mail marketing has masses of potential for SMEs, but you have to stick to the rules. So, how can you make email marketing work for you?

After a bit of a time on the naughty step, email marketing is back in favour. So why, you might be asking, are you not reaping these rewards? Why isn’t 58% of your turnover generated by your email subscribers? Why aren’t your customers brimming over with loyalty? Why are some of your messages being flagged up as spam? Short answer: you’re doing it wrong. 

Email marketing has masses of potential for SMEs, but you have to stick to the rules. So, how can you make email marketing work for you?


  1. Take time to plan. One of the biggest reasons that email marketing campaigns fall flat is because not enough time has gone into the planning. People get a good idea, race to put it out in the public domain and then feel disappointed when no one else seems to ‘get’ the concept. And the primary reason for that is because not enough research has gone into targeting. Before you start, get to know your demographic. Find their preferred style and content that appeals to them. THEN work on your marketing campaign. 

  2. Avoid spam triggers. Being blacklisted by ISPs because your ‘mail has been flagged as spam is one of the worst things that can happen to your business. It means that you can no longer contact your customers – or anyone else. There are a number of different reasons why this might happen. Your choice of language may be too promotional – sale, buy now, hurry, while stocks last, save, all sound like you’re only after your recipient’s cash. ISPs don’t like that. Javascript and RSS feeds are another no-no; used by spammers to download and run malware, they are now viewed as suspect by ISPs. Try to avoid email bounce backs, as this tells ISPs that your subscriber list may not be consensual – more on that next.

  3. Keep your subscriber list up to date. What with GDPR, everyone should know by now that a company’s subscriber list should be fully consensual. Not only is it now a legal requirement (although only 36% of SMEs believe they are GDPR compliant at present), but emailing people who don’t want to hear from you is pointless because they just won’t engage. Finally, if messages aren’t opened the ISPs will start seeing red spam flags. If you have a high bounce rate – anything above 2% of undeliverable emails – this will also trigger spam listing. Keeping your mailing list up to date manually is a time-consuming headache, but it can be done. Using a unique algorithm to perform syntax checks, email mail server checks and a number of other real time proprietary checks, the software confirms that the email account exists, dramatically decreasing redundant and invalid/undeliverable email addresses. This can help make sure that you’re GDPR compliant too.

  4. Think of Goldilocks before scheduling your emails. Send too many and people will get annoyed. Send too few and people will forget about you. Almost half (45.8%) of all emails marked as spam are done so because the company is sending too many of them, so go easy. If you’ve got something interesting and exciting to say, then people will want to read it, but until you know what your target audience wants, it’s better to be cautious. Carefully monitor how your messages are responded to. If they’re always opened and engaged with, it’s worth ramping up the frequency – incrementally. But as soon as you notice a drop off, pull back a gear. Let your customers guide you to the Goldilocks point.

  5. Use your data. This point follows on nicely from the above, because email can provide such a huge amount of information for marketers. It’s down to you to use it. So yes, look at how and when your messages are received, but also use your data to perform split tests across your whole campaign – from language and colour scheme to time of sending. Find out what triggers the best response from your recipients – and use it.

Email marketing is such an easy option for SMEs, you can find more ways to make email marketing work for youIt can help build brand awareness, customer trust and loyalty, and, of course, sales. And it’s so easy to get right… But that’s maybe part of the problem. Email is so obvious, it’s hard to see where you’re going wrong. Stick to the cheat sheet and your problems will be behind you.

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