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A certain degree of skill and artistry is involved in crafting a winning email campaign. Here are five missteps to avoid.

By Kevin Layton

Email is by far one of the best digital marketing solutions to have in your toolbox. However, there is plenty of room for error in an industry rife with regulations, delivery, filtering and other technology concerns, as well as a glut of ever-evolving best practices.

Although email marketing is definitely not rocket science, a certain degree of skill and artistry is involved in crafting a winning email campaign. Proceed with abandon and it’s likely you’ll end up wasting time and money on failed email campaigns. Email campaign failure can happen for a multitude of reasons, and the five missteps listed below are among the most common and easily avoidable offenses that every online marketer should strive to avoid.

Boring the Audience

There are a ton of ways online marketers can bore their audience, from lackluster subject lines to verbiage-laden, text-only emails, to emails that only talk about the company and provide nothing of tangible or even perceived value. Although email can feel one-sided, it is really intended to be the start of a conversation.

For a better success rate, provide an enticing offer and an eye-catching subject line to encourage positive open rates. Design colorful and well-branded graphics to appeal to our world’s love of visual content. Provide valuable resources, articles, offers and calls to action that truly give something to your email audience. Ultimately, think about how you can provide value to those on your email list.

Annoying the Audience

You know the feeling when you get interrupted by a little fly buzzing around your head, and then again 30 seconds later and then yet again 30 seconds after that? Don’t be the little fly pestering people too frequently. Of course, finding the sweet spot for the timing tolerance of each audience takes a little experimenting, observation and an understanding of the industry in which they operate.

Your audience will love hearing from you if you are providing value in a way that gives them room to breathe and consider your offer and how it fits into their needs and objectives. Understanding the pulse of an industry and the standards by which it operates is a great starting point to determine a suitable frequency and timing of emails. When you find the sweet spot, you’ll know it, and your audience will respond to your campaigns in kind. 

Confusing the Audience

All too often, online marketers try to cram too many messages into one email. There should always be one clear call to action and any messaging or imagery. Links should always direct the customer to a landing page where they can act upon that main call to action. When an email campaign vehicle is cluttered with multiple messages, the recipient can be distracted from the main reason for the email.

Stick to one primary message around which all else is focused, and be sure to tell your potential customer what you want them to do next. Don’t cause them to wander aimlessly around your website or landing page. ??

Bombarding the Audience

Marketers get excited when they’re embarking upon an email marketing campaign. It’s where the rubber meets the road. As touched on above, they often try to throw everything they’ve got at their audience in the form of too much written copy and too many design features. While you can include all of these bells and whistles from a technical standpoint, it’s simply not necessary or even beneficial to do so.

The best email campaigns are those that keep the design interface and messaging simple. That means clearly written and formatted content, as well as clean, fresh graphics and design. Keep in mind that even the best email marketing vehicle won’t convey your message as effectively as a well conceived and executed website. This is why the email campaign should compel the recipient to head to the website in an intuitive, efficient and streamlined fashion.

Missing the Audience

At a high level, email marketing seems simple enough, but when you dig into all of your options – with data filters in particular to specifically target certain audiences – it becomes clear just how complex the endeavor really is. Today, online marketers have countless list-segmentation options but, sadly, they often choose poorly when it comes to filtering their email lists.

Many mission-critical segmentation options should be considered, such as geographic, socioeconomic and demographic filters that allow the user to refine a list. For example, a Mercedes-Benz dealership would target potential customers who live within a certain zip or area code radius of their location, have certain interests and earn sufficient salaries to afford a high-end vehicle. In this way, online marketers can use list-segmentation filters to target an audience with a high likelihood of being receptive to your message.

Although nothing in the advertising and marketing realm with notable upside comes without risk, and there are definitely ways to waste money and ruin opportunities with email marketing, there are even more ways to increase site traffic, lead generation and revenue, among other goals. The key is to invest the time up-front to design an effective email campaign, which starts by heeding the blunders detailed above.

For extra assurance, digital marketers often enlist the help of field experts and outside voices who can consult on the preparation process and catch errors that may have otherwise been missed. When executed properly, email marketing can grow a business in a very strategic and calculated manner, not just delivering a good return on investment for a single campaign but also ultimately growing your business over the long term. 

Kevin Layton is CEO of Data-Dynamix, a premier source of demographic data and a go-to partner for delivering digital marketing campaigns and experts in advertising sales training. Layton is author of the upcoming book, “Building Your Digital Marketing Machine,” and is also an inspirational speaker on digital marketing, international business and business strategy. Reach him online at www.data-dynamix.com or via Twitter @DataDynamix1.

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