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5 dos and don'ts of email marketing

Today’s marketplace is obsessed with Social Media campaigns, PPC advertisements and SEO. It’s often easy to forget that one of the simplest ways to communicate a marketing message is hidden in plain sight – email! Businesses large and small can use email to communicate offers to customers without spending a fortune on advertising.

Email marketing can be used for a variety of purposes, for instance, occasional e-blasts to promote a new offer, product or event. If your customer base isn’t one that buys frequently, then having a regular ezine is a good way to keep in contact by providing relevant news and updates from your industry, ‘How to’ articles, etc. It’s also a great way to drive traffic to your website. Here’s five dos and don’ts when it comes to getting the most out of email marketing.



1.       Keep your subject lines short and concise –there’s no point in having good content in an email if nobody opens it so strive for a compelling subject line that catches your audience’s attention. Try to keep it to five words or under. MailChimp includes an A|B test facility so if you’re unsure you can test different subject lines on different groups


2.       Time your emails according to your audience – consider your target demographic; a B2B audience won’t open emails at weekends, but a B2C one may well do. Think about the personas you’re trying to target, when do they open their emails? Send at appropriate times and monitor which emails get the best open rates.


3.       Make use of buttons – services such as MailChimp allow you to include a button which is hyperlinked to a site or email address of your choice. Customise it, use a strong vibrant colour to catch people’s attention, and allow it space to breathe from the main body of the text. They’re a great way of drawing attention to your call to action.


4.       Respect your customer’s data – include an opt-out facility for customers who wish to unsubscribe from your emails. Not only is respectful, it’s a legal requirement. You don’t want the Data Protection commissioner knocking on your door now do you? Email marketing providers have this as an inbuilt option so it’s quite easy to set up.


 5.       Review and refine – keep an eye on how your campaigns are doing. Use the reporting tools to see what the Open Rates and Click Through Rates (CTRs) were for various campaigns. Establish what subjects lines worked (or didn’t), find out what sending times are best for a good open rate. 



1.       Email too often – mailing at regular intervals is fine, but don’t pester your customers with too frequent emails.


 2.       Become too reliant on images – while it’s good to populate an email with images, remember that not all customers will download them (indeed, work places often block them). So make sure your message is conveyed in the main text so that your audience will still get it even if they can’t see the images.


 3.       Assume it’s all about selling – while marketing emails can be used for directly marketing new products, they can also be used to keep in touch with your audience by providing them with relevant information and articles. This keeps brand awareness up, and does any with any notions that you only contact your customers when you’re trying to sell them something.


 4.       Send emails from ‘info@’ or role-based addresses – these have a higher chance of ending up in a SPAM folder. If you can send them from your own (or a sales team member’s) work address (e.g. The personal approach often works better and even if your audience doesn’t recognise the name it may intrigue them enough to open it!


 5.       Clutter your message with too much info – customers won’t have time to read a large amount of text, consider the layout carefully and make sure the main points stand out – especially your call to action and contact details.


To conclude, email marketing can be a highly effective, if underused, channel for small and medium business to promote their brand and product when done right. Attract new custom with a sign-up form on your website, retain existing ones who’ve opted in, it’s got a lot of potential and frankly it’s surprising that more Irish SME businesses aren’t using it more. There’s a range of sites out there that can help you do this for free or minimal cost, such as MailChimp and Newsweaver. The former is quite suited to small and medium size businesses. Check them out.



Niall Kelly – Marketing Executive, Totterdells