The Mistake of Assuming

Every now and then someone says, “I assumed [insert fellow employee’s name] was going to take care of this…” And as soon as he says that, we all know exactly what the problem was: he assumed. Because more often than we like, our assumptions are incorrect.

To prevent falling victim to any more of our own assumptions, here are a few things I’d encourage you to think about as you approach your next email marketing campaign:

Would I Open This? Would I Read It?

Don’t assume email recipients see the value in what you are mailing just because you do. Never forget that if you fail to deliver something of interest, your customers either won’t open the message, will unsubscribe from your list or worse yet, will report your message as spam.

To test your assumptions, print out your next creative, and walk it around the office. Wait–I bet you forgot the subject line, didn’t you? Print the subject line on a separate piece of paper, all by itself. And as you walk your documents around, only show people the creative if they indicate they’d open your message based on the subject line. And ask if they’d like to get more emails like this. You’ll quickly be able to test your assumptions about the value of your emails and the effectiveness of your creative.

Am I the First Person My Customer Thinks About?

Email addresses, unlike diamonds, aren’t forever. I’m sure you’ve changed your email address multiple times yourself – statistics show that approximately 30% of your list will change their email address this year. Given that you are working so hard to deliver value, it would be easy to assume that your customers are courteous enough to notify you when they change their email addresses. But now you know the dangers of assuming, so think this one through. How often do your customers currently change their email addresses with you? Are you seeing ~30% do this?–I’ll take your silence as a “no.”

The point is you’re going to need to bring in some assistance in this arena. Rather than assuming your customers will immediately think of you upon changing their email addresses, make sure you are implementing ECOA and other recovery programs. That way, you won’t lose your hard-earned customers simply because your database is out of date.

Are My Customers Human?

We certainly hope so. And because of this, they make mistakes. And this means typos on your signup forms are making it into your email address list. While you may be assuming your ESP cleans these out, you should talk through with them exactly what happens to these addresses. If you spent $4 of your advertising budget to drive that click-through and get that signup form filled out in the first place, isn’t it worth spending the additional time and money necessary to make sure the registration is captured properly?

A number of companies had assumed that there was no way to spell-check email addresses. But when they questioned assumptions, they discovered FreshAddress has revolutionary technology that actually does just that, and their websites now notice when their customer mistypes “hotmail” or had too many “o”’s in “yahoo,” and fixes it, automatically!

But even if you aren’t yet a FreshAddress customer, there are other tricks you can utilize to help encourage your website visitors to be more careful when entering their email addresses. In fact, I just gave an hour-long webinar detailing these techniques.

Whether it’s your content, your database, your sign-ups, or some other aspect of your business, the bottom line is to make sure you are always looking to learn, and always pushing yourself to think beyond what you assume is true. Test, test, test! Though you hear that advice in almost every marketing article you read, I know none of us are doing it enough. That’s because testing your hypothesis, taking the time to question assumptions and take that extra step, feels like effort. But trust me, effort reaps rewards.

Testing Assumptions

So now it’s time to test an assumption I’ve made. I assumed you would receive our newsletter and would be interested enough to click-through to read this whole article. So let’s find out how I did…if you made it this far, let our marketing team know! Just send an email to us at – tell us if this newsletter has value, what more or less we should write about, and anything else you want to share. Please put “FreshPerspectives” in the subject line and we’ll randomly draw someone’s name by July 1st for a $50 Visa gift card.

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