Best Practices: Treat Your Email Recipients Like Customers, Not Strangers

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

Want to get a positive response to your email communications and insure they get delivered? Then make sure you're treating your recipients like valued customers.

"Your email list isn't just a mailing list, it is your clientele, and you can't just act like you're trying to attract people standing on a street corner," says Robert Consoli, director of deliverability and provisioning services, SilverPop. "You need to understand what recipients want or you won't get those messages through."

While consumer patience with messages they don't open or like hasn't gotten any worse, the mechanisms are there for them to automatically route your messages to a bulk or spam folder, and that is the kiss of death for an email marketing relationship.

And as engagement becomes more of a consideration factor for ISPs, it might not even be the consumer that starts rerouting those messages. If a consumer hasn't opened your emails for several months, they may now automatically start being sent to a bulk folder, even though the recipient never actually opted-out or ever marked your email as spam, Consoli notes.

"The biggest challenge today is reputation—marketers need to insure that their reputation is good," he says.

This, of course, means following best practices, he continues. Make sure you have consent before you start mailing someone, and have a clear opt-out option should they no longer want to hear from you. Make sure the domain you are sending from is authenticated and don't attempt to mask the domain from the recipient.

"Make it clear and obvious," Consoli notes. "And don't vary from your written policies—if you say you're going to send emails once a month, don't start sending three times a week."

Above all, the best thing to do is take your time and do things right the first time around, to insure that your reputation is good from the start.

"The biggest mistake we often see is marketers thinking 'oh, I didn't think it would set us back that much if we did this,'" says Consoli. "Make sure you're doing the right thing before you mail. You can't just get by claiming ignorance. Even if you do something wrong by accident, you're going to have to go back and fix it, and, like rebuilding a credit score, that takes a lot of work."



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