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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistFri, Jul 10, 2015 11 min read

9 Mistakes That Might Be Torpedoing Your Email Marketing Results

Email Marketing MistakesAs I mentioned a few days ago, email marketing is the one tactic being deployed by almost every business.

You might not be doing it right. In fact, you’re probably doing it wrong, but at least you're doing it.

Email marketing is easy to do, but it’s not easy to do correctly, which is why most businesses are doing more harm than good with their email campaigns.

Here’s how I know you’re probably doing it wrong: I get a ton of emails that are not well thought out or planned based on any methodology or approach. So, in an attempt to clean out all of our inboxes, here are the nine mistakes you’re probably making with email marketing, as well as quick fixes to improve your open and click-through rates.

Mistake 1 – Sending unsolicited emails

Yes, stop sending all of them. Don’t email people who don’t know you, whom you’ve never met, whom you’ve never spoken with or who haven’t asked you to email them. In case this is unclear to you, let me ask you a simple question: What do you do when you get an unsolicited email? That’s right. You delete it, and that’s the best-case scenario. What about the person who actually gets annoyed? Do you think that’s helping you create a positive experience with your business?  It’s not, so stop this practice today.

Instead, work harder to earn their interest by providing some valuable piece of educational insight. Once they connect with you and opt in to receive your emails, you’re free to email away.

Mistake 2 – Sending emails with discounts, special offers or anything that sounds even remotely like sales

The fastest way to end up deleted or ignored is to send a string of sales-related emails. It’s hard enough to get noticed in an email inbox, but once you start adding “Take 10% Off,” it’s almost a certainty that your email, the discount and the message will end up in the trash can. What’s worse is that you’re setting your prospect or customer up to become BLIND to all of your future emails, seriously limiting your ability to get any message through to them in the future.

Instead, focus the core of your message on education, guidance, advice and information that your prospects find useful. Then, if you want to slip something in to try driving sales (at the end, like in the P.S. line), that would be fine with me.

Mistake 3 – Sending too many emails

Email marketing is so easy that a lot of businesses tend to lean on it and send out WAY TOO MANY emails. Keep track of your opt-out numbers. If this is pushing one percent, you have a frequency issue. Opt-outs are also driven by messaging and offer overuse, but the number of emails you send definitely impacts people’s desire to continue getting your emails.

Start slow and build up the frequency, taking note of the opt-out rates and the reader feedback. Once a month might be fine, even for B2C companies that always feel they need to email more often. Keep the purchase cycle and sales cycle in mind when considering email frequency, as both will have major impacts on how often you should email your database.

Mistake 4 – Sending non-personal emails

This is not anything new. Every marketing expert talks about non-personal emails, yet I see this over and over again. Personalization is more than just the "Dear John" part of the email. There are numerous ways you can actually personalize the body copy and message associated with the email. The more you personalize the entire email marketing effort, the better your performance is going to be and the more leads you’ll generate for your business. Don’t forget about the actual FROM email address. This has to be personalized, too.

Rather than sending out generic emails, think through the segmentation and then personalize each of the email campaigns based on a number of factors beyond name. You can include specific pains based on persona. You can include upcoming events or issues facing specific industries. Don’t take the easy route by sending your emails from info@ or sales@. Find an individual or create a personal email account, and use that for your campaigns. Any attempts to personalize the content in the email will improve your open and click-through rates. 

Mistake 5 – Sending emails that are too long

It’s a fact: People spend 10 to 20 seconds reading or, better yet, skimming through your emails, so stop sending long emails with paragraphs of copy. Don’t try to squeeze 10 pounds of s*** into a five-pound bag.

Instead, use short sentences and even shorter paragraphs – two to three sentences max and no more than four or five lines on the screen. Use bullets, and lots of them. Even better, add “Read More” links to drive people back to your website. That is the one and only goal for your emails. Get people back to your website.

Mistake 6 – Sending emails without links

Like I said above, email marketing only has one goal in mind: Drive people back to your site, to additional content, to your blog, to other areas where you can continue the conversation. If you’re looking at an email without links, don’t even send it out.

Plan ahead what pages, articles or offers you want your fans to visit. Pre-planning the action you want prospects and customers to take helps you craft a better message and define a more compelling offer. 

Mistake 7 – Having weak subject lines

Again, this is probably not the first time you heard about this mistake. But, let’s be clear: "June Newsletter," "Email Marketing Minute" and "Take 10% Off" are horrible subject lines. This type of subject line is NOT going to cut through the clutter of a typical email box. Worse yet, if the subject line is weak, no one is opening the email, which defeats the entire purpose of sending it.

Take a page out of the Reality Marketing handbook and make the subject line about your prospect instead of you. Here’s an example: "Learn How To Get 50% More Leads" is 100 percent better than "Email Marketing Minute."

Mistake 8 – Not using a P.S. line at the end of the email 

For some reason, people are drawn to the P.S. line. All of the data shows that this is usually one of the most read areas in all correspondence. Perhaps people are conditioned to find something interesting at the end of the message. Take advantage of human nature as much as possible.

Instead of sending out a “naked” email (one without a P.S. line), add your offer, special links or even your sales pitch in the P.S. line. Keep an eye on the clicks, and see if this little secret works to improve your click-through rates.

Mistake 9 – Not including images in the email body copy

People don’t read; they watch. So, include images in your email. Keep in mind that some of your readers won’t see the images because they’ve set their email boxes to keep images out. But, most of us are actually interested enough in the emails to configure our email boxes to let images in. I’m not talking about your logo, discount images or product shots.

Instead, focus on pictures to help tell your story, whatever that is. People make purchase decisions emotionally, and pictures or images help people feel. Decide in advance what you want them to feel and then match the picture to that feeling. This typically increases click-through rates by 50 to 60 percent.

Email marketing is actually so common that most people have fallen into a rut where they do the same thing month after month, regardless of performance. This is why open and click-through rates are so low across all industries. This also means that it’s not going to be hard to stand out. Follow some of these basic rules and avoid these nine mistakes, and watch your open rates, click-through rates and lead-gen numbers skyrocket. 

Start Today Tip – Take a quick inventory of your own email marketing efforts. Do you see any of these mistakes in what you’re doing? If so, now’s the time to stop, reset and create a more strategic plan around email marketing. Make sure you’re using email to promote your long-form content, blog articles, webinars and other creative offers that benefit your prospects directly. Remember that inbound marketing requires all tactics to be tightly connected if you’re looking for high-end program performance.

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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.