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Being an email marketer, it’s funny how often you bump into something that makes you think of work! A little while ago after visiting the doctor, I received an email about ordering repeat prescriptions.

So far, so good you’d think. Some good targeting going on there.

But when I gave it a read, what struck me were all the missed opportunities. For example, the email ‘from address’ was totally unrecognisable, and there was litte in the way of clever personalisation that you often see in the private sector.

What’s more, it’s the only email (indeed, the only communication of all types) I’ve had from them in the last 18 months or so. It was an interesting message to kick off our e-relationship.

Why be a stranger?

Someone has clearly thought: “look how technology can replace all the letters and paperwork we used to send out” but without really driving the strategy home. Replacing letters with email is all well and good but it’s just a tiny piece of the whole picture.

If you’re really trying to change user behaviour, you have to reinforce your message at every opportunity. Why didn’t it come from a recognisable source? Why hadn’t just a little more thought been put into joining all this up?

Considering the recent news from The Telegraph that just 89 patients signed up to a new initiative allowing them to contact their GP by email, you sort of get the feeling that some of these schemes are missing that element of co-ordination that could really generate mainstream adoption.

Part of this has to be down to the marketing strategy. How many of you even knew the “email your GP” scheme was out there?

If you don’t publicise these initiatives, how do you expect anyone to take them up? When are organisations like these going to learn to make the most of digital marketing?

A common diagnosis

In a similar way, there are many companies who use email marketing tools but are failing to make the full use of key features. Ironically, these can often be ones they highlighted rapturously when putting out their tender.

You almost have to ask whether marketers have enough time to make the most of these features, and we should certainly consider how you can help them really get their money’s worth from them.

Naturally there’s the option of many “managed services” out there but to really keep things simple, we’ve spent a lot of time revising our welcome programme for customers who start using our tools.

Sophisticated triggers cater for more than 40 different possible points in the onboarding lifecycle or different approaches to it. But you don’t necessarily need to invest in it that heavily to get results.

One step at a time

Sometimes it’s a matter of starting small. Roll out one email to say hello and establish the relationship. From there, you can start to implement more copy, perhaps reach out once a week.

That only means 52 emails a year. Even if you just decide to go monthly, that’s 12 emails and, with all the tracking and analysis available, you’ll begin to literally see the results.

So start small, forget the fear factor and get stuck in. We’re with you every step of the way. We’ve done this before, we know how to monitor it and we know how to help you develop the best possible strategy.

Tink Taylor

Published 7 February, 2012 by Tink Taylor

Tink Taylor is Managing Director of dotmailer and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

9 more posts from this author

Comments (2)


Nick Stamoulis

Email marketing can be extremely effective, as long as you are doing it properly. The key is to send a personalized message that is relevant to the recipients needs. Segment the list as much as possible. If a message isn't relevant it will get deleted or ignored.

over 4 years ago


Chris Dobson

Agree that lots of companies (small to large) don't utilise their email capability fully. The ability to segment and personalise (using the right data) creates much higher levels of relevance and consumer engagement.

Few other points to mention:

Have a clear objective for each communication and your programme as a whole....and ensure you have a way to measure this. Don't just do something for the sake of it - every communication is negative unless it generates a positive response. Many companies untargeted approach is simply spam to the majority of customers. Please don't add to this!

Don't run email campaigns based upon 'we must email everyone every week/month etc' as mentioned above. You will soon turn customers away from opening your emails. Less is often more - even though to do more is very cheap. If it is relevant then send it - if not - don't.

Finally, use your email to generate further customer understanding to help refine your approach. This may be as simple as working on the right time or day to send, to optimising for different viewing platforms (android/iphone/tablet/PC etc), to using click behaviour to drive segmented insight.

over 4 years ago

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