What “Miss Manners” Says About Email Marketing

Wondering what your email subscribers think about your manners?  Here you are, an invited guest in their home or business, and you want to impress…not distress.

Where’s the book on email etiquette?  Who can tell you what chapter covers which dress code for which occasion?

Is what’s right for Bob’s Hardware Store right for your Weight Loss Now email campaign?

Well, you’ve probably figured out by now.  There is no book on the right email etiquette for every circumstance.  There’s no “Miss Manners Says…” when it comes to what’s appropriate and what’s not.

But there is…common sense…and respect. 

Here are a few ideas on common sense and respect that can help you build your own “Book of Etiquette” for your business…and your customers.

  • Know what they want, and send what they agreed to get.  Be as specific as possible about what types of emails you will send when they opt in.  If you have a large campaign, or the potential to send emails on numerous topics, and in different formats…newsletters, promotions, special offers…ask your prospect what they want to receive.  When you send your welcome email, confirm what information you’ll be sending…based on what they have asked for.
  • Make your emails readable at the level of the audience you’re addressing.  Sending emails written for third graders…is appropriate for third graders…but not for someone who is subscribing to receive information on scientific experimentation for crop fertilization.
  • Use good grammar, the right punctuation…and check your spelling.  I’ve actually heard professionals say this isn’t terribly important, and can, in fact, command attention.  I disagree.  Nothing looks less professional to me than a badly misspelled email message.   I am…and suspect will always be…more hesitant to do business with someone I consider sloppy, and I think most commercial email subscribers would agree.
  • No glasses required.  An email that requires reading glasses…when the person doesn’t normally need them…will likely be deleted without being read.  Use a common font, color, and style that doesn’t cause eye strain. 
  • Be clear and concise.  Your subject line will tell the subscriber what to expect.  It should entice and excite…and at the same time succinctly describe what’s inside.
  • Be legal.  Not only does common sense tell you not to cross the line, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 has a pretty long list of what’s OK and what isn’t, from the legal perspective.  If you have any doubt at all, review it carefully.  The primary things to remember are to “get permission…at least once…to send emails.  Tell people what you will do with their email once you receive it.  (I assume you will not share it, and you need to tell them that…clearly).  In every email you send, be sure to provide a clearly visible link so the subscriber can “unsubscribe” or opt out.
  • Always be polite.  Not just because your mother told you to, but because you’re building relationship.  Don’t use the “High Importance” button to send a commercial email…unless your message is truly crucial.  This might get your subscriber’s attention once or twice…and then… Well, I think you can figure out the “and then”…garbage or unsubscribe.  If you’re responding to an inquiry from one of your subscribers, do it in a timely manner, and make sure the response is appropriate.

As your email list grows, and you encounter that occasional unhappy person who complains about what they’re getting, review the complaint.  If they’re receiving exactly what they signed up to receive, respond politely and let them know you’ll be happy to remove them from your email list.

Before you change everything in your email marketing strategy, though, remember, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  You can be both polite…and thankful…that this person is unlikely to be a customer of yours.  It was probably not a good match to begin with.

When your emails tell people what you’re about, and convey what you believe in, the subscribers who stay and buy will be happy, and those who leave will have saved you both a lot of frustration.

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