10 Common Email Marketing Mistakes

When you get it right, email marketing delivers a steady stream of new customers as you move prospects slowly and surely along the sales funnel. You can persuade existing customers to buy more, extra, or related goods and services too. So how do you make the most of the opportunity by avoiding the most common email marketing mistakes?

Mistake 1 – Lumping everyone together in one segment

If you know enough about your customers and prospects, you can split them up into logical segments. Here are some examples:

  • Male//female
  • Customer/prospect
  • Age-related segments
  • Segments based on past buying behaviour – frequent buyer, one-time buyer, and so on
  • Segmentation by postcode, town,  county, country, or continent

Why bother? Because you can treat them according to the segment they belong in, which increases response and conversion rates.

Big Data is a brilliant segmentation resource and email experts, such as Emarsys, are offering the marketing insights it provides to businesses of every size.

Mistake 2 – Sending everyone the same message

Take a look at the segments above. There’s a world of difference between prospects and customers, for example. It makes sense to tailor your messages to their circumstances. The marketing idea is this: you provide what people want, or get as close as you can bearing in mind the information you have.

Targeting messages is much more powerful than treating everyone the same way. Say you have two segments, bicycle buyers and people who haven’t bought a bike yet.  You’d offer existing bicycle owners bike accessories, perhaps a special offer on super-secure locks. And you’d offer special price bikes for people who haven’t taken the plunge yet. Two very different circumstances and two very different sales propositions, neither of which would work if you swapped them round!

Mistake 3 – Creating unappealing, anonymous subject lines

Think of your email marketing campaign as a needle in a haystack of spam. The best way to stand out from the crowd is to create a subject line that people can’t resist. If you don’t, your open rates will never really get off the ground.

It also helps to let people know the message is from you, by including your company name or another indicator they’ll recognise.

If you can cover both bases and write a sparkling subject line that clearly comes from you, you’re onto a winner. Here are three examples:

  1. Your SEO expert – 10 ways to smash the page 1 Google barrier
  2. NEW from Mychocs – Two for one on your favourite dark chocolates
  3. Free, gratis, nada… NO FEES when you move house with James & Sons

Mistake 4 – sending out dull content for the sake of sending something

If you send out a stream of dull, boring messages your audience will soon learn to delete them unread. Whereas creating exciting, relevant, worthwhile marketing messages hooks people into actually looking forward to your emails. And that’s marketing gold dust.

It’s better to hold fire than mail out a campaign just because it’s on your schedule. As the old school direct marketing Guru Drayton Bird advises, if you don’t have anything worthwhile to say, don’t say anything.

Mistake 5 – Forgetting about personalisation

Imagine this. You’re a regular customer but the business keeps calling you ‘Dear Customer’.  If you have someone’s details in your database, use them. Email marketing is about generating leads and sales, an important part of which involves building relationships. The stronger the relationship, the more likely people are to buy.  Make sure your database is hooked up to your email marketing system to take full advantage of the power of personalisation.

Mistake 6 – Too many sales messages in one email

It’s tempting to cram email marketing messages with information, but simple is best. The more messages you try to crowbar in, the muddier your campaign will be, and the more likely people are to get bored or exasperated. So make a conscious effort to make just one, clear, strong offer each time.

Intelligent segmentation and targeting helps you achieve the right level of simplicity and the biggest impact.

Mistake 7 – Long, rambling messages

Long, rambling messages soon lose people’s interest. Think very carefully about the information you need to include and drop anything that isn’t relevant to the core message. If your offer is so complex it needs a lot of explaining, include a link to the fine detail instead of cluttering your key proposition. Alternatively, simplify the offer and start again.

Mistake 8 – Unfriendly layouts

Great chunks of text are difficult to read on screen. Whether you’re sending a graphic or text only message, create a strong, clear header. Break the text up into short paragraphs and separate them with bold subheadings. Use bullets or numbering to put points across instantly. Make your messages easy to read and more people will make the effort to read them through to the end.

Because humans scan instead of reading methodically from start to finish, you can use headers and subheads to help readers find the information they want at a glance.

Mistake 9 – Forgetting calls to action

You might think it’s obvious what you want people to do in response to your email. But it’s best marketing practice to make the next step as clear as possible.

If you want someone to click and buy, say something like “Click this link to buy at our special limited-time price”.

Mistake 10 – Missing out your contact details

It’s a trust thing. When you include full contact details in every email plus Limited Company, freelance, or Partnership details, plus VAT status and so on, it helps generate trust. Every little helps.

Mistake 11 – Omitting opt-out information

If you operate on a B2C basis, the European Distance Selling regulations state you have to offer an opt-out in every email. But it’s also good practice and good manners to provide opt-outs for B2B emails. Again, it’s a trust and credibility thing.

What’s your worst ever email marketing mistake?

We’d love to hear your stories. Feel free to leave a comment.

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