As an email marketer, I've researched a lot of best and worst practices for the industry. And boy, are there some tips and tricks out there that are just downright awful!
Yes, those email strategies that you hear about that literally make you cringe at the sheer thought of them. The ones that if your boss brings it up you instantly go into panic mode and make you silently start saying to yourself, PLEASE don’t make me.
Ah, the infamous “solution” of buying a list of thousands of emails addresses of people who have never heard of your company in hopes of making money. *Insert monkey with hands over eyes emoji*. No bueno.
Who are these people and why do they care about your company? Chances are that they don’t. Chances also are that you’re not the first company to get your paws on this list and these people are already email fatigued to the max and have received hundreds of marketing emails that they care nothing about. Not exactly the type of people you want to hit up, am I right?
The whole methodology behind inbound marketing is to pull people into your site, not push your message into everyone’s face and think that will make them want to choose your company.
2) Spray and Pray
Sending email after email to your entire email list with no segmentation or tailoring of any kind (aka spray and pray) as your email marketing program is just straight up wrong. It's not using your marketing intelligence to its full potential, not to mention spammy as heck.
Creating different lists and sending more relevant marketing emails based on information that has been provided to you, or what you have gathered based on their visiting habits and purchasing actions, is the now the norm of the email marketing world.
The days of sending the same marketing email to all subscribers week after week and keeping your fingers crossed for a hot conversion rate are over. Be a go-getter and make that better conversion rate happen!
3) Making it Difficult to Unsubscribe
Woof. This could be one of the worst ways to try to keep your subscriber from shrinking.
First of all, you’ve heard it hundreds of times, but I’ll say it again: quality is more important than quantity! The reason we’ve all been hearing that phrase for our entire lives is because it usually is applicable in most situations. And go figure, here it is again! If this person has zero interest in continuing to receive your emails, that’s ok! Let's just not force feed them.
While it’s never good (or fun) to lose someone, you want your file to consist of people who actually want to hear from your company and who you can successfully nurture through the sales funnel (no matter which stage they are at). Chasing after a lead who can’t get away from you fast enough is a waste of everyone’s time. Quality in your subscriber file should always come before quantity.
Don’t forget to have a little integrity either. I’m not saying you should be drawing attention to your unsubscribe button with big flashing lights, but don’t hide it and turn into something more complicated than it needs to be. Tricking people into staying on your email list will only frustrate them and give your company a bad reputation.
If you’re not ashamed of the email marketing campaign you are running, there shouldn’t be any shame in losing subscribers here and there. this could just mean it’s just not the right fit.
With that being said, what you can do when individuals choose to unsubscribe is to ask them why. Get a better understanding if it’s something your company can learn from and improve on. Try to squeeze the last bit of information out of them that you can.
4) Only Featuring Words Like “Free! ” “X Percent off!” and “Buy Now!” In Your Subject Lines
There are few things worse as an email marketer than being pushed directly to the spam folder and not even having a fighting chance in the inbox. And, there’s no better way to trigger a spam filter than by stuffing your subject lines full of these spammy words.
Not only are these words spammy but they are tiresome. Find fresh and creative ways to get your marketing message across while still being able to stand out and create urgency. Easier said than done, I know.
Give it a try though. Instead of “Buy Now!” try phrases that convey a sense of urgency, like “Two Days Only” or “24 Hours Only." These phrases are a little less spammy and infomericial-ly.
I understand sometimes you just need to use the word free. After all, free is a powerful word and sometimes nothing else will do the trick. Just don’t overuse it where it gets to the point of cheapening your brand and it becomes uninteresting to your customers or clients. Try switching it up to something like “This One’s on Us.” or “Our Treat.”
Oh, and don’t forget to do A/B Testing on your subject lines either!
5) Image Overload
Don’t get me wrong, emails need to have great visual appeal with images, formatting, font and coloring. However, having an email only consisting of images can get you into trouble. Why? Most email clients have safeguards in place that have readers opt-in to view the images before actually seeing them.
Make sure to have a nice balance of live text along with those beautiful images. If the images you put all that effort into creating don’t even load when the person opens your email, you could lose them in an instant if they can’t quickly figure out what the point of your email is. Be sure to feature some intriguing and call-to-action live text to urge them to click to download those images, or at the very least, know what the offer is.
Being an email marketer is an exciting field to work in. There are always advancements being made for you to gain better insight and have transparency into what’s working and not working. Just do you company and your customers a favor and stay away from these awful (yet somewhat common) email marketing tactics and you’ll be ready to rock and roll.
Originally published May 14, 2014 3:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017