How NOT to send a third-party endorsement email
The third-party endorsement (special offer, or whatever you want to call it) is essentially a paid ad to your subscriber list. You send it to your list, as opposed to giving your list to the advertiser, for a variety of reasons, chief of which is to leverage your trust relationship with your subscribers so they open an obvious advertisement email. But this leverage can backfire if done incorrectly, causing you to spoil that trust and lose customers.
We love Net Applications for their HitsLink real-time analytics product, and several other internet market research services. We've been long-time customers and they've built up a lot of trust capital with us. So when we use them as the example of how NOT to send out a third-party endorsement email, we are hoping you see how even a trusted relationship can sour with one poor decision.*
Header - To the right is the basic header info. Nothing too terrible, Net Applications typically doesn't have a "From" name, just their email address. The "specialoffers" email got trapped in our spam queue but they do get points for separating it from their main newsletter address so people marking this message as spam continue to receive their other emails.
Message - Below is the first part of the message. Here's where it starts to get ugly. There's no mention of Net Applications (the brand sending the email whose reputation I trust). The links all point to URL's on their domain, but they redirect to this Infusionsoft site, which makes me more concerned as a subscriber (a better tactic would have been to either host the landing pages on their own site, or link to the Infusionsoft site directly). The rest of the email is your typical ad, no big deal.
- Disclose it - If you're leveraging your own relationship for a third-party endorsement, tell your subscribers why they're getting this email.
- Separate it - the one high point in this email was the separate sender address, a smart move to make sure you don't lose subscribers off your regular list. The one downside: the email may never clear spam filters because this new address isn't listed as a safe sender. How to avoid this: put reminders in all your email communication to whitelist your whole domain.
- Protect it - You're taking a risk with this type of email, and should expect some fallout from subscribers who think you're trading their information for money. Tell them why they're getting this email, and explain how their information is still safe with you.
What other tips do you have for sending out third-party endorsement emails?
* Author's note: we still intend to use Net Applications and their products, but let's face it, we did just "out" them publicly on the Internet, and that isn't a very nice thing to do. Sorry, guys.