Small Business Email Marketing Don'ts

A concise etiquette guide for small business owners on actions to avoid when email marketing their products or services to customers, vendors, and potential clients.

Entrepreneurs make a detrimental mistake every time they send an email. "Spam" isn't just a meat by-product anymore. It is an illegal, likely unwanted, and most importantly, an annoying intrusion on your current clientele and potential customers. The following comprehensive list will help direct small business owners into the world of email marketing "don'ts."

A quick review of the technology acronyms is helpful in aiding the comprehension of this guide.

- Email. The electronic version of regular mail, hence the term "email."

- Spam or UCE. "Unsolicited Commercial Email" commonly received without request, and almost always undesired. UCE is also commonly known simply as "spam."

- Electronic Marketing Collateral is the digitized or electronic text or graphic formats of brochures, flyers, advertisements, sale announcements, and product or service information.

- An electronic mailing list contains customer email addresses, potential client email addresses, vendors, or network contacts. These contacts are also known as "subscribers."

The above listed terms should help every unknowing business owner understand that with just a few clicks on the computer, enticing marketing collateral, and a mailing list, that they could in fact, be breaking the spam or UCE laws incurring hefty fines, and/or jail time.

While the Internet is a vital aspect of marketing for small and even large business owners alike, it is useful to keep your email marketing etiquette up to date:

- Do not ignore the law. Check out the current statutes for your state, or as federal law applies online by utilizing any search engine and searching for "spam law" or "UCE laws."

- Collect and maintain all mailing lists in accordance with requests; a subscription form that allows anyone on your list(s) to subscribe, unsubscribe or modify their preferences is now a legal requirement in many states. If an entity does not actually maintain a website, subscription removal instructions should be provided to each subscriber on the list, as well as alternative methods of terminating a subscription.

- Do not utilize all the bells and whistles (excesses of email technology) in an electronic mailing. Subscribers may or may not be able to see or read the message, and may not respond as desired.

- Do not "weigh" down a mailing with resource intensive graphics. Do optimize attached graphics, and again, keep in mind that not every subscriber will be able to see or read the email.

- Do not use uncommon fonts, as that font must be resident on each subscriber's computer to view it. The subscriber may end up with an illegible email full of inarticulate garble, and in some cases, a blank email.

- Additionally, create a subscriber policy that states when you email, who you email, and what security you provide over the gathered information. Be honest about who you are sharing that information with, such as third parties. Sample policies are available via the Internet to assist a business owner in creating a solid subscriber policy.

- Do try to be thoughtful; subscribers who willingly sign up want to keep themselves up to date with your company, whether it is in sale updates or information, but sending out bulk email more often than your policy allows for will eventually terminate these working relationships. Protect yourselves and your clients.

© High Speed Ventures 2011