Even great brands make mistakes in email marketing. For example, in August 2017, AirBnB, the house sharing startup, learned the hard way how not to do email marketing. Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc across the Southeastern part of the US. Many were left stranded or homeless. In surprisingly poor taste, AirBnB sent out an email campaign that praised the adventurous features of “floating homes.” Suffice it to say that homeowners whose houses had just been flooded did not appreciate AirBnB’s light take on their predicament.
From pushing the wrong email buttons to sending spam and offending long-time customers, marketers at companies of all sizes have been on the wrong side of email marketing. Just because you can’t see your customer or recipient in front of you does not mean you can afford to be impersonal. Email marketing is a communication platform that requires the same thoughtful consideration you’d give customers in person. Here are the worst mistakes to avoid.
1. Sleep Inducing Headlines
Attention email marketers! Most of you have pretty boring email headlines. Take, for example, this email I got this week from the helpful people over at HelpScout.
Notice how bland that email subject line is: “Clean up your toolbox — the right way to consolidate your support tools.”
Who wants to read that?
In an age when BuzzFeed has got awesome headlines on its site like:
“Can You Get Hammered At Disney World For Under $100?”
Your fellow mankind don’t mind an email from time to time, but please, don’t bore them to sleep with the first headline that pops into your head.
2. Being Fake Or Overly Formal
Email is a uniquely personal form of communication. Think about it, you’re right in your customers’ inbox next to messages from family and loved ones.
The worst thing you can do is break rapport and out yourself as an intruder.
Overly formal or inauthentic communication does exactly this.
Are you trying to sound smart by using complex jargon to impress your readers?
Knock it off. Forge personal connections with readers by being who you really are as a brand.
3. Time Wasting
Some emails should just never be sent. Period.
If it’s nothing more than a minor company update that few people will need, send it to another channel where people can selectively engage.
Social media is great for these short and casual updates. Instagram, SnapChat, your company’s Facebook page. Not email!
Email should be for important communications, otherwise the value of your emails degrades woefully over time. Open rates and click throughs will plummet too over time if you are guilty of time wasting emails.
4. Writing For Yourself Instead Of Customers
If you’re a one man show, your company’s brand is often intimately tied to your identity as a person. Once a brand grows to encompassing multiple people in multiple offices, however, your brand has to focus like a laser beam on your ideal customer. That extends to your email campaigns.
At scale, Microsoft is no more about Bill Gates than Facebook is about Mark Zuckerberg. The average Facebook user is probably worlds apart from Zuckerberg’s profile. When you write emails for yourself, you come off as off-color to most of your email list, subscribers who have little in common with you.
5. Factually Incorrect Emails
There’s few things more frustrating as a reader of email marketing than receiving a link to a deal that has expired.
You would be surprised how frequently email marketers make mistakes like this.
They send out an email to an expired deal.
Or the link they send takes the user to another landing page not related at all to the promised offer.
Factually incorrect emails just prove to your audience that you don’t quite have it together. If they can’t trust your emails, how can they trust your website to keep their credit card information safe?
6. Sounding Desperate In Your Sales Emails
If there’s something that’s a major turn-off for email readers, it’s a marketer who has not structured their launch properly and just wants to land a sale.
These marketers will go to any length to get a sale, or what they think will be a sale.
Don’t do this, okay? When you ride roughshod over all proper email etiquette to land a sale, you sound desperate and amateurish.
Readers will be more likely to unsubscribe than to buy from you. If it’s worth sending emails in the first place, write them properly.
7. Spammy Email Sequences
This mistake is so common because it straddles the fine line between good email marketing and overly sales communication. Let’s face it, if you’re a marketer tasked with growing leads for the business, your instincts will be screaming at you to do anything to drive those leads. The problem, however, is that paying attention to your sales instincts can lead to you ignoring what your readers really want. They did not sign up for your newsletter just to get a weekly sales pitch. If they did, kudos to them! What you can do, however, is to provide value upfront. Certain marketers get this. Gary V in his book, Jab Jab Right Hook preaches leading with value first. Give something of value to your audience before making any kind of product or service pitch, and your readers will love you for it.
8. Rambling On And On
Readers now have attention spans of a goldfish.
Brevity is the order of the day, if you want to stay relevant, that is.
Long drawn out emails should be rare and used wisely. Sure, if you have a special, earth-shattering product launch, like the next iPhone, you can go way in-depth. Even then, a few smoking lines and a link to the launch page might just do the trick.
Apart from that, you want to get your point across in the minimal amount of words it takes.
Want to announce your minor product upgrade? 5-10 lines, max.
Want to share your latest blog post with email subscribers? Don’t bore them with the formalities. They are computer literate, they get it. Get to the point.
Avoid These Common Email Marketing Mistakes
Email marketing is a powerful customer development channel for almost any kind of brand. Done right, it can forge a close connection between your company and its customers. The problem, however, is that many marketers rush into it with little regard to proper email marketing etiquette. Avoid being spammy or sending time-wasting emails so that your readers stay subscribed. Finally, to get really good at email marketing, make a study of emails that work and begin putting some of their approaches into practice.
About the Author:
Ten Mutunhire is a copywriter at Towers Of Zeyron, the stress free ecommerce advertising agency. He loves email marketing, blogging, and Irish noir fiction. His favorite writer is Irish legend Ken Bruen.