In this first of a 3-part series on e-mail communications, we’ll look at deliverability. Clearly, your data (the bit of information needed to get your message and content to your audience) plays a crucial part in this. Effectively, get that bit wrong and it literally does not matter what you send; if they never see it, they won’t respond!
So how do you go about building data lists? Well, the key here is opt-in. Opt-in essentially means that people actively request to be put on a mailing list to receive your communications. There is a “right” way to do this as well and we’ll discuss that in more detail below.
Avoid the common pitfalls
There are two things to be careful of when acquiring lists; “scraping” and “soft opt-ins”. Scraping refers to lifting e-mail addresses of websites without any form of consent. For instance, email@example.com will be on a contact page asking to be emailed if someone wants more information, not asking for marketing emails from anyone who finds the address. Sending your sales e-mails to these addresses when they are scraped from sites is very likely to result your e-mail and/or send address ending up in the spam folder and/or blacklisted, really hampering your ability to send e-mails in the future.
Equally, sending e-mails to a third-party or “soft” opt-in can be fraught with danger. These opt-ins are obtained when people opt-in for one thing, but then tick/untick the box about “3rd party/selected partner” mailings. Essentially, what may happen here is that once again people receive an e-mail they did not ask for and can mark you as spam.
Of equal importance is that when someone unsubscribes, they are removed. Keeping them on the list will probably result in you getting marked as spam (if they don’t complain and/or take legal action in extreme cases), and that means your address will be black-listed, reducing your deliverability. So be mindful of how you compile your mailing lists. The best thing to do is to build up your own.
Building your own list
To compile your own data list you should have, at the very least, a sign-up form on your website. Ideally, you have this form on every page on your site, and it can be as simple as just asking for name and e-mail. A further step to take is to make the opt-in a double one, where your form sends the subscriber an e-mail straight away asking them to confirm the subscription. This is so you can make sure that the person who gave you the e-mail address owns it and wants to receive your e-mails.
Naturally, this list building can also be done off-line, but the dangers here are people submitting false addresses as well as potential finger-trouble when entering them to the database.
Mind your language
Lastly, try to spam-proof your content to ensure deliverability: will your wording or content trigger any spam filters? (e.g. have you used the word “free”?) Also, check that your links are working. Check for HTML and spelling errors. Make sure you test your e-mail to ensure there are no delivery issues.
Taking the above into account when compiling your data and creating your e-mail will help ensure your message actually reaches the intended person. Of course, once it gets there, you want a response and your e-mail content can make all the difference here; join us next month when we take a closer look at this.