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Email Marketing mistakes to avoid (Part 1)

Sad to say I still remember the days before email. I think it was in the early nineteen eighties.

I was in charge of THP IT at the time (yes it’s sad I know) and when I say I was in charge of THP IT I really mean that I was the only one who had a working computer.

Those were the good old days, large 5” floppy drives; MSDOS followed by Windows 3.11 and large cathode ray tube computer monitors that took two people to lift upstairs.

At about that time some clever techy came up with emails.

I remember that initially, the only way I could convince anyone at THP that email communication was the way forward was by setting up a BT Connect email account in my own name and using that to send emails for the firm.

How things have changed.

Email is now used more and more each day and has become an integral part of our lives.

We can even send and receive emails whilst using an Apple on the lavatory if we are so inclined.

Over many years, however, I’ve come to realise that emails can be quite dangerous and damaging to your reputation and that of your business unless you follow a few basic rules.

Here are a few email marketing rules to live by:-

  1. Don’t write angry emails to your colleagues

Being a bit of a wordsmith, I was guilty of this myself for many years. It’s only too easy to give in to the temptation to bash out an offensive email that is really designed to cause mental distress to the person on the receiving end. These emails could often be sent in reply to confrontationally worded emails I had received myself. In some way I felt the need to respond to fire with yet more fire in order to explain and defend my position.

I learnt several things from this:-

  • It generally made me feel worse, not better.
  • Two wrongs never make a right.
  • More often than not this will just escalate any disagreement and make everyone feel miserable. When you think about it, why would anyone want to do this?
  • It won’t gain you any respect with or cooperation from your colleagues. Quite the opposite in fact.
  • It almost never achieves a positive result.

If you have drafted an email that you think may cause irritation to the recipient my advice is to park it in drafts and revisit it the following morning. Once you have calmed down and taken the night to think about what you have written you’ll probably be very relieved you hadn’t clicked that SEND button.

My default action when I am on the receiving end of an inflammatory email these days is to ignore it. I just won’t reply.

If it’s an urgent matter which has to be dealt with I will either talk to the sender in person eyeball to eyeball or if that’s not practically possible I’ll pick up the phone and give them a call.

  1. Use CC (carbon copy) to send a marketing email to your entire client database

This blooper used to happen quite a lot in the old days but isn’t so prevalent now but it still makes an appearance from time to time. Some non tech-savvy junior is asked to send out a communication to a list of emails addresses and decides to copy the lot into the CC box in Outlook, write the email and hit send.

This way every person who receives your email has now gained the email addresses of all those in your database. Many of these will have email addresses based upon their company domains and the people can be very easily traced from these addresses.

This is not only a massive breach of confidentiality and almost definitely now an offence under GDPR but it also makes you look technically inept to everyone who receives the email and can see what you have done.

If you need to send out broadcast emails to a list, you would be best using dedicated mailshot software such as Mailchimp. This not only ensures confidentiality but also allows you to track who has opened each email and allows them to unsubscribe from your list if they don’t want to hear from you again.

If you can’t use a program like that because it is too costly or requires a little technical training then use BCC (Blind carbon copy) instead of CC (Carbon copy).

TIP – The BCC facility is often switched off and not visibly by default. If that’s the case you need to find the correct setting or toolbar and turn it back on before you can use it.

  1. Before forwarding an email always review the entire email trail and your intended recipients

We’ve all been there at some point! You’ve hit forward only to realise that you’ve sent your whole email trail on to the recipient rather than just the last email you intended to send them. Perhaps you’ve copied the email on to someone who you really didn’t intend to see the entire conversation.

This may well include opinions or derogatory statements not ever intended to be forwarded on and could cause you and your business severe embarrassment.

Many organisations have a rule that no emails should be forwarded on or even replied to at all in order to prevent this scenario from ever happening – freshly created emails are the only ones that can be sent out.

I think that’s a bit over the top myself, as sometimes having an email trail is useful. Preserving a history of how an online conversation has progressed can be used to prevent parties from denying that things have been done or said.

But there’s no doubt that it can be a twin edged sword and there is no right or wrong way to handle email trails.

At THP we have a general rule that no internal email conversations should be forwarded to third parties outside of the company.

But generally, the golden rule is to exercise extreme care to always carefully examine the full email trail before forwarding or replying to emails.

  1. NEVER EVER click on a link in an email unless you are sure the sender is known to you and that the email is genuine

Scammers are becoming more sophisticated these days and are very good at finding ways to tempt you into clicking on links in emails.

One of the latest tricks is to send you an email with all your personal details included such as your full name and address (far too easy to find online these days) thanking you for your order and online payment. The aim is to have you click a link to find out what you have purportedly bought and just paid them £5000 for! In reality, you haven’t actually bought or paid for anything and the sole intention is to persuade you to click the link.

When the link is clicked it takes you to a website that installs malicious code on your computer such as Ransomware which encrypts all your data and locks your computer. The only way to retrieve your data then, is to send them a large sum of money.

Also, you may THINK that you know or trust the sender but is the email really from them?

Any email which appears to come from an organisation or person you know (banks are probably the most widely used for this scam but it could be any company or anyone) needs to be carefully scrutinised to ensure the sender is genuine.

If you put your mouse over the sender’s name it should reveal the sender’s email address. Is it from a real domain name registered to your bank (such as customerservices@natwest.co.uk) or is it from customerservices@2natwest.co.uk which could just be a domain registered by a scammer to look like it’s genuine?

And whatever else you do, never provide your bank or credit card details to anyone who requests them by email. The real banks will never send an email asking customers to enter or send their personal security details; they are well aware that this method is consistently being used by fraudsters.

Avatar for Jon Pryse-Jones
About Jon Pryse-Jones

Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.

An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”

Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board.  “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says.  He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.

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