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Common Sense Will Save Your Email Program

An email address and opt-in are sacred--it is your customer's invitation into their life. As someone who is passionate about email marketing, it pains me to see how companies big and small are abusing this invitation and steadily eroding the influence of the medium.

By implementing certain rules to an email program, marketers can win customer loyalty, decrease sending costs, and ultimately increase revenue.

1. Know When You Are Not Wanted

I signed up for Nextdoor when I first moved to Amsterdam but never really used the site. In fact, it has been over six months since I last logged in or even visited the website.

Despite this, the marketers at Nextdoor think it is a splendid idea to email me every day and sometimes multiple times per day. A quick look at the screenshot below shows 12 emails in 3 days. It shouldn't be surprising given my behavior and theirs that all messages are being delivered to spam.

Nextdoor emails too frequently and lands in spam

It is clear that Nextdoor does not follow the best practice of "sunsetting" email addresses. To sunset an email address is to move it from a bucket of addresses that gets sent to regularly to a bucket of addresses that are only sent to in 'win-back' campaigns. Instead of sending me updates from my neighbors, Nextdoor should stop sending to me entirely and try to win back my affection some other way.

2. Know When I've Purchased

Recently, I walked into an electronics store to buy a new pair of headphones. When I reached the cash register, the customer service rep asked me if I found everything I needed, if I wanted to insure the product, and checked how the service was that day. When I left the store, the brand ambassador at the door thanked me for my purchase and wished me a great day.

I'm hard-pressed to find an example of a cashier, having seen what I just purchased, insisted on me purchasing that same item multiple times over. Furthermore, never have I left a store with an item in-hand only to have the employee at the door beg me to purchase that same item I was walking out with.

Yet, many email programs are constantly doing just that as a result of not having logic to remove purchasers from prospective buyer campaigns.

Particularly in e-commerce and travel, businesses will have email campaigns to nudge users to complete a purchase. Often times these are triggered by an abandoned cart or some other on-site behavior that indicates buying intent.

Recently, for example, I booked a hotel in Berlin with Agoda. Based on the emails below, you might think that I hadn't yet purchased.

You would be incorrect. In fact, I had completed my hotel check-out on June 12. Even after I had checked-in to the very same hotel that I booked through Agoda they continued to send me emails on Berlin hotels. Annoying? Yes. Obtrusive? Certainly.

What could have been a great customer-company relationship was tarnished by a lack of logic to remove me from their email campaign post-purchase. With a heavy heart, I unsubscribed wondering what could have been had they followed the best practice of removing recent purchasers from prospecting campaigns.

3. Know How Your Emails Appear In Inbox

Generally, the top part of an email--whether code, image, or text--will appear as a description snippet or preview in email inboxes. Beyond the subject line, this preview is a marketer's biggest lever in driving open rate.

For over four years I have received emails from igourmet to an email address I no longer use. In every single email received, the same preview appears. It reads:

" Newsletter This message was sent to you by To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add"

If you couldn't tell, I'm salivating over my keyboard anxiously preparing my mouse to click on this compelling preview...NOT.

Instead of using generic copy and headers in email, igourmet should simply write a description of what the user will find in the email and inboxes will do the rest.

Is Email Dead or Did We Kill It?

Email is certainly not dead. Because many advertisers fail to have sanity checks in place, they tarnish their own program. In the process, they destroy customer loyalty and decrease the odds of placing a message in the inbox.

Take the first step in improving your email program by following these three steps:

  1. Sunset email addresses of those users who haven't opened in a long time

  2. Add logic to your program to move past purchasers out of acquisition and prospecting campaigns

  3. Check how your emails look in all inbox types

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