Email Marketing – Has the shine come off the silver bullet

When email marketing first appeared it was  easy – You could get an 80%   open rate and for a short while you did not even have to worry about Opt In requirements Then in December 2003 that all changed. We will come back to that

You also need to consider is that over 85% of all email traffic is spam emails so this is one of reasons why it is becoming  more challenging to get your email into the recipient computer and then to get noticed

To make you emails work there are  four elements that have to work

  • Good email addresses
  • Relevance
  • HTML
  • Broadcasting system

Unless all four are 100%  your campaign will fail at best and at worse  you may find you have broken the law and fines can be  an eye watering £500,000

So let’s examine the four elements

Email addresses

  1. Email addresses must be accurate and correct. Unlike a postal address which you can mis-spell, emails have to absolutely spot on. If your email addresses are not right and you have too many error  in your broadcast then you are in danger of your email account being stopped and your domain blacklisted as a spamming domain. There are tools to enable email addresses to be pre verified.
  2. Permission emails. These are addresses where you/ your company has permission to send messages to the recipient. These should always give a higher response rate because you have a business or other relationship with the recipient – Guard these with your life
  3. Opt In’s – The legislation that was created in 2003 was simple originally but with tinkering around by governments,  this has become a bit messy and hence you may get some different answers from different organisations. I would always use one guiding rules. Ask yourself “have I got provable permission to cold email this address”?  The word “provable” is the key. This is a bit belt and braces but this way you are on the right side of the law and can prove it
    1. Residential data: Must be 100% Opt In. Opt out tick boxes on a web site are not a legal means of collecting email addresses. If you purchase residential email data it must be Opt In
    2. Business Data:  Info@, sales@ do not need Opt In’s.  does because it is linked to a living person within an organisation.
    3. Buying email addresses should be done with great care. Reputable UK & EU companies mostly have fully Opt In email addresses.  Great care should be taken buying data from companies outside the EU as some have their own complain rules and other done not.   Be careful of internet based companies with higher than expected volumes of data. This may not be legal and using this would be against the law and cause your domain damage. Ask the question about Opt In and if it sound vague or they say they do not need to comply then leave the data alone.
    4. Do not use someone else’s data.  It is breaking the law. There are lots of organisations with data bases often the staff have taken a copy of the data and are going around selling this or the organisation is trying the sell the data. In most this will be illegal, in the first instance its theft and in second it breaks the Data Protection Act. If you need data go to a reputable source
    5. Consider carefully who you are sending your emails to. For example you can get the email casino online addresses for most of the senior people at the big supermarkets. Some list owners will even tell you and supply you an email address for the top man. Will it work – No! The bigger the company the more sophisticated the filtering systems  and cold emails simply will not even arrive on the destination PC – Use old fashioned post – once you get a dialog and get an email address , then use can use it. The smaller the organisation then generally its easier to get emails to the relevant PC


  1. Your email must be relevant to the subject. You only need annoy the recipient once and the delete key is used or they block further emails from you. This is one area that many companies fail on  and yet others such as Amazon are very good at
  2. This about how you can segment that data and make the message tailored to groups within your data


  1. There are some basic rules
    1. 600 pxl wide
    2. No Div tags – Outlook cannot read them
    3. There needs to be a good ration of pictures to graphics
    4. Certain words and phrases will trip the spam filters or the junk folder
    5. The subject line is key – No more than 60 characters. Be careful with what you have here. Special offer, Free, Bank, and Money Off have very high junks folder and spam tariffs. It is the basis of the decision to open or delete
    6. The top third if the email is the only bit that matters. If they do not see the key message they will not read any further
    7.  1-2 second is the time most will look at the email and make a decision to read or not. If your message is too long then it will get deleted
    8. If the email is longer than 1 sheet of A4 it’s too long and you’re missing a trick. Just give them the headlines and put the rest on your website
    9. You must have an unsubscribe button and it must work
    10. Be clear in what your campaign is about
    11. Make sure you include
      1. Clear contact details – landline give more confidence than mobiles
      2. An offer  even if it’s a download
      3. Call to action
      4. Time limit
      5. Test your HTML on all the available browsers and do not be surprised if it does not work in a fortnight. Outlook is constantly changing is coding system around the 1st Tuesday in the month.
      6.  Make sure your landing pages are correct – nothing annoys more than being taken to the wrong part of the website or just the home page. I want to go to the part of the web site that relates to this  issue in the email.


  1. Do not use Outlook or any SMPT system – Your ISP will catch you and may blacklist or worst simply remove you off the system. Use a broadcasting company
  2. Make sure the company will accept EU or UK purchased data if you intent to use this type of data. Many US platforms do not allow EU purchased lists to be added
  3. Check how the email looks when received – Do you want their advertising
  4. You will mostly have to by credits in advance – do these have a shelf life?
  5. Is you data 100% safe and where is it. If outside the UK then you need to check compliance with UK and EU data protection rules – The onus is on you
  6. What are the facilities, Do they match your needs
  7. Check how they manage the unsubscribes and Hard bounces
  8. Is hosting included for graphics – emails pulling items from too many places are regarded as Phishing and will get junked
  9. Can you use your domain on the system
  10. Is there an HTML editor included?
  11. Make sure it can cope with your requirements

If you have all these item in place you should get the best from your campaign and will have avoided too many.  Don’t bombard people. Not only will you have them off their network will start to block your emails as well to others on their domain.

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