How to send emails without losing customers 6 May 2011

Are you a nuisance email marketer? You probably don’t think of yourself that way, but when it comes to email, nuisance is in the eye of the receiver. The Information Commissioner’s Office now has new powers to fine companies up to £500,000 for dodgy email marketing. Most companies aiming to promote what they do and build on their relationships with customers won’t fall into this category of course. But the new laws suggest a shift towards a more critical view of email marketing. So what are the important questions to ask yourself when planning your email marketing activities?

Is this really relevant?

It’s all about relevance. Is your email content of interest to your target audience? Does it answer the kinds of questions they’re asking? A while ago I looked at the impact of copywriting on email newsletters I’d personally received. There’s no doubt that relevant content is the essence of an email that people want to read and respond to.

Is this something they want?

This is fast becoming a matter of law as well as good marketing. The issue of sending ‘unwanted emails’ is an important aspect of the new powers of the Information Commissioner’s Office.

This is about whether your audience has signed up and agreed to receiving your emails or enewsletters – and about you giving people a clear way to opt out if they choose. And please, when you someone asks to opt out, let them opt out! I have had personal experience of opting out of emails sent by one particularly persistent company (trying to sell me a legitimate, but very irrelevant product) and still hearing from them, over and over again. The emails only stopped after I made a (slightly grumpy) phone call to the company.

Is this too frequent?

The enthusiastic ones. We all know them. Their copy is entertaining, their content is relevant, but they just keep on emailing you, again and again and again! It gets too much. So they either end up in your junk mail folder or you opt out. Send your emails often enough to maintain a relationship with customers, but not so much that you damage it.

Is this unique?

At certain times of the year I’ve noticed a flurry of emails from businesses in a particular sector which suggests they’ve all bought their email content from a specialist company. Aside from the issue of quality, the thing that strikes me is that these enewsletters do not contain any unique or personalised copy. This surely goes against the point of the enewsletter in the first place – to create a strong, unique and engaging relationship between the business and the reader. So, identify what’s special about what you have to offer, what’s going on in your sector and of course, what’s relevant and useful to your audience.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, May 2011

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