There is no doubt that, from early on, email has been a most prominent communication stream, and a clear protagonist in business communications. Therefore it’s hardly surprising that its use is in a bind to rules: either official and strict regulations, or the good old etiquette that many organizations choose to follow.
Etiquette is important indeed. Before regulations like the GDPR became effective, etiquette had been a significant part of email communications, while a good email etiquette would reflect a company’s healthy and ethical marketing practice. Adopting a good email etiquette proactively would prove that the company has values and moral rules that govern the way they approach their current customers and prospects.
But while regulations are in place to set the official rules of the game, good etiquette has become more relevant than ever. With markets becoming more competitive and customers being more demanding and hard to impress, businesses need to do more than just comply with the legal framework; they need to prove they still care, and share a little bit of their good culture with their recipients. So what would a good email etiquette for B2C communications consist of, and how can we improve our practice? Here’s a few steps we can take:
- Consider cultural differences. Email is probably the best and most effective channel for targeting a diverse international audience. Still, creating content that matches the expectations of this diverse audience can be a huge challenge. From language and fonts, to colors and graphics, people around the globe have different levels of tolerance and understanding. Remain professional at all times, and avoid making your content too ‘’colorful’’.
- Mind the tone. Email can be impersonal; what sounds like a good joke in your colleagues’ ears, might look completely different on the customer’s screen. You may want your emails to be original, fresh and funny, but there is a very fine line between being original and overdoing it. Better think twice before adding another pun to your email.
- Proofread. Spelling errors, poor grammar, broken links, or -even worse- wrong information about products, services and prices, will only harm your company’s reputation and demotivate recipients. Check your emails carefully before sending, and ask for another pair of eyes to have a look, if necessary.
- Make sure the subject matches the content. We all agree that a good, ‘catchy” subject line helps increase open rate. It’s important to ensure that it won’t go downhill from there, though. Promising subject lines shouldn’t lead to irrelevant, poor or disappointing content. Make sure to live up to the customer’s expectations and provide content which is relevant, and at least as interesting as the subject.
- Make unsubscribe easy. There’s no point in keeping subscribers just for the sake of it. If people are not interested in receiving your company’s updates anymore, they should be able to unsubscribe easily, timely, and -most importantly- without having to explain why.
Since May 2018, when GDPR came into effect, every respectable business who operate within the EU have adjusted their methods to comply with the regulation, and marketers have enthusiastically embraced the new rules. Not only that, but according to a DMA 2019 survey on data privacy, almost 59% of marketers want future data laws to be stricter than the GDPR, compared to just 11% the year before.
But before these stricter laws come in place, companies will have to complement the existing regulations with good practice, or etiquette.