Email is now a well tried and tested form of direct marketing. Even though many businesses have delivered email campaigns for years it’s surprising that many of the same old errors occur time and time again. In this article Glasgow based Intelligent Data Group expose 12 of the most common email marketing errors to avoid.
Content errors: The content itself is ultra-critical, once you’ve enticed the recipient to open the email the next challenge is to get them to read it. Most people are busy and therefore will skim read an email, so make sure there are some attention grabbing areas of the email. If something grabs their attention a lot of readers will then read the email completely.
Chris Skinner, the Group Sales Director at Intelligent Data Group says “It’s important than ever to make sure that the content is accurate and free of errors, e.g. grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. The content needs to be exciting and an interesting read, with brand reinforcement in the email so the recipient is clear who sent the email. Businesses need to always include a clear call to action leaving the recipient aware as to what action(s) are expected to be taken”.
Don’t use global unsubscription: Giving email list members a chance to unsubscribe is only fair and something any ethical business would have no issue with. Many businesses though make a mistake of offering a global unsubscribe button. In many cases the person may want certain communication, so if this is broken down into a series of tick boxes, it may be that communication can be restricted just to a smaller subset of Emails. Try this approach as it definitely works.
Email frequency: Developing the correct level of email frequency is absolutely essential for smooth and effective relations with people on your email list. Some will want as much information as possible, others will want more occasional emails, whereas a few might not want to be on the list and will want an unsubscribe option. The best way to know the best frequency is to ask. This could be achieved through a phone call, online form completion, by an email, through an account profile, etc.
Lack of an Email signature: An email signature is a valuable part of the marketing message and should be used to add information and give the recipient a little more confidence about the sender. Don’t use NoReply@ type Email addresses in a marketing Email. This is off-putting as it gives the reader the impression that it’s OK for the business to Email us, but we’re not allowed to reply back!
Lack of honesty: We all know that advertising is subject to exaggeration and over-promotion but let’s try to be honest with the email. NEVER outright lie and make claims that are simply untrue. It’s fair enough to promote a product/service but be careful with the wording and never wildly exaggerate as this will cause customer tensions later and possibly issues with trading standards, etc.
Lack of responsive design: Mobile phones, PDA’s and tablets have changed the ways in which consumers receive emails. It’s therefore amazing that many businesses fail to use templates which are responsive. In many cases this renders the Email unreadable to the recipient on their preferred device, sending out a message of either i) this business doesn’t care or ii) this business isn’t professional. For any business running Email campaigns a responsive template is absolutely essential.
No A/B Testing: Email campaigns need to be tested, the classic approach in emails is A/B testing. The basic idea is to eliminate large-scale error by emailing a small sample of the whole. So for example on an email campaign with 500,000 people there could be a test to send out to 2 x 2,500 batches and then measure the response. Using this technique the optimal email will be sent increasing the chances of positive campaign metrics.
No list segmentation: Email list segmentation certainly helps with the likelihood of success of an email campaign. Why send an email to the entire list if only a proportion are likely to be interested? For example, an email about children’s toys should only be emailed to parents/grandparents (if this information is known). Segmenting the email list with multiple values will help long-term with campaigns meaning that each email is more effective, that list members receive fewer emails but when they do they are more targeted and personal to them.
No personalisation: Not personalising an email is a lost opportunity. Include as a minimum the user name, but also add to this personally identifiable information, such as mention of past purchases, include their local store details, embed images of products they have viewed on your website (if you have access to this information) and also the inclusion of discount coupons for products they have visited on an Ecommerce system, etc.
The above are just a few examples of personalisation, the more personal an email is, the better it is likely to be received.
Poor subject line: The first objective in any email is to get it opened and not consigned to the trash bin, a great email subject line helps with this. Make sure that the subject line grabs attention, is short and punchy has a unique angle (and is not too clichéd), adds real value to the reader and is honest and credible. A modern day trend is to include a campaign #hashtag in the Email; this may also get the reader to search for this hashtag on social media.
Spam and using records not opted in: Obviously NEVER ever spam, it’s almost so obvious it doesn’t need mentioning. Chris continues “The risks associated with email spam are a risk of blacklisting and potential complicated legal issues. Using opted-in records only for emails protects a business reputation, helps to provide more targeted campaigns and carries with it the spirit of a true relationship”. A true opted-in record will have obtained proper consent for email marketing, e.g. the contact will have verbally or electronically explicitly consented to receive marketing emails.
Use of text only: If a picture paints a thousand words then what does a video paint? According to Chris Skinner from Intelligent Data Group, embedding images and videos into emails undoubtedly adds spice and interest to the recipient. Images and videos help the reader to break-up text and it helps the brain to process information more clearly and effectively, it’s a definite preference for most email readers to have some areas of white space, images and videos.
Always ensure when using images that you have access to copyright and that the image size is appropriate to surrounding content. With the right email management software, it’s possible to embed video frames linking to YouTube, Vine, Vimeo, etc. directly into an email although this isn’t universally yet available functionality.