Email Marketing Gone Wild

In recent years I’ve noticed that promotional marketing from companies has increased in frequency beyond what I can handle.

Most of the companies I sign up to receive emails from, I do so for a reason because I’m on the lookout for one of their products or new releases. However, bombarding my inbox with messages every day, or sometimes more frequently, is too much to handle, therefore I will unsubscribe. Then, I will often forget to visit their website for new releases I might want.

From the industry statistics provided by Constant Contact, it looks as though the click rate (percentage of consumers clicking on links in emails) has really decreased during the years. In the first line, All Industries, the click rate is only 1.11%! With all the messages being sent out, that average is tiny and I wonder whether if it’s actually worth putting a lot of resources into such an endeavour.  However, they must get some business, awareness or brand loyalty out of it. Brand loyalty is about keeping your current or potential customers aware that you exist and are there for them.

Having held an email marketing job during my career, I know that it can be a thankless task at first but I was more successful with it as time went along reaching a 50% click rate. It’s a juggle of providing a good subject line and concise text, with some graphics, in the body. What really helped, I found, was naming a very well-known person in the organization, like the CEO or head of the Board. However, that has dangers too as I receive messages from one company with a name in it I don’t recognize in which case I almost delete it thinking it’s from a dodgy person.

Some companies do it right, and I will use Marks and Spencer as an example. Their emails come about once a week, that is the perfect frequency for me. They even ask me whether I want to opt out of receiving messages about Mother’s or Father’s day. Many companies bombard customers with selling items around those days when, especially during COVID, many lost their parents, so this could be upsetting to many as they cannot celebrate this time of year for the first time in their lives.

I have noticed some companies I never receive email from anymore, apart from the usual system ones like a) thank you for your order, b) your order has been sent, c) your order is out for delivery and d) your order has arrived. Probably, social media is actually more popular.

So, this would be the right email balance for me:

  • One marketing email per week is enough.
  • Don’t post too much content in the email, be short and concise. I don’t have time to read through several paragraphs. That goes for news summaries, post a couple of lines about the item and link me to a website for more information. Don’t waste my time with irrelevant rubbish in the email.
  • Don’t mislead customers, for example, financial institutions will send a message “You Are Pre-Approved” – well, we know they aren’t real, they still have to go through a process and be rejected. Just offer the customers a deal.
  • Emails have very little security, no matter how secure a system you think they are. Don’t include people’s account numbers and don’t say how much they owe or the cost of the current bill. I only know one company that does that to me, which is BC Hydro, and I can go and find this out when I log in securely to their website.
  • Tailor your messages as much as possible, providing opt-outs for certain content, so that clients are not receiving unwanted information that might lead them to unsubscribe.
  • Don’t put a human’s name in the From field unless you are sure your customers know who they are.

Email marketing is something that companies should absolutely get right, it’s not just about the company’s success but also about customers’ sanity. Campaign Monitor has some great resources for email marketing campaigns.