Sometimes I wonder if it weren’t for the mistakes, how would we learn what not to do, and where/how to get better?
Below are 10 email marketing mistakes I see made most often. Some good lessons and reminders here!
1. Writing subject lines at the last minute
All too often, marketers go several drafts deep on the body copy of an email, and forget the subject line completely. Then, at the last minute, someone writes a subject like without a lot of forethought about the audience, objective, or strategy. Of course, the subject line is THE most important part of the email. It’s the portal to get the rest of the email read. If this was direct mail, the subject line is the envelope! If you don’t get past it, everything else inside is wasted.
2. Unreadable without loading the images
Most of us have a default setting in our inbox now that blocks images from loading until we say so. And images in email aren’t necessarily bad, unless they entirely block whatever message or call to action you’re offering. Have at least enough copy visible in your email without loading images so that the reader can get the gist of what you’re saying/offering, and opt to learn more by downloading images (if they’re necessary at all).
3. Call to action only at the very end
It’s a progression that makes sense. Introduction, explanation, pay-off, offer. But many email readers are skimming, and looking for the “payoff” earlier than the end of the email. Instead, look for ways to incorporate links or offers to your call to action early in the email, and at least 2-3 times including at the end of your overall, nicely structured message.
4. Sending from a building or alias (instead of a person)
Nothing lacks personality and intimacy than an email from “info@” or “sales@” or (worst of all) “donotreply@”. Nobody likes to get emails from an alias or building. It’s impersonal, and constrains your response rates. Gone are the days when you could also fabricate something on your direct mail piece. A quick Google search for whomever is in the “from” line will “out” you as a faker. Worst case, pick someone on your marketing or sales team to be the real person behind the sent emails. I often pick someone from the sales operations team, who likely will get responses and questions from a campaign anyway (from the recipients or from the sales team).
5. Trickery to drive open or click rates
I’m not a big fan of the “fake forward”. Or subject lines that imply something urgent to get the open, then address something altogether different. Short-term trickery to drive top-of-funnel metrics will only constrain the conversion metrics you really care about, and damage your reputation and brand long-term.
6. Starting sentences with I & we (instead of you)
Prospects don’t care about you. They care about themselves. So, stands to reason that they also don’t want to read about what you think of yourself. Or your company. Address them directly instead. Use “you” more often throughout your copy. Bring them directly into the message and offer.
7. Writing for yourself without thinking about the audience
You know clearly what you (your sales team, and/or your company) want out of a particular campaign or email send. But what’s in it for the customer? What’s the context into which you’re sending the message? What circumstances are they likely to be working in when they get it? Understanding and addressing these situations head-on is a great way to create quicker rapport and response.
8. Using clear spam triggers in subject lines
Seriously, this should be obvious, but it’s not. There are a growing number of keywords that smart email marketers simply avoid, and have avoided for years now. Do a quick Google search for “Spam keywords” and you’ll have this information at your fingertips forevermore.
9. No A/B testing
What are you going to learn 48 hours after the send? You’ll have open and click rates, but compared to what? At minimum, test subject lines as often as possible. Several of the email service providers and marketing automation systems have embedded tools for A/B testing both email and landing pages. Use them regularly.
10. No testing before the send
Build a rigorous process by which you completely test emails about to go out to customers and prospects. Test that the content is correct, that it renders correctly, that it looks fine across the major email systems (especially Outlook & Gmail). There’s a reason why software developers devote to much time & resources to testing their products before they ship. Marketers shouldn’t operate any differently.