I’ve written and spoken extensively on email marketing. Perhaps one of the most Before you click send on your next email marketing campaign, consider the following fundamentals that will make your email campaign perform better, and also help you better serve the subscribers on your list. The payback is simple… greater response.

First, the Three Laws of Email Marketing:

  1. The email must be anticipated
  2. The email must be relevant
  3. The email must have value

Sound easy enough… perhaps consider that billions of emails are sent every day that break one or more of the three laws. I would go so far to suggest that if you look at your historical email marketing campaigns, you would likely at least some room for improvement.

Taking a closer look at what makes email marketing perform will help you weather your assembling an email campaign for your pet project in town, or outsourcing your email marketing for a major corporation.

Rule One: The Email Must Be Anticipated

While each of the Laws make sense, this one in many ways makes the most sense to the average consumer, and since we’re all consumers, I made this one first.  The best definition of spam is the one your subscriber thinks it is. Since an email regarded as spam wont perform well at all, it seems obvious you don’t want your well intentioned, permission based email to be considered spam. The number one flag in the eye of the consumer for a marketing email
to be considered spammy is simple… they had no idea it was coming.

Consumers don’t like surprises in their inbox, even good ones. Don’t believe it? When was the last time you got excited about a commercial email saying you’ve been “specially selected” to win a new car? Especially if you don’t know where this person or party got your email address in the first place.

Remember, even if the mailer is following email marketing best practices, if the mail comes from way out of left field, it will be considered a surprise and is well on its way to being considered spammy by the snap judgment call of the consumer. Next stop… poor performance of the email campaign.

Bottom line, use a mailing frequency that is often enough to stay in touch so your not forgotten, and get an auto responder on your email capture agenda, the time you have until the consumer forgets they opted in, is significantly short –sometimes as little as the same day, communicate early and wisely.

Rule Two: The Email Must Be Relevant

I expect to get email from LL Bean. I have purchased from them a few times, and I like their products. If they send me their canoe specials, I can only wonder what the marketing plan was there… I live in New York City –other than the east river, there aren’t a lot of places to canoe in Manhattan. Moreover, where do they expect me to store that canoe in a Manhattan apartment?

This is a perfect example of a mistake that even seasoned email marketers make in their quest to push that closeout product, distressed inventory, of get numbers on the big sale. Marketing departments all to often tack on to the end of the discussion… oh and “blast it” with some email.

Brilliant if your trying take a ridge in the mountains of Afghanistan, but rather poor strategy when the target of your “blasting” is your customers and prospects. Let’s call the irrelevancy error “death by friendly fire.”

Bottom line, if the email is not something the subscriber has an interest in or cares about, your starting to look and feel a little more spammy and your email will be summarily deleted, or if you violate this principle too often, you’ll lose the subscriber altogether.

Rule Three: The Email Must Have Value

This may be the most common mistake that direct marketers and email marketers make. With pressure to get a campaign out, pressure to hit numbers, and a generally hectic schedule, email marketers frequently engage in “inside out” marketing, and send an email that is potentially valuable to the marketer, but has nothing in it for the subscriber.

Before you click “send” consider if the email answers the question every recipient will ask themselves in a nanosecond… “what’s in it for me?”

The number one solution to the email marketers challenge in this Law is to offer an incentive or discount. However, this is not your only option. Lots of folks read our blog on a regular basis, why? Content. If you provide information, data, entertainment, or lifestyle content, even alerts on news, product availability, or events –your email suddenly offers a greater value.

The Bottom line –challenge yourself to answer the question your subscribers will inevitably ask… “what’s in it for me?” and your email response rates will climb.