10 Tips To Avoid Your Marketing Emails Being Marked As Spam

 Marketing  Comments Off on 10 Tips To Avoid Your Marketing Emails Being Marked As Spam
Nov 222012
The much derided luncheon meat

The much derided luncheon meat

Last week I was cooking, in a rush. A random beep started. I checked the fridge, usual suspect. No. By now I was getting rattled. The random nature of it was particularly annoying.

The culprit? The monitor from our weather station was low on batteries. Now the weather station is very useful but the intermittent beep? No thanks.

When you send emails that accidentally annoy your readers, it can thwart your efforts to win more sales and worse get your email labelled as junk.

If enough people label your email as junk or spam you could get black listed by email servers making it very difficult to communicate by email in the future.

Apply these 10 tips to help avoid annoying your subscribers and discouraging them from hitting the spam button.

1. Use a professional email marketing package like MailChimp. Many are free for small lists (up to 2000 subscribers for MailChimp) and they are set up to help you comply with the anti-spam regulations. They are also very powerful and enable you to be more targeted and effective with your emails. For instance you can segment your lists and track who opened your email and who clicked on any links.

2. Add an email sign up form to your website. This helps build your list and gives you a chance of capturing the data of all those visitors to your site. If they voluntarily subscribe, (rather than you adding their details after you met them at a networking event) there is much less chance of them hitting the spam button when your emails arrive.

3. Make sure everyone has opted in. It’s common sense (and the law) that you’d only want to send sales emails out to those who’ve opted to receive them (especially if you are mailing consumers rather than businesses). So don’t be tempted to cull email addresses from the internet, Chamber of Commerce lists or other sources where explicit permission has not been given.

4. Don’t end up a spammer through ignorance. Educate yourself on the UK law around email marketing.

5. Be specific about what your emails offer. When people sign up, spell out exactly what you’ll send out e.g. Offers, news, event information etc and how often. If you send out articles but also promote events, then say so.

6. Protect yourself Packages like MailChimp allow you to add text explaining why people are receiving your emails to remind them how they opted in. It goes on every email and is good practice in case you ever get accused of being a spammer.

7. Automatic unsubscribe. Ensure it’s easy for people to unsubscribe at any time (packages do this for you). Nothing irritates people more than trying and failing to stop businesses sending them unwanted emails. Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from Groupon, VistaPrint?

8. Steer clear of spammy formatting. Avoid use of bright red fonts and !!!!!! ******* in your emails. Spammers love these.

9. Use compelling, specific subject lines that tell the reader what value lies inside. If you have a special offer, say what it is, e.g. Buy 2 cake tins, get a 3rd free.

10. Keep your content relevant and always keep in mind ‘what’s in it for the reader?’ Always spell out the value for the reader. If it’s an offer, maybe it saves the consumer money, or gives them exclusive access to limited products, services or membership.

The whole point of email marketing is to deliver personal valuable content to your subscribers. Learn how to avoid accidentally annoying your readers and being like that random intermittent beep from electrical devices.

Need training in email marketing?

I regularly deliver workshops in South and West Wales on email marketing, both strategy and practical, hands on, how to use MailChimp workshops.

Find out more about hiring me as a trainer for your project or organisation or for one to one training.

Why you should put more farm into your farm shop

 Direct selling farm produce, farm retail  Comments Off on Why you should put more farm into your farm shop
Nov 222012

Recently I visited Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop and Tea Room just on the edge of Cumbria, home of the English Lakes. I enjoyed my cream tea while watching the cows being milked in the parlour below. At the next table were a mother and small son who happily played with the toy tractor and sheep, supplied by the tea room.

You couldn’t get a more graphic illustration of the connection between the cream on my scone and the cow in the parlour.

This farm shop has gone the whole hog and put their farm shop literally over the farm. Next to the dairy, the herd were housed in straw barns, ensuring that you couldn’t fail to notice that you were on a farm.

Being on a farm is what makes your shop different from retailers on the high street & supermarkets.

Exploit that difference.

You’ll never compete on price, so don’t even try, instead offer a slice of life on the farm.

How do you put more farm into your farm shop?

Be creative. No milking parlour? Here are some quick ideas to get you thinking:

• Set up a lamb feeding station next door to the shop

• Provide point of sale information about every farm product with pictures of e.g. Cabbage in the field

• Rig up a webcam in the dairy, lambing shed (lambing live), veg packing area, or cheese making area (make sure you ask staff first!)

• Set up a heated seed growing area in your shop with information on what’s growing and when it’ll be ready

• Set up monthly spinning demonstrations

• Try occasional cooking demonstrations (entice local chefs, or cooks to come and show off their expertise)

• Cheese making video running on a monitor

• Hay making video running on a monitor

• Wall size farm map with trails marked

• Pictures of farm & farm workers

• Nature table – encourage children to collect conkers, leaves etc to put on the nature table (needs supervision!)

• Renewable energy control panel (show for instance, how much rain water you’ve harvested)

Some activities will require supervision and some investment but others can be created once, like the videos, and then used over and over again in your shop and online.

Why does it matter?

We know that people perceive that food is cheaper in supermarkets (even when it isn’t) and so you have to give them a different reason to make the trip out to your place. In the end how you make people feel is important. For many a taste of farm life feels good. Increasingly people are looking for a connection with the land and soil. As a farm shop you can provide that access through creatively bringing your farm into the farm shop.

That will bring them back to spend more money with you.

Where can you get more ideas?

Think about every aspect of your farm shop in terms of the customer experience of being on a farm. Visit other shops and get ideas. Engage all the senses, touch, sight, smell (the good ones). Unlike a supermarket, you don’t have to manufacture the scent of baking bread to trick customers into buying, all you have to do is find ways to bring more of the farm into your farm shop.

What about health & hygiene regulations?

Yes these can be challenging but generally you can find creative ways to accommodate them and still bring in more of the farm

Like Low Sizergh Barn Farm Shop and Tea Room, use your farm to create a unique atmosphere that attracts people to eat, buy and shop with you precisely because you offer something they can’t find on the high street or at the out of town superstores.

If you’d like on site marketing advice for marketing produce from your small holding or small farm,

Email me for quote for a farm visit

Why there are no quick fixes in the battle against resistance | Small Farm Future

 Writing  Comments Off on Why there are no quick fixes in the battle against resistance | Small Farm Future
Nov 202012

This is from my other blog, for smallholders and small scale farmers wanting to create abundant holdings for the future.

Why there are no quick fixes in the battle against resistance | Small Farm Future.

We were stuck. Ahead was a huge fallen tree blocking our path. Wrapped around with magi, the local ivy, which fouled the chainsaw every few minutes as we tried to clear a path. Would we ever get through? With temperatures in the low thirties, it was exhausting work, but no-one ever suggested we turn back.

It took 2, sweat drenched, days but eventually we cleared that tree and continued our expedition.

That fallen tree represented an extreme and physical form of resistance that we battled against. Resistance shows up all the time when you’re trying to get a project done but what exactly do we mean by the term?

Read more


Resources to help you get more from MailChimp (email marketing tool)

 Email marketing, MailChimp  Comments Off on Resources to help you get more from MailChimp (email marketing tool)
Nov 192012

Everytime I run a practical MailChimp workshop we find more resources and tools to help you get the most from this excellent email marketing package (no I’m not affiliated!).

I send an email with links post course to delegates but I thought I’d post them here for you too.
ICO Marketing (the law around email marketing)

Take a self assesment questionnaire to find out if you need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to comply with the Data Protection Act

3 ways to make your email campaigns more ‘mobile friendly’.

Adding a MailChimp sign up form to your Facebook page

Reducing a Digital Photo’s File Size

Exporting MailChimp templates

If you know of other good resources please add them to the comments box.


Email marketing is a powerful tool if used correctly. If you’d like me to come and run workshops on email marketing for your staff, project, members or a group of like minded businesses, hit the big call to action button below.

Hire me as a trainer

​3 ways article based e-newsletters can help you win business

 Email marketing  Comments Off on ​3 ways article based e-newsletters can help you win business
Nov 142012

This was the moment. Walking through the door I came face to face with a writer I’d long admired. In my head I’d rehearsed this over and over. I’d be cool, confident, witty and charming. Easy!

What did I do? I rushed up and gabbled furiously about how wonderful I thought she was. She smiled and looked slightly uncomfortable.

All I needed to do was be myself and let my true personality shine through. Instead I ambushed her with unwanted attention and left us both feeling embarrassed.

When we get in front of customers in print, we can get over exuberant and rush in with the hard sell. Too often it has the opposite effect on those prospective customers we were trying so hard to win round.

We put them off. We lose them. Introducing an alternative approach: article marketing.

What is article marketing?

Article marketing is the name for using short, industry specific articles delivering information, skills, tips or ideas for a targeted readership. A readership you would like to convert into customers or repeat customers. Typically articles go out by email but can be on your website or in a private members’ area. It is used successfully by many businesses including mine.

Does it work for all sectors?

It is particular good for business to business services such as marketing, public relations, web design, commercial photography, internet marketing, financial management and IT training but it can be used for business to consumer relationships as well.

So how does article marketing help you win business?

There are many ways article marketing can help you win business. Here are just 3:

1. Keeping you top of mind

2. Showing your expertise

3. Offering teasers for specific services

Let’s look at those in more detail.

1. Keeping you top of mind

By regularly sending focused, helpful content, your subscribers know you are alive and kicking. More than that, they’ll see you have your finger on the pulse and you become the “go to” person in your field.

The next time they need such expertise, who do you think they’ll call? Especially because they’ve already had a sneak preview of your expertise.

2. Showing your expertise

You’ve heard the phrase, “Show not tell.” Article marketing allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise rather than trying to sell it. Why do clothes shops have changing rooms. We want to try the clothes for size. Giving away information is allowing subscribers to do exactly that.

Show subscribers what you’re about, your depth of knowledge and your passion for your area of expertise. Doing that builds trust and credibility. Once people are ready to buy from you, you’ve already done the hard work of building a relationship. Beyond that you can also create articles that offer a taster of e.g. Training or consulting services you offer.

3. Offering teasers for specific services

Let’s take an example. If you want to sell your services as a commercial photographer, take a very specific aspect of commercial photography, such as, how to avoid dull staff mugshots.

Write an article using a case study (with the client’s permission). Illustrate exactly how you put people at ease and perhaps used props to create somehting less run of the mill. Some before and after shots will help.

Then add a nice prominent button taking readers to your sales page with all the details of your commercial photography packages. You just made it so much easier for people to hire you. That’s fine but…..

Isn’t it a bad idea to give away so much information for free?

Ironically, by giving information away for free, you build greater credibility. People tend to assume that if you are prepared to give so much away for free then there must be a whole lot more that you aren’t giving away!

Creating articles encourages you to keep learning in your field and keep up to date with industry news so it’s a win win situation for you and your clients.

Rather than lose customers by embarrassing them with the hard sell before they have a clue who you are, why not consider article writing as a tried and tested way to win business and develop your expertise.

Worried you don’t have time or skills to create an effective article marketing campaign? Find out how I can turn your knowledge into compelling articles to help you win more business.


Find out more about my article writing services

Are you making these mistakes with your email marketing call to action?

 Email marketing  Comments Off on Are you making these mistakes with your email marketing call to action?
Nov 082012

Have you ever approached a roundabout to find the road splits into four lanes? You’re franticallly trying to work out which lane you need for the second exit. Sat Navs, though wonderful can sometimes confuse when they tell you to get in the right lane. Near right? Far right? Middle right? You only have seconds to get where you need to be.

At that point, clear signs are a big help.

It’s the same with emails and enewsletters you send out to customers or prospective customers. As they near the end you have only seconds to direct you’re reader to the next step. That’s the ‘call to action’.

What does a call to action look like?

The ‘call to action’ usually comes at the end of an email and it tells the reader what to do next. Typically:

•    Call me
•    Book now
•    Read more
•    Email me for a quote

Why does it matter?

When people reach the and of your email they will do something next. If you don’t suggest what that should be, then people will do whatever next occurs to them: take a tea break, text a friend, read the next email, make a call. The possibilities are endless. So how can you get a call to action wrong?

Common mistakes with calls to action

•    Leave the reader free to do whatever next occurs to her (read the next email, check Facebook, make a call, write an email etc etc), because your e-news finished with no call to action
•    Make the reader search for the call to action because it is buried half way down the page, in the middle of a paragraph rather than a clear button or highlighted text link that stands on its own, towards the end.
•    Confuse the reader with an unclear call to action such as,  “if you like this, I’d love to talk to you” (but doesn’t give the phone number or email)
•    Frustrate the reader by adding a call to action with no link. You say, “Ask for a quote”
•    Irritate the reader by using a call to action with a broken link which returns an error (only way to avoid this is to test and check every link in every email campaign)
•    Mystify reader when your link for a last minute weekend booking takes them to the home page of your local wildlife sanctuary (again check links)
•    You make the reader work because, the link takes reader to your home page where they have to search for the booking button.
•    Waste your reader’s time by asking her to phone you but giving a number that has no answerphone
•    Ask the reader to create their own tailor made package, “if we can help you in any other way, not mentioned here, please call and tell us how”
•    Leave the reader unmoved because you’ve offered a vague instruction with no clear benefit, “for more information, visit our website”

Isn’t it a bit bossy, telling people what to do next?

A strong, clear, compelling call to action is a service to your reader like clear signs on a roundabout.  The reader can move easily to the next step without floundering round getting frustrated.

Email marketing is a powerful tool if used correctly. If you’d like me to come and run workshops on email marketing for your project, members or a group of like minded businesses, hit the big call to action button below.

Hire me as a trainer