Marketing 101 : When Good People Do Things That Make Them LOOK Like a Spammer!
Last updated: 8/23/2002; 7:48:29 AM
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Marketing 101 : When Good People Do Things That Make Them LOOK Like a Spammer!

One of the very, very, very hard things about using email as a marketing tool is that the first impression (and you know I'm big on first impressions) people get can be wildly different.  Here are the three basic 1st impressions that you get from an email:

  • Subject Line
  • Subject Line with Short Preview
  • Subject Line Above and Preview Pane Below

Now, like many people these days, I have my preview pane turned off to minimize the amount of spam I receive.  What's that?  You didn't know that the preview pane led to spam?  Here's a Public Service Announcement:

Why You Need to Turn Off Your Preview Pane NOW!!!

You may not be aware of this but every time a SPAM email is received by you, any viewed at all – even in the preview pane, it is generally recorded that the person got the email and viewed it.  How you ask? 

Simple.  Many spams include a web "tracking bug" or small 1x1 pixel .GIF file which tells the ad sender that you actually received it and confirms for them that your email address is valid. 


To turn it off in Outlook, use View => Preview Pane and then turn on Auto Preview instead (different but still useful) with View => Auto Preview.

Anyway, back to our topic at hand.  When an email is sent, it can be experienced in multiple ways – and there is NO WAY to predict which way the recipient will use.   Take a look at the email below:

When I look at that, the all UPPERCASE text just grabs me – and my brain screams SPAM!!!! SPAM!!! RUN!!!  DELETE!!!! KILL!!! (I think you get the picture).  Then I look a bit furthern and I see "Groove".  But, a lot of times, I will have already hit the delete key by that point.  Now if you actually open it, you'll see that they aren't spammers:

What is clearly going on is that Groove has both an HTML and ASCII version of their newsletter.  Like a lot of people, at least technical people, I don't like HTML mail (fat, slow) so I opted in for the ASCII version.  And a, perhaps clue free, perhaps not, person prepared the ASCII version not thinking about how it might look to a recipient. 

Bottom Line: Preview outbound emails with at least two or three mail client settings if not different mail clients.  Guess what?  It's just like testing your web pages on multiple browsers.  With the difference that if you screw it up, it is much, much worse since you've pushed it out to potentially many thousands of people – with no chance to get feedback incrementally.

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