My dad is one of my favorite people in the world. He’s 82, retired, and lives in Winter Haven, Florida. He has a great sense of humor as well as a firm grasp of what I do. In fact, I once heard him describe my job to another retiree, saying, “My son is an email marketer. He helps companies send email newsletters—not that spam crap—the stuff you sign up for and want.”
To give you an idea of where I get my sense of humor, back in 2000 when I was trying to lose weight, my dad called me and said, “I’ve been doing some research on the Internet and I think I’ve figured out why you’re overweight! Best I can tell you, you’re about six inches too short!”
Thanks, Dad. Much appreciated.
Anyway, since my dad has been listening to me about email marketing, he now forwards me the email he gets from retailers, restaurants, etc. These are usually accompanied by questions or observations. In the spirit of another popular senior’s point of view, here are a few of my dad’s thoughts on email:
Sh*t My Dad Says About…
- Segmenting your audience
“Why would a travel site send me an advertisement for Spring Break travel discounts to Cancun? Don’t they know I graduated in 1950?” “I’d see a beach full of young ladies in bikinis and keel-over (with a smile on my face =o).”
- Clearly, my father knows it’s important to know who your audience is. Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports supports this: Does segmentation work? Stats and case studies.
- Knowing your audience (no, really)
“If they really want me to read this, don’t you think they could make the type a bit larger? I don’t see as well as I used to.” “Remember, the eyes go second.”
- Tiny fonts in an email to the elderly is just dumb. Chad White addresses this over at the Retail Email Blog: Boomer Legibility Initiative for a New Decade.
- List hygiene
“My doctor sent Linda [his wife] an email two months ago with a ‘We miss you and asking that she make an appointment soon.’”
- One problem here: My father has had the same doctor for 15 years, and his doctor even went to Linda’s funeral back in 2000. A 10-year-old record? It’s time to clean your list!
- Proper targeting
“I don’t need a bigger unit or to last longer, I just need to be able to pee. Send me Flomax discounts, no Viagra.”
- Well, spam is rarely targeted, but you can see his point.
- Double opt-in
“I subscribed to a national chain restaurant newsletter and then they sent me an email asking if I really wanted to subscribe and to confirm. Asking once wasn’t enough? I guess it’s like their service: I always have to ask twice for a refill on my iced tea.”
- Double opt-in does have its drawbacks. John Caldwell of Red Pill Email chimes in on it in Paradise by the Email Double Opt-In.
Takeaway: Most of these mistakes can be avoided by knowing your audience and understanding their needs. Don’t treat all subscribers the same way. Always segment, and then segment again. Define your audience and deliver relevant content.
And, of course, consider the design and font sizes when sending to older subscribers like my dad. He’ll appreciate it and complain less, which will make me happy, too.