With people spending time and money online in ever-growing numbers, email marketing campaigns only make sense. Cheap, easy, speedy,and effective, they’re the workhorses of modern marketing. Like most things worth doing, though, these campaigns must be done correctly. A flawed campaign not only fails at bringing in sales – it also tends to chase away the very customers you’re hoping to attract.
Below are five “fatal flaws” that haunt (and eventually bury) plenty of email marketing campaigns. Does your latest blast contain any of the following killers?
1. It’s obviously (and we mean obviously) a mass-market message
Let’s be realistic: customers know that marketing messages are being sent to many recipients at the same time. But nobody likes to feel generic. A doomed marketing campaign is one that isn’t tailored in the least toward specific customers. Nothing feels more like spam than a “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Potential Customer”-style epistle promoting items the recipient would never buy or want. Whether you divide the pool by age, gender or buying history, split up recipients into target groups, and tailor marketing to suit them. Then make it obvious in the message itself why the recipient is getting it.
2. It’s technologically flawed
Nothing irritates an email user more than a message with broken links, dead pictures or other technological errors. Send emails that are easy and pleasing to read. Keep image sizes reduced so that they load quickly, even in slow browsers. Double-check that your links work properly, that they open in a new window (so you don’t hijack the user’s inbox), and that they point to the correct locations.
3. It’s a nuisance in any significant way
One could argue that any email marketing campaign has the ability to be a nuisance – they are advertisements, after all. But the least you can do is ensure that your messages keep the annoyance factor to a minimum. Avoid sending multiple messages within a specific time period. Nix emails that lead to pop-up ads, websites that play music or load Flash, or anything else that could slow down the user. An annoyed customer won’t buy anything. It spells the end for your campaign if it’s easier for the recipient to click “Spam” than it is for them to read your message.
4. It’s unsolicited
Unsolicited emails not only are extremely ineffective, it is against the law to send them. This goes hand-in-hand with the fifth flaw, but it’s important enough to deserve its own number. An email campaign that wasn’t, in some way, solicited by the customer is going to die with its boots on… and it won’t be pretty. However you gather the addresses for the campaign, make sure the recipients of your emails should reasonably expect them. Did the person sign up with you, or purchase from you? Then he or she should expect to be on the list. Did you get his or her email address from another company’s customer list, from the internet or from some other slightly-shady means? Hold back on the blast. Trust us. It will result in far more people determined never to purchase from you than it will happy customers. (Along the same lines, an email marketing campaign that contains people who have already asked to be unsubscribed is signing its own death warrant).
5. It hasn’t been tested … on someone other than the person who created it
Sometimes a company gets so caught up in sending out information to customers that they forget how to think like a customer. Have your marketing emails proofed by someone outside of the inner circle. Larger companies might use a focus group; smaller companies and entrepreneurs should have no shortage of friends and family to ask. Customers often respond in unexpected ways to text, images and styles. While ideally we are all our own best critics, the point of view of someone from the other side is invaluable. Remember, the point of your campaign is to please those people. Period.
With that in mind, pay attention to any feedback your messages receive from actual customers – whether they send you comments in response to your messages, or they start unsubscribing in droves after your latest blast. This type of feedback is a treasure trove of information to use on future attempts, and using it to your advantage can mean the difference between life or death for your next campaign.