Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” And so it is for email marketing. For a long time, people predicted that this marketing tool would die out. Why? Because consumer inboxes are constantly full – messages from friends, reminders of bills due, notifications of bank statements, and, yes, sales emails from every company from which they have ever purchased something. And it’s so easy to just delete or “spam” most of the emails that don’t catch any attention.
But wait. The latest research on email marketing shows that it may actually have the highest ROI – as much as $38 for every $1 spent. What other marketing tool is generating that type of return? The caveat, of course, is that it must be done right.
To “do it right,” marketers’ emails must stand out. Unfortunately, some common email marketing mistakes result in emails being deleted or, worse, relegated to spam. Here are ten of the most common mistakes made and how to avoid them.
A Boring Subject Line
Journalists understand this. If they want someone to actually read the article, the headline must be intriguing, compelling, and engaging. Consider this: the digital news outlet Upworthy staff spends as much time crafting headlines as it does on the actual articles. It obviously works, looking at the following it has.
If you have a subject line that looks and sounds like every other email marketing line, you will never stand out. Here is an example:
“Get a 15% discount on our little black dress” vs.
“We have transformed the little black dress – take a look.”
The first subject line is no different from the most common. The second subject line is intriguing. How have you “transformed” the little black dress? You can offer the discount after the recipient opens the email.
Too Much in a Single Email
Marketers tend to cram as much as possible in their marketing emails. Big mistake! Each email must have a singular purpose and a single message. Remember, you want the recipient to do something as a result of this message. If you present them with more than one thing to absorb and act upon, you will only confuse and “water down” all of those things. Each email will have a CTA, and there should only be one. Normally that CTA will take the recipient to the conversion point.
Going back to the little black dress example, the marketer has a choice. He can have a picture of that dress in the body of the email (visuals are always good) and then a CTA for more information about it. Or the CTA button can take the recipient to that picture and product description. A discount can be offered either in the email body or once the recipient has reached the destination. If the subject line is all about the dress, the email body should not present an entire array of other pieces of clothing. That is an email marketing mistake that is just plain irritating.
Not Segmenting the Email Audiences
This almost goes without saying. A new email subscriber should receive a welcome email; a first-time customer should receive a “Thank You” email with a recap of what he has purchased and the promise to keep him informed of order fulfillment and shipment. A loyal customer should receive emails with new product information and great discounts for such loyalty. One-time customers, who never returned, form yet another segment and should receive a different type of email.
There are just a huge number of ways to segment out your target audiences for marketing purposes. Suppose you sell a product that spans generations (e.g., men’s razor blades and other grooming products). Millennials and Gen Z’ers probably want fully disposable razors. Gen X’ers and baby boomers may want a standard razor with disposable blades. Younger generations will want hair and skin products that differ from older men’s. Marketing emails should reflect these differences. Beyond using names in email subject lines, this type of “personalization strategy” by segments is essential.
Given the number of email services, segmenting out email lists and crafting the proper messages for different audiences is far more streamlined today. And, according to a study by MailChimp, one of those services, segmented emails get about a 15% higher open and click-through rate.
Making Emails Too Long
Some research claims humans now have an online attention span of about 8 seconds – one second less than a fish. If their attention is not held, then they will bounce. Sales emails must be short and simple to accommodate consumers who are busy and easily distracted.
This is not necessarily true for newsletter emails, but they should be divided into headings, sub-headings, and lists so that readers can scan and “snack” on that content. And you must consider your newsletters as marketing emails too. You should avoid trying to “sell” in those newsletters – instead, the purpose should be to establish relationships with your recipients. Let them know who you and your team members are; feature happy customers as “ambassadors;” introduce new products; and feature your social responsibility and commitment to your community. You can order website content writing that is attractive and compelling, but email campaigns and regular personalized communication can effectively reinforce relationships.
Not Setting a Reasonable Calendar
A truly common email marketing mistake is overwhelming email recipients with too many contacts. If they feel harassed, they will delete your messages or, worse, relegate those emails to spam. Marketers must find the right balance between too little and too much, and this can usually be determined by monitoring opens and click-throughs and deletions without opens. This brings up the sixth and final common email marketing mistake.
Not Testing and Running the Analytics
All email services provide testing and analytics to provide key information about what is working and what is not. Not using them frequently is a serious email marketing mistake.
Analytics will provide data on a number of opens, click-throughs, conversions, deletions, etc., per email sent out.
One variable should be tested at a time – the subject line, the message, and the CTA. When you get these reports, you will be able to analyze which of your emails are getting the best results. This will drive how you craft future emails for better responses.
Are probably the most common email marketing mistakes but also those that are easily fixed. Analyze your email marketing strategies against these six mistakes, identify where you may need to improve and get on it. You will see your ROI improve.