Okay, fine, it’s barely even October, but admit it: Halloween isn’t just October 31. It’s a month-long affair.
People start preparing for Halloween the second the calendar turns to October. After all, there’s a lot to do. You’ve got parties to plan. Costumes to create. And those skeletons aren’t going to put themselves in your yard. Not without a little full moon magic, anyway.
A little less exciting is those Halloween safety precautions. You know, the ones parents recite to kids before the trick-or-treating starts. Always travel in groups. Don’t eat any candy until your parents check it. Don’t hang out with anyone in a Minions costume because they are MONSTERS! And not the good kind!
While you’re busy slapping the reflective tape on your kid’s Pink Ranger get-up, let’s go over some best practices for safe email marketing. Email safety might not be as fun as Halloween, but if it helps, you can wear your costume while you’re reading about it.
Email Acquisition: It Came from the Purchased Email List!
Halloween traditions are a little weird. Parents tell kids not to take candy from strangers, but one day a year, they throw that all out the window and encourage it. Of course, many parents insist on checking that candy, just to be safe. You can’t blame ’em. Some of those urban legends about what lurks inside candy are so scary, you might be tempted to just buy your own candy and stay home.
But what if you’re not hunting down candy? What if you’re looking for, say, email addresses? What if you don’t feel like collecting them one at a time? Can you just buy a list and call it a night? Absolutely not.
Buying email lists might seem like a solid investment, especially when email is the top revenue-generating technology for publishers, but there’s nothing that can wreak havoc on an email program like an old email list. At best, a list full of inactive addresses can sink your inbox placement. At worst, old email addresses can be repurposed as spam honeypots, and sending email to honeypots will get you blacklisted. You’ve got to grow those email lists yourself, with on-site email capture and other organic methods.
It makes you wonder where the cautionary tales about hidden traps in old email lists are. Be sure to teach your children about the dangers of what could be hiding in their bought email lists!
Safety in Numbers: A Tale of Two Email Partners!
Affiliate email marketing is a great way to squeeze even more revenue out of your email program. But while the Buddy System might be a good safety precaution when you’re trick-or-treating, emailing with a partner can bring its own risks. If you team up with a sketchy partner, it can be a bad influence on your email program.
When partners send email to your subscriber list, maintaining your brand reputation is critical. That’s why you must take extra steps to monitor the behavior of your partners. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but fortunately, centralizing your data with a service like UnsubCentral can make it easy.
By monitoring partner activity and its effects on your email list, you can make sure that your partners are generating revenue and not scaring off subscribers.
Managing Opt-outs: The Emailer That Couldn’t Die!
If you’re the kind of person who hands out fruit on Halloween, kids remember. Oh, they remember. And they tell their friends too. Before you know it, they’ve formed an impromptu network of candy knowledge, dictating the trick-or-treating strategies of the kids in your neighborhood for Halloweens to come.
It’s easy to keep track of a few addresses in a single neighborhood, but what if you have to manage millions of addresses? Across many email lists? Keeping track of opt-outs can get tricky when you have to coordinate suppression data with your partners, but that doesn’t make it any less important for safe email marketing.
Brands must honor email opt-outs within 10 days, but it’s preferable to do so within a day or so. After all, if your audience receives an email after they’ve explicitly told you to stop, they’ll remember. Oh, they’ll remember.
So keep track of those opt-outs. It’ll make things sweeter for everyone.
CAN-SPAM Compliance: Sending Email 28 Weeks Later!
Sending to recipients after they’ve opted out isn’t just a matter of scaring away your business. If you send email after the window for honoring opt-outs has passed, you’re running afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act.
By centralizing your email data, suppression lists, and preference management, you make sure that your email program is playing by the rules. It might be Halloween, but there are some rules that always stay the same.
That being said, opt-outs aren’t the only part of the CAN-SPAM Act you need to consider. If you need a refresher, you can read up on CAN-SPAM guidelines and determine whether your email program is within the law.
Security: Invasion of the Data Snatchers!
From email addresses to suppression lists, when you’re sharing data among partners, security should be your top priority. You should take whatever steps necessary to preserve that precious email data.
If you’re not hashing email lists or suppression list data, you could be giving rogue emailers access to an entire list of people they shouldn’t be emailing. For extra security, you can use a global suppression management system to scrub email lists against suppression files, providing partners with nothing but clean email files.
An email data fiasco might sound like something out of a horror movie, but with the right tools in place, you can make it to the end of the movie with your email program intact. Click here to see UnsubCentral’s opt-out management platform in action, or if you’re ready to check it out for yourself, click here to request a demo.
Now that you’re an expert on safe email marketing, you can move on to the stuff that’s really important. Like figuring out your email-themed Halloween costume.
My suggestions? A scantily-clad Outlook inbox, Manta Ray Tomlinson, or (if you really want to scare people) an email subject line with the word “spooktacular.”