Email is a vital component of any marketing strategy, and if the 116 billion business emails sent per day is any indication, businesses are keenly aware of its potential benefits. Unfortunately, too many businesses don’t have a strategy behind their emails, and worse, don’t utilize email marketing best practices. Emails are often crafted spontaneously and blasted out without thinking strategically about what will make them truly effective. The following are some of the most common email marketing blunders we have seen and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
1. Uninspired Subject Lines
Of all the tactics you can use to increase your email marketing effectiveness, your subject line has the greatest impact. It should be carefully crafted to appeal to the interest of your audience to get them to open your email in the first place. Yet we see emails come through everyday with subject lines such as “Your [choose a month] Newsletter” or some other non-descriptive subject line that mentions the title of the newsletter itself. I have news for you, no one cares what you name your newsletter, what they do care about is what’s in it. So if you simply tell people they are receiving their “Monthly Awesome Newsletter,” they are more likely to delete it than open it. Instead, give your readers an intriguing subject line, such as the title of one of your blog articles, to encourage them to read deeper. Remember, in 2016 the average person receives 91 emails per day – so if you don’t give them a reason to open your email, you might as well not send one at all.
2. Too Much Content
A common practice among small business owners who unfortunately don’t know any better, is to inundate their audience with too much information. Far too often we see email marketing newsletter campaigns come through that include 1-3 blog posts…in their entirety. The scrolling alone is enough to make you want to delete it as it is much harder to read information in an email pane than on a website, but you are also missing the primary purpose of sending an email – to elicit some sort of action from your audience. If you include the complete verbiage of your best blog post in your email, your recipients will have no reason to go to your website to continue engaging with your brand. They will consume the information and move on with their day – if they read it at all. Instead, craft 2-3 brief sentences describing your blog post and encouraging people to read it. Then, include a link to the full article on your website. If you’ve done your job correctly, you will also include a call to action on that blog post that will encourage readers to dig deeper into what you have to offer.
3. No Clear Call to Action
As we just mentioned, your primary goal for an email marketing campaign should be to elicit some type of action on the part of the reader. Some examples would be: get them to click through to your website, download a piece of valuable content from your site, or encourage them to make a purchase. So many emails are sent with either too many calls to action, or none at all. As a best practice, a good email will have one to three solid calls to action, and remember, less is more. A good strategy would be to include brief snippets and links to 1-2 blog posts and then a specific call to action that would require them to exchange personal information or money for something of value. White papers, ebooks and samples are all great examples of good call to action content.
4. Not Leading with Your Best
The more links and call to actions you have in your newsletter, the lower your engagement will be. We have seen, with few exceptions, that the top link in a newsletter gets over 75 percent of clicks, followed by approximately a 20 percent click rate on the second link, and about 5 percent or lower on each subsequent link. Which means that if your top content is poor your overall response rate will drop dramatically. It may be tempting to put a hard sell at the top of your newsletter, simply because it will get more views and possibly more clicks, but hard sells are often a turn off to an audience already inundated with too much email, so give them a gift rather than request a sale and you will have fewer unsubscribes, higher clicks, and a greater open rate over time.
For more effective emails, dig into your Google Analytics to first learn what is resonating online. Apply your learning to craft more relevant emails to your audience to increase engagement. Download our free marketing report template to help get you started.