Marketing can be loosely defined as product promotion, and while this isn’t an inaccurate assessment, it’s certainly lacking a few important points. Just sending email to people isn’t going to work. If you do that, most of your mail will end up deleted; if you don’t refine your methods, the company may follow. Here are a few terrible email marketing mistakes that can send your campaign to the dumpster.
1. You send generic mail
The purpose of email marketing is to inspire people to action, and that’s tough to do when you send something generic. You can’t inspire them with your call to action when you talk in generalities. Instead of talking about “people,” use the word “you.” Make your email seem like a conversation rather than a speech.
If you’re having trouble writing in this style, just think of it as talking to an old friend. Think less of selling your product and more about helping your old friends discover something that can improve their lives. When your readers feel like you’re invested in their well-being, they become more receptive and open to your suggestions.
2. The individual components are weak
Your primary function is to sell the product. How you do that will vary, but each element of the email must help toward that goal. You can’t go with a “greater than the sum of their parts” approach, in which the individual elements are weak but kind of work well together. A headline can get mail deleted before the rest of it comes into play.
Much like a company’s offering, you must keep innovating and improving your pitch. It must be as interesting as possible. Every time you send out an email marketing campaign, check your metrics. See if it did better than the previous one and figure out where you could improve. A good response means that you’re going in the right direction — not that you’re done refining.
3. Throwing spaghetti at the wall
There are plenty of instances when you should use the spray-and-pray method, but email marketing is not one of them. Marketing is a precise effort. While there is some intuition involved, for the most part, your decisions are based on facts and trends. That includes knowing what part of your target market responds to email marketing.
This is an important sticking point. Just because someone’s in your target market doesn’t mean they’ll respond to, or even like, your email. Some won’t be interested simply because they’re not as invested in the product, others because they just distrust their email. Whatever the reason, it’s your job to figure out which of your prospects will be most responsive and target your campaign accordingly.
4. You don’t have a call to action
One of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is not having a call to action. They list all the benefits of the offering, but they don’t tell customers how to take advantage of the product. The customer is left knowing more, they maybe even be excited, but they’re not prompted to do anything with their excitement.
When they’re done reading your email, the customer must know what to do. They must also feel compelled to do it. End every email with clear instructions, and if appropriate, a time limit.
5. Your offer isn’t compelling
Email is special. It’s not something people involuntarily see or hear, like a bus ad or a jingle. They must look at your subject line, consider it worth their time to learn more, and click their email. They must have a reason to respond, which means anything you put in must be special. Information they can see on your site is redundant and often pointless.
If you want email marketing to work for you, you must offer recipients something special. Offer them a two-for-one special or a limited-time discount; give them something they wouldn’t find anywhere else. Not only will it increase responses for your current campaign, but it also will increase the chance of further emails being opened.
6. Having a poor mailing list
At the heart of every successful email marketing campaign is a great mailing list. Some marketers elect to build the list themselves by giving people the option to join on the website. Others elect to have a list broker find a good one for the company. In either event, it’s your responsibility to make sure it fits your criteria.
If you built the list yourself, you can vet its contents yourself. If you’re using a list broker, ask questions before and after the campaign. Ask them when it was last updated and find out how they check list validity and accuracy. You cannot diagnose or improve a campaign if the problem is in the list.
7. You don’t have analytics
Consider a scenario wherein after you launch your email marketing campaign, company revenue increases dramatically. You could go ahead and call it a win, but can you do that in good faith? There are plenty of reasons there could be a sudden burst of customer response, from concurrent marketing campaigns to a seasonal change. Not knowing for sure how your campaign contributed to the company keeps you from accurately assessing its performance.
Fortunately, many options are available. Embedded email tracking codes allow you to accurately assess click, conversion, and bounce rate. Ask your email provider for options.
8. Follow-ups are rare or poorly done
Customer interaction doesn’t end when you send your mail. It doesn’t end when they decide to click your link. It doesn’t end when they choose to take you up on your offering. In fact, it never ends. Once they choose your offering, it’s time to follow-up.
Make sure the customer experience is as pleasant as possible. Your email should give them a taste of what kind of service the company offers. Make sure there’s no disconnect between what your email promises and what the company can deliver. A positive encounter will encourage customers to come back for more, giving you more value per email sent.
9. The campaign is based on poor data
Email marketing campaigns can die for a lot of reasons, the worst being poor data. Data is the foundation of any marketing campaign. If your data is poor, the campaign sinks. Unfortunately, bad data doesn’t just come from poor surveys. What was once accurate can lose value over time. People change and can move in and out of your target market. Once-responsive audiences can move to other things, leaving your campaigns in the dust.
Keep up by making sure your data is up-to-date. Make sure you’re still targeting the right audience. Look for duplicate entries and eliminate them so your response estimates are more accurate. Weed out any accounts that aren’t appropriate.
10. You get complacent
Nothing lasts forever. Campaigns must adapt to the times or fall behind. Everything about the field of business changes at some point, from the customers to the competition. Never stop changing to adapt to your market. Keep testing, keep innovating, and keep improving. Even a slight tweak to your content can make a huge difference.
Email marketing isn’t for the faint of heart. Even a single mistake can cause the entire campaign to fail. Vigilance is the key: keep an eye on every aspect of the campaign and you’ll minimize mistakes.