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Email marketing FAQs

If you are new to email marketing, this section contains all of the most frequently asked questions relating to digital marketing and email campaigns. We take a look at everything from what types of email data it's ok to use, thorugh to GDPR and how it effects your email marketing activities.

  • Q: Is is o.k to use purchased lists of email addresses?

    Whilst it isn’t in breach of GDPR to use purchased lists of business email addresses, pretty much all email marketing software suppliers will not let you use them. This is because they are typically fraught with issues and cause reputation damage to your company domain name and your email marketing software company’s sending network.

  • Q: How do I grow my email subscriber list?

    There are a number of ways to grow your email marketing subscribers list, these methods include the following: web based opt in forms, making sure you collect email addresses from everyone that you deal with, contacting prospective companies and asking for their email address, using social media or Pay Per Click (such as Google Ads or Bing)

  • Q:How do I get more people to open my emails?

    Getting more people to open your emails is the holy grail for email marketers. It’s important to spot trends in your email marketing analytics, this will give you a good idea what day/time your email subscribe like to receive your email.

    You should also split test your marketing (as we’ve discussed earlier in this article), split testing will let you know which of your email marketing campaign variants perform the best.

    It is also worth running your send through a spam checker app and making sure that your sending domain is verified. This will help to decrease the chances if hitting the spam box

  • Q:What is GPDR?

    GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into force on the 25 May 2018. It applies to UK companies how collect, store and use private data (such as email addresses) of their contacts.

  • Q: Who does GDPR apply to?

    In short, everybody. There are no exceptions to GDPR, it applies to every type of person or company who is collecting, storing and using their contacts private information.

  • Q: Under GDPR can a UK company use a U.S based email marketing software company

    Yes, you can, As GDPR is an E.U law that protects the rights of E.U citizens. The law requires that if you are going to export your contacts private information outside of the protection of the law that you ask their permission first.

    If you are intending to use a U.S based email marketing software company, then it’s fine to do this, if you have the permission of all of your email marketing subscribers first.

  • Q: Does my email marketing have to have an unsubscribe option?
    Yes, it does. Any email marketing that you send out is required by law to include an option for your email contacts to unsubscribe from any future mailings.

  • Q: Can I email anybody under ‘Legitimate Interests’?

    There has been a certain amount of confusion over this over the last 12 months. The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) has updated GDPR to state that you can email any business who may have a legitimate interest in your products.

    Although it is technically legal to do this, sending an email to someone who has not asked for it is classed as unsolicited (spam). Spam filters will block any sender who is sending spam and will block them from further sends. This is why pretty much all email marketing software providers will (in the interests of protecting your company domain name), not allow you to send unsolicited emails via their software service.

  • Q: When is the best day to send email marketing?

    It always used to be considered Tuesday or Wednesday, early afternoon. What then happened is everybody sent their email marketing strictly adhering to these times, this meant that competition for your email subscriber’s inbox was fierce at this time.

    The best approach here is to try your sends at different times and see which time/day gets the best open rates. In recent years, campaigns send outside of office ours have had really great open rates. This is because we all check emails on our mobiles nowadays and lots of people check their work emails on a Sunday evening, before going into the office on Monday morning.

  • Q: How often should I send emails to my email marketing subscribers?

    The most important factor here is to send emails when you have fresh content and new things to say. So if your company has a fast stick turn, then it’s ok to send as frequently as every few days. If your content doesn’t hugely change, then it’;s not a good idea to send more than once a week.

    Keeping a close eye on the number of unsubscribes that you receive via your email marketing software will give you a good idea of the frequency that your subscribers like to be contacted.

  • Q: What type of open rate will I get from email marketing?

    This is pretty much entirely down to you, if your subscribers like what you are sending and they are expecting your email then it could be a high as upwards of 50%. However, if you list is old or purchased, or your email marketing doesn’t strike a chord with your subscribers then it could be as low as 3 or 4%.

    The rule of thumb here is that well designed, well researched marketing sent to people who want to receive it will always work really well.

  • Q: Can I personalize my sends?

    Yes, you can. It’s strongly advisable to do this as email marketing that is personalized receives much better open and click through rates. When importing your data into your email marketing software, if you import the email address and the persons name - you can take advantage of your software’s mail merge feature to recall this info when sending your email marketing campaign.

  • Q: What is a 'Click Through'

    A click through - or CTR (click through rate) is the number of people that clicked on a link inside your email marketing, this could be a link through to your company website for example.

  • Q: What is a ‘Call to Action’

    A ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) is the part in your email marketing that asks your email subscriber to do something after they have read your email newsletter. It could for example: “Visit our online shop to view our full range”

  • Q: How do I make sure my email marketing doesn’t land in the spam folder?

    There are a few simple rules to follow here to help minimise the risk that your email marketing won’t end up in the spam box:

    • Don’t use purchased lists - they cause reputation damage
    • Verify your sending domain name
    • Use a spam checker app to check your subject header line and body content for spam phrases
    • Clean any old dead addresses off of your list (high bounces cause reputation damage)
    • Never send from a generic mailbox, such as sales@, marketing@ or offers@ for example. Always send from yourself….john@ or Karen@

  • Q: What is a ‘Hard Bounce’?

    A hard bounce is a permanent delivery failure - meaning that no matter how many times you send to this address it will fail. This is generally the case with an old domain name that doesn't exist anymore.

  • Q: What is a ‘Soft Bounce’?

    A Soft Bounce is a temporary failure, this means that the domain name exists, but at the time of sending your mail did not get through. Reasons could be that the mailbox is full or currently not accepting emails, sometimes soft bounces can go through if sent to again.

  • Q: Will my company domain name get blacklisted if I send email marketing?

    This is down to the list of email addresses that you are sending to. If these addresses are not opted in, your recipients may class what you are sending as spam, then yes, eventually your company domain name will be blacklisted. This is quite common with purchased lists.

    If you are sending emails to a good clean list of people who have asked to receive your communications, then no you will not be blacklisted.

  • Q: What is a ‘Spam Trap’?

    Spam traps are addresses floated on the internet by a spam filtering companies, these addresses are typically harvested from the internet by list sellers and sold on as part of a database. If you email one of these spam traps, your company domain name could be blacklisted.

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  • Q: What are the main metrics that I should track with email marketing?

    The main areas that you want to look are the open/read rate and the clickthrough rate. These are, respectively, the number of people who read your email and the the number of people who clicked on a link.

    You should also compare then open rate to the clickthrough rate (CTR), look at the amount of people who read your mailer and then either did or didn’t click on a link.

  • Q: What is ana A/B or a ‘Split Test’

    This refers to testing two variants of the same campaign to small groups of people. This is a great way of finding which campaign (A or B) performa the best, prior to sending to your whole email subscribers database.

  • Q: Should I send HTML or plain text emails?

    Different things work for different businesses, so don’t be afraid to experiment with both or even alternate between the two. Your campaign analytics will show you which works best for your email subscribers.

  • For further reading, please see our related article on "common email marketing mistakes"
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