Its that time of year when everyone thinks about sending out Christmas emails to say 'thank you' and wish you 'all the best'. It's increasingly common to get emails along the lines of 'Instead of sending Christmas cards this year...'. All of thats fine, however, it might be worth thinking twice about your message, and double checking the accuracy of your campaigns.
We've seen a mixed bag of emails so far this year, and even found ourselves having to correct people's mistakes when they realise their campaign's gone wrong. More and more people are trying email marketing themselves, but few are consciously thinking about the message they want to get across, or the potential impact it might have on their brand.
First, we've seen some really nice, simple examples of Christmas emails. These have been 'on brand', perhaps using the same theme as the company website and more importantly, sent with thought and consideration about what the email should achieve. Usually, this has meant a short, snappy 'Happy Christmas', perhaps accompanied by a message about opening hours or who to contact over the Christmas period. The email has a purpose, and is likely to add value to the senders brand. it will be read, and quietly acknowledged and deleted without any fuss.
Our experience this year of bad Christmas emails has made us shiver with horror! These have usually been created on a whim, without any real thought into why the email is being sent. Its as though someone has woken up one morning and thought, 'Today we must send an email newsletter'. Why? Because its Christmas? Thats the wrong answer.
These types of emails have carried no real purpose, mixed messages and usually nothing to identify the email with the brand that sent it. We've seen emails sent with publicly visible distribution lists, and even clickthorugh links to administrative login pages! These have usually been sent directly from Outlook (or equivalent), perhaps based on a MS Word template, with some dodgy clip art to boot. So not only is there visual brand damage, there's also the potential for damage to your domain name and email reputation.
The worst Christmas email we've seen this season involves one of those online 'e-card' services. I received one of these today, but immediately assumed it was spam so instantly deleted it. I was then suprised (perahps I shouldn't have been) to receive a following up email later in the day to tell me that I'd been sent an e-card, that might have gone into my spam folder, so I should check it, just in case it hadn't been delivered. So, I'm interrupted twice by someone with whom I have a tenuous connection with at best. If they put this level of effort into their email, what can I expect from their service?
Why this matters
Chistmas is an exciting time; parties, presents and (hopefully) a bit of time off to look forward to. This means that people are busy, catching up with Christmas shopping, or simply trying to clear their desk so they can come back in the New Year to a clear inbox. If you send inane emails that people can't open, include the wrong links, or don't offer people the option to remove themselves from your mailing list, you're getting in people's way of winding down for the holidays. I find this really frustrating. More and more companies are experimenting with email marketing, and doing it badly. Think you're saving money by doing it yourself? You may be in the short term, but for what needn't be especially expensive, wouldn't it be worth doing it properly if you're going to do it at all?