It Doesn’t Take Miss Manners to Figure Out Email Etiquette

By November 14, 2014Email Marketing

At the core of email marketing etiquette is a rule you probably had engraved on your brain by your mother: “treat people with respect.”

In other words, don’t assume things about your email recipients. If you’re not taking the time to understand them, you are wasting their time… and yours for that matter.

Now before you decide you understand this concept well enough, take a step back and ask yourself an important question: Is there room for improvement in my email click-through rate? The answer to this is almost always a resounding yes.

Today I’m going to share with you two DON’Ts and two DOs that make up the basis for proper email marketing etiquette.

Follow these tips and watch your CTR grow.

Don’t Underestimate the Intelligence of the Recipient

When you send an email, the goal is to get someone to read it. Pointing out the obvious here.

One great way to botch your chances of reaching that goal is by assuming the recipient is, well… stupid.

That’s bad even for spam.

This one is an obvious no-no. Most marketers would never do something so blatantly sketchy (notice the word “spam” in the link). There are, however, plenty of other ways to disregard your recipients’ intelligence.

For instance, are you A/B testing your subject lines?

If the answer is no, you are assuming to know better than the recipients themselves what subject lines they will be more likely to open. In other words, you are assuming to know them better than they know themselves.

According to WordStream, the subject line of your email is more important than the body itself. So you’ll want to base your choice of subject line on facts rather than assumptions.

Most email marketing software comes with A/B testing features built in. If you’re new to the concept of A/B testing and want more info, check out this post from MailChimp.

Don’t Forget to Personalize Your Message

Getting someone to open your email is only half the battle. After the recipient opens it, your email copy must be interesting enough to get them to keep reading… easier said than done.

When it comes to B2C emails, particularly those sent from retail and ecommerce companies, it may be perfectly fine to send a mass email without personalization … as long as the email provides value, such as a promo code or new product preview.

However, when it comes to B2B emails and blogger/media pitches, personalization is a must.

Without personalization, you may be falling within the “obnoxiously untrustworthy” category more often than you’d expect.

Talk about generic. My first reaction was to send this junk mail to the trash.

Not only do I seriously doubt the sender has ever been on my agency’s website,  I also wonder what should make his software interesting to me or my team. His company creates marketing automation software … great.

When crafting the body of your emails, consider the following: What value are you trying to offer the end user? Get down to the specifics.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the above email…

First, most agencies already have a preferred marketing automation software vendor (or two), so from a personalization standpoint instead of reaffirming how busy I am running my agency, the sender should tell me how their software can help my clients better than what I’m already using.

Second, he should show me that he knows which firm I work for and that he’s done his homework. This could have been accomplished as easily as just including the name of my agency within the email.

For example:

I hope your morning at Agency Name is going well. I am the founder of X Company and we’ve created marketing automation software that can do A, B, C.

I saw on your website that you work with customers such as D, E, F. Our software could really help customer D lift sales through the use of our 123 feature. Other customers in the same industry such as Acme Corp have seen _____ results.

If you’re interested in learning more I would love to schedule time to give you a demo.

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Personalization certainly requires more of a time commitment than blasting the same draft to a mass list, but believe me… the growth in your click-through rate will be well worth the time. Your CMO would agree.

Simply put, if you want to build sales, you need to build relationships. And it all begins with the first touch point – it’s up to you whether that first impression is a personal one, or a spammy one.

Do Provide Value

Whether you are sending emails to customers or businesses, you should not only provide value… but obvious value.

In the above email, the added value would be that the marketing software could help my agency increase the effectiveness of the campaigns we manage. Unfortunately that value wasn’t communicated very well.

Recipients of your emails won’t take the time to dig through your message and discover the offered value. You have to hand it over on a silver platter with a big arrow pointing to it.

When it comes to B2C emails, providing obvious value can be as simple as offering a promotional code, sharing a sale, or featuring a new product.

screenshot of an email

The best part is, providing value for your email recipients means providing value for the company as well. If your email encourages a click-through, you’ve just won yourself a new lead and possibly even a new sale.

Just think of it this way: providing value creates a win-win situation.

Do Market to Customers Different Than Leads

When a user submits a form on your company website, they should then be entered into a lead nurturing email campaign. The purpose of this series of emails is to subtly remind them of what interested them in your business to begin with, and why they should commit to purchase.

Many businesses forget one important aspect of lead nurturing email campaigns: once a user converts and actually makes a purchase, he or she should be immediately removed from the lead nurturing campaign.

A logical expectation, but many companies miss the mark here.

For example, last year I signed up to receive information about the Portland Marathon.

I received my first nurture email on December 9th, and by December 19th I had signed up for the race.

Even though I had done what the Portland Marathon team of marketers wanted me to do, I continued to receive lead nurturing emails. For someone who likes to keep a clean inbox, this was incredibly annoying. I received five additional emails encouraging me to register for the race even though I had already converted.

screenshot of gmail inbox

The marathon’s emails are cute and clever, but completely useless to me now that I’ve already registered. In fact, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

By continuing to send me (and other converted leads) these emails, the Portland Marathon’s conversion rates are being unnessesarily dragged down.

The take-away? Once someone converts, add them to a separate, customer-only list.

For instance, the Portland Marathon could have added me to a separate list that pointed me to the store where I could buy “In Training” gear, or they could have started sending me helpful training tips.

Regardless of your industry — from marathons to financial services firms — you will want to distinguish the messaging you give your leads vs. your customers.

The Worst Email Ever…

We’ve all been on the receiving end of bad emails.

What is the worst type of email you’ve ever received?

About TJ Welsh

TJ has worked in the digital marketing space since 2006. He has worked at a number of agencies and and helped hundreds of clients grow their business through SEO, PPC, Social Media and Content Marketing. He currently lives in Lehi , UT and enjoys spending time with his family.

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