Sunday, May 4, 2014

start-ups and email - you might want to check that again

by kirk r gray

last night i got an email from a start-up, the basic concept of the company and the product seem like a great one. but for me there was two things that stood, out that made the message lose all meaning for me. here's why...

sending out non-can-spam
compliant emails could
doom a start-up.
this message is slick - great engaging visual (who doesn't like avocados - well i don't, but the picture is really good). the message teases you and links you to their website for the video, and the product is something i would be interested in seeing and maybe using. but there are two things that caused me to say "eh" when i saw the message.

the first is the line spacing for the quotes in the testimonial section. they spent all this time putting together a great looking email and then ruined it with the bad line spacing for the multi-line quotes. why even bother? if it's one thing that we all have learned from the explosive use of mobile devices, its that white space is important regardless of what device someone is using to view your email. this is where i preach, test your emails across clients and platforms.

second, the mistake that i have seen a lot of start-ups make is that when they start to venture into the world of email marketing. can-spam compliance... in a way i am probably over sensitive to this one, but hey as a professional there are some rules that i am bound by, and i don't want to see a good product fail because they can't get their message out. that, and if i have to play by the rules, everyone should play by the rules.

the other reason, and not a big one because i get so much email, is that i have never heard of either this product or source, or piffle - the later two being connected to the email and the website that the promo for avocode lives on. when i get an email from the "stranger", i look in the footer for a "reason why you are getting this email statement".

yes i know it's not required, but personally i think it's a good idea to include it because if you have a big complaint rate, and push comes to shove, it can be easier to argue with an isp that your email isn't spam and that it indeed was something that the subscriber signed up for or you have a relationship with them already. this helped me out a few times when i worked for a high-volume newsletter sender (1.1 billion emails a year), and we would get blacklisted by hotmail, it was easier for returnpath to justify our return to the inbox when we had this statement included in the email. not only have i seen this strategy but, some marketers are also putting the url that was visited when a subscriber signed up for their emails (or submitted an rfi from) and/or the ip address that was used.

all of that said, with the uproar that casl is causing for marketing professionals, it's a good time to go back and look at what's required by the can-spam legislation. as a refresher, and as instruction to all those new start-ups coming out of the latest round of venture capital funding, the two big things required by can-spam are an unsubscribe link and the physical address of the sender. the email that i received and am blogging about here had the unsub link, but no physical address.

so a word of advice to all the start-ups out there, either partner with a reputable esp, or hire a good email marketing consultant (ahem), or at least read up on the regulations and requirements for an email marketing program.

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