Since everyone uses email, it’s easy to assume we’re all “email experts” and therefore email marketing should be easy to do. It’s an assumption that’s tripped up many small businesses, whose hopeful communications get snagged by spam filters or completely ignored by the would-be audience. Either way, email marketing done incorrectly can cost a lot in terms of your time and money.
To make the most of your email marketing efforts, be sure to avoid these common mistakes:
Send email messages without permission. Don’t purchase any big email lists filled with addresses of people who don’t know – or care about – your business. Whether you like it or not, emails sent to recipients who never asked for them are spam and nothing more.
The only way email marketing will work is by asking potential prospects for permission to share information. Send a personalized message inviting customers to opt-in, making sure to include wording like this: “With your consent, we will send exclusive offers, coupons and details about upcoming specials.” People who consent to receiving your emails will know exactly what they’re getting—and then everyone’s happy.
Overlook segmenting your list. “One-size-fits-all” is not a winning principle with email marketing. To whatever extent possible, every email message should feel like a personal communication to the recipient. To customize your list, arrange the contacts in terms of:
- Demographics (based on your knowledge of who typically buys your product or service)
- Sales lead (where they are in the buying cycle)
- Product or service update
On average, segmented customers have a higher click-through rate than those subjected to the dreaded “email blast.”
Failure to format correctly or optimize for images. You decide to “test” your HTML email by sending it to yourself. All looks good, so without further ado, you press “send.” Wrong! Emails formatted in HTML can appear very different depending on what email program (and device) recipients are using.
A large segment of customers have images disabled on their email systems, meaning they won’t see any important information you choose to contain in an image (such as a call-to-action). Consult an expert for optimization tactics that ensure your email message gets seen in its proper format.
Send non-mobile-friendly emails. Increasingly, email recipients scan email messages on their mobile devices. But formats and design elements that are perfectly acceptable on a laptop—such as multi-column layouts for text—fail miserably when viewed on an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. Before anything else happens, your email must first be legible and easy to view. Do some tests to make certain people can read your emails while on the move.
Neglect the importance of your email content. It makes sense to produce email content that resonates with your audience, right? Sadly, too many email marketers succumb to sales hype (“BUY NOW!” or “SALE ENDS TODAY!”), which is not only unappealing to recipients, but is often flagged as spam before they even see it.
Pay close attention to what you write, focusing on the value you can provide. Remember to make content easy to scan, using bullet points, short paragraphs, boldface for emphasis, etc. Also, check and double-check the message before sending it out. Nothing damages your credibility more than an email rife with typos, misspellings and bad grammar.
Fail to include a call-to-action. What do you want email recipients to do? Click on a link to open your newsletter, download a white paper, read your latest blog post? Every email message must include a call-to-action (clearly worded and easy to find) or all of your efforts will be wasted.
Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing for small businesses. To get the best results, build a strategy around serving your customers and nurturing relationships so that when they make the decision to buy, you’ll be at the top of their list.