How not to do your Happy Christmas email

Amazing!!  I receive an email from someone who has added me to their marketing list and feels they know me well enough to send me Christmas Greetings… But what do they send?  a big blue box!

I wonder how that has developed my relationship with this business?



What’s in it for me?

So, I open up my email this morning and work through the 20 or so messages that have arrived overnight – deleting most of them.  Then I start my days work but forget to close me email.

At about 9.30 ! receive this message.  Full marks to the email marketeer for delivering it at a time when I’m interruptible and therefore likely to review the message.

Big fail on the content!  I click on Outlook with the message highlighted and what do I see?  An empty blue box…

Now, I know that I can go to the top bar and download images, but I know I’m just going to be presented with a big company image and probably a photo of the person sending me the message.

This marketer has failed to answer the basic question “What’s in it for me?” in the first two seconds of me reviewing the message – DELETE!

So, learn from this… if you want to put your company logo in your marketing emails (why would you?) at least put  it at the bottom of your email below the signature.  And please, please don’t put a bloody great photo of you, your product or anything else at the top of the message.

I want to know what you are saying to me, not how great you are.  It’s easy to get my attention: tell me what I will get from reading your message.  I may not want what you are offering, but at least you’ve given yourself the opportunity of being heard.

Rant over…!

How could you improve your communications for males and females?

A major London research organization has been doing extremely well when it comes to bringing in research from the public, this is information is used to help larger organisations to improve their consumer products, providing the public with a voice.

This research organisation wanted to push even further and improve the size of the survey panel and volume of surveys being taken by different people.

The work that was done helped look at a way that they could approach different people in different ways, to specifically aim their communications at different people and make the reader feel wanted, special and willing to contribute.

This was done by sending samples of different messages out to gender specific audiences. One of the first things compared was whether or not to use the company image header or to use a text header instead.

This would mean when the email was received by its reader, straight away the reader would be able to see who it was from and respond, without downloading the images. When sending out this sample, statistics show that the text header emails were opened by another 3.03% of the receivers and 1% more click-throughs to the web survey.

The way in which you could consider this approach is by making your communications more gender specific by experimenting with colour and possibly gender rewards. Tests are now underway with combinations of colour, incentive, message format and wording to deliver a further 3% in email click-throughs. For each percentage point delivered 233 more people will complete monthly surveys, so the overall aim is to make the method as targeted and successful as it can be.

If you would like further advice or information on this approach please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01672 505050 or email

The perils of segmenting your database…

We have long been advocates of segmenting your database and then sending different messages to different parts of the database.  Makes sense… and allows you to target different parts of the database with different offers.

But care is needed.  What if the same person is in two parts of your database?  Would they get two conflicting messages?  Or would the messages be complimentary?

Unlikely! I hear you say.  Well… I like the email marketing from Crew Clothing, but getting two messages from them today one offering a 15% discount and the other a 20% discount makes me ask “why am I not in the 40% discount group?”

So, take care with segmented offers to your database.

The dangers of automated emails

When I raise a support request, I do expect a degree of automation, if just to make sure that requests are dealt with.  But avoid the perils of pre-formatting email replies so that an operator typed response goes into standard text like this one I received today.

Great “apology” email

I love clear, easy to read emails that catch my eye.  This one is a great example that I’ve just received:

What’s so good about this email then?  Well, the key points for me are:

  1. Strong message.  Gives the impression of a busy company working hard.
  2. Good customer service.  They know that customers have been having problems contacting them and are not scared to own up and apologise.  And they’ve given you a gift in “compensation”.
  3. It has the side (or main) benefit for anyone not inconvenienced of reminding them about the company and gives them an incentive to order during December.

I don’t know how many people have been unable to contact them or if this is a blatent ploy, but whatever the case, it’s a good message and if I were looking for ink cartridges right now I’d have taken them up on their offer…

How to send your marketing emails

We’ve come across some really bad examples of email marketing (and featured some of them on this blog).  Some of the worst examples never get to us as they are cut by spam systems.  But a conversation with a colleague prompted me to outline the different options you have when sending email for marketing purpose.

You have three choices:

Send the emails yourself from Outlook, adding all the addresses in the BCC (blind copy) field.  Don’t do this!  Firstly, your email will often fail to be delivered as spam systems look for BCC sends and secondly, you are using your company email system for marketing emails.  This means that if you get a spam complaint, your company domain is blacklisted and you can’t get any email to any of your contacts.

Buy / Download a dedicated email marketing program.  There are some great products out there that let you do this.  And if you only want to send small volumes of email every so often to people that know you well, this approach may work.  But it means that you are taking on responsibility for ensuring deliverability of your email yourself, and this is a very technical area.  If you have the technical skills to set up and manage a dedicated domain for sending email and apply Domain keys and SPF to it then this approach will work well for you.  If you don’t understand the last sentence don’t follow this approach!

Use an Email Sending Provider.  An ESP will have dedicated infrastructure designed to get emails delivered into recipients’ inboxes.  Different ESPs serve different markets and they cost from £10 per month to several thousand depending on your requirements.  I would always recommend this option.  Let them have the hassle of managing the technical infrastructure needed to get your email delivered!

So, I said at the start you have three choices, but you don’t really.  If you are serious about email marketing, get an ESP to do the sending for you.  As to which one of the many hundred out there to choose, that’s a different matter and one that I will be writing on shortly…



What is the “call to action” to here?

We got this email today:

What catches your eye in the email?  For me, the thing that stood out most was “Click here to unsubscribe”.  Surely not the intent of the email?

This is yet another example of not checking how an email will look when a user does not download the associated images – which is on average 90% of your audience!


A review of the ‘Nett Sales process’ – Steph Clarke

There is nothing worse than sitting down, and staring at a blank screen with a deadline looming and so many ideas milling round that you don’t know where to start.

Writing sales and marketing emails isn’t easy, however, an email that is four lines long will connect with the reader – our ongoing research is showing that first impressions are everything; the majority of contacts will choose to read/delete/spam an email after a few seconds. Meaning that being able to sell your product in less than 50 words is essential!

As mentioned in previous Nett Sales blogs many people fall into the trap of “I disease” – using words such as “I, we & our” and not focusing on the real objective –engaging the reader and ensuring that the email meets the needs, serves the interests &  guarantees the business and personal challenges of the reader.

The difficult part of marketing emails can be to craft 4 flowing lines of email message.

And this is where Nett Sales comes in; they can help you to create and / or send short emails that contain knowledge, advice plus tips and offers based on a “Here’s something for you” approach. They can show you a simple, proven & logical structure for writing and thinking your way through simple emails.

Mike Southern, The Beermat Entrepreneur reviewed this process with Nett Sales Partner, Simon West and in doing so coined the phrase “magic emails”. To see the article click here

Though these “magic emails” don’t make you fly, read minds or become super strong they do provide a proven technique to build relationships and get sales.

Here is how the magic emails work… (click the image to view full size)

1)    What’s the question?

This is the problem or scenario that your company are trying to solve for example it could be “Who will wash my car when my daughter goes to University?”

2)    How can I help?

This is your 30 second pitch to the customer:  if it’s any longer the reader will lose interest, but any shorter and there will be too little information and no enquiry will result for example “Car cleaning 4 u can clean your car at affordable rates at a time to suit you…”

3)    Commercial evidence…

In this line you put a case study, statistics or proof of previous success. This shows the reader that you are a reliable and experienced company that the reader can rely on, “97% of customers would book another appointment”

4)    What to do if you are interested…

Whether it is an email address, phone number or web link, this is where consumers can engage with you and find out more information if they are interested,

“Call:  01234567890




Although writing an email seems pretty simple there is so much more. Nett Sales does this to such a high standard that it may amaze you considering the size of the company but in this case the phrase “Good things come in small packages” is certainly applicable. Nett Sales does five main things…

1)     Creating

Writing the words that make up the campaign using the “magic email” method, this is tricky because what may start out as 150 words in your head has to be cut down to 50 or even 30 words, and still carry the same message.

2)    Building

This involves putting the writing into a page bearing logos, pictures and links. It is either from a template or from scratch depending on the customer’s requirements.

3)    Checking

This involves reading through the campaign and looking for mistakes and sentences that don’t flow. Tests are also sent to make sure the layout works and that hyperlinks work.

4)    Sending

A mass email sent to up to 76000 people each of whom have to be added to a database and edited accordingly, a massive task of editing misspelt names or duplicate numbers.

5)    Results

How the email was received, this is a set of results that tell Nett Sales what people opened the email, looked on the website or even unsubscribed.

Having watched the process and in addition to watching & helping with each step of the process I have learnt that Nett Sales is a real gem to find and employ. The attention to detail by the team here is excellent and the relationship they develop with their customers goes beyond business, it extends to trust and a mutual understanding of two companies. You can really gain from Nett Sales it is friendly and provides essential sales and marketing advice and support at impressive prices.

If you want more information contact

Nett Sales
01793 250207

  • or email them at


Steph Clarke had an opportunity to review, use and comment on the Nett Sales process for writing short 4 line emails to help sales people get more sales.


“I” disease

I received a strange email today.  I liked it and didn’t like it at the same time!  Here it is, what do you think?

I like this email because it’s plain and simple.  No silly images to distract from the message.  However I don’t like this message because:

  • It’s “all about us”.  Look at the times it says “I, us, we, our” compared to you & your.  This is the email equivalent of shouting at someone from 6 inches away!
  • Variable size fonts.  I’m sure this is not deliberate, but look at the size of the font through the email.
  • Typos & language.  Didn’t read well – in fact I had to read it 3 times to understand it.
  • There was no fluency of message.  It does not take me, the reader on a journey from problem to solution so I’ve no idea what issue is being solved for me.

Anyway, hope you find this useful.  And if you want me to take a look over your emails before you send, just let me know – no charge!!