A couple of days ago “E-Mail (sic) Essentials” (the former Ken Magill weekly) posted a piece, “Back to Basics: An E-mail (sic) Checklist“.  I don’t really disagree with any of the points posted, but I think some could use a little deeper thought….

I agree with the premise of this one, but not with its implementation: 

  • If your message includes more than two or three links, use a table of contents. If you send an e-newsletter, for instance, with five or six stories within, list them at the top of the message as a table of contents or directory, and have each title be a link that, when clicked, takes the recipient directly to the item within the e-mail.

Just because email clients can display HTML like a Web page doesn’t mean that email clients are just like Web browsers; even if your email client is Web-based.  Not all email clients support anchor tags, and even for the ones that do, what are you going to anchor them to?  The email that brought me the “Back to Basics” post is a great example. 

Here’s what I see in my preview pane.


So I click on the “Back to Basics” title and am delivered to….


Where I get to click (once again) to the article itself.  WTF?  Why are you wasting my time?  If all you’re going to give me is a link to a hosted article, why not just link the TOC to the post itself and track it?  Why not track both a TOC link and article link and see which gets the most clicks?

You’ll still get your ad impressions – those in the email and those on the site – because people are still opening the email.  Recipient’s that want to peruse your newsletter at their leisure may, and those with less time can cut to the chase. 

The next point that could use some ‘splainin’ is:

  • Include multiple ways for readers to get in touch with your brand. Don’t just give them your e-mail address; provide a phone number and a postal address as well. The latter is particularly effective in reassuring recipients that your organization has an offline presence and isn’t just some shadowy virtual business.

The US CAN-SPAM Act requires a physical address be included in all promotional messages.  The white paper the author of “Back to Basics” reviewed was not from a US company, but that doesn’t change the precept that if you have nothing to hide there’s no reason to hide.

Now for a little of “it depends“; if you don’t have any sort of call-in service or support, you might want to rethink including a phone number just because someone said it’s a “best practice” – maybe it’s not for you….

The only point that I disagree with is;

  • Include a “forward to a friend” link. Sure, recipients could use the forward button of their e-mail browser to pass along a message to someone. But by embedding a forward function in your template, you can track how many people use the link to forward the e-mail.

I was just having this discussion earlier this week….  Recipients do use the forward button on their client.  They always have and always will.  They will forward your message to their friends in a way in which they are not giving out their friend’s email address to a third party. 

These types of email-forwarding forms work well to share Web pages, but not email messages.  The forward button always has and always will be king.  At no time in almost 14 years of email marketing have I ever found the percentage of reach, conversion, whatever, worth the effort to support a FTAF function in an email message.  And in this day and age, I’d be more focused on sharing to social networks than wasting my time supporting built-in FTAF that was never much to write home about anyway. 

You don’t need recipient’s to divulge their friend’s email addresses to measure forwarded messages, or to find out who forwards your messages; you only have to read your data….