Australian Privacy Principles are here: advice for your next email marketing campaign

Following the announcement of the new Australian Privacy Principles, which take effect from 12 March 2014, the ever growing number of emails opened on mobile devices and new email authentication standards, many companies are revising their approach to email marketing. With this in mind, here are six tips on what to look out for when working on your next email marketing campaign.

1. Responsive Design

Originally a web design approach, it’s only logical that responsive design has made its way into email design: up to 50% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. Whether you’re sending utility statements, weekly newsletters or order confirmations, emails should be designed with mobiles and tablets in mind.

Responsive Design allows for device optimisation based on screen size. For the recipient of a responsive email this means that zooming in, scrolling and panning are all things of the past: your emails will look just right regardless the device used. As a result, brands see increases in click throughs of 20% to 30% by simply tweaking the design.

2. APP Compliance

On March 12 2014, the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) will come into effect. The APPs, 13 in total, will have a significant impact on how businesses collect, manage and disclose the use of personal information.

For email communications and sign-up forms, this means disclosing to customers why certain personal information is captured, where it is stored and accessed from and how to update it. If your current email communications don’t have a working link to your company’s Privacy Policy or lack an ‘Update your profile’ option, you might be in breach of one or more APPs.

3. Content checking

Marketing communications are often subject to last minute changes and updates. For email marketing, this is not any different. Contrary to offline communications, email content often depends on -and links to- more information on a website or landing page.

Therefore, after every adjustment, it is important to test your campaigns again. Are your tokens (variable content) picking up correctly? Does the ‘Unsubscribe’ link still work? Has Google Analytics been activated? Are the products advertised linked to the right pages online? And have the same changes been made on the website?

4. Size and format

Although websites are becoming more content rich, emails should be restricted in size to maximise results. HTML on mobile devices works best if it is kept under 100kb (excluding images). If the HTML code is bigger, there are some devices that won’t load the content properly where emails are cut off or displayed as text only.

Also, it is best practice to send your emails as multi-part: this means including a text-only version next to your more graphically appealing HTML design. Originally intended to cater for people on dial up connections to speed up download times, today there is still a good reason to add a plain text version to your HTML: one of the most popular spam filters blocks emails that are sent as HTML-only.

5. Branding and engagement

When it comes to branding, email should be treated as every other marketing channel with a matching ‘look and feel’. When you’re organising creative work (for a new logo or website redesign), always make sure to get your email templates included.

Common mistakes in email communications include unclear From Names or subject lines that fail to entice. In the body of the email, outdated disclaimers and contact addresses are typical oversights. Also, sending from a ‘no-reply’ email address might be convenient for you but unless you offer a clear alternative way for customers to get in contact with you, it could also result a high number of unsubscribes.

Digital branding starts in your customer’s inbox  – poorly executed emails without a clear call to action can reflect badly on your brand.

6. Authentication

An email address is relatively easy to forge. Most of you would have received an email at one stage from someone pretending to be your bank. To combat forging and phishing, online industry groups have been working on email authentication tools for more than a decade.

Today, the most commonly used tools are DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM, using digital signatures) and Sender Policy Framework (SPF, marking specific IP addresses as authorised to send from). A recent study by Google found that 1 out of 4 legitimate emails do not pass the combined SPF and DKIM tests. Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) is another, more recent standard. DMARC provides further protection by reporting back any email that is received without proper authentication.

As a domain owner, DMARC means you can get an alert from the recipient’s email provider next time someone pretends to be you – when implemented, you can even instruct email providers to block such emails altogether. Although not yet supported by the leading Australian ISPs, Gmail, Hotmail and Facebook already use DMARC to keep inboxes free of illegitimate emails. PayPal has seen a reduction in spam reports of more than 70% after implementing DMARC.

 

Links:

  1. Internet-wide efforts to fight email phishing are working
  2. Prominent Brands Cut Email Abuse by More than 50% with DMARC
Melle Staelenberg
BY Melle Staelenberg ON 7 March 2014
Melle Staelenberg is service delivery manager at Salmat Digital.