Don’t Lose Sight of the Basics

It is clear that in our society today people are enamored with new things.  From gadgets to gizmos to widgets people are always clamoring for the latest and greatest and will go to leaps and bounds to obtain the object of their desire.  If you need a relevant example all you have to do is look at all the craziness surrounding the launch of the new iPhone 4.  The front page of to see a headline about the failings of the phone and it’s newest functionality.  Personally I am dreading the evening news tonight as I know that there will be media outlets a plenty talking all things iPhone.  The problem is see is that everyone is running for the shinny and new and seems to be forgetting what has worked for them in the past.  Some might say that this is advertising and marketing at it’s best (making people buy something they don’t need), but I see it as people losing site of the basics.  The crazy for all things shinny and new has correlations to email marketing as well.

Over the last few months there is not a day that goes by that I don’t see an email, a tweet, a conversation, being had about social media and it’s impact or integration with email marketing.  Heck, on this blog alone I’ve already talked about email’s death by social media.  While social and email are a match made in heaven it is critically important for marketers to not forget the basics of sending email campaigns.  Through following a great list of email marketing folks on Twitter I am able to see campaigns from marketers who I do not receive email from, and some that I do, and just marvel at how the basics of putting an email together are just forgotten and lost.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

  • @emailvoodoo yesterday posted a picture of an email he received from the NHL and how the HTML design was just extremely flawed.  His sentiments are correct…how does the NHL still let this happen to their campaigns?
  • In a post from the Email Zoo we see another example where Bakers Shoes did not test properly in their utter disregard for the importance of ALT tags within email creative.  Before Social Media and even Google Wave were going to kill email there was the fear of Image Suppression.  ALT tags were made the standard not the exception for inclusion in HTML creative.
  • And finally from earlier today a post by Scott Hardigree shows content personalization gone bad in an email from Polldaddy in which someone without a first name in the list was greeted by “Hi unknown”.  How do you not include a test case that would identify this as an issue before a campaign deploys?

Everyone wants to be first.  Everyone wants to be king of the mountain.  What is important however is to set the proper foundation for that achievement.  The building blocks are there and they are the basics.  Pay attention to best practices, test your campaigns before they deploy, and learn from your mistakes.  Yes, you might not be the first one to the top of the mountain but the people who really matter, your customers, will thank you for not forgetting about them and their experience with your email marketing campaigns for the sake of being flashy.  Not only will they thank you but they will stay engaged in your program and be more likely not to unsubscribe due to a bad user experience.  Be adventurous in your campaigns; just make sure you don’t lose sight of the basics.

  1. Dan Cristo

    Hey George. I love that your crushing it with email, and will continue to use things like Social Media to strengthen instead of replace email.

    In fact, today when I checked into my hotel room, the front desk said, “sign here, here, here and your email here”. I looked at her and said, “is my email required?” She didn’t say anything for a few seconds, then said, “well, not really, but the company holds us responsible for getting emails”. Wow! That’s an impressive thing to me. The company’s management views email as a “required field” but doesn’t ask for any social info.

    Today’s marketing departments heavily rely on email as their primary communication channel, and that isn’t going ANYWHERE. Social platforms will follow shortly, but email is healthy.

  2. George DiGuido

    Thanks Dan. There was a great article in yesterday’s WSJ about social media and hotels…more and more chains are following patrons and listening to what they have to say about their experience. Don’t like the room…tweet about it…get an upgrade. Social media is extremely powerful…don’t get me wrong…all I am saying here is let’s not disregard everything that got us here for the sake of new technology.

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