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Email marketing basics that every business should follow

Here are some quick tips that any business or brand can use to make sure each marketing email is helping, not hurting.

Person working at desk with apple airpods

Marketing emails are some of the most informative, helpful, and simultaneously annoying means of contact. While I’d clearly rather receive 14 BOGO sale announcements via email, I will say that smoke signals and courier pigeons have never wasted my time with misleading subject lines and the messages they bring me are (usually) quite personalized.

So, how can your brand represent itself well, engage customers, and boost sales while not alienating them? Let’s look at some of the most irritating email marketing techniques and work our way backward.

First of all, do you ever answer a call or open a message when you don’t recognize the number/address? Don’t lie, you know you’re ghosting some people. Consumers like to know from whom they are receiving mail, so skip the generic @noreply and make sure they recognize the name in an email address!

Next, no one likes to be lied to. As you would not appreciate receiving an envelope promising a tax-free $1,000,000 and a pony with a gold mane only to open it and find a chain letter, do not mislead your customers. Even getting the ‘click’ will likely be negated by residual animosity after the initial deceit. Be exciting and creative with your subject lines, but keep it factual.

Also, get personal — well, sort of. There’s a reason we are taught to look someone in the eyes and shake their hand. There’s a reason we are given names and typically use them to be identified for the rest of our lives. Shout out to my kindergarten teacher who made me go by my FULL name, despite my protests. Failing to address customers directly can ensure disinterest. While we know a robot generated our names in the greeting, “Dear Laura” feels a lot nicer than “Esteemed Patron.”

Have you ever asked someone to do something without explicit instructions? Have you ever been asked to do something without being given the resources you need? Finally, have you ever had something requested of you but in WAAAAY too many words? As we all know, a compelling CTA (call to action) is essential. We as humans, prefer tasks to be simplified — lead me to the water. Keep it simple and concise — leave out the gray area or nuanced steps.

Finally, keep in mind the things we all know. People love visuals, so include imagery. We also like consistency, so make sure your messages are going out at a regular time/day of the week if that is possible.

The takeaway is that from the sender’s point of view, marketing emails are an effort to reach a mass of people. But from the reader’s perspective, it’s important to feel individually valued. It might be time to view this interaction as relationship-building. Regular contact via email is a chance to build rapport and ensure consumers keep coming back. Happy building!

Written By

Jennifer Yano holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in teaching. A high school Spanish teacher and coach by day and a naturally reclusive Hobbit by night, she enjoys writing about business, education, and kitten paws.


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