Done well, email marketing is a gift from the marketing gods.
It’s cheap. Effective. And just about anyone can do it – whether you’re starting out with a small list or you have a large business serving thousands of customers.
Whether you sell low-priced widgets or high-end services.
And to prove it, the Direct Marketing Association found that businesses earn an average of $43 for every $1 invested in Email Marketing.
And the global consulting firm, McKinsey & Co found you’re 40 times more likely to create a new customer through email marketing than through social media.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing.
There are many pitfalls when it comes to Email Marketing and this article is here to save you from 5 of the most common mistakes most people make when pressing “send.”
Take a look and see if any of these mistakes sound familiar to you. Because they could be costing you leads, sales, and money (and the good news is, most of them are easily fixed!).
Email Marketing Mistake #1
Forgetting We Are Talking to A Single Human Being
The most effective emails don’t feel like marketing. They feel like a personal message. And one sure-fire way to make a person feel like a number rather than someone special to you is to address everyone on your email list like they are one homogenous group, rather than individuals.
You may have seen the kinds of emails I am talking about…
They contain phrases like, “Hey everyone” or “I thought I’d ask you, our subscribers,” (this kind of feels like that friend who always sends group emails rather than personal notes!).
It can leave your subscribers feeling like “one of the crowd” rather than someone you care about.
So be on the lookout and try to avoid “one too many” phrases and replace them with “one to one” phrases, e.g. “I wanted to ask you, my subscribers” vs “I wanted to ask you, Catherine,” (see how that last one sounds so much more personal?).
An easy way to avoid this is by using singular pronouns that relate to the reader – you, your, yours, yourself, rather than plural pronouns such as – yourselves, they, them, or indefinite pronouns like – everyone, everybody, anyone.
And also be careful with how many times you use “I” – constantly be on the lookout for how you can turn that around to a “you” statement (unless of course, you’re telling a personal story or another important message that requires “I”).
The big idea here is to shift away from how great you are to address the real needs and current reality for your customer or prospect.
Email Marketing Mistake #2
Marketing “Blah Blah”
Another big (and massively common) problem with the way many people write their emails is that they use what I call Marketing Blah Blah language.
Ask someone to write an email to their audience and suddenly they transform from someone who has no problem having interesting, meaningful and personal conversations with friends over dinner, into a bad 1980’s cliché machine!
You know the emails I’m talking about…
They are so laden with jargon and marketing-speak they sound as if they could come from any company in any industry talking about any product.
As though they’ve just “inserted company name here” into a universal template.
For example, “We provide the best in personal service to meet your strategic objectives” – that’s Marketing Blah Blah.
You can avoid Marketing Blah Blah by:
- Getting specific
- Getting personal
- Using your unique voice
- Avoiding jargon and over-used cliches – find a fresh way to say something that is relevant to the person you are talking to – so instead of “we provide the best in personal service to meet your strategic objectives” speak more like you would to a REAL person “even if it means staying back late to get your project out the door, we’ve got your back, Catherine, when it comes to printing and binding your precious proposal.”
- Asking yourself before you press send on each and every email – “Does this email pass the face to face test?” (i.e. would you say this to someone in a face to face meeting?)
- Keeping it conversational. Ask yourself “how would this email look if I was writing to a friend or colleague?”
- Use more personalisation – people love to be addressed by their name and for you to know specifics about their situation.
Email Marketing Mistake #3
Sending everything to everyone
Ever get an email from someone that is so incredibly irrelevant to you?
I do, all the time.
For example, I recently registered for a webinar that was taking place about a week later. Then, for the next 7 days, that same company kept emailing me and inviting me to register for the webinar. Boy, did that make me feel special… not. It was annoying and it also felt like they hadn’t taken the time to check and see that I was already registered.
It’s imperative you segment your list and only send email content that is most likely to be relevant to that segment of your audience.
Failing to segment is a massive mistake I see people making all the time – sending one broadcast message out to their whole list when really, it’s probably only interesting to 20% of the list. Put your hand up if you want to turn off 80% of your list? Not me. And I’m guessing not you.
Look for ways to segment your list. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Demographics – age, geography, gender, position, industry, etc.
- Purchase habits – purchaser/not, purchase interests, frequency, $ amount
- Content Interest – topic, format
- Stage in Buyer Journey – prospect, client, past client, etc.
Email Marketing Mistake #4
Sending emails without the correct Marketing Permissions
You’ve got to have permission to send your marketing emails to each person on your list.
Not only is it rude and bad form (and not likely to get you very far) to start sending marketing emails to people who haven’t opted in to receive them, it’s also likely contravening the SPAM laws of your country.
In Australia, the SPAM Act says you either need EXPRESS consent or INFERRED consent to send marketing emails to someone.
- Express consent can be obtained in a variety of ways – for example by filling in a form, ticking a box on a website, over the phone, or face-to-face as long as the recipient is clearly aware that he or she may receive commercial messages in the future from you.
- Inferred consent can come about in two ways, through an existing business or other relationship or through the conspicuous publication of a work-related electronic address in certain limited circumstances.
If you are not confident that the existing business relationship is strong enough to infer consent or are unsure that the recipient will want your messages, you will need to obtain express consent.
The other important point related to marketing permissions is making sure you have a good unsubscribe process in place.
Avoid all those “dodgy” practices like trying to bury the unsubscribe link way down the page.
Instead, put the unsubscribe link in a clear spot at the bottom of your email.
You can have a little fun with this – ask people if they are sure they want to leave, let them know you will miss them.
You can also consider giving people the option to unsubscribe only from that specific list, e.g. maybe they don’t want your weekly newsletter but they still want information on courses and upcoming events. Giving people an option is a great way to keep those who might otherwise have no other choice but to unsubscribe from your whole list.
Email Marketing Mistake #5
Being erratic or inconsistent with your communication
I’m guessing you’ve got a few people who send you emails on what seems to be an “ad hoc” basis. Often when they want you to buy something… maybe you get a flurry of emails around the End of the Financial Year sale… and then… nada… for months.
Being inconsistent with your email communications can be a real trap.
And there are a few ways you could be inconsistent:
- Inconsistent timing – so for example, if you always send a weekly email update of your gym schedule at 10 am on a Tuesday your audience will likely start to notice that consistency and look out for your message. If you are inconsistent with it – you’ll be sending a subtle message that you’re not reliable and people won’t feel they can depend on this information.
- Inconsistent contribution – Inconsistency can also show up when you only ever email your audience for an ad hoc sale or intermittent blog post. You need to nurture your list with regular, consistent and well-thought email communications so you are making a contribution to them on a regular basis.
- Inconsistent voice – It’s important that you find your voice and writing style and maintain it. People need to know who you are. They need to know they can trust you and it can make it hard for them if you are the tough-talking entrepreneur one day and then the personal development peace-loving hippie the next.
So, there you have it – some of the marketing email mistakes that not are only annoying for your subscribers, but are also costing you sales.