Avoid these 8 email marketing mistakes

We recently asked WhatCounts Facebook fans about the worst email marketing offenses they’ve seen. The answers ranged from simple grammatical errors (your vs. you’re) to frequency issues. I touch on each “mistake” below, but because of the variety and number of answers, I’m keeping it short and sweet.

8 Email Marketing Mistakes (according to our Facebook Fans)

1. Frequency.

Tim Brechlin said:

The biggest thing for me is sending way too many emails. One particular pizza company is a horrific violator of this; we’re talking five emails a week. People need to realize that if you send email that often, the signal-to-noise ratio is completely out of whack and people start to tune you out. And once you’ve lost that credibility with your mailing list, it’s awfully hard to get it back.

Well said, Tim! Every audience is different, so it’s important that you find your sweet spot. Give subscribers different frequency options during the opt-in, and then allow them to update this information in their subscriber preferences. Always monitor the send metrics for changes. Ask yourself these questions after every send: Are people unsubscribing at a higher rate? Do you see less engagement when increasing your frequency? Are there any other noteworthy changes? Also, don’t forget to test in order to find out what frequency and send time works for you.

2. Poor grammar.

Your vs. you’re. Too vs. to (and two). Effect vs. affect. These are common errors in any medium, but no matter whether you say it wrong in a tweet, email, or on your website, poor grammar may cause you to lose credibility. Read and re-read your email marketing messages before you send them, and then send to someone else to review. Minor spelling and grammar mistakes can happen, but try your best to avoid them! (Thanks for chiming in, Patricia Zalewski!)

3. Bad links.

Did I mention that you should test, test, and test again? Erica Barry from 1st Mariner Bank answered with “links that don’t work”, and I couldn’t agree more. Nothing is more frustrating than when you receive an email wanting to read more about a specific product, and the link takes you to the wrong page or simply doesn’t work at all. Again, have a co-worker or friend read through, click links, and test before you send your emails. If you want people to convert on your emails, make sure they have a clear – and correct – path to do so.

4. Clutter.

Good luck getting your subscribers to convert on your emails – or take any action at all – if your emails are too cluttered. Michelle McMorris from HRD, Inc. chimed in with, “Emails filled with numerous ads and varying graphics. When you can’t do a quick read and get to the important information, you’ve lost me.” Your call-to-action should be clear and stand out; make it obvious as to what action you want recipients to take. A few suggestions to avoid clutter:

  • Keep your copy to a minimum
  • Use bullets, so readers can do a quick scan and still get your main point
  • Make your calls-to-action big, bold, and colorful
  • Keep the main call-to-action above the fold

5. No call-to-action.

What’s the point of sending an email if it doesn’t have a purpose? Mike Shields answered with “no call-to-action”, and we agree. Whether you want subscribers to read an article, download a whitepaper, or purchase your product, tell them what you want them to do. Be explicit. Be direct. This will keep people engaged with your messages, increase your click-through rate (bonus: this can also help your deliverability), and, most importantly, help you achieve that high return on investment we’re always bragging about in the email marketing world.

6. Emails that are too long.

Alex Grechanowski from Marketing Sutra said, “the shorter, the better.” Again, keep your emails short and sweet. If you make subscribers scroll and scroll and scroll (and scroll), they will lose interest. This can look very unprofessional, and it goes back to #4 (clutter). Be clear and concise with your messages. However, every email marketing program is different, so this may work for you. Do an A/B split test with a long and a short version. See which gets the most clicks.

7. No value.

I saved this one for second to last for a reason. Sending valuable emails is one of the best things you can do for your email marketing program. WhatCounts’s Christopher S. Penn submitted this one, and specifically said, “valueless email is the bane of all marketing.” When planning your campaigns, think about how you can solve a problem for your audience. Make it about them, not about you. Read more about building a relationship with your subscribers.

8. Not using an email service provider.

Charles Neville, marketing consultant, said, “People who still think they can send to their mailing list by BCCing everyone.” We’ve all seen the emails that come from Outlook. It’s no doubt a mass email, and it’s no doubt unprofessional. Working with an email service provider will benefit your email program in so many ways, with increased deliverability, CAN-SPAM compliance, and strategy assistance as just a few.

Everyone is bound to make mistakes, but continue educating yourself on email marketing industry trends and best practices, and always be testing to see what works best for your audience.

Questions or comment? Contact us now; we’re happy to help! Have more to add? Comment below!

Amy Garland
Client Services Manager, WhatCounts
@amygarland

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