Email Marketing: When is it ok NOT to follow best practice?

When devising an email marketing strategy for your organisation, there’s lots of different people out there ready to tell you what’s considered acceptable and – more importantly – what’s not. But if we always take these ‘best practices’ as gospel, how can we be sure that we’re really doing the best for our business?

As tempting as it is to play it safe, sticking to the letter of the law in this instance isn’t likely to get you noticed amongst the other thousands of companies all sticking to the rules whilst vying for that all-important inbox interaction.

So if you know your business and your audience, is there really any harm in trying out something new?

Below are some of the most widely held email marketing mantras along with some suggestions of how and when to consider mixing things up a little.

Limit your subject line to 50 characters

Best practice dictates your email subject line should be around 50 characters in order to draw your audience in – hook, line and sinker.

But what if, maybe, you don’t? Instead you could base the length of your subject line on the content, purpose and readership of your email. If you’re sending out something that’s informative for your loyal subscriber fan base, a long-ish and engaging subject line implies an email containing content that’s similarly well written and is likely to appeal to that particular audience. On the other hand, a very short enigmatic subject line might be used to convince new leads to open up and take a peek.

From our experience, often the company ecards that show the highest open rate for our clients are those that are most adapted for their audience. In short – an enticing subject line is an absolutely must.

Don’t send a marketing email that is too text heavy

We hate to repeat ourselves, but just as the subject line should be adapted for your audience-type and purpose of your campaign, so should the content of your email. If you have lots of information that you know will be valuable to your readership, why would you want to leave it out? Obviously, we’re not saying that you should waffle on for 16 paragraphs about one topic, but in our opinion counting words should always be secondary to providing engaging and relevant copy that’s presented in easily digestible chunks.

Make sure your recipients can unsubscribe

This is one rule that you should never bend or break. It’s a legal requirement to provide a clear and easy method for your customers to opt out, preventing their information from being used in further direct email marketing campaigns.

Make sure the aforementioned email marketing opt-out is hard to find

Why exactly? If a recipient wants to opt out but can’t find how to in a quick and easy manner, you’re in danger of breaking the law (remember the law states that this option must be clear and easy to find) and irritating them in the process. Next time they receive an email from you that they didn’t want, it’s unlikely that they’ll think: “Wow that’s a great deal, maybe this company isn’t so bad after all” and instead are much more likely to muse: “Wow, here’s another email from that really annoying company that I vowed never to use and will take great joy in dissuading others from using in the future”.

So make unsubscribing as easy as possible. Contacts that don’t want to hear what you’re saying aren’t the right audience anyway. By unsubscribing they’re actually doing you a favour by helping you create a more exclusive and targeted list for future mail-outs – let them.

Luckily, if you’re sending an ecard for direct email marketing purposes through Ecard Mint, this is something you won’t need to worry about as the ‘unsubscribe’ link is automatically placed clearly beneath every corporate e-greeting.

Don’t send your marketing email at the end of the day/on a weekend.

Do we agree? Well, that depends. One thing we can agree on is the importance of timing. For example, if you’re targeting parents, a mum or dad waiting for a child outside the school gates at half past three is likely to dig their phone out of their pocket and check for any new electronic mail. Likewise, if you’re looking to announce the start of a sale via email which starts at the weekend, the Friday evening before or even the Saturday morning of the promotion’s launch could very well be the best time to inform your customers about it. And whilst later emails might not be so well-suited to the 9-5ers, a younger remit such as students, could respond very well to night-time communications. Again, what’s likely to work is largely dependent on your audience. When the best time to send your marketing email is outside of the normal office hours, don’t forget that most email marketing platforms – including Ecard Mint – allow you the ability to schedule your email at any time, day or night.

So to conclude, when it comes to finding the right way to communicate via your email marketing campaigns, it’s clear that rules are as important as learning from your own mistakes. It goes without saying then, that testing and re-testing to find out what works and what doesn’t is absolutely crucial.

And faced with the question of whether or not to keep following the rules when you find yourself concocting the next e-shot in your campaign, never underestimate the power of insider knowledge of your audience and industry as being the best trick up your sleeve.