Email Marketing: The Plan or the Trash Can

    January 3, 2007

There’s no doubt that email marketing has gotten a bum rap from abusive spammers. Several thoughts such as long prison sentences for wide scale spammers instantly come to mind in a vague jumble when this practice is mentioned.

There’s definitely a gloomy and sensational edge to email marketing. The Can Spam Act reminded me, in a lesser judicial way, of Elliott Ness taking on Al Capone. I can also still recall reading about the July 25th 2005 murder of Vadran Kushnir, a Moscow-based spammer who targeted millions of inboxes; apparently one of them may have been the wrong one to send spam to.

This madness aside, people in the online advertising and marketing industry, the legitimate ones that is, know that email marketing is vital to a company’s strategy. Indeed, marketing via emails enables a company to keep a line of contact with existing clientele and to generate leads for its sales team. The following is a broad overview on how to run an ethical and dynamic email marketing campaign geared towards producing sales leads.

I. Know Your Visitors To Be In Compliance With the Can Spam Act

You should know your visitors for two reasons: legality and efficiency. Firstly, at any given moment, you must be able to account for precisely when and where you got each and every email address on your list. Indeed, for every mass email sent out, there will be a handful of people who did actually sign up to be placed on the list but who, regardless, will continue to complain about being on that list and threaten to report you to your State’s Attorney General office. The environment surrounding email marketing described in the introduction all too often compels people to hastily lump illegal spammers together with legitimate email marketers that entered into a consenting relationship with the recipients on their list. This irritation may simply be because recipients grow weary of the emails that they signed up for or altogether forget that they signed up for them in the first place.

According to the Federal Trade Commission website, the Can Spam Act that went into effect on January 1st 2004 reserves fines of up to $11,000 for each violation that an email marketer commits. In order to protect themselves from such a financial threat and, of course, to ensure the ethical behavior of their clients, mass email distribution service providers such as and clearly stipulate in their terms of service that all fines are the responsibility of the client, not theirs, and that all clients must be able to account for every email sent.

Being able to sleep at night if you’re a legitimate email marketer dealing with thousands of recipients can easily be achieved by adopting a sound email acquisition tracking procedure. Keep both a digital and printed record of all of your online and old fashioned pen and paper sign up forms and of all the people who used them to add themselves to your email lists. In addition there should be a timestamp next to each email address to indicate time and day. All this can easily be obtained by your tech support team as they are able to export, from the site of the published form, a nicely formatted Excel sheet of the list. Of course, history logs must be obtainable to answer any audit trails of those records.

II. Know Your Visitors To Increase Your Email Marketing Efficiency

Email distribution service providers such as provide advanced reporting that allows you to determine where your recipients came from and what links they are more prone to click in an email. Distinguishing your recipients’ point of origin and interests is important to prevent them from being alienated by the message you are sending. This is especially important if you are managing the email marketing of a company that offers a broad range of products or services. Email optimization begins with dividing your master list into specific subgroups. Reports from your previous mailings will allow you to download lists of recipients who clicked on certain links to visit specific pages on your website. A good email distribution service will also allow you to automatically categorize future recipients based on which online sign up form they came from. Knowing the preferences and browsing tendencies of these subgroups will enable you to send more precise and catered mass emails to specific audiences.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t pitch all of your products, services, or general messages in emails? Of course not: The purpose of email marketing is, after all, to generate leads for your company’s sales team to follow up on. It is even possible to use the same content in all of the email batches that you plan on sending out. The only difference is that you should arrange your content in a way that gives prominence to the information that each subgroup of recipients will appreciate the most. In addition, your subject line should reflect the interests that characterize each of your subgroups.

Following these simple guidelines will increase the probability of matching potential sales to potential clients. More importantly, it will prevent people from becoming aggravated with content that does not interest them, which we all know is the main ingredient for landing your hard worked email in people’s Recylce Bin. Finally, always remember that once a user hits that little “unsubscribe” link, that should imperatively be at the bottom of each email, you may as well give your final adieus as it is almost impossible to get that person to sign up again.


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Gene Heratori
Senior Account Executive
t: 212-563-6455