The 21 Do’s & Don’ts for Associations in Email Marketing


This 21 do’s and don’ts for Franchisors in Email Marketing post is undoubtedly not meant to be an exhaustive list but should serve as a guidepost for your programmatic email efforts. This post is all about you, the Franchisor, and actions in your email program to create awareness, nurture and convert people/subscribers interested in becoming a Franchisee.

Many Franchisors ask the question regarding franchise email marketing: “what are the best practices I should adopt?” Of course, there are fundamental best practices such as not purchasing lists, privacy, compliance, and those that minimize risk.

However, the best practices we will be focusing on are assuming that you have these fundamentals in place. We will be looking at those that YOU must implement using your creativity and leveraging the experience of a vendor or a group of experienced people who have seen and done it all – the ones that incrementally will move the needle on your email marketing program.

This post is written from 21 years of email experience on the client, agency, and vendor side of email. It is also written from over 11 years of experience creating and implementing email strategies for some of the planet’s biggest and most complex brands.

Lastly, this post is about learning that there is a platform that is made for the Franchisor that allows you to communicate on behalf of the Franchisee to the end customer. If you like what you read, give iPost, which is made for Franchises, an opportunity to speak with you about how to make your email program even better than it is right now.

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The Do’s

1 ­Make the first interaction memorable.

Take yourself back for a moment and remember a time where you started something new. Perhaps you were the new kid in school or on a team and asked yourself the following questions:

  • How were you welcomed?
  • Did people guide you around the halls and help you to the classroom if you got lost?
  • Did the team or coach involve you from the start to get you excited?

Now imagine for a moment a new franchise prospect who is interested in learning more about your franchise.

  • Is it easy for the franchise prospect to put in an inquiry?
  • What sort of education or information is given inside the web experience?
  • What does the first touch look like? Is it branded and indicative of your tone?
  • Do you communicate effectively across channels?
  • How much information is asked upfront?
  • Is that information being used to create personalized emails?
  • How is the handoff from marketing to sales?

As a digital marketer, you can make the first few interactions in digital channels memorable with a well-thought-out new prospect onboarding experience. The creation of memorable lead nurturing moments helps build trust and engagement both for the franchise and franchise development.

Additional tip: Remember, personalization means not just addressing your audience with their names, but understanding their concerns and offering solutions. Mastering this is imperative for driving franchise leads through email marketing.

2 Be authentic: use the words of your Franchisee’s

As the Franchisor, you know how great it is to be a Franchisee, but sometimes people like to hear the words of others. So authenticity around the challenges and triumphs of being a Franchisee business owner must be woven into the content you send as you start to build that relationship.

It’s not about quotes; it’s about stories from the Franchisee that will guide the prospect to crave and learn more. In the first few email touches, these stories must be told in a humanized tone. As you form your calendar around authentic content and stories, it might be a good idea to dig deep into your analytics to find out what people are engaging with on your site or materials. Once that happens, technology then becomes your friend when it comes to serving it up in a series of emails that look to supplement any conversations you may be having with the prospect.

3 Use automation to your advantage.

Any technology you use to push content should offer an intuitive way to set up automation. These automations can be a combination of franchise email marketing campaigns and SMS, but they should be on a canvas that is easy to read, learn and make agile decisions to change and optimize.

Franchisor marketers should create a welcome/onboarding or re-engagement series based on engagement scoring of their prospects quickly and easily using modern-day platforms. The advancement of technology platforms has eliminated the long-held belief that only “specialists” can do.

Automations allow for the Franchisor marketer to create efficiencies and scale in their programs. This is why you should be sure that your Email Service Provider can handle franchise-specific criteria when it comes to your needs.

4 Measure beyond the open/click rate.

Open and clicks are only directional metrics in a class-leading Franchisor email program. As a digital marketer, you need to think beyond the click around how your program performs. Here are four metrics to consider:

    • Page Views (PV’s) per: You can draw insight by the number of PVs on your website post click to hone your content strategy, leading to greater engagement. Some specific PV’s metrics are:
      • PV’s per click
      • PV’s per content type
      • PV’s per email type
      • PV’s – mobile vs. desktop
  • Email Sentiment: To gauge how effective your content strategy is in your emails, using open and clicks is one way, but asking for and receiving user sentiment on your email campaigns is vital. It can be as a simple thumbs up/down on specific pieces of content, the entire email, or using dynamic banners to grab a survey.
  • Reach: Reach can be measured as Open Reach or Click Reach but are distinctively different from traditional email metrics of open or click rate. Reach measures over a period of time (e.g., 30/60/90 days) and gives us the percentage of subscribers who opened/clicked at least one email during that set period. Reach provides greater insight into your database’s health over time rather than looking at it at the campaign level.
  • UcTOR: Unique Click To Open Rate measures how many people click on a piece of content after they “open” the email. It measures your content’s effectiveness, mainly to categorize each component and understand what “types” perform the best.

The goal of measuring metrics is to create insights that will lead to the
email program’s growth. Pretty graphs and using open or clicks will no
longer cut it.

5 Create your benchmarks.

As marketers, we should be insanely curious about many things. One area that marketers love to know about their email programs is how they stack up against others and industry benchmarks. While benchmark studies provide the data nerds with something to drool over, they are not necessarily all that indicative of what matters to your franchise.

Instead of pouring over data in benchmark studies, you should consider creating your benchmarks using historical engagement data and determine if you are on or off track at least twice a year.

Benchmarks should be set by you, for you, and not by someone else who may or may not completely understand your organization.

6 Engagement scores matter.

If you have not created an engagement score model, you should. An engagement scores gives you insight on what segments to focus on when creating a content strategy, a testing calendar, or even a series of campaigns.

For example, those identified as lapsed or dormant and who use to be highly engaged vs. highly engaged or new can provide clarity on direction over the next quarter or even year. Engagement scores are similar to lead scoring, but they take on new meaning because you can use email analytics or layer in other cross-channel engagement for greater visibility.

The tracking and use of engagement scores can be the difference between being laser-focused on what needs to be done vs. speculating on what comes next. Your ESP partner should be able to help define YOUR scoring system.

7 Audit something every 30 days.

One of the most common mistakes and sayings in any email program is that of “set it and forget it.” As a result, things break, sometimes for no apparent reason, including items that are considered “automated.” As with any daily task list you create, it is wise to make a monthly task to audit something in your email program every month. Here are a few suggestions on things that you may consider auditing:

  • The sign-up process on your site.
  • The welcome email timing.
  • The first ten days of what is sent in your program.
  • Whether the social icons link in your emails are linked.
  • Your unsubscribe process.
  • One behavioral trigger.
  • Your preference/subscription center.
  • An automation.
  • The call to action
  • Your IP reputation.
  • The engagement of one of your top ISP’s.

Auditing something is a bit like cleaning the house. It may not all be fun, but it sure is great to walk into a great-smelling and looking place. Your subscribers will also appreciate it.

8 Establish a test and learn culture.

The only way your program is going to grow and become the best in class is by testing. Email testing is hard to get started, but organizations with a test and learn culture thrive for years to come.

A test and learn culture comes from within, and you have to be the one that creates the groundswell. If your email program is complacent and never looks for opportunities, you cannot expect your subscribers or potential customers to ride it out with you.

Your prospect’s needs and wants are constantly changing, and you have to be the one ahead of the game. Testing helps you understand what works and what your email subscribers want rather than speculating. Testing involves failure and can sometimes lead to frustration and abandonment. However, your franchise is not competing with other franchises for inbox attention. You are competing with all of the other emails your subscriber receives, so it is imperative to grow your program, and testing is the ONLY way to do that.

Once you create the groundswell, you will be addicted to learning and even failing.

9 Humanize your tone.

Dear Valued Prospect or Dear ANDREW KORDEK is not a way to address those interested in investing in your franchise. 2020 has taught the world that brands are now required to humanize, harmonize and empathize with what they say and do. As a golden rule, try to personalize the greeting; for goodness sakes, don’t ALLCAPS THE NAME!

It is ok to be less formal and clinical in how you address prospects. However, they want to trust your brand, approach and there is no better way to do that than through a humanized tone in your email program.

There are various types of humanized tones you can take, so iPost recommends that you test which one works the best for you. This is especially true of how you start the email relationship and end it on the unsubscribe page.

Speaking like a marketer is so 2019.

10 Make it a point to know your cadence and frequency.

Sometimes marketers get a bit overzealous in their email cadence and frequency. We sometimes use email as a crutch, and that can get us in trouble. We must find the right balance of what you send vs. what you promised vs. what they expect. That is not only challenging but rewarding once you find the sweet spot.

To make it happen, take some time to create a subscriber email journey map of the first 180 days. This journey map can serve as a blueprint for optimizing the email experience for each subscriber. You may or may not be surprised about what and how much you send, but the visibility and insight you will gain are priceless. Email journey mapping is not easy, and it will take some time, but this is all about your brand and the experience across digital.

The Don’ts

1 Create barriers to receiving communication from you.

Some people love to window shop before they commit. You never want to limit people from receiving emails from your franchise, even if they have not specifically raised their hand to want to explore further or invest. Give them a chance to receive content via a newsletter so that they can find value and be inspired to take the next step.

If you create a barrier to entry by only sending emails to those that raised
their hand, you might be missing an opportunity.

2 Send the same email over and over.

It’s called lazy marketing when organizations repeatedly send the same email and subject line to grab the prospect’s attention. Avoid falling into the trap of doing what you have always done to get the attention and branch out using stories, dynamic content, and automations to find the new control.

Go back to Do #7 and #10 and ensure that you audit what is being sent to the prospect.

3 Underestimate people are reading your emails.

Despite what some thought leaders in the email industry believe, people still read emails. Therefore, designing your emails for the scroll and those that read will involve testing to have the right combination of content to create enough curiosity for the click.

As a franchise organization, you want your prospects to be engaged, so don’t always feel that your emails’ engagement needs to be driven by imagery.

4 Assume that your ESP is responsible for deliverability.

Technology is a beautiful thing, but be wary of any email technology that guarantees your emails’ inbox placement. Franchises, along with all other companies, are driven by a reputation made up of your actions.

If you use old/dirty lists with lousy content and hit spam traps while getting on blacklists, no technology will help. Your franchise carries a reputation, and the big ISP’s use sophisticated AI to determine that reputation, and there are no deliverability “hacks” as there once were.

Excellent deliverability takes time and regular maintenance, just like nurturing your prospective Franchisees.

5 Use stock photography in your emails.

Subscribers want to feel a connection to your organization, and one way to help in this area is to avoid as often as you can the use of stock photography in your emails. Of course, stock photography has its place in email marketing, but if you try to advocate for something more, try using photos that people can relate to.

To set yourself apart from other Franchise email programs, you sometimes need to go the extra mile and humanize your imagery.

6 Ask a Yes/No question in your subject line.

Questions in subject lines create curiosity, but the one area you want to avoid is asking a question with a Yes or No answer. If you have a question in a subject line, ensure that the answer is an open one. Here is an example:

Are you still interested in speaking about the XXXX Franchise?
(Yes/No) – *DELETE*

How much can I make with XXXX Franchise?
Are you not sold on this? The best way to find out is to do a 10/10/80 A/B test and see what wins.

7 Assume everyone knows your value proposition.

As marketers who work inside the franchise, we know what value we bring. We know what we stand for, who and how we help, the communities we serve, and most of all, the industry we represent. However, the average person might not know all of this goodness.

One of the most critical jobs that email can help with is educating, and one welcome email won’t do it. Almost every email you send should reinforce one aspect of the value proposition you bring locally and nationally. This might be a no-brainer to some but take a look back at the last 6-12 months of all the emails you have sent and ask if you have done a great job educating people who signed up/put an inquiry about becoming a Franchisee.

Ensure that your value proposition is a part of your content plan because it can’t hurt; it only helps with conversions or engagement.

8 Assume people know where to click.

As with Don’t #7, assuming things because we know them doesn’t make for a good strategy. The average member may not know what is and isn’t clickable and what may be intuitive to us is certainly not that obvious to them.

The best chance you can give your email program to perform is to make as many things clickable in the email to aid in their experience. This is especially true if you have a large mobile audience or if your audience might have dark mode enabled on their device.

9 Play hide and seek.

If email marketing is an integral part of converting leads into prospects, the last thing you want to do is make someone hunt on where to sign up. If the sign-up box is at the bottom of the site in 4pt font, next to big social icons, it might be time to re-think the commitment to the channel.

Web designers don’t care for pop-ups/pop-overs or any interstitials, but the truth is they work when done right. So do yourself a favor, right after reading this whitepaper, and find 2-3 friends or colleagues to go and sign up for email on your website. If they cannot find it in less than 5 seconds or seem to struggle on where it is, it might be time for a new email acquisition strategy.

10 Devalue your unsubscribe experience.

You never want to see someone leave your email program, but if they happen to do so, ensure that the experience is just as good, if not better than signing up.

Many organizations often overlook the unsubscribe experience because people have chosen to opt-out, and spending time on how they leave is a waste of time. However, if the impression you give when they want out is clinical or cold, or merely not acceptable, that will be the last impression your subscriber will have.

If you have any hope of getting them back, spend time making that experience wonderful and lasting. It will be worth it.

11 Make it hard to read email on a mobile device.

People read emails on trains, planes, buses, standing in line, waiting for their friends at the restaurant, on vacation, in the bathroom, and most of all in front of the TV. When they read it in all of these places, they usually do it on their mobile devices.

If your emails don’t look good on a mobile device and force the subscriber to pinch or scroll horizontally, rendering the text and message unreadable, consider making a change immediately.

It’s 2021, and every company should have their emails render appropriately on mobile devices. It could be the difference between someone wanting to do business with you or not.


The impact that a great email marketing program can have on conversions is not difficult to measure. However, it takes patience, time, and, more importantly, a partner to invest in your success. Take one or all 21 of these do’s and don’ts and make it happen.

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