SMB Marketing Email: Getting It Delivered and Read

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    Six Tips to Help Small Businesses Drive Loyalty

    On an infographic from SmallBizTrends that was created by Vertical Response, I read a factoid that said 84 percent of all email sent is spam. After looking into my own Gmail inbox, I believe that to be true. My Promotions folder is overflowing with mostly unread emails from various businesses that are hoping I will open, read and act upon their offers. And I know that I don’t open, much less act upon, the bulk of those emails. However, a second factoid in that infographic was even bleaker: 22 percent of the emails we sign up for don’t end up in our inboxes.

    So as a small to midsize business, how do you ensure that your marketing emails make it to your customers and get opened?

    Vertical Response suggests that you start with a good list of email addresses. It says that asking “your subscribers to opt-in twice” ensures that your customer email list is of the highest quality. And don’t bother with paying for email address lists. You want to speak to the customers who know your products and services and want to hear from you.

    To keep your emails from being flagged as spam, Vertical Response says to mark the “unsubscribe” link clearly, and make sure that opting out of your emails is a simple process. Once a customer no longer wants your emails, it’s easy to get disgruntled and click “spam,” but that will have a negative effect on future email delivery. It’s better to just have that customer unsubscribe.

    Keep your emails simple. You don’t need to use movement or flashy graphics. In fact, Vertical Response says to stay away from using HTML, Flash or Javascript in your marketing emails. Simple images and text work just fine; even just text works if it’s well written.

    Send your customers information that they can use. Tips, positive stories from other customers, introductions of new products and sale offers they can’t turn down are all perfect for inclusion in your emails. Just make sure each email sent contains new information—sending the same stale message over and over is one sure way to get customers to unsubscribe or worse, click that spam button.

    The Yahoo Small Business Advisor offers other tips on getting customers to read and open your emails with well-crafted subject lines. The article suggests using a subject that asks the customer to act or provides an engaging fact. Declaring a big sale or new product or service is also a good way to get the reader to click to read more. However, the story warns against “writing like a spammer,” so refrain from overusing the word “free” or writing in all caps. Those are big no-no’s and could get your message flagged as spam before it’s even read.

    Keeping your word usage simple and brief helps to get your point across quickly. Using complex wording or subject lines that may get cut off in the preview pane significantly reduce the likelihood that the reader will open the message.

    Finally, abide by spam laws. You can find the CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business on the Federal Trade Commission site. And before you send your emails, read them thoroughly. Check for proper grammar and spelling and click each link to be sure it works and goes directly to the site you want customers to visit. Many customers will flag a message as spam for having broken links or if it’s poorly written, so make sure yours is effective and functional.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ at or Twitter @blumoonky.

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