The 3 common mistakes email marketers still make

3 things email marketers still get wrongEmail marketing is still a valid part of your marketing repertoire. However, it should not be relied upon to carry your marketing efforts, nor should it be done the same way it was done in 1998.

The fact is, social media, blogging and the visual web have dramatically changed a) how much time people can be bothered to devote to digesting marketing messages, b) expectations of how such messages should be delivered, c) what such messages should contain.

People now read emails on multiple devices and from multiple sources, using multiple email clients. Gmail, one of the most popular email clients, recently changed its display to a tabbed look, effectively hiding promotional messages away from the main view. Now your audience will have to click the promotions tab to even see your message.

We no longer look forward to emails. There are too many of them. An avalanche, even. If you have managed to successfully avoid spam, you still get newsletters, special offers, reminders – and if you’re very lucky, a few thoughtfully written letters from friends and family. We’ve gone from email being a helpful tool to it becoming a chore. Busy people tell war stories to each other: “I had two hundred emails by the time I came back to work on Monday!” and “That’s nothing; when I got back from Brussels, I had 700 new messages!”

When competing for your target customer’s attention, you can’t afford to be indifferent about your marketing emails. If your attitude is “that’ll do”, it most certainly won’t lead to good conversion rates. Your emails might not even get opened.

If you haven’t updated your email marketing strategy for a while, here are three common errors which  you can fix straight away.

1. Subject line
How many emails do you see with “Our January newsletter” or “Love Mondays” or “Offer of the week”? How often do you open them?

The odds are that unless it’s a source with whom you have developed a relationship of some sort (a professional body; a brand you adore), they’ll remain in your inbox, unopened, or get deleted. Learning to write good email subject lines takes a while but as an email marketer, it should be one of your top tasks. Look at professional bloggers, newspaper headlines and the promotional emails you do open – what do they have in common? Intrigue; a call to action, a question, a specific detail…?

When you write your email headline, think to yourself “what’s in it for the reader? What would make my target customer open this?” If you have a special offer, be specific what it is. If you can create intrigue (write a subject line that forces the reader to click your message open because they simply must find out), you’re onto a winner. “What are the 3 things email marketers still get wrong?” could be an email subject line. Or “Flash sale – today only – 20% off everything”. Creating the feeling that something is about to run out is a good technique. Or list a few of the topics contained in your email. Or use the words “free” or “new”. Create strong calls to action – ask your reader to do something. If you are successful, the first thing they’ll do is open your email.

2. Boring content/no calls to action
You’ve got them this far. Now don’t let them down. Make sure your emails are readable on multiple devices. At the same time, make sure your email now delivers on the promise of the headline. If at any point, your reader thinks you have wasted their time, they may unsubscribe or simply not open any further emails from you.

The best email newsletters focus on one or two key messages and display them in a pleasing way. You can also include video into your newsletter, but – here’s an important point – don’t include the video itself; take a screenshot, insert it into your email and hyperlink the image to the video. Include calls to action. Spell out what you want your reader to do. “Click here”, “Shop the collection”, “Buy now”, “Book now”, “Register now – places are limited”… whatever it is that you are trying to get the reader to act on.

3. Breaking the data protection act
There is a section of the UK Data Protection Act which reads: “Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.”

What that means in the context of email marketing is that you must obtain agreement from your audience before you can start sending them emails. You can’t collect business cards at a networking meeting and add all of the email addresses to your mailing list. You can’t even take all the emails from your ecommerce website and add them to your mailing list, unless you have provided an option for the customer to opt in to your newsletters. Don’t miss opportunities to capture email addresses – but always make sure you have provided a clear explanation for what you are going to do with them. A simple “Tick this box to be added to our mailing list.” will do. You must also provide an “unsubscribe” link in every email newsletter you send. If you manually send emails to multiple customers, you must ensure that the email addresses are hidden in the blind carbon copy (BCC) field and not made public to the other recipients. It is best to use a mailing list tool that hides email addresses automatically.

If you need help with online marketing, give us a call today on 01252 413757. We design brilliant websites for all types of clients (and are the Surrey County Council’s preferred digital partner). We also help with branding, logo design and copywriting. We are based in the Georgian market town of Farnham, Surrey and we love to help businesses succeed.

Photo credit: ?J?

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