Do You Make these 7 E-Mail Marketing Mistakes?
Have you heard the latest news about LinkedIn?
Normally I love sharing everything that’s new about social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but I have to say, this is the kind of news that really gets under my skin.
It might not be true. But if it is, I think there’s a lot of people with the right to be pretty angry.
What I’m talking about is last week’s announcement of a class action lawsuit against LinkedIn. There’s a growing group of people who believe that the business-themed social network might have harvested email addresses from their contacts in order to send out marketing e-mails without their consent.
LinkedIn denies this of course. But I think this brings up something important about your e-mail marketing.
There are some pretty specific rules for what you can and can’t do with your e-mail marketing. And a surprising number of people don’t realize that those rules are actually in the form of laws (the CAN-SPAM act)! As in, if you break the laws, not only will you anger the people on your e-mail list, but you could set yourself up for fines and lawsuits!
Thanks but no thanks!
So – in a nutshell, here are the 7 things you must know about how you do your email marketing.
#1 – You can’t use misleading information in the header of the e-mail.
You’ve got to be honest with the people receiving your e-mail. They need to be able to clearly see who it’s from, who it’s to, what it’s about, and the domain it came from. You need to complete all of this information accurately in any marketing email you send out.
#2 – Make sure the subject of your email is clear and specific
You can be creative with your subject lines and use great copywriting techniques, but you need to make sure that the subject line of your email is clear. The people who receive your messages need to be able to tell from your subject line exactly what your email is about.
#3 – Make it clear that your message is an advertisement
This is another part of being honest in your marketing. Make sure that somewhere in the text of your email to your subscribers that you include a disclaimer that the message they’re reading from you is an ad.
#4 – Tell the people receiving your message where you’re located
No more hiding behind your screen – you’ve got to give a mailing address for your business when you send email marketing to your subscribers. Now – this could be a PO box if you don’t want to have your home address going out to people you don’t know. But you need to list a correct mailing list for your business.
#5 – Tell your recipients how to opt-out of receiving your messages
I know you worked hard to get everyone on your mailing list. But to be fair and ethical, every message you send needs to include information on how to opt out of receiving future messages from you. And this goes along with everything I’ve said about getting followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook, etc. You want the right people on your list, people who are interested in what you have to offer. A mailing list of 1000 people who want nothing to do with you is a whole lot less valuable than a list of 100 people who can’t wait to hear about your next product or service offering.
#6 – Take care of opt-out requests ASAP
This goes along with the last point – if someone unsubscribes, you need to honor that request in a timely manner. This is a specific requirement of the law. Any unsubscribe link on a message you send needs to work for at least 30 days after you send the message. And you need to actually complete the “unsubscribe” action within 10 days after you receive the request. You can’t make people jump through a lot of hoops to unsubscribe, either. It needs to be a simple reply email or single page on your website to unsubscribe.
#7 – Make sure anyone working for you like a virtual assistant is following the law
Ignorance isn’t bliss, contrary to the old saying. You need to stay on top of what your team is doing in your name. If your VA is sending out emails with your brand on them, you’re responsible for what’s in them. And if your marketing emails are breaking the law, you’re the one who will be held responsible.
How to Build an Email List Legally
One of the easiest ways to stay out of trouble with the law is to use an e-mail contact management service such as AWeber, Constant Contact, or MailChimp to manage your contacts and your emails to your audience. Each of these services stays on top of the laws about e-mail spam, and they help walk you through the steps when you set up your account. These services also handle unsubscribe requests automatically. This way, you’ll be in compliance with that portion of the law pretty easily.
Now – there’s one thing I want to warn you about. Some people will gather e-mail addresses at a conference or trade show and then add those people to their mailing list without letting them specifically “opt in” to receiving email. This isn’t a good way to build your e-mail list. When it comes to your list, it’s always better to have people’s permission in the beginning. And if you use a contact management service like the ones I mentioned earlier, you’ll have proof that you followed the law should there ever be a question.
Whew! That’s a lot of information, but it’s one that’s pretty important to get right from the start!
What are your questions about email marketing? I’d love to answer them – leave a comment below!