Continuing from my rant last month about the lack of personalised email marketing, this time I’d like to delve into some of the smaller (but very important) elements of managing an email database: thankyou pages, double (and triple) opt ins, and auto responders.

First of all, thankyou pages. I can say with confidence that 90% of the email databases I subscribe to present me with a blank, boring, standard and un-branded thankyou page. ‘Your details have just been added to our database – thank you’. That’s it. Sometimes I might be lucky enough to have a page branded by the email service provider, rather than the company itself. BIG mistake.

A subscriber has just given you their email address to communicate with them – for free. This is a BIG deal! People regard their email addresses as an important part of their identity. We change phone numbers more often than our email addresses. You MUST thank them for their willingness to connect with you, often unprompted, and do it with some level of sincerity. Otherwise it’s a big turn off, and makes me wonder “what on earth have I just subscribed to? Will I be getting (more) viagra emails now?” I’m sure many others feel the same.

And now to the next subject: opt ins. Opt ins are very important for privacy and ensuring subscribers are genuinely giving their permission to join your database. This generally occurs by sending the subscriber an email with a link, and they must click on this link to active their subscription. Again – the email sent to the subscriber, and the page they visit when they click the link MUST be branded – look like you, act like you and sound like you. If not, the same feelings I mention above come to mind – “mmm, this looks a bit dodgy, I might not subscribe after all…” Relationship over.

As a side note, I subscribed to something the other day which had a triple opt in. Once I arrived back at the company’s website, they asked me again ‘are you sure you want to subscribe to this database?’ At this point I felt like saying no. Do they really want my details, or do they enjoy making it hard for me?

The final element is auto responders. Auto responders can be set up to achieve a number of things: send subscribers a welcome email 1 week after they’ve subscribed, send an email on their birthday, send them a link to your previous email 1 day after they’ve subscribed – anything you desire. They are really important for reminding the subscriber why they joined, thanking them, rewarding them for their loyalty and keeping your brand top of their mind. There’s nothing more frustrating than joining a database and not receiving any communication for 6 months. By then you’ve forgotten the company and why you subscribed, and will most likely unsubscribe anyway.

For those reading this and saying, ‘Okay Vickie, we get the point, but how do fix all of these shortfalls in our email marketing systems?’ Firstly, you need to research an email marketing provider well before signing up. Do they allow you to do all of these things? Some email marketing providers are free, but they’re free because they put their brand all over one of your most powerful communication tools and don’t allow you to customise anything. For the small cost that the paid systems charge, it’s worth the additional investment to protect your brand.

Some of the elements may also need to be generated from your website, so talk to your website provider and they should be able to help you out.

For our Mailbox or Springbox clients reading this, everything is possible in our systems. I know this because we have done it all ourselves – a branded thankyou page, 1 week auto responder and more. Talk to us about how you can implement these essential elements into your systems.

Stay tuned for more email marketing blogs – next month I’ll be talking about ‘Content Strategy’ and what it all means.