I pretty much disagree with almost every point in Brand-Aid for Everyday Email, by Barry Stamos, especially for B2B communications.
I deal with about 100 clients on a weekly basis, and get probably 1,000 emails on average each week. Only one of them sends me email in a branded HTML form. You know which client I hate to receive email from? Yep, you guess it, that one.
Why you might ask?
Because I’m busy as shit, basically. I’ve got three things on my mind when I get an email: 1) who is it from and 2) what do they need/want and 3) how do I contact them to learn more about their request?
I can get all of this from a plain text email, as long as they provide it with a simple greeting, quick body, and a signature line. Nothing more is needed in the business world. I know who they are, or I don’t. I don’t need a ‘branding message’ to clog up my email inbox.
What was it Mark Twain said? “If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter?” There is some wisdomin that I think.
Also, I personally use two or three email clients, and some support HTML and others don’t. Why risk the chance of having your message displayed horribly to me, if you don’t know what kind of email client I’m using? Isn’t the real message more important than your damn logo? I mean really? If you’re emailing me for a reason, then it’s probably important to you that I get the message quickly and easily, right?
I hate getting email from that one client that has his logo at the top, and a back ground image, and uses colored text… nothing to me say “I don’t get the internet” any louder than that (and this client is an interactive only agency… egads).
Do I read these emails that I hate? Sure, they help pay the bills, but do I enjoy it? Absolutely not.
In the B2C realm, email templates with branding message would probably work just fine, as the number of times a customer contacts a company are infinitely smaller (percentage-wise) as the B2B contacts are made. Individual customers need that branding re-inforced, and I can see the template system greatly improving this communication, as long as they’re done right. At the same time, a good company wide template can help the entire company communicate with their consumers better, and with a more seemingly personal message, as well as provide a billboard of sorts for non-personal messages to the consumer.
Whatever you do, please keep this out of the B2B world, and be ready to piss of some long time customers that aren’t ready for the change if you decide to start using company wide templates.