Email is a powerful tool in the digital marketing toolbox, but like most other promotional mechanisms, it can be misused and abused by brands.
With an eye to the future, however, and a commitment to ensuring a useful and positive experience for recipients (the audience of users being sent email) it is possible to ensure a greater level of success.
Let's take a look at a few of the "best practices" that should be leveraged by email marketers and the enterprises that employ them if the future is important and long term sustainability is a necessity.
+ DOUBLE OPT-IN: It's the simplest way to ensure that those you are sending too actually did request communication from you. Double opt-in is essentially a two-step process where a user completes a signup form and then receives an email that includes a link to confirm their subscription to your list. Using a double opt-in prevents marketers from adding bogus emails to their list which can have a positive impact on deliverability and overall campaign performance. Receiving expressed (not implied) permission is one of the smartest practices you can engage in as a sender.
+ LISTS: Some "experts" will argue that it is never a good idea to "buy" a list, but others will suggest this believe is somewhat naive. It can take years to build a substantial list. If marketers are under pressure to grow, sometimes the only way to do that is get a head start. Lists often contain out-of-date and incomplete information however, so develop a strategy that will weed out these users after the first or second send.
+ HONOR UNSUBSCRIBES: The beauty of technology, and email tech specifically, is that most of the work can be automated. It's not necessary for example to remove each and every user manually from your database as most email service providers provide the ability to manage those that want to unsubscribe from your list. Many senders ignore this step as they wrongfully believe that a bigger list is better, but not honoring unsubscribe request can damage sender reputation and wreak havoc on performance metrics.
+ ELIMINATE INACTIVES: Perhaps the most difficult process when it comes to email marketing is when the time comes to remove inactive list recipients. If a user has not opened an email from you over a specific period of time, it's unlikely they will in the future. It may be shocking to learn, but it is likely that well-over 50 percent of your list falls into this category, which can present a number of problems; not only are you likely paying to distribute email to those inactive recipients but Internet service providers keep a close watch on bounces and open rates. Do your digital self a favor and eliminate recipients that have been inactive (no open, no clicks, etc.) for six months. You'll see better performance and pay less.
It's not easy to follow these rules, but they do pay off in the end in the form of better performance and stronger perception of the sender in the future. That's reason enough to be in compliance with these best practices.