In my last column, I talked about lagniappe: a little something extra; the 13th donut in a baker's dozen. Its function is to thank and reward opt-ins for handing over their precious email addresses and allowing you to market to them. It keeps your email welcome in the inbox and your readers opening to see what's next. I asked for email marketers to talk about their lagniappe, and got some great examples.
There are "marketing-related" emails and there are "transactional" emails -- and often, never the twain shall meet. While many in the direct marketing world will scoff at the value of sticking a company logo on a confirmation email and seeing the real value of this, there are infinite opportunities to build suggestion into the fulfillment. We've been doing this for years with direct mail and call center order fulfillment. Why not email?
Because of the CAN-SPAM Act, it's illegal for marketers to take longer than 10 business days to unsubscribe someone from their email program -- and there continues to be talk of lowering that requirement down to just three days. Given that expectation and requirement, I think it's fair that marketers should also guarantee that new subscribers receive their first regular email within 10 business days of signing up. Call it a self-imposed CAN-SEND Act.
The conversation has been fast and furious lately about email marketing's future in the Digital Age. I am a firm believer that email is the marketing channel most able to adapt to shifting modes of communication, even as we trade the desktop computer for the handheld and the inbox for the personal page on the hot new social network. While we look to the future, however, we're still plagued with marketers bent on ruining email's good reputation by ignoring best practices and doing business like it's 1999 all over again.
In every presentation I give, the first and most important message I want marketers to understand is that people hate (some) email. They have violent reactions to having to wade through garbage in their inboxes in order to get to the messages they want and need to read. Email is personal and intrusive -- and effective. Telemarketing had the same blessings and the same curse. Marketers felt that as long as the dollars continued to roll in, they would continue to ply the trade, with disastrous results for the entire industry It is a cautionary tale. It's the reason I …
There are many schools of thought surrounding how to manage opt-outs. With so many companies managing multiple systems for email purposes, keeping opt-out files consistent and up-to-date can be a nightmare, especially if you add in acquisition through third parties. Here are some of the big issues that most email marketers will struggle with -- most just mumbling about; few are talking publicly since CAN SPAM gained notoriety in 2003.
The vast majority of retailers don't bother with onboarding emails, missing an opportunity to educate new shoppers and ease them into their email campaigns. Instead, most retailers just drop new subscribers into their existing email stream, which can lead to jarring email messages in some cases.
In my last Email Insider column , I established that email is just as innovative a medium, if not more so, than newer digital applications such as text messaging and feed syndication (RSS). This time, I suggest that email will not disappear in an era of new and more immediate messaging. Instead, it will adapt as communication needs shift with different audiences. It will even help facilitate these new emerging technologies.