Are You Making Any of These 7 Fatal Email Marketing Mistakes?

Some mistakes in life are relatively harmless. For example, neglecting to pick up cat food on the way home from work might earn you the ire of your hungry cat, but it’s unlikely to materially damage your existence (provided, of course, that you apologize and race back to the store to buy whatever your beloved feline demands).

However, on the other end of the spectrum, there are blunders that are not just annoying or frustrating — they are costly and potentially catastrophic. And earning a permanent spot on that horrific list are the following seven fatal email marketing mistakes.

  1. Buying email lists

Not only are purchased email lists loaded with contacts who have no interest in your products and services (regardless of what the company trying to sell you the list is saying), but your Internet service provider is going to lower the boom when they see all of the un-deliverable sent from your account. And on top of this, it’s actually against the law per the CAN-SPAM act for anyone to sell or transfer email address. You need to build your list database through tactics like a sign-up form on your website, a sign-up button on your Facebook page, and so on.

  1. Failing to segment your distribution

Occasionally, it’s fine to send a mass email to all subscribers; for example, when providing information about a new website feature, or highlighting holiday business hours. However, for the most part, a one-size-fits-all approach never fits anyone well enough. Make sure that you segment your distribution list based on relevant criteria such as past purchases, geographic area, and so on, so that you can target each of them with tailored communications.

  1. Not including a call-to-action (CTA)

Despite the fact that mainstream email marketing is more than 20 years old, a surprising number of businesses continue making this easily correctable error: they don’t include a CTA! The thing to keep in mind, however, is that the CTA must be directly relevant to the content. For example, if you run a signage company and send you an email announcing a sale on box truck graphics, then the CTA should be something about placing an order, getting a quote, or browsing a portfolio.

  1. Not explaining why people should sign-up in the first place

It goes without saying that people should sign-up for your newsletters because they’re full of special offers and insider information, right? Wrong! While you may understand the value of your email marketing inside and out, don’t assume that your current and future customers will. Make sure that you highlight the rewards and benefits of subscribing on your (easy-to-find) website form.

  1. Ignoring the subject line

We all know people (and we may indeed be such people) who don’t pay much attention to the subject line in a work or personal email. However, folks on the other end of email newsletters aren’t as forgiving. Unless there’s a compelling reason for them to open an email, they’re likely to vanquish it to the trash folder. Pro tip: 82% marketers see increased open rates putting the recipient’s name in the subject line.

  1. Not making emails sound and look professional

No, you don’t have to hire $200/hour A-List copywriters and graphic designers to compose your glorious newsletters. But you can’t just bang them out in a few minutes, either. If your emails don’t sound and look professional, then your brand and business will get painted by that same unflattering brush. And while we’re on the subject: keep in mind that over half of all Internet traffic these days is on mobile, which means that your emails also need to be optimized for people using smartphones and tablets. This means that your newsletters need to load quickly, and intelligently use ALT-text in case images are turned off.

  1. Sending essentially useless emails to avoid sending nothing at all

If you’ve made this mistake (or made it several times), then don’t feel bad, because it’s a very common and quite understandable error. Here’s a familiar scenario: you put a nice sign-up form on your website, and within a few days or weeks you start building your database. Inspired by the traction, you send out a (hopefully) professional sounding and looking welcome email. But that’s when you realize that you don’t have any other content ready to go in your pipeline. And so, rather than let weeks go by without engaging your subscribers, you send out filler. But since your subscribers aren’t interested in this kind of stuff (and who can blame them?), they either ignore your CTA, or worse, they unsubscribe. The moral to this story? Have an editorial calendar, and proactively populate your pipeline with at least a month’s worth of relevant and quality content at all times.

The Bottom Line

Email marketing can be among your most lucrative channels to connect with current and future customers, as well as micro-influencers and other allies in your ecosystem. By avoiding all of the errors described above, your business will go a long, long way to ensuring that your journey through email marketing country is rewarding — instead of regrettable.

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