devices will detect package tracking numbers, postal addresses, and phone numbers. Test your messages to confirm that mobile subscribers can easily click through to track their orders, call customer service, or get directions to your nearest store.

  • Don’t put prices in pictures.

Putting essential information such as pricing, deadlines, and calls-to-action inside images is a big mistake in the mobile age. “Most mobile email readers won’t load images by default, so [customers will] end up seeing nothing and move on,” Lurie says.

  • Don’t be bom-blastic.

“Don’t say the word ‘blast’ in regard to email marketing,” says Kara Trivunovic, VP of strategic services at BlueHornet Networks Inc., a Digital River Inc. company. “Ever.”

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