Debbie Mayo-Smith international inspirational motivational how-to speaker technology, time management, improving business performance
Motivational Speakers, Sales, Marketing, Time Management, Productivity, Technology, Tips

Many a trap between email and inbox

I had just written and was testing my latest online newsletter. Every test resulted in the same thing: Outlook sending my little masterpiece directly into my own junk mail folder.

Now, I should know about spam filters and what to write in newsletters - after all, I've written two books about the topic.

But no matter how I tweaked and removed words that might catch a spam filter's ever-watchful eye, or the most discerning corporate filter, the same result: straight into my junk mail folder.

This issue had an article about marketing, so there was no way to pick a synonym for the words "marketing" and "sales" (in separate paragraphs, mind you). How could I not use the words "give away" in the contest I was running?

There was nothing I could do, so I finally gave up and, with bated breath, pushed the SEND button, shooting out over 18,000 of my little children, while feeling dejected and wondering whether it really mattered. Anyone who has been doing an online newsletter for some years will tell you how depressing it is - the significantly decreasing rates of email delivery, opening and click-through.

Then I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Why not send a follow-up email immediately afterwards, telling my readers to look in their junk mail folder for the newsletter?

This email had one paragraph. Plain text. The subject line read: "Check your junk folder." The email was personable and said they should have just received my business quick tip newsletter and, as my copy went into my junk folder, theirs might too. I suggested they right-click the message and select "safe sender" to prevent it from occurring again. I also promised that there were six interesting short articles in the newsletter, so pleasetake a look.

The newsletter was out by 12.55pm. The follow-up email at 1.15pm. By 5pm that afternoon I had more than 800 emails personally replying to me. In total over 1200 responses to the "check your junk mail folder" email.

Lessons learnt:

* Most responses were from people who had received my email.

* Few had it in their junk folder. Rather, they had not received it at all.

* Many wrote of Xtra directing non-spam emails into its spam folder.

* Some individuals received the second email first - by up to one day. This is because when email servers are busy, they softly reject emails which are then presented again at a later time.

* What a lesson in goodwill - while people rarely comment about the newsletter, this seemed to give them an opportunity to send good wishes.

* What about the thousands who did not write? Did they ever receive either of the emails?

Delivery is, has been and will be a key problem for anyone using email. What you might not realise is the depth of the problem. By now you will know that Microsoft - back in 2003, I might add - changed the rules for email marketing forever. They were the first to introduce the blocking of images, not allowing them to download and show. Gmail does this too.

This means anyone receiving an email with an image in it has to either pre-approve the sender or right-click the blank box where the image goes to allow the download. In this busy world we live in, unless someone is a raving fan, they're not going to take the time for the right-click.

This is old news. Astonishingly - whether out of egotism, sheer stupidity or bad advice - if you look and count your incoming marketing emails, 99 out of 100 still have the top or the top left of the email splattered with graphics, rendering them unreadable or blank.

But wait. There's more. Email deliverability and obstructed images are not the only key issues you face today. Two more important factors should concern you in 2009.

Problem three: I bet my bottom dollar that many businesses will pump up their volume of marketing emails, trying to catch a sale. Leading to what? Even more email overload.

Here's the final issue and one you probably haven't even thought about. With all the redundancies occurring around the world, what do you think is going to happen to your email list?

You're going to lose a good chunk of it. Depending on the industries in which you operate, some lists might be hit harder than others.

Here are three ideas to help you try to maintain your list from devastation:

* Have your newsletter sign-up request on every webpage, every piece of marketing material - even your business card.

* Get people to provide two email addresses on your sign-up form - primary and secondary. With the rate of downsizing, you're going to lose a lot of subscribers; a second address will help.

* If your unsubscribes are automatically removed, if possible take it over and do them manually. You'll keep a closer watch on your list and be able to follow up personally on VIPs that are now mail delivery errors.

Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! ( and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training. By the way, if you'd like to get lots of neat tricks like this, plus marketing and business development tips, why not enrol for our free newsletter?

This article is copyright to Debbie Mayo-Smith & SuccessIS. You may use it for your newsletter, website or as an article. It can be reproduced - but in its entirety and with inclusion of Debbie Mayo-Smith as the author and the weblink


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