You want your customers to read your email, your tweets, your Facebook postings, and your blog. If they’re already doing so, great: Congratulations.
But beware: Too many businesses go out of their way to annoy customers and get them to unsubscribe or turn away–often without even being aware of the problem. Are you guilty of this?
1. Avoid Content Crimes
Here are a few of the worst content crimes:
Using Flash graphics as the first page of a site, so that anyone who’s not on a laptop or desktop can’t go past that page
Using tons of high-resolution graphics in an email, not realizing that countless people are reading their email on an Android device in a land of minimal connectivity
Making links hard to find or read–or, even worse, making readers (or, as you should probably think of them, customers) scroll all the way to the bottom of an email to find them. Ever have to scroll through 10 pages of text on a mobile device?
Absolutely nothing drives me crazier (and gets me to unsubscribe to a newsletter, or quit a site, faster) than not being able to read an email or website because I’m on my Android or iPad and not in front of a regular computer with a regular email client.
If you’re one of the guilty parties: Why do you go out of your way to cause grief to the very people who pay your bills?
2. Respect Your Customers’ Differences
Here are a few general things to remember about customers and content consumption.
Platforms vary: You don’t control how the customer gets his content; he does.
Customers expect privacy: Just because you have all of their contact info doesn’t mean you have the right to use it.
Customers’ habits vary: Before you first reach out to a customer, know exactly how they like to receive their information. And think in detail: Getting email on a desktop is a much different experience than on a BlackBerry. There’s a reason text-based emails haven’t gone away.
Go where your customers are: If your audience isn’t where you’re trying to reach them, you won’t reach them. Sounds simple, but way too many companies have yet to figure this out.
3. Keep Things Simple
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It’s great to keep an eye on technology trends, but remember that your customers are more important than the broader population. Two years ago, I had a client tell me, “But everyone will have full html email on all devices in the next year!” But the truth is, some customers still want text-only email. Make sure you have a backup version that will make them happy.
I test out probably close to 30 phones a year, and on each one, I make sure to read a full html email with photos. I’ve yet to find one that looks as great as it does on a laptop or desktop. This doesn’t mean they don’t look “OK,” but OK isn’t good enough when you’re trying to give your audience what they want.
4. Test Your Links