7 Sins of Email Marketing

Email is part of our lives and part of most marketing plans because of how inexpensive it is. Yet, as important as email marketing is, people still just seem to overlook the obvious.  Dive in to my 7 sins of email marketing aka enormous pet peeves.

1. Bad From or Subject Lines

Think about how your email appears to your recipient. You only have a few seconds so make themEmail Inbox count. What you think is creative or cute could very well look like spam.  Make sure you have something in either the From line or the Subject line to make it clear to your customer that it is something they want to read.  If you have an employee name for the from line, then make sure it’s clear in your subject line why they want to open it.  Not a day goes by that I don’t get legitimate emails that I can’t tell what they are.  The low end risk is they simply hit delete, but the high end risk is you get enough negative hits that you get blacklisted.

2. Bad Links

Usually if you’re sending out a marketing oriented email, you have an end goal in mind – don’t ruin it up by messing up your links.  The absolute worst is having links that don’t work.  You’ve just wasted your time and resources with nothing to show for it.  Having generic links aren’t much better.  If you send out an email highlighting a specific item but you drop your customers off on your home page, in most cases you’ve lost them.  Very few people are going to take the time to search for the item that they just clicked through on.  Make it easy for your customers.  Before you hit send, assign specific links and double check them.  It’s also not a good idea to use pictures of products you no longer have available on your site in your email.

3. HTML Assumption

Repeat to yourself – Not everyone can read or wants HTML emails.  Don’t assume that everyone is going to be able to view the email as you intend it.  Is your email just a giant image or group of images?  Uh oh. Many email programs block images and if your customer is already unsure of whether or not to read your email, you probably just convinced them to hit the delete button.  As Smart Phone usage continues to increase, more and more people are reading their emails on their phones but the majority are still limited to text based emails.  Make sure your email is readable.  If they have to scroll through a bunch of links in between all the text that is actually important they’re going to delete it.  The best way to get around it? As part of your sign up process, ask them if they would prefer HTML or text emails and separate your list accordingly.

4. Deadlines Issues

While it’s a good idea to have a deadline in your email to encourage timely action, be realistic.  A common complaint I hear from people is how they hate getting an email for a “Today Only” offer only to realize they’ve received it after the deadline.  Depending on several factors such as the size of your email list and your email blast program, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for your emails to be received.

5. Redundancy

Make sure you’re not making it easy for your customers to tune out your emails. Are all your emails virtually identical? Templates can be useful to keep a consistent look and feel to an email so they are consistent with your branding, but if the only thing your swapping out is a few details like the date and subject line, so otherwise it’s virtually the same, your customers will cease to open your emails.  You’re not giving them any reason to pay attention and in fact you may cause them to feel like you’re wasting their time. Give your customers a reason to open your email and react.

6. Frequency Issues

How frequent you send emails will depend on a lot of factors, but ensure you’re not getting caught up in the mentality that you have to send them daily. For some companies, a daily email is necessary, but for others a biweekly schedule works better.  The important thing to consider is if your email isn’t providing anything useful or relevant, you probably shouldn’t send it. However, the reverse issue also should be considered.  Do you send out emails so infrequently that your customers forget they’ve even signed up to receive them?

7. Email Ownership

Do not assume that because you have been given a customer’s email address that you can use it however you want.  It’s tempting to cross promote your other products/companies to a customer, but just because you’re not violating CAN-SPAM does not mean it’s a good business practice.  If you have multiple newsletters, allow customers to choose what additional emails they would like to receive from you.  Taking liberties with a customers email, can cause unintended repercussions.  Yes, you may get some increased business, but you may also find yourself blacklisted from customers reporting your emails as SPAM because they’re not aware of why they’re received it.

I have a personal example of this exact thing occurring. I’ve played in some 3 on 3 mini-lacrosse tournaments over the years and as part of their registration, they request an email address. Shortly after, I started receiving a multitude of emails I didn’t want for Rapids games, 3 on 3 soccer tournaments, and a few lacrosse oriented organizations. How do I know for a fact they were related? The same misspelling of my name across all of them. Needless to say, it was just one more factor in them losing my business.

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