Make Sure your Email Marketing Delivers Service and Stays Legal.
It’s natural to focus on promotional aspects when producing email campaigns. However, email marketing is not just about this, you also have to deliver certain legal requirements and consider some customer service aspects.
Email is a two-way communication so expect recipients to hit the Reply button. Emails that say ‘please do not reply’ can create an impression of ‘we don’t want to talk to you’, which is not a good way to deal with customers.
Instead, have your email system forward the replies to a dedicated mailbox and give someone the responsibility of regularly checking the mailbox and answering queries. You’ll also receive excellent feedback on what recipients think of your email marketing.
Bouncebacks are automated messages sent on receipt of an email. They vary from ‘I’m out of the office’ to ‘this person no longer works here’ and ‘Mailbox full’. Some of these require action but others are for information only.
Your email system should allow you to set up rules that read the contents or subject line of the bounceback and act accordingly. For example, combinations of ‘Out of the office’ or ‘holiday’ get deleted, whereas all others would be forwarded to the reply mailbox for consideration.
This is a legal requirement in most jurisdictions. In essence, you have to give recipients the right to ‘opt-out’ of receiving future emails. There should be a clear, simple and free way for recipients to do this.
Options include a URL link or replying to the email with REMOVE or similar in the subject line. You must also have a means of receiving these requests and updating your contact list accordingly.
Regardless of which method you use to despatch your email system (see Sending Large Volumes of Email for details of the diffferent methods available) you need a means of updating your database with changes to email addresses. Many companies have a database or sales order system used for processing purchases and separate distribution or contacts lists. Think about how you are going to maintain these systems.
One option is to have your main database as the central point for all information and do an extract from it each time you want to do an email campaign. If web-based newsletter subscription and unsubscribe services are used, do a periodic extract and load it into your sales database system. How often you do this depends on your frequency of campaigns and number of changes to the database.
If you choose to use personalisation in your emails, e.g. addressing it to Dear XXX, then database management becomes doubly important. Inaccurate personalisation is worse than no personalisation at all. I’m unlikely to ever buy anything from a company that calls me Dear Roberts or Mr Jack.