After sorting through information culled from presenter-companies during a recent conference on email marketing, Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan, authors of “Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents,” have come up with the Ten Commandments of E-mail Marketing, published in ewriteonline.com:
1. Build an entire e-mail marketing program; the one-off message is dead.
Rudick and O’Flahavan assert that email marketing must form part of an integrated effort with offline marketing. “Instead of sending single messages or offers, make your e-mail to customers long-term, ongoing, and valuable.”
2. Be contagious; your customer is your best advocate.
The authors talk of “viral marketing,” which could well be word of mouth marketing in the digital age. “With viral marketing, customers willingly pass on your message to people they predict will be interested….Promote viral marketing by inviting customers to forward your message, rewarding them for forwarding it ($$$ or sweepstakes entry), or helping pass on your message via chat, lists, instant messaging.”
3. Stop tweaking your subject line.
Rudick and O’Flahavan cite a report by IMT Strategies saying that customers open email because “they trust the company that sent it.” While subject lines are important, “the sender’s name (and the relationship the sender establishes) is MORE important.”
4. Make your e-mail pretty.
The authors make a strong point for visuals, because they say that plain text is becoming jurassic. Say Rudick and O’Flahavan: “E-mail marketers are using HTML, rich media, and instant messaging to showcase their brand.” Marketers and advertisers would call this technique “rising above the clutter.”
5. Don’t “spray and pray.”
Send an email only when you have something new to say or offer. Beware of tiring your customer. Beware of “email fatigue.”
6. Merge online customer service and e-mail marketing functions.
Make it a seamless process - have your online call center representatives combine e- mail marketing with e-mail concern resolution.
7. Metrics means more than click-through rate.
Customer feedback can be determined by way of a number of measures such as delivery status, number sent, number delivered, average order size, error reporting, opens, open rate, viral pass-alongs, conversion rate, new customer acquisition, and opt-out rate.
8. Permission means more than clicking “yes” in the opt-in box.
Honesty boosts credibility. Rudick and O’Flahavan advise: be sure your subject lines aren’t misleading, your return address is valid, and it’s easy to opt- out.
9. Personalization means more than “Dear First Name.”
Make it personal. The authors suggest that “to authentically personalize your marketing e-mail, include geographic or demographic information, custom content, references to the customer’s purchase history, or a link to the account review page.”
10. Give customers the controls.
Give customers power. “Though the management issues may get complicated, customers want to control who in your company can market to them, what type of marketing materials you’ll send, and how often they’ll hear from you. Your current e-mail marketing system or provider may not be up to this task, so take the long view. Work toward an e-mail marketing relationship steered by your customers.”
In a real sense, be truly customer-driven when writing e-mail.