Email is by far one of the best digital marketing solutions to have in your toolbox. However, with this approach there is plenty of room for error amid an industry rife with regulations; delivery, filtering and other technology concerns; and a glut of ever-evolving best practices. While email marketing is definitely not rocket science, there is a certain degree of skill and artistry involved in crafting a winning email campaign. Proceed with abandon and it’s likely you’ll end up wasting time and money on failed email campaigns.
Email campaign failure can happen for a multitude of reasons, and the five missteps listed below are among the most common and easily avoidable offenses that every online marketer should take proactive measures to avoid.
1. Boring the audience. There are a ton of ways online marketers can bore their audience, from lackluster subject lines to verbiage-laden, text-only emails, to emails that only talk about the company and provide nothing of tangible or even perceived value—the all-important “what’s in it for me” factor. While email can feel one-sided, it is really intended to be a conversation—the start of one. Savvy marketers understand this.
For a better success rate:
- Provide an enticing offer and certainly an eye-catching subject line to encourage positive open rates.
- Design colorful and well-branded graphics to appeal to our world’s love of visual content.
- Provide valuable resources, articles, offers and calls to action that truly give something to your email audience.
Ultimately, think about how you can provide value to those on your email list.
2. Annoying the audience. You know the feeling when you get interrupted by a little fly buzzing around your head, and then again 30 seconds later, and then yet again 30 seconds after that? Don’t be the little fly pestering people too frequently. Of course, finding the “sweet spot” for the timing tolerance of each audience takes a little experimenting, observation and an understanding of the industry in which they operate. Your audience will love hearing from you if you are providing value in a way that gives them room to breathe—to consider your offer and how it fits into their own needs and objectives. Understanding the “pulse” of an industry and the standards by which they operate is a great starting point to determine a suitable frequency and timing of emails. When you find the sweet spot, you’ll know it and your audience will respond to your campaigns in kind.
3. Confusing the audience. All too often, online marketers try to cram too many messages into one email, trying to accomplish or convey too many things at once. There should always be one clear call to action and any messaging or imagery and links should always direct the customer to a landing page where they can act upon that main call to action. When an email campaign vehicle is cluttered with multiple messages—to purchase one thing, call for a free consultation, follow the brand and more—the recipient can be distracted from the main reason for the email. Stick to one primary message around which all else is focused and be sure to tell your potential customer what you want them to do next. Don’t cause them to wander aimlessly around your website or landing page.
4. Bombarding the audience. Marketers get excited when they’re embarking upon an email marketing campaign. It’s where the rubber meets the road. As touched on above, they often try to throw everything they’ve got at their audience in the form of too much written copy and too many design features such as star bursts or complicated shapes. While you can include all of these bells and whistles from a technical standpoint, it’s simply not necessary or even beneficial to do so.
The best email campaigns are those that keep the design interface and messaging simple. That means clearly written and formatted content as well as clean, fresh graphics and design. Keep in mind that even the best email marketing vehicle won’t convey your message as effectively as a well-conceived and executed website. This is why the email campaign should compel the recipient to head in that direction and facilitate in an intuitive, efficient and streamlined fashion.
5. Missing the audience. At a high level, email marketing seems simple enough, but when you dig into all of your options with data filters to specifically target certain audiences, it becomes clear just how complex the endeavor really is. Today, online marketers have countless list segmentation options but, sadly, they often choose poorly when it comes to filtering their email list. There are many mission-critical segmentation options to consider, like geographic, socioeconomic and demographic filters, which allow the user to refine a list. For example, a localized Mercedes dealership would target potential customers who live within a certain zip or area code radius of their location, have certain interests and make enough in salary to afford a high-end vehicle. In this way, online marketers can use list segmentation filters to target an audience with a high likelihood of being receptive to your message.
Nothing in the advertising and marketing realm with notable upside comes without risk and there are definitely ways to waste money and ruin opportunities with email marketing. But, there are even more ways to increase site traffic, lead generation and revenue among other goals. The key is to invest the time up front to design an effective email campaign, which starts by heeding the blunders detailed above. For extra assurance, digital marketers often enlist the help of field experts and outside voices who can consult on the preparation process and catch errors that may have otherwise been missed. When executed properly, email marketing can grow a business in a very strategic and calculated manner, not just delivering a good return on investment for a single campaign but also ultimately growing your business over the long term.