Every few months, someone asks me, "How can I build a big list quickly?" This question usually comes from an email newcomer, often an entrepreneur or small-business executive just getting his business going or a marketer who comes from the direct-mail world or another discipline. They're all looking for the "easy" button, the one best way to make a mailing list grow overnight. But, as I've written previously, there is no "easy" button for email marketing.
Like just about everyone else, I've been watching the Winter Olympics. I am amazed at what athletes can accomplish on skis, skates, luges, sleighs and snowboards. As I watched the drama unfold at the games, it occurred to me there are several lessons from Vancouver 2010 that can be applied to email marketing.
Inspired by the Email Idol session from the EEC 2010 conference, a colleague (a.k.a. Chad White) gave me the idea to explore color use in email. Since I'm a writer and not a designer, I figured it was best to turn to the experts. I asked three designers the same question: What are the top five rules for using color in email? Surprise, surprise. Their answers were all pretty similar. Great minds think alike, right? Here are the compiled highlights.
I thought I'd resurrect a column from the past and see how accurate my predictions were. Roll your calendars back to July, 2006, when I wrote a column on "The Future of Email." Roll forward the calendar and it's 2010. It seems the challenges we had in making email more effective as a marketing tool are virtually the same: SPAM, deliverability, email's viability as a channel, technology and data challenges. So, what's changed -- and where will it go in the future?
I've been doing a good bit of travel lately, and I often struggle with the age-old battle of how to spend one's time on a plane: do I catch up on email, or thumb through the current Us Weekly? I admit it, Us Weekly often wins out. C'mon, admit it -- you read it too! I always like to read through the celebrity "25 Things You Don't Know About Me," born from the famed Facebook exercise. So as I was reading the most recent one about Dr. Mehmet Oz (#4 - his favorite veggie is okra), it dawned on me ...
Conversations about email deliverability seem to exist in an "echo chamber" -- there's a lot of noise. A bit of information that is only partially correct quickly becomes accepted wisdom. Here's the data and facts you need to challenge even the most confident of colleagues - and to ensure your email program is optimized for reaching the inbox and earning a response.
Some have suggested that email marketing "best practices" don't really exist, that best practices are really just "recommended practices." I can see why people might take that stance. Lately I've run into several instances where best practices didn't produce the best results.
Many people believe that decisions can be made in groups. I believe that groups can form a consensus, but one person must own the final decision. Email is essential to our businesses and lives and thrives in many departments of an organization -- think sales and marketing functions, customer service and fulfillment tools. Yet managing the email channel itself inside an organization is a process that's gotten increasingly complex.
What's the Buzz? It's Google's effort to weld social networking and content sharing onto its Gmail email service. It also poses the latest challenge for marketers to stay relevant and visible in the inbox.
Here at headquarters in Bethesda, Md., we're tunneling out from the Blizzard of 2010, a paralyzing storm which dumped about 2.5 feet of snow across the Mid-Atlantic region. Schools, businesses, government offices, roads, even convenience stores are all closed, and probably will be for another couple of days. It's a full-scale emergency, whose only redeeming quality is the email marketing metaphor it affords. We're all going to face email emergencies of our own. Getting through them, and winning back subscribers afterwards, will be part of our jobs in 2010. Is your emergency response plan ready?