A Lesson in Email Marketing

Brides are like many other specific consumer segments. And as a bride-to-be myself, I’ve learned a lot about wedding planning. What I wasn’t expecting to learn, however, was an array of bad email marketing tactics still in use today.
Let me set the stage: I was looking forward to attending a bridal trade-show-style event so I could get a few items crossed off by to-do list. Specifically, I was in the market for florists, photographers, cakes and invitations.

On the day of the show with pen in hand, I scribbled my email address and name on the contact lists of vendors who interested me most. I wanted them to follow up with more information.

After the show was over, I was ready to receive at least a few welcome emails. I checked my email throughout the first week after the show… nothing. Didn’t they want my business?

At the end of the second week though, I logged in to find a slew of emails from vendors whose email lists I had apparently signed (tough to remember from two weeks ago). And the email marketing practices I’ve seen since have been surprising.

Whether you’re a small business or large organization, here are some basic best practices to keep in mind when reaching out to people via email:

Remind Me Who You Are in the Welcome: People are busy and oftentimes overwhelmed. If I signed up for your emails, remind me when I did (or at least why I should open your email). I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received in the past few weeks that have gone in the junk folder because I didn’t remember talking to someone or signing up for something. Something simple like, “Casey, just wanted to follow up from [bridal show]” or “Thanks for signing up to receive our emails at [bridal show]” would work just fine.

Get to Know Me: As Patti mentioned in her recent post , the email subject line is the bait that gets the consumer to open the email. Having “You’re getting married!” as your email subject line isn’t going to peak my interest enough to click.

And As Dutch mentioned in this Chief Marketer article, personalization in direct digital marketing (especially email) is all about building relationships with your customers. Including that same old “You’re getting married!” sentence as the first sentence of your email copy makes me feel like I’m just another name on the list. (Of course I’m getting married… That’s why I signed up for your emails. Tell me something I don’t know, like why I should do business with you, or what features may interest me.)

Allow Me to Unsubscribe: This one may seem obvious, but I was surprised at the amount of emails I received that did not provide me with a proper option to opt-out. Having no way to unsubscribe is a quick way to end up in the spam folder.

Contacting is Different from Subscribing: Don’t automatically subscribe me to your list if I contact you via email. I emailed a vendor about availability on my wedding date. When she responded that she was booked for that day, I thought that would be the end of it. A few days later I began receiving promotional emails for her services – which I won’t be using since she’s already booked. Not only have you made it obvious that you don’t know me as an individual, but now you’ve annoyed me by sending me offers for services I clearly can’t take advantage of.

Brides usually have friends who are or will be getting married, and they’re usually happy to make recommendations. Like any other type of customer, make the email recipient feel like an actual person (and of course obey CAN-SPAM laws), and they’ll be more likely to recommend you. It’s easy to do when your direct digital marketing is based on specific profiles instead of too-broad lists.

For more email tips, check out these resources.

  1. Great post! As a bride to be myself I can definitely relate to experiencing annoying email habits of vendors, especially the lack of personalization and sending unrelated content.

    Congrats on your big day, and good luck! :)


    • Thanks, Lindsay! Congrats and good luck to you as well.

  2. Awesome Post! Such a missed opportunity… Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a great way to put an consumer experience in perspective from a marketer’s standpoint. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed your post! A future post idea might be to highlight one or two that really got it right and what they did to catch your eye. (If there were any who did it right of course!)

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