When it comes to representing your brand, don’t underestimate the power of email marketing.
Mistakes happen, but as any email marketing agency will tell you, a simple mistake has the power to truly damage your brand.
For example, in May 2014, the major image-publishing service Shutterfly sent an email out to a large group of their customers congratulating them on “their new arrival” and urging them as new parents to purchase thank-you cards to match their birth announcement cards. The problem? Shutterfly accidentally sent this email out to their ENTIRE email list instead of only their customers who were actually new parents. This may seem harmless until you consider the unpleasantness for those who received the email who may not be able to have children.
Amazon made a mistake very much like Shutterfly’s in 2017, when they sent an email to customers that said, “Someone recently made a purchase from your baby registry!” when in fact, many of the customers who received this email were neither parents nor pregnant. With credit cards, account hacking and such, this surely caused worry.
How about in March of 2009, when the University of California in San Diego accidentally sent a welcome email to about 29,000 freshman applicants who had been previously rejected by school admissions?
And don’t forget Adidas, who is one of the sponsors of the Boston Marathon. For the 2017 race, they sent out an email to participants with the subject line: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!”—a line that many people found offensive due to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Paying Attention is Absolutely Crucial to Your Brand
These errors caused the organizations in question to have to do a lot of damage control. These days, it takes a shockingly short amount of time for national media outlets to pick up these stories, which quickly spread around the country and create lasting impressions in the public’s mind.
You can blame technology (and many people do), but if you do this, you’re cheating yourself. In truth, the importance of managing your email marketing is crucial. You should be paying as much attention to it as you would any other campaign.
Would you continue to use a business card with a spelling error? Would you continue to run a television or radio commercial with an incorrect phone number or web address? Of course not. So, why would you lessen the importance of properly controlling email campaigns and the impact that they have on your brand? This is where email marketing services can help you.
Are You Up to Standard?
Consider reviewing your current email campaigns to find out if they meet the standards of the best email marketing practices:
Does your product or service warrant an email campaign?
Many companies initiate email campaigns for the wrong reason. Low cost, ease, and convenience often lead business owners to use an email campaign as their first touchpoint with prospective customers—but for many, these campaigns simply need better strategy and purpose.
Consumers have become email-weary. Overfilled inboxes have led to more filtering and instant trashing of messages. If you have no story, if the message isn’t compelling, and if your product or service doesn’t warrant an email campaign, your email is probably going to get not only deleted, but blocked.
Have you truly gained permission?
Email marketing is permission-based marketing. It can be targeted, personal, and very, very effective. However, when liberties are taken in gaining permission, not only are you violating spam rules, you can also cause permanent damage to your brand.
Imagine turning on your computer and finding a number of unsolicited emails. Imagine that all of them came from the same company, with whom you have never had a relationship. It’s safe to assume that you would be unhappy with that company, right?
Anger or, at the very least, irritation are exactly the reactions of many recipients who receive unsolicited emails—even in a professional B2B market. Is this the emotional connection you want to make with your prospective customers? No.
Gaining permission is essential to conducting an effective email campaign, and is the most important element in keeping your brand reputable.
How will you know if your campaign is successful?
The scalability of email campaigns can make them highly attractive to small business owners. The perception is that a campaign can be tested for a relatively low cost, and if it works, it can be repeated. But how do you know if it has really worked?
Unless an email campaign has pre-determined objectives and return-on-investment goals, then any investment in email marketing might be considered wasteful. Low cost doesn’t automatically mean that you have allocated your resources wisely.
Are you using categories and targeted content?
Email marketing is just as sophisticated of a targeting method as is direct mail.
These days, there are CRM (customer relationship management) tools available, which have been specifically designed to manage all your company’s relationships and interactions with different customers and potential customers.
The best CRM tools can give you information about every single customer interaction that you’ve already had, as well as allowing business owners to identify sales opportunities for those customers, record service issues, and manage marketing campaigns.
Business owners can also utilize targeted email marketing to build actual relationships with their customers, as well as put their products or services right in front of their target audience’s eyes.
Take a long, hard look at your mail list. Have you lumped all of the recipients into one category? Do you make any attempt to segment your list and/or message based on simple demographics? If not, consider the impression this may leave with your customers.
Not paying enough attention to your email lists can cause more harm than good, but there are plenty of incredible small business email marketing tools and methods out there to help.
Carelessness is a Brand Downer
The University of California, Shutterfly, Amazon, and Adidas are all examples that demonstrate how email marketing doesn’t always get the attention it needs. Before sending even one email campaign, ask yourself: is this the best of my brand?