As we dive into the new year, the importance of following email marketing best practices, and complying with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 continues to be important. If you’re looking for a way to improve lead quality and increase conversions with email marketing in 2017, you can start by committing to simply following the rules.
If you want your email marketing to be successful and, more importantly, productive, there are a few essential things you must include in every one of your emails. We’ve put together a simple, step-by-step process for building a kick-ass (read: non-spammy) lead nurturing, conversion-focused email marketing campaign.
If you aren’t interested in acquiring new customers or keeping your existing ones, then this post isn’t for you. (We’re not sure how you ended up here. Are you lost?)
About CAN-SPAM Laws
To avoid putting you to sleep, we’ll try to keep this brief. You can read the full details of the CAN-SPAM laws here, but the basics of the laws are as follows:
- NO false or misleading information permitted in the header. Be honest about what you are sending. People don’t like being tricked into opening emails. Plus, it’s in your best interest not to make your readers angry.
- NO deceptive subject lines. While catchy subject lines are great, they should also be relevant to what your email is actually about. It’s not fair to mislead your readers, and it’s not good for business, either.
- NO pretending your email isn’t an advertisement. Pretending that your email is anything other than what it is won’t get you anywhere good. Your readers aren’t stupid, so don’t treat them that way. Plus, you could get in big trouble, so it’s really not worth it.
- NO hiding your physical location. This one’s pretty straightforward. If your business has a physical location, it must be visible in your email.
- NO preventing recipients from unsubscribing. This is a really important one. You need to allow your readers to click the unsubscribe button, if they wish. (We’ll talk more about ways to address this law, later.)
- NO ignoring requests for opt-outs. If someone wants to opt out of your emails, let them. Not only is it illegal not to, but it doesn’t make any sense to keep a subscriber that doesn’t want anything to do with your business. Or, maybe they just have too many emails. (We’ll talk about other ways to reach your audience, too.)
- And, last, but not least (not by a longshot); If you hire someone else to do your email marketing for you, make sure they know the laws, and that you are paying attention to whether they are following them. Your company is ultimately responsible for any mistakes, whether you made them yourself or not.What If I Violate the Act?
You really don’t want to do that, or, should we say, you really can’t afford to do that. You can be fined for each separate email that is found to be in violation of the law. With the penalties for non-compliance reaching up to $16,000 per email, you should probably just follow the rules.
Compliance Best Practices
We’ve put together a list of tips to keep your email marketing campaigns compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, while also getting the results you’re looking for:
1. Using the Double Opt-In Method
The double opt-in method is a great way to ensure that your subscribers are actually interested in the content you have to share. When the double opt-in method is used, all subscribers must confirm their subscription twice.
Subscribers typically opt in on a landing page, and then receive an email to confirm their subscription. This helps to weed out any subscribers who are entering email addresses other than their own, and in turn increases the quality of your email lists.
2. Do NOT Buy Email Lists
While purchasing an email list may seem like a great way to kick start your email campaign, it is actually a terrible idea. Think about it; if you can purchase a list of emails, anyone can, right? And the people behind this list of emails, do you think they have any interest in what you’re selling? Or, more importantly, do you think they even know they are on a list?
Why would you want to send emails to a list of people that are probably being emailed by a bunch of other companies with content they have absolutely no interest in? And, if they’re being bombarded with emails by other companies as well, then the chances of them unsubscribing or marking your emails as spam are even higher. It makes much more business sense to build your own email lists, with subscribers who actually want to be there.
3. Write Great Subject Lines
Your subject line should be interesting and relevant. Don’t write wordy subject lines. Keep them short and to the point, using 40 characters or fewer if possible. And, whenever possible, make your subject lines personal. Why? According to Campaign Monitor, “Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened.” Use part of the subscriber’s name or city to grab your reader’s attention.
Don’t use the same subject line over and over with the same email list. If you are sending a periodic newsletter with the same title, you still want to switch up your subject line each time. Maybe add something about the particular season or highlight a topic or theme for your newsletter to spark additional interest.
4. Let Your Readers Unsubscribe
Of course, the last thing you want your readers to do is unsubscribe, right? Or is it? Wouldn’t it be worse if they reported your email as spam, and/or reported your business for unlawful email marketing? If your subscribers really want to opt out of your emails, you need to let them go.
One way of dealing with this dilemma is to allow users to manage their email subscriptions. By setting up a simple subscription management screen where users can decide what types of emails they receive and how frequently they receive them, you can give your subscribers more control over what and how often they hear from you. And in the end, if they still want to unsubscribe, then at least you made them think long and hard about their decision.
5. Use Permission Reminders
Have you ever received an email from a business, but don’t remember how the heck you ended up on their email list? It happens all the time. Permission reminders are exactly what they sound like. They help people remember why they are receiving an email from a business.
It is usually located in the footer of an email, and can help prevent businesses from getting reported for spam. Keep them short and to the point. You may also want to link your permission reminders to unsubscribe/manage your subscription links, so your readers know that they are in full control.
Just Follow the Rules
When done right, email marketing campaigns can be an extremely successful method for generating and nurturing leads throughout the buyer’s journey. According to the DMA, “When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more.” If you can consistently deliver great content to those who are truly interested in what you have to say, then it will be hard to fail.