The Dirty Dozen
E-mail is potentially the most powerful and cost-effective marketing method in use today. I say potentially because most marketers don't exploit e-mail to its fullest advantage. Even the most accomplished brands have been known to overlook the medium's most generous benefits.
Here are the 12 most common and costly mistakes when creating an e-mail marketing strategy:
1. Failure to personalize. Most people like to be addressed by name. If you know your subscriber’s name, use it in the text of your e-mails, and feature products or services that the customer has expressed an interest in. You also can add photos and links that relate to something subscribers have clicked on in the past. How do you know personalization works? Easy: Send half of your e-mails with no personalization and half using subscribers' names. The results will convince you.
2. Lack of interactivity. E-mail differs from other types of marketing in that it can engage customers to pursue interests and activities. Customers can click on links to get more information or order products. You also can invite them to receive answers to questions or be entertained. Or you can encourage customers to interact with e-mail by adding polls or surveys, which offer the added benefit of collecting additional data or preference information about your customers.
3. Not enough testing. The results of e-mail tests come back within 24 hours. No other medium has such quick results. What's the best product to feature? Best subject line? Best price? Right frequency? You can learn all of these things with simple and low-cost tests. The results can mean thousands of dollars to you. Despite these indisputable facts, most e-mail marketers still fail to include tests that incorporate control groups in their campaigns.
4. Neglect offline sales. E-mails are like TV ads — they build the brand. They produce online sales, but they also encourage recipients to get into their cars and drive to stores. Statistics show that multichannel customers spend more than online buyers alone. If you have retail stores or catalog sales, your e-mails should be designed with this in mind.
5. Not using product reviews. When customers buy products – any product – you should use e-mail to ask them to rate or review the products. Then place these reviews not only on your Web site, but also in future e-mails. Customer reviews are typically the most trusted information you can provide.
6. Making it hard to unsubscribe. Many e-mail marketers hide the unsubscribe link at the bottom in tiny print, hoping customers won't find it. But why keep sending e-mails to people who don't want them? Make it easy for customers to unsubscribe, but don’t be afraid to ask a few questions before they move on. Would they prefer reduced frequency? To only hear about certain subjects? Why are they unsubscribing? You'll learn something valuable and potentially keep customers who might otherwise leave.
Read about the next six mistakes — including not segmenting your audience and not learning the value of your subscribers — in the June 19 edition of All About eMail.
Arthur Middleton Hughes is senior strategist at e-Dialog, a Lexington, Mass.-based precision e-mail services provider. He and Arthur Sweetser are authors of "Successful E-mail Marketing Strategies: from Hunting to Farming" (RACOM, 2009). Reach Arthur at firstname.lastname@example.org.