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Best Practice in Email Marketing
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The following article extract is reproduced from the excellent Tips and Best Practices Guide at Mailchimp.

In email marketing, it’s important to remember that permission is key. Without permission, you could be reported for abuse whether or not you’re a legitimate marketer. The following tips can help you prevent spam complaints as you start sending email to subscribers:

  • Choose your opt-in method wisely. MailChimp’s standard signup forms, by default, use the double opt-in method. Double opt-in is valuable because you’ll know (and have proof) that each and every recipient gave you permission to send them emails. But, there are a number of other popular signup methods (API, integrations, etc) that allow for single opt-in, and we certainly are not discounting the validity of those, either. Ultimately, the most important thing is that your recipients give you permission to email them. You’ll need to consider your audience and the applicable legal requirements in your area to determine which opt-in method is right for you.
  • Don’t use purchased, rented, or scraped lists. Not only are they against our Terms of Use and notorious for providing bad addresses that lead to high bounce rates and blacklisting, they don’t actually help you grow your business. Sending to a list that hasn’t given you express permission can impact your ability to market your business, potentially damage your brand, and even result in legal ramifications. Instead, allow your list to grow organically.
  • Don’t assume that you have permission. Even if your intended recipients are already your customers (or your colleagues, or people you met at a trade show, etc), do not send promotional email without getting permission first. Add a signup form to your website. Give customers the option to sign up for your list when they make a purchase from your store. Offer incentives—like discounts, coupons, or free downloads, for example—to encourage your customers or colleagues to become list subscribers.
  • Set expectations when people join your list. If your subscribers think they’re signing up for monthly newsletters and you start sending them weekly promotions, they might not be subscribers for much longer. Tell people what you’ll be sending and how often you’ll be sending it. If you want to send out different content (monthly newsletters, weekly special offers, etc), consider setting up groups in your list so subscribers can choose what content they want to receive from you.
  • Don’t wait too long before contacting your subscribers. Every mailing list can go stale if it’s not used regularly, even if subscribers were originally collected via double opt-in. Lists with a lot of stale addresses can lead to high rates of bounces, spam complaints, and unsubscribes. In addition to keeping an up to date permission reminder in each campaign, consider setting up a process where new subscribers receive emails from you right away, perhaps through a welcome email sent with MailChimp’s Automation features. If you’re worried that your list has gone stale, we recommend removing the list and reconfirming outside of MailChimp.
  • Treat your email campaigns as an extension of your website, store, or brand. Your customers probably already have an idea of what type of content, imagery, and design elements to expect from you, so don’t stray too far and risk harming that recognition factor. If you have any questions about what content, designs, or subject lines your customers will respond to and engage with, don’t just leave it to chance—use MailChimp’s testing features to find out.
  • Don’t hide the unsubscribe/opt-out link in your campaigns. MailChimp (and the CAN-SPAM Act) requires that an unsubscribe link be present in every campaign that you send. When the link is prominent, people who no longer wish to receive your emails will be able to quickly and easily remove themselves from your mailing list. When the link is hard to find, the recipient might be more inclined to mark your message as spam, resulting in an abuse complaint within your MailChimp account.

A beginners account at Mailchimp is free and, once you find your way around the initially confusing layouts and menus, will provide all that most small businesses will need. Mailing lists I have set up for Newsletters and Blog Feeds here are managed by Mailchimp.





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