During the week, I received a promotional email which demonstrated both the pros and cons of email marketing in one fell swoop.
First the pros.
The email, for a custom mat company, looked reasonably professional. Serviceable photography portraying some mats they had created, including some big hitting brands – though one wonders if permission was sought to use their logos in this way.
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Given I thought the idea had some merit, it certainly engaged me with its reasonably professional appearance and photography.
Unfortunately though, that’s where the good news finishes for this prospector.
Call to action of sorts
Because as soon as I clicked on one of the many ‘calls to action’, I was completely disappointed and baffled.
Instead of taking me to a website landing page pertinent to the link I clicked on, for example more information about one of the mats I was interested in, it simply launched an email to the company.
So I clicked on the ‘free quote’ button instead.
No cigar. It did the same thing.
These clear calls to action linked not to a website but to an email address.
In fact, I clicked on four or five links hoping to launch a relevant web page.
And then it hit me. Despite going to all the trouble of creating a professional looking email piece and no doubt the list that came with it, this company didn’t have, you guessed it, a website! Not even an eBay site.
So they were hoping that recipients would ignore this fundamental and either send an email or call them.
Understanding web basics
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen such a fundamental misunderstanding of how internet marketing works. Who hasn’t passed the shop or decorated vehicle that makes the same error. No website address, just an email address.
And potentially some businesses can get away with an email campaign without a website to provide more information and even (gasp) make a sale.
But for a product-oriented business to simply bypass the website stage is quite simply bizarre in this day and age.
The next flaw was in the copywriting. Whilst it essentially explained the benefit of the product, it lacked the polish and in turn the persuasion a professional copywriter can provide.
Unfortunately this tale of inbox woe doesn’t end there.
This email was sent to me without my permission. Yes, somehow they had got hold of my email address (admittedly not overly difficult) and decided to add me to their list in clear contravention of the Spam Act.
Unless of course it is sent from offshore instead of the ‘Sydney, Australia’ address it provides.
As for the disclaimer:
This e-mail is an advertisement from the sender
It is broadcast at the sender’s request and under his sole responsibility
Not really much of an assurance really.
Tips for greater ROI
So to summarise, this company would have enjoyed far better ROI on their campaign if:
- They preceded the campaign with as professional an e-commerce website as they could muster and enjoy the credibility, free leads from search engines and cash flow benefits it would provide them
- Ensure their calls to action led to relevant landing pages on such a website
- Improve the copywriting
- Their campaign was Spam Act compliant
- Their caveats made some sense
It’s difficult to quantify the improvement in leads and subsequent sales these improvements would lead to, but I suspect it would be in excess of x10.
And, in case you were wondering, no they didn’t end up selling me a rug!
Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which services the website and web marketing needs of SMEs.