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Email Best Practices

Email Marketing for Environmental Services

The benefits of a long term, professional and comprehensive email campaign will have far reaching effects on every aspect of your business. Particularly in the environmental service industry, the range of services may yet be unknown to potential clients. There is no other promotional opportunity that can match the impact and intrinsic power of a properly implemented and well-scheduled email marketing campaign. However, launching a successful campaign requires meticulous research and consideration given to a number of significant factors.
Email marketing is different from the traditional process of commissioning a radio commercial or purchasing a print display ad in an environmental service trade magazine. While the liability for a business placing an advertisement on conventional media is more or less limited to "truth in advertising" restrictions, email marketing is governed by two distinct forms of regulation: industry standards and federal law. While the former applies to the overall ethics and discipline required for any self-regulatory framework, the latter is implemented by the United States government and contains strict legislation governing how businesses can interact with prospects through email.
It is common practice among environmental service business owners and managers to collect business cards and information about prospects through various methods, from environmental surveys to direct canvassing. Most environmental service businesses enter customer data collected in these ways directly into their email marketing subscription lists; however, by doing so they commit a violation of federal law. According to its main regulatory guidelines, the law states any business must obtain unequivocal and direct approval from any individual prior to placing their email address on a newsletter list.
The Federal Email CAN-SPAM Law Is Severe
In the USA, the legislation that determines what aspects of a business' email policies are legal and which ones are not is known as the CAN-SPAM Act. This legislation protects the right of any individual to be able to be immediately deleted from any email subscription list at their first and only notice. Any environmental service business found to be violating this legislation opens themselves and their business up to severe legal penalties, including incarceration.
Unsubscription Facilitation
By law, whenever a subscriber notifies your environmental service business that they wish to be dropped from your list, you must take immediate action to adhere to that demand. Your email marketing subscription list must be accessed and that individual's email address be conclusively deleted before any further emailings are sent out to them.
Bouncing Email Control
Whenever any email is sent, be it personal or business, one of these three results can be obtained:

Success: The email is delivered as intended.
Soft Bounce: The email was delayed perhaps indefinitely due to a problem outside of the sender's control, such as network bottlenecks or an overfull recipient inbox.
Hard Bounce: The email cannot be delivered since the email address is nonexistent or has been in some way blocked.

In both bounce scenarios, an Internet facility called a Mailer Daemon notifies you that your email was not delivered and gives the reason why. If the bounce was soft, it is not your direct concern, as the situation is out of your control. However, you should try to contact the customer through other means to notify them of the problem. When the bounce is hard and you resend to that same email address, you wave a red flag at ISPs, which control traffic up and down the Internet, that marks your address as a spammer. Once you are placed on the spammer blacklist, it is impossible to send any type of email - even to your friends and family.
Privacy Policy
Some environmental service businesses discount the importance of a properly crafted privacy policy and simply copying a policy from a competitor's website and place it on their own. There are two basic problems with this approach:

It creates duplicate content, which will be indexed by the search engines and lead to penalization in search results
Having a privacy policy that does not precisely cover the exact extent of your online activities can create serious legal liabilities

Your environmental service business attorney should draft a privacy policy specific to your company so that any of the activities you engage in will be precisely covered in the document in order to avoid legal entanglements.
List Segmentation
Segmentation is a critical part of any environmental service business' email marketing plan. Your email content should be tailored to fit the needs of your varied customer base. Through the application of segmentation strategies, you will be able to accurately appeal to your customers' preferences and be in a position to propose the precise types of services, products, equipment, consulting and assistance each one of them needs.
Ongoing Content Testing
Highly experienced email marketers rely strongly on continuous tests to their email marketing newsletter content. One of the most popular and widespread tests is known as the A/B split. This test is conducted by sending two versions of email content to a specific segment of your subscription list, identical in every way except a single element such as an image, a link or a preheader. By comparing how the two different versions performed in the various email metrics, such as open and click-through rate, you will gain valuable insight into how your environmental service business customers respond to your email campaign and how to refine your content via repeated A/B split tests.
Obtaining Personal Data from Your Customer
Most people do not want to divulge any greater amount of information than they deem strictly necessary, so environmental service business owners and managers seeking to obtain extensive demographic and personal data from their customers may feel stymied. It is important to gather as much personal information as can be derived from prospects without alienating them, and many email marketers find that incentivized online surveys or other types of participatory forms can help in the process of gleaning valuable data upon which to base your segmentation efforts.
Scrutinizing Your Customer's Behavior Patterns
The main mode of determining the success of your email marketing campaign is by examining email metric statistics. Some prospects on your subscription list do not open your emails at all, and continuing to send to these email addresses is not likely to change that specific behavior pattern. These subscribers are best deleted from your email list. Other prospects may open and read your emails but usually fail to respond to the call to action. These individuals should not be dropped from the list since they are actually reading your emails; that fact often equates to a response to your service in other ways, such as visits to your location based on the information they learn through your email campaign. The most desirable group is the customers who both read and click through to your Web pages. These are the individuals who are the most responsive from an email marketing standpoint, and thus extremely valuable.
Good Email Practice
It is important to ensure your email marketing campaign adheres to acknowledged best email practices. These are some of the key points to practice:

Preheaders and subject lines must be carefully crafted
Your email template must allow for the varied browser and mobile device display capabilities
You should have multiple landing pages with specific content for each segmentation element and to allow for A/B split tests
Email Metrics
The statistics included in this guide demonstrate that almost three out of ten environmental service business owners and managers are not aware of their actual click-through rates, and one out of five are also unaware of their open rates. Failing to keep track of these critical email metrics while carrying out email campaigns is a serious shortcoming, as it denies the environmental service business manager or owner the ability to analyze the particular factors available to help make accurate determinations about their campaign's performance.