Simple tips/reminders for marketing emails

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Test, test, test!!

I keep finding it so painful seeing emails that haven’t been tested before being sent out. The most recent one I received included an image that hadn’t been re-sized before placing it into the email body, which then stuffed up the whole format of the email. Some email systems will show the emails properly but others won’t, so make sure you test your email in as many email systems as possible i.e. Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail etc.

The other thing that frustrates me is New Zealand businesses email campaigns not including a unsubscribe option, which is mandatory as part of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007.

Businesses should create a checklist and go through it before sending out marketing emails. Below are a few quick things to check and make sure you have done correctly. These points are really for small businesses that don’t have the budget for proper email campaign software.

Include a unsubscribe facility

This can be as simple as stating that if you wish to unsubscribe from further communication to reply with unsubscribe in the subject line. I would also suggest merging in the recipients email address into the email (i.e. you are subscribed as bob@xtra.co.nz) as many people have other email addresses forwarded to them especially if it’s a business email. Please do not make the unsubscribe button as an image as if a recipient has their images set to off they will not be able to see it.

Place recipients in the BCC field

If you are sending out a bulk email from a standard email address and not a specific email campaign system make sure you put all recipients in the BCC field and not the TO field.

Resolution and Image size

Re-size images to the size you want before placing into your email and make sure the image resolution is low/small (around 92 dpi). If you do not have Photoshop or similar software, you can easily do this in Microsoft Office Picture Manager. To re-size images on Microsoft Office Picture Manager click on Picture, then Re-size and to change the resolution select Picture, then Compress Pictures.

Emails set as an image

Do not make your whole email one big image as not everyone will be able to read it (my gym constantly does this and sometimes the picture is quite pixellated and hard to read). Many people have their email settings set to not show images, and if they receive an email as a full image, they may not even bother to click on the view images button.
Subject line – do make sure you include text in the subject line and make sure it doesn’t say something like ‘Test Email’. You would be surprised how many emails I have received that have made this careless mistake.

Spelling and grammar

Check your spelling and grammar and don’t just rely on your computer spell check. If you were writing a letter you would check these things, so make some time to proof read your work. Ideally print it out and get someone else to proof read it.

Test, test, test!!

Make sure you test your email in as many email browsers as you can. Do all the links work? Do you have your contact details? Do you have a unsubscribe facility? Have you balanced text to images? Can you view the email in several email systems? Have you checked your spelling and grammar?

There are many other aspects and issues when you are sending out marketing/promotional emails, so this is only a taste of what you should know and check. For example, you should not send out bulk emails from your Outlook address as you are on the track of getting your IP address blacklisted and you don’t get any statistics on who has opened your email, but that’s a whole different topic for another blog post.

If you want to see some great examples of poor emails and more tips on the do’s and don’ts of email marketing, you should check out Jericho’s blog.

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No security blankets for SMEs with social media

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Small businesses are trying to keep up to speed with new age marketing and promotion through Social Media, yet many are making crucial mistakes and don’t realise until it’s too late. 

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Traditionally if a business wanted to promote themselves they would advertise through mediums such as print/newspapers, radio or television. When placing an advert small businesses would usually have at least some sort of security that if they were doing something illegal or wrong  someone would pick it up and let them know before it was published.

However with Social Media anyone can jump on and initially post what you want without someone saying ‘hey you’re doing it wrong’ or ‘you will get banned from the site for doing that’. What I have noticed is that there are many small business owners who have heard that Facebook is great for promotion and brand awareness, so they jump on board before finding out how it should be done properly and without any guidance.

One major mistake that I keep on seeing time and time again is small businesses creating a Facebook page by setting up their profile as a personal profile instead of a fan/business page.  This error and its possible consequences are not great as Facebook are continually banning businesses from doing this. It doesn’t matter if a business tries to play innocent as if they actually read the terms and conditions for setting up a profile they would know they were not complying. Mobilize Mail have recently done some research on New Zealand businesses on Facebook. They found that almost 90% of the businesses they surveyed were using a personal profile to promote their business! (Scoop article on Mobilize)

Some may think that it is quite harsh of Facebook to ban businesses who make that crucial mistake, but really for privacy reasons they are not.  For example, when most people add a person as a friend on Facebook they do not add them to a limited profile (a privacy setting option). This means that if you accept a friend on your personal Facebook profile that is actually a business they will be able to see all your photos, access all your details that you have for only your friends to view.

Now you might think who would accept a friend request from a business? Well one example is a business where people sign up to their service and they then receive free drink vouchers for bars in their area. Who would say no to free drinks? As you can imagine they have quickly become  popular.  Not too long ago the business decided to create a Facebook page, but instead of being a fan page they created it under a personal profile.  As you would expect many people have added the business as a friend. 

With the consumer in mind, I expect many people have not thought about how much personal information they are inadvertently sharing with the business. With the business in mind, they now have a huge following on Facebook and all it will now take is Facebook noticing that they are a business and banning them from Facebook entirely and permanently.  Probably the one lucky thing for this business is that at least they maintain their database through their website and  will probably not lose too many fans from their profile being closed. However it will not have crossed many other small businesses and entrepreneurs minds to own their own database by taking fans off Facebook and gaining their details. As all it takes is making one mistake or Facebook making a judgement call for all those contacts and fans to disappear, and that goes for all social media.

Let’s face it, many of the small businesses who fall into this trap or make other crucial mistakes just don’t know what they are doing and don’t have the funds to use an agency to set it up for them and tell them what they should do. The question is as marketers do we say tough to all the businesses we see doing it wrong and let them eventually suffer the consequences or do we tell them out of our own good will? Considering that potentially 90% of New Zealand businesses are using Facebook the wrong way should we be more active and help those small businesses by getting out there and spreading the word?