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Common Sense (Email) Marketing

18 Jun , 2013  

I receive between 350-400 emails per day. Many of which I will never open. However it was an email today that stood out; albeit for the wrong reasons.

Hi JStauffer,

I’m hoping you can help me find the right person at   D4 Creative Group to present our social media content strategy tool to. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Our product, <PRODUCT-NAME-REMOVED> is already used by the NFL, Nestle, Disney, Nissan, Ogilivy, JWT, Dentsu, Ignited, Vaynermedia and a number of social media agencies and content strategists.

Because you are a valued prospect, I’d be willing to discount the cost of this product as much as 85%. Please call me at the number below to find out more information.

Thank you,


  1. Have a Defined Strategy: Within email marketing you should have a defined goal. Are you hoping to create a sale opportunity? Do you want to increase loyalty among your customers? Will your content demonstrate thought leadership? In the above example, the person attempted to engage with me by asking if I was the appropriate person within the agency to target and then without providing any value other than (brand) name-dropping immediately attempted to sell to me. Without a clearly defined strategy you are almost certain that any tactic will fall apart at the seams.
  2. Know Your Audience: It’s imperative that you know your audience when you send them a message. Text-based emails can work very well within email marketing, as long as they appear sincere and sent to only to the recipient. If you are sending something to me and indicating that I am a “valued prospect,” you should know if I am the appropriate contact within an organization (or simply remove the line altogether.) Consider sending targeted emails based on particular segments (industry, title, company, etc) to increase conversion. This way to my initial point, you will not show that you know nothing about me as a recipient.Before developing the messaging, you should ask yourself: What will make them most apt to react favorably? Are their audience segments within my lists that are more apt to respond favorably than others? How often will my list segments expect to hear from me?
  3. Clean Your Data: A customer relationship management (CRM) is a fantastic tool, but the tool is only ever going to be as good as the data within it. It becomes imperative for marketers to occasionally review the data within the platform to ensure that the data inside of it is accurate, or clearly pulled from a 3rd party list.If you only have “JStauffer” for your recipient, you should attempt to gather additional information first about your recipient. Offer something of value for updating my information.For example, provide a whitepaper for free and request that I update my information within a partially pre-populated contact form. Or, simply remove it altogether and replace with a generic “Hello.” Otherwise it’s clear that I am not a “valued prospect”. (Also evident by the fact that you weren’t sure if I was in fact the correct person to contact within the agency.) Also related to this, if you have a “JStauffer” type name for your recipient, you should wonder where you received this contact. Current CAN-SPAM email laws in the US allow initial solicitation without permission however other countries do not. Some laws have very steep penalties imposed for proof that a recipient received correspondence unwillingly.
  4. Provide a value for your recipients: Back to the original goal of defining a strategy… Discounting your services by 85% means nothing to me if I don’t know what your “social media content strategy tool” does in the first place. (In this example does your software determine what the most appropriate content to post within my respective channels? Does it determine when to post it? Or does it write it for me? I have no idea.) So why would I buy, or waste my time calling/emailing you to find out? Moreover, if I do not immediately unsubscribe from your emails now, will you have a chance to redeem yourself to me later? Likely not.
  5. Provide clear direction: Okay, let’s say your recipient actually takes the time to read your email. Make sure you provide at least one path for the person to click to find out more information about your product, service or brand, otherwise the dialog is over. Additionally, analytic data is much more detailed about the individual once they arrive at a website. This is unlike email, which is typically capable of providing limited data.
  6. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread!: It should be a basic principle to have another individual proofread over your work. It is not typically the job of software to catch misspelled words and other grammatical or formatting errors.I have always advocated sending an email to yourself first, before even sending it to a seed list. This way between the various email sends, almost assuredly you will catch basic proofreading errors. (such as the misspelling of Ogilvy, the extra spacing before “D4 Creative Group” and the ending of the first sentence using a preposition.)

So, when taking on the task of your next email marketing campaign, remember to follow common sense and think about the individual recipients that are receiving your emails. Only send information that is legal, relevant and compelling. Otherwise, unless in the odd instances that your email stands out for the wrong reasons and I write a blog post about it, it will be added to the other emails that never get opened.  

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