During the holidays and at the end of the year, it’s common for companies to send more email and make more special offers. But be careful with those subject lines! You want to be sure they are in compliance with the law (the CAN-SPAM Act). You also risk annoying your recipients.
As an example, I received an email solicitation from an area publication to which I subscribe. And from which I have bought advertising.
The subject line said “Thank you and a gift.”
I figured, okay, a little appreciation. Nice. I open the email. There is no gift offer. There is an offer of a discount, which is not that great actually, to subscribe for another year.
Was I annoyed? You bet. Where was my “gift?”
Does this sound innocent to you? Calling a discount a gift, well, why not? Just marketing speak, right? Well, sure. You can be cute with words in marketing for the holidays in a lot of advertising contexts, as long as you aren’t outright deceptive.
But when it comes to commercial email subject lines, the law is really clear about truth in advertising. Everyone who works in commercial email knows this now, but I’m sharing this with you, so you don’t make the same mistake.
Your subject line has to deal with the content of your message. Sure, it has to tempt the recipient to open it. BUT you have to deliver on what you promise in a subject line. For example, you cannot say in a subject line: Free cheeseburger coupon inside! and then when the reader opens it, the body of the email mentions the caveat: with the purchase of a drink and fries. Free offers — and all offers — mentioned in emai subject lines have to come with no strings attached.
A discount is not a “gift.” A gift is something that is offered for free, with no expectation of return. The subject line would have been in compliance if they had said “Special Holiday Discount for Subscription Renewals,” for example.
What is working for your holiday email marketing efforts?
- Tips to encourage a journalist to read your email (publicrelationssydney.com.au)
- Email Subject Lines (betterwritinginbusiness.com)
- The Ever Important Subject Liners, Mailer Must Do(s) and Can Spam Act (blogs4bytes.wordpress.com)
- Here’s What’s Working In Email Subject Lines (webpronews.com)
- How to create a memorable email marketing campaign (cashzilla.wordpress.com)
Email marketing has the highest ROI of all — $46 on the dollar. And it works even better when used in conjunction with other tactics.
Your friends at Fletcher Prince can help you set up a year-round email marketing campaign of custom-designed newsletters and announcements.
- Copywriting and design
- CAN-SPAM Act compliant
- Contact list management
- Free services for partners who qualify
David and I were pleased to work on PRofessional Solutions‘ latest marketing project, a new email marketing campaign. The inaugural edition of the monthly newsletter, Smart Solutions, is packed with public relations tips for annual meetings, conferences, and Capitol Hill Days.
Thanks for checking it out and sharing it with your colleagues you think would enjoy it. And please contact us if we can help you with your email marketing plans.
This person had important information to relay to a small group of parents — me, included — under 100 people. It involved registration, attending a meeting and receiving specialized information, just for this group. She had never communicated with this group before, other than a brief meeting. She needed them to be in a specific place, at a specific time, and fill out forms.
She decided to go with an email communication. She did no other follow-up or other communication with the parents.
Not all the group members received her email (she was completely shocked by this), and missed out on important information regarding their children. Where did the communication break down? Not on my end. And now I’m steamed!
What you need to know about email deliverability
She and most people don’t know that up to 20% of email is never delivered to recipients. Bump that percentage up much higher if you’re using a commercial email service, emailing to school or government addresses, including some HTML in your email, or if you make certain kinds of errors.
And when I say 20% of the email is never delivered, I’m not saying “just to the inbox.” It doesn’t even make it to the spam folder. For the recipient, it never existed.
Don’t send email for initial communications, ever
For initial communications to new group members — communications containing important details, to ask for business, or to schedule meetings, email is not the way to go. You could send an email greeting to a group asking them to confirm that you have the correct address and to request them to add your email to your inbox.
For groups under 100, I would advise sending first class “snail” mail four weeks in advance of an event or needed action, and following up with phone calls a week or two later to make sure the information was received.
When To Use Email Communications
When you have established a contact list that you have confidence in, that is fully opt-in and accurate, and you have previously established communications in other ways, then you can move to email communications (however, you should supplement this with mail and phone calls).
The typical open rate of emails sent to a house list is nearly 20%, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Of those, for a sale or other desired commercial call to action, the response rate averages about 2%.
The emails we send for ourselves and for our clients average more around 40% to 50% because we use highly targeted and carefully managed contact lists.
Email is NOT for prospecting
What if you’re reaching out to new and potential clients? Should you use email communications?
Let me ask you something. If you were going to ask someone for a date for the first time, would you send them an email???
When it’s really important that you get someone to take action and you two don’t have “history,” you have to get a bit more personal.
Besides, it’s illegal. You can’t send commercial email to someone who has not specifically given you permission. If you are a nonprofit or government entity, you shouldn’t do it either, not without explicit permission.
Sometimes, you have to just pick up the phone
Like it or not, telephone calls and well-designed, first class mail are still the ways to go when it’s absolutely essential that people receive, process, and act on information they are receiving for the first time (or the first few times).
Stay tuned this week for more blog posts about how to make your communications more effective.
- Why Aren’t Your Emails Making it to the Inbox? (marketingtechblog.com)
- A 7 Step Guide to Email Deliverability (hubspot.com)
With the popularity of Twitter and Facebook, it’s easy to disregard the impact of email marketing. However, email marketing can increase your company’s popularity on social networks and has been found to be a highly effective marketing technique.
And summer is a great time to send email newsletters and announcements. I do feel with social media, you have to be on top of it every day. I don’t recommend auto-scheduling your social media updates. But email is different. You can take care of a whole summer of content and promotions, schedule it, and head to the pool
Summer is also a great time to start building your email contact lists with friendly outreach now, so that your program will be robust and in gear in time to do some some heavy-duty marketing later, such as in the fall, around the holidays, or at the end of the year.
Last year, we implemented a successful email marketing campaign for Fall Properties. The newsletters had much higher than industry average open rates, as much as 50%, instead of the average 12%.
What made their clients open these newsletters? Email marketing best practices, including
- We started with a clean, permission-based list. That is where trust begins, and it cannot be emphasized enough. It’s better to have a small list of people who really want to read your email communications than to have a large list that may result in your email communications being marked as spam.
- We created an attractive design. Branding is important.
- We wrote informative subject lines. Subject lines are what get email opened.
- We put the emphasis on local-specific, seasonal content that was interesting to their clients, with less emphasis on promotion (but still some).
- We included video in each email newsletter. This was often the promotional piece of the newsletter. The click-through rates for the videos were quite high.
We are a partner, and we’re experienced in creating appealing email campaigns that get results. Check out our online portfolio of email newsletters, and contact us to create an email marketing campaign for you.
Want to try it on your own? Use our Constant Contact link to get a free 60-day trial, plus complimentary help from us as you get started with your email program.
Want more information about email marketing in the summer months? Read these articles for great email marketing ideas…
Okay, it doesn’t have to be either/or. A company can do both. But here’s a reality check:
- Only 5% of Americans are on Twitter (The Harris Poll, April 2009). Of that group, only a fraction send messages on Twitter.
- Less than half of Americans with a college degree are on Facebook.
- More than 80% of Americans (employed) have an email account (Pew, 2008).
How do you like them apples?!
Here’s my advice: use social media with email. Use email to get out your blog posts, for example. But don’t over-rely on social media. The return isn’t there yet.
Do you send email regularly to your customers or clients? Smart move. But are you sending too frequently? And is the content meaningful for your customers?
According to eMarketer, most people unsubscribe to commercial email because the content is not relevant to them. Other reasons people unsubscribe is because they are emailed too frequently, or because they are afraid their personal information will be shared or sold.
At Fletcher Prince, we recommend that our clients touch base with their customers no more frequently than twice a month. This amounts to, for example, a well designed and concise email newsletter, and a post card-style update, special offer, event reminder, or greeting card.