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Six best practices for every mailer

People get into all sorts of details when talking about best practices. But so much of email depends on the type of email and the target market and the goals of the sender. It’s difficult to come up with universal best practices.

I’ve said in the past that I think that best practices are primarily technical. I don’t believe there is a best frequency or a best time to send mail or a best image to text ratio.

My top 6 best practices every marketer should be doing (and too few are).

  1. Send technically correct email. That means finding a developer who understands the various email related RFCs including 5321 and 5322 as well as the MIME standard, HTML standards and encoding standards. Don’t rely solely on your vendor to create a correct email for you.
  2. Stop sending mail to non-existent or abandoned email addresses. This means correctly handling addresses that bounce and implementing some sort of data hygiene that’s appropriate for your lists and market segments.
  3. Use VERP in your mail strings. VERP means each email is tagged with the subscriber, list, and even mailing. Having that data encoded in the headers allows troubleshooting, bounce processing and FBL processing much, much easier.
  4. Send only opt-in mail. I know a lot of people argue permission is passé but I don’t believe that is true. ISPs, receivers and filtering companies don’t like it when you send mail without permission.
  5. Be up front with recipients how you’re going to use their email address. Don’t hide the opt-in language in your privacy policy.
  6. Send a welcome message. Introduce yourself, introduce your program, get your message in front of your new subscriber as soon as possible after they subscribed. They’re interested in what you have to offer, get into their inbox ASAP to engage them before they move on.

How you implement these practices depends on your particular infrastructure, goals and recipient base. Mailers should, though, have appropriate implementations of practices.

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