One of the fastest ways to increase sales and customer engagement is through email marketing. Yes, even today, in 2016. Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways to alienate all of your customers and flatten out your sales is also email marketing. Do you see the challenge?

Email marketing must be done and it must be done right. Not okay, not good enough, it needs to be flawless. Why? Because people have zero tolerance for messages they perceive as spam, or useless. (Operative word being perceive) So what is the secret to doing an excellent job at email marketing? Here are my beginner’s rules.

3 Basic Rules of of email marketing

Follow these rules to email marketing, and you’re well on your way to becoming an avid email marketer. Ignore them and you probably face some undesired consequences.

Blatantly ask for permission:

Just because someone gives you their business card, that does not mean that they are giving you approval to email them anything you want. If you want to send someone information that they did not specifically request in writing, ask their permission. This is something that can be especially frustrating to new business owners. They often have a stack of business cards that they want to put into a database and start contacting. When I have to tell them no, they look at me like I am the devil and standing in the way of progress. It is not a comfortable moment. There are obvious reasons why you would not want to email everyone you have ever met and/or people you find on the internet. 

The first is the legal reason. You can be sued / fined. For a lot of money. It is not worth it.

The second is the technical reason. You can have your email address blacklisted. If this happens, every subsequent piece of email you send out to ANYONE will go into a spam folder or Never Never Land. Every single one… Think about the impact that could have on your business.  Again, not worth it. The third reason is that it makes people angry. When I find myself on a list for which I did not sign up, I make a mental note to not do business with that company again.

Use a third-party mail list manager:

Do you ever wonder how people make their emails look so nice and full of graphics? Their secret is likely a third-party email manager like Constant Contact. These companies will keep track of your mail list (including new sign-ups, unsubscribes, tracking clicks, open rates and address changes, etc) and let you create beautiful email campaigns easily. Oh yes, and some of them are free.  We use Constant Contact for many of our small business clients. They will make sure that your campaigns meet all relevant legal requirements and help you to create a successful email marketing campaign with tips, advice guides, tutorials and tools.

Short, sweet and no attachments:

You don’t need to tell your life story in your email campaign. Pick one product, benefit or special you want to promote, write two teaser sentences about it, provide a link to more information (and an incentive to click the link) and put in a nice image.

Do not include any attachments in your email. Even the images need to be hosted on an external web server. Why am I making such a big deal about the no attachments rule? Because many business email accounts have limits. You do not want to be the yahoo who sends over a 3MB email and causes the inbox to be too full. Furthermore, many scammers use attachments to spread virus, as a result, you could be lumped into that group as people have a natural distrust for emails with attachments.

In conclusion, you can surely see how these rules are not difficult to follow. The hardest part is accepting that you cannot email everyone and while it’s tempting to paste a bunch of email addresses into your outlook, you should invest in the proper tools. Once you accept these, the third rule becomes much easier.