Common Email Marketing mistakes
by Josien - 13 May, 2020
I’ll just get straight to the point: Email Marketing isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s a lot more than just hitting the send button. It’s about big data, psychology, and deliverability. And sadly, a lot of people forget about that. These are the most common mistakes in email marketing that I came across.
Over the past years, I helped out a few data list owners. If you’re new to email marketing and about to start sending emails to your database, please be sure you don’t make these email marketing mistakes:
Mistake 1: Choosing the wrong ESP
The perfect Email Service Provider doesn’t exist, but it is the most important thing you have to chose BEFORE you even think about anything else. An ESP is a service that provides all the tools you need to send out bulk emails. Basically every ESP offers you tools to:
- create your own unique templates
- maintain and upload your fresh data
- run reports and check statistics to measure your success
- send emails (of course)
Easily said: you can’t do anything in email marketing without an ESP, so don’t make the mistake by choosing the wrong one.
There are over 450 ESPs worldwide, and you only have to find out which platform offers the tools you find important and their prices. The best way to find out which one fits you best is to start with the ESPs that are for free (or have cheap trials) AND have great reviews; like MailChimp or Aweber. Both integrate perfectly with Shopify, WordPress or Magento and have a very easy interface.
When you’ve been using one of these ESPs for a while you’ll know what you like and what other needs you’ve got. Make a list of tools you want and ask other ESPs if they can offer you this full package. Most of them will say yes, but the prices will differ. The choice will be easy to make then!
Mistake 2: Don’t clean your list before you start with email marketing
It’s super important to know that the data in your list is fresh and unique. Don’t buy a list. Collect your own data. If you buy a list, big chance the list is being sold to many others before and your emails will end in the spam box.
Also, know that people who subscribed over three months ago are worthless. Think about how you would respond to a newsletter of a company you haven’t heard of over the past months… Exactly, you wouldn’t even open the email and/or unsubscribe directly.
A clean list isn’t the only important thing when it comes to email marketing. For your sales flow or client reputation, your email sender reputation is also on the line here.
All ESP’s demand a low bounce rate and I’ve seen platforms that simply stop sending your batch when you’re receiving too many ‘spam’ complaints or unsubscribers. You really don’t want to end up on the blacklist of your favorite ESP. The same counts for your domain reputation.
All the more reason to make sure the data you use is new and fresh. Also called “hot data”.
A lot of organizations generate data FOR YEARS but never use it. So big chance that half of their lists should be erased due to inactive email addresses or cold data. And you don’t want to spend too much time on this process. A quick fix is to let a cleaning service help you, and that shouldn’t be too expensive (though it depends on the list size). Do your research before you choose a list cleaner, it’s easy to make a mistake in this part of your email marketing too.
Mistake 3: Create a different template per send out
I highly recommend creating an easy and simple email template you can use for anything you want to send. If it’s a newsletter, product notification, or blog update, make sure the receivers will see consistency and recognize you immediately. It’s one of the biggest email marketing mistakes if your look&feel is different every time. So make sure your emails look the same.
My advice here is to create three templates:
- Welcome email
- Special offer / product email
All three must have the exact same header and footer, it’s just the content part that is different from the others. Like this, you don’t have to create a new template every time you’re thinking about something new but can stay original in your content. And last, but not least: it saves so much time!
Mistake 4: Know how to communicate with your audience
Whether you’re writing to lawyers, judges, and politicians about the newest laws or to surfers about the latest downwinder you made, you have to know what language they speak. The good thing here is that you probably already speak that language yourself (considering you’re not a surfer going to email newsletters to lawyers).
If you’re not sure about your writing skills, ask a copywriter to help you out. An email is easily checked, so it won’t be an expensive thing to do. Unless you let him/her check 5 emails a week, then you might consider an email writing course on for example Udemy.
Quick tips about email writing:
- ALWAYS use the active voice
- Don’t write too much, you want them to go to your website.
- Don’t spoil too much before they click.
- Use bullet points or even better, different fields with picture per subject
- Make it personal using merge tags for first names.
Most common Email Marketing mistakes: Don’t test
It’s absolutely key to triple test everything. Colors, text, pictures, headers, on mobile, on a tablet, in outlook, Gmail.. everything can make a person click through to your website. But it can also make people bounce. A simple example: it’s proven that people stay away from red buttons but easily click on the green one. Despite the message on the button itself. Crazy, but true.
So when you’re ready and really want to push your results to the max, always use two or three slightly different versions of your newsletter/e-mail. You will see the results in your ESP and can simply pick the winning template for your next send-out to your entire database.
Email marketing as part of your Content Marketing Plan
Email should be part of your content marketing plan. When are you sending an email and what is in it? Do you use video, images, or infographics? What text? What is it about? Why do you want to send that message in this part of your sales funnel?
All the above must be specified in your content marketing plan and you might need a content specialist to create it. Read more about why content marketing is important in 2020.