Five email marketing sins you need to avoid

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Despite widespread predictions over the death of email as a marketing tool for businesses, it appears that the upcoming Christmas shopping season is set to be heavily influenced by the contents of consumers’ inboxes.

An Experian report released this week shows online retailers are set for a surge of traffic on December 23 as a result of email campaigns.

With Australians increasingly waiting for sought-after discounts before parting with their money, a well-timed offer sent to the right audience can prove fruitful for start-ups.

And even with the reach provided by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, it appears that email is still king when it comes to provoking a response among buyers, as our analysis of the key online marketing trends confirmed recently.

So how should you craft your email marketing campaigns this festive season – and beyond? Here are five classic errors that you must avoid if your email shoot isn’t to turn into a damp squib.

1. A lack of strategic thinking

Email marketing can be nimble and spontaneous, but you really need a solid strategy underpinning it if you are to get the results you desire.

“Figure out why you’re sending these emails,” says Ned Dwyer, an online specialist who co-founded Native Digital and website customisation start-up Tweaky.

“Is it because you want everyone to think you’re cool? Is it because you want them to buy a particular product? Maybe you just want to build your brand so you want them to share it with their friends.”

“Whatever it is, make sure that you state it explicitly. Tell your readers what you want.”

“Take five minutes to work out what your email marketing plan is.”

“What are you going to send out? Why should people care about it? How regularly are you going to send it? Who are you going to send it to?”

2. Poor quality content

A sure-fire way to condemn your email campaign to the deleted folder is to provide poor quality content.

If your email doesn’t grab attention and provide something of value – with its core offer, insight or even humour – then people will quickly move on.

“The people on your mailing list, whether your customers, suppliers or just general subscribers, have given you permission to contact them periodically with relevant information,” explains Dwyer.

“Don’t abuse that trust by sending them poor quality content or marketing materials.”

“Give them something of value. Work out who they are and why they should care about what you’re sending them.”

“In our case, we wanted to give our friends something of value – our knowledge, our insights into the market and hopefully motivation to help them nail their job.”

3. No consistency

Email marketing isn’t something you should dabble in when you’re in the mood and have the time. You need to be providing consistent, high-quality updates to your subscribers in order to establish your business in their minds.

“You have to send it out every week/fortnight/month,” says Dwyer.

“So many people suck at this. They can do it for the first few times but generally tap out and forget about it completely.”

“Do not fall into this trap. To avoid this make it a KPI for someone’s job, if they fail to get it out then you should make a big deal out of it.”

“Even if it’s your job as a business owner, your employees should be given permission to hassle you about it.”

“Keeping it consistent shows you’re reliable and trustworthy.”

4. Information overload

Naturally, you want to make your email look attractive, with lots of nice pictures and links. But don’t go overboard.

A simple email setting out exactly what you’re offering and why the recipient should take action in a clear, uncomplicated way is far more likely to work than a cluttered, gaudy missive that is hard to digest.

Not only that, but oversized files can be tricky for people to access. Don’t take the risk.

As US tech consultant Ben Brooks puts it: “It is really awesome that you figured out how to embed your company logo in your email signature, but I know who you are and what your company logo looks like.”

“I still hate it. Don’t waste bandwidth sending me email attachments of your logo. Further, it really screws me over when I go to look for emails that you sent me a file in – every email you send me has a damned attachment. “

5. Getting the basics wrong

If writing isn’t your strong point, get someone skilled in this area to create the email’s content for you.

At the very least, have another set of eyes look over the copy before you press the ‘send’ button. Careless mistakes and garbled syntax will make your business look amateurish and will turn off consumers.

“If you send me an email in all caps I will assume you are yelling at me and take my damn sweet time responding,” Brooks says.

“Likewise if you send me an email in all lowercase I will assume that you couldn’t care less about the email you sent; resulting in me taking my damn sweet time responding.”

“Typos and grammar problems abound, but we all know how to properly capitalize an email, so don’t be lazy.”

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