It’s not very often I call out bad practices in email marketing, I’m more of a positive news kind of person, but in today’s review of my inboxes I found this wonderful nugget of email worst practices.

Back story: I like to provide tagged email addresses to every company I give an email address to and I have used a number of services to manage this in the past, at least three years ago, but no longer as I have my own domains now where I manage this on my own. Before Using my own domains to manage this I used a service called SpamGourmet, that would let you create any email address on demand that would forward to your main email accounts. This service would also allow you to set the number of messages you wanted to accept from an individual company, at which point it would simply discard any messages beyond your limit. address formats look like this: company.[1-20], where the unique identifier goes first, then the number of messages to accept from the site (optional values of 1 to 20) and then your username follows to make up the email alias. This service will auto-delete any emails received beyond the set threshold indicated in the Alias – a great tool for testing sites you don’t trust with your real email address information – some of my aliases have deleted aver 3700 emails (one such account was setup to test the unsubscribe function of a site (268 emails sent to an unsubscribe).

Recently I found a “We missed you” win back message “1 of 10” from a company I gave one of these tagged emails to (note I said it’s been at least 3 years since I last used this service) and I really had no idea who the email was from… I originally thought the address had been harvested from somewhere or sold, but the Sender matched the email alias so it must have been provided to them by me, as the user name/alias combo is fairly unique and hard to guess.

There are several things wrong with this message:

      1 – Branding – Who are you again? If i was interested three years ago why haven’t you talked to me since? As your consumer I’ve forgotten who you are, and gone to your competitor, even after visiting your site I still don’t recall who you are.
      Lesson: Poor experiences from your potential customers will get talked about a lot more then good experiences.
      2 – Win back campaign to address that have been dormant for 3+ years. This list will likely have a significant bounce rate with dead addresses and open this sender to spam traps and higher complaints from recipients.
      Lesson: Win backs should be reserved for subscribers where you had an active relationship with in the last 12 to 24 months.
      3 – Are you sure this is a Win Back Campaign… Since you’ve never talked to me before shouldn’t this be a Welcome message… “Hi you subscribed in 2008 and we’ve never talked to you before, remember us?” NO?
      Lesson: Send the right message and remind consumers, you haven’t talked to in a while, exactly when their relationship with you started.
      4 – The right copy. Sending an email with all images with no Alt tags and very little text doesn’t help with the recall of your brand, and it doesn’t make you stand out among your competitors.
      Lesson: Be different, Be better, follow simple best practices, Stand out from your competition