Ideally, your direct marketing emails should look like your website however not all of your email clients can read graphics so to get around this problem, emails can be sent as multipart forms. This means that any email client that can’t read a graphical email gets a text version with a link at the top of it that says, “Click here to see a web page version of this newsletter.” That link takes the viewer to a corresponding web page that was automatically created by an email software package to match the graphical email. It is important to note that one should only click on the kinds of links we’re discussing if these links are from trusted sources.
Graphical emails are ideal because they allow you to build-in your web presence navigation – to mimic your web presence. We use a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use web page (and graphical email page) generator by Adobe called Contribute. You can create a graphical template with Contribute that includes elements (such as the ‘look and feel’ and navigation links) of your web presence, then lock the template. From this locked template anyone can do a “Save As” and create the next edition of your e-newsletter without messing up the web coding embedded in the original.
Good direct marketing email programs allow one to easily upload lists from spreadsheets, email programs, and contact management programs to the email program for delivery to a particular set or subset of contacts. It is important that you be able to import, export and massage (with individual additions and deletions) your online direct marketing email list(s).
It is important to be systematic in your approach because lists can grow quickly. If your list cannot be imported, exported and merged and purged via your contact relations management (CRM) program, you’ll find yourself with divergent and difficult-to-maintain lists.
Some of the real beauty in a good direct marketing email program is in the trackability. Information to track can include:
It is imperative that you give recipients the opportunity to opt-out of the list at any time with minimal effort. Opt-out should take place with one simple click. That click on the email launches a web page (with complete contact information, links to the rest of your site and to your Privacy Statement) that says something to the effect of, “Sorry to see you go. The email address, yourname@YourDomain.com has been removed from our list. If this was in error, or you’d like to add another email address, please do so here:___________________.”
In accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act, if someone opts-out of getting emails another good feature for your email program is that it remembers the opt-out. Even if you upload that recipient’s email address again via another list, the program has that recipient’s address in memory and will not allow another direct marketing email to go to the person who opted out. (You can do a manual override to get the person back on the list, though, in case they change their mind.)
When you start a direct marketing email program, take the time to establish a solid format and work ahead a few issues. Once again, make sure your email looks like your web presence, that it has a consistent ‘look and feel.’ CAN-SPAM requires that you include complete contact information, including mailing address, with every email you send.
Consistent formatting is important, right down to the subject line and the ‘from’ address. Consistency is important for these because many of your recipients are likely to use email filtering to set up an email box that your messages are automatically forwarded to. Don’t screw up their filtering by arbitrarily changing your ‘from’ address or your subject. For example, our monthly client, PromoSupport News, email always comes from PromoSupport@OnYourMark.com and the subject line always starts with PromoSupport News, then gives the volume number and other subject line information. When you make it easy for people to consistently receive, sort and store your regular direct marketing email messages, they always know where to find your information. When you mess with the system, you take the chance that recipients will abandon your list because of the extra time and trouble you’ve caused them to get and keep the information.
It often makes sense to offer a variety of email newsletters, differentiated by product or service segment, by industry, by job function of the recipient, etc. When you offer multiple lists, take the viewer to the whole list page to opt-in or opt-out of your direct marketing email programs. Highlight the one they are in the process of subscribing to or un-subscribing from, and show the rest to give them the option of getting (or not getting) others that you provide. Always have a “Tell-A-Friend” feature for viewers to easily share information about the online email resources you provide to others as well.