The #1 Email Marketing Lesson from the DMA 2013 Compliance Report

The #1 Email Marketing Lesson from the DMA 2013 Compliance Report image DMA report1The #1 Email Marketing Lesson from the DMA 2013 Compliance ReportThe Direct Marketing Association’s mission is to advance and protect responsible data-driven marketing, which covers both direct mail and email. Members agree to comply with strict guidelines, which cover aspects like privacy, data collection, consumer notice, and use of data. The DMA recently released its 2013 Annual Compliance Report, which details consumer affairs and casework covering the period from February 2012 through June 2013. The CSR Committee reviewed 55 cases during this time period, and in twelve of these cases, companies failed to be compliant and to correct their behavior.

The most complaints by far were generated by consumers who wanted to unsubscribe from a real-world mailing or catalog list. Email complaints led the rest of the pack – which means that marketers could do a better job of managing email unsubscribes.

Passing the buck

A surprisingly frequent complaint was a practice called “pass-the-buck.” In pass-the-buck, a consumer contacts a company directly and asks to be removed from a company’s mail or email list, and a company representative tells these people that they should instead contact the DMA to be removed (and the mail/email just keeps coming). In the email world, this is against Can-Spam (and totally illegal).

Best practices to reduce email unsubscribes

Subscription best practices

  • Set the right expectations at the beginning. Clearly state how frequently you are planning on emailing subscribers, and communicate what the content of your emails will be so subscribers understand they’re signing up to receive (Note: this makes subscribers less likely to label your emails as spam)
  • Make it easy for people to opt-out with an obvious button or text in every email
  • Under CAN-SPAM you cannot request anything other than the user’s email address to complete an unsubscribe. You cannot have them “log into” into an account or some other form of second step.
  • Your email opt-out process is easy to complete
  • Use an “opt-down” method to let people unsubscribe from one of your campaigns but remain in another
  • If you’re sending daily emails, offer the option to send once a week (or some other less-frequent schedule)
  • Honor people’s email removal requests immediately
  • Consider using a survey that lets people tell you in their own words why they unsubscribe

Email best practices that help keep people subscribed and engaged

  • Send content your subscribers (or the recipients of your email) would define as valuable – not self-serving content that only your company cares about
  • The subject line should have a value proposition
  • Keep subject lines short and accurate (Note: Few things upset consumers more than a deceptive email subject line)
  • Locate the most important words of your subject line toward the beginning
  • Proofread your emails; sloppy grammar and typos make emails look like spam
  • Emails that carry branding that matches website branding look more professional and are more likely to be trusted as genuine

Want to learn more about email basics? Visit the Act-On Email Resources page, where you’ll find white papers and much more.

The #1 Email Marketing Lesson from the DMA 2013 Compliance Report image Subscriber lsitThe #1 Email Marketing Lesson from the DMA 2013 Compliance Report

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