5 Email Missteps Every Online Marketer MUST Know
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 5 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 office 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 in particular 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 that 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.
While 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, 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.
Why People Believe What You Tell Them
At some point in our lives, we’ve all been told “you won’t be able to achieve…” something by a teacher, boss or even a parent. For many, this type of discouraging mentoring propels them to do just that thing. However, for other this can prevent the very learning, practice and dedication needed to achieve whatever that “something” is.
Remember this rule; your team will believe you.
It’s entirely possible that some of your team are driven by the idea of achieving that unattainable goal or proving you wrong. The risk of using this strategy is too great. I was once told by a hiring manager that they “couldn’t see me managing people”. If I had even the slightest hesitation, based on that comment, my career would have stalled. I fought the subconscious effect of this comment and pushed through it. I was aware that this comment could subconsciously hold me back. It’s not safe to assume those on your team can do the same. When my manager attempted to give me “advice”, their intention might have been good. I don’t honestly know. It’s possible that this manager didn’t see the qualities they thought a good manager had. It’s possible they also didn’t see the ability to improve my skills either. Regardless of the intention, this advice could have stopped my pursuit towards a leadership role right there. At the time, I had just read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink and was introduced to the idea of priming.
Priming refers to subtle triggers that influence our behavior without our awareness of it happening.
An example that Gladwell uses is in Spain, where authorities introduced classical music on the subway and after doing so, watched vandalism and littering drastically decrease. I was determined not to let priming effect my behavior. I would in fact begin to do the exact opposite of what priming does. I would change my behavior to act more like a leader. I slowly began to change the way I dressed, moving towards more professional choices at work. I began reading leadership books, blogs and listening to podcasts.
Always assume you are priming your team members.
No matter what your thoughts are on a team member’s future career aspirations or goals, don’t shoot them down. As leaders, simply decide that every team member should be given the benefit of the doubt. That way you won’t negatively prime them. For example, that team member that applies for the open management position. Who does it benefit if you tell them they “aren’t management material”. Maybe you, the next time a role opens, won’t have to deal with the discussion again. Does it truly benefit you? The demotivation, the priming has taken place. Why would that team member attempt to work harder, learn more or stick around?
Priming doesn’t only happen with major life changing or career changing situations.
Priming can also happen when a team member presents a new idea or concept. If a team member comes to you with a horrible idea and you immediately respond with “that won’t work”, you’ve primed them. Some people are more resilient than others, some believe they are more resilient than they are. Regardless, it’s not about your opinion on the idea, if it truly won’t work then it won’t work. The objective is to change how you respond to avoid negative priming. The over used term, “it’s not what you say it’s how you say it” is accurate. Instead of saying it “won’t work” ask for more details, or explain the history or approach you’ve tried before. Avoid jumping to the conclusion or verbalizing it. “I’d love to see you in a management role in the future, we’ll build a plan and I’ll help you get there” for the management material example. For that “off the wall” idea that won’t work, “here’s what I’ve tried before, do you think your approach would have a different result”? Have a conversation, after all…..
“People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
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