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Email marketing is a specialization

Debunking Some Email Myths

It amazes me that I still receive email marketing from large organizations with basic errors. How is it that they ignore well-documented research and experience about how consumers read and interact with an email?

In the past week I have received emails that may as well be posters because they are one big image, emails with the logo at the bottom of the template, calls to action hidden within text and at the bottom of the email and subject lines that give no indication of content.

So I ask the question… are these organizations embarking on self-service email marketing without the crucial knowledge around what works? Or is this a case of believing that above the line marketing is unchangeable when it comes to online? Either way, this is a massive error on the part of these organizations.

Debunking some myths

  • MYTH: We have the software, so it’s just a matter of sending an email to our database.
  • FACT: Anyone can send out an email, however, there are basic principles that need to be adhered to: from testing the HTML in various email environments to see how it renders, monitoring deliverability, creative layout for best results to consistent reporting to improve results. If you don’t have the experts on hand to help out, you could be failing at one or more of these points.
  • MYTH: Our logo must always appear at the bottom of any communication as that is part of our CI.
  • FACT: Simply put, if you look at your web-site you’ll notice that the logo is placed at the top. Email is no different. People read from the top to the bottom when it comes to online pages and as such, your branding should always appear at the top.
  • MYTH: We need to keep the same creative we have used in our print direct marketing campaigns
  • FACT: Keeping the creative identical to your direct mail pack is a mistake. Consumers react differently to email therefore the way an email is designed and laid-out is crucial to meeting the goals of the campaign. Rather aim to keep creative elements and adapt them to email best practice.

Why does this matter?

The biggest reason this matters is that our communications are a critical tool in building a community with our subscribers. And unlike smaller communities which are inherently more personal; large organizations cannot simply rely on the goodwill of their subscriber base.

Email marketing as a discipline has been around for the better part of 10 years and its evolution is largely due to testing, reporting and customer interaction. The discipline is still evolving as consumer behavior, and how they engage, keeps adapting to the online world. You need to keep abreast of these trends and monitor reports to constantly improve your communication.

If your communications become a burden, a hassle or a complication to consumers, they will switch you off, by unsubscribing, marking your email as junk, complaining or simply ignoring all future emails. And the quickest way to make your emails such a burden to your customers is to ignore basic, well-documented best practices, learned through years of hard knocks.

Ultimately, handling your own email marketing without the assistance of real experts – whether they are hired into your own organization or hired as outside service providers – is detrimental to your communication strategy as a whole.

If you’ve recently ‘switched off’ a supplier’s email I’d love to hear your reasons…

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Mia Papanicolaou

Mia Papanicolaou

Vice President, General Manager at Aspire CCS

Mia heads up Aspire CCS in the US, working with companies to provide strategy and advice and is a regular speaker on digital customer communication, digital maturity and improving the customer experience.

Mia has been named as an email marketing influencer multiple times and is passionate about helping organizations improve their digital communication maturity.

Prior to joining Aspire CCS, she worked at Striata for 15 years in South Africa, the UK and then settled in the US as the COO of the company, after which she headed up consulting at Doxim Striata.

Read more of Mia's blog posts here or connect with her on the following social channels: