Five common email marketing mistakes you can easily avoid

Although offline marketing remains important, the web has emerged as a versatile, fascinating platform for reaching out to and analysing your market. While SEO, social media marketing and audience targeting are still emerging disciplines, email marketing is one of the most established and best understood ways to communicate with your potential and existing customers.

A lot of research has gone into finding out exactly what makes your mailing list click – when do people open what, which subject line was most effective – with easy mailing list management to keep customers happy. Yet despite all this easily available information on “how to do email marketing”, it’s astonishing how many companies still get it wrong. Here, Ben Geddes, a British email marketing expert, explains what you might be doing wrong, and how easily you can fix it.

1. Making it difficult to sign up

The most important factor in email marketing is collecting an email address and the person’s permission to send to it, so don’t make it difficult! It should be obvious where people can sign up for your messages and you should keep the process simple. They would not be on your site unless they were interested in your business, but they will not often want to spend more than thirty seconds typing in their details or ticking boxes. If you build a relationship with them via email there will be other opportunities to collect extra information further down the line.

2. Waiting too long to send the first email

Your first impression is vital so you should not delay that first message – there is a window of opportunity when people first sign up that allows you to establish your reputation while you know they are feeling positive about you. Too many organisations wait a week or a month to send the first contact, when it should be sent immediately – that gives the person confirmation that they will receive the emails they signed up for, and gives you a chance to show them what you can offer.

3. Failing to integrate

Email marketing will drive traffic to your website, but fire-and-forget email campaigns don’t work as well as an integrated strategy. Use email as one element in your sales process – you can directly integrate email with your CRM system, or your sales team dialler, or whatever software you choose. For example, when a recipient clicks on a call to action link, have an automatic email sent to your sales team, requesting they phone the recipient immediately. You can provide details such as their name and interests in the triggered email, allowing your sales staff to speak to someone at the exact moment they are interested in and thinking about your business.

4. Sending out spam

It’s easy for your email to get relegated to the junk folder. Poorly made content or a bad sending reputation can cause your message to fall foul of the many spam filters and never reach the inbox – a good email service provider can help you, but you should find out about deliverability and how inboxes work if you want to get the best results. This is especially important because as time passes, spam is becoming ‘any email I do not want’ and recipients use the ‘mark as spam’ button instead of unsubscribing.

5. Not testing enough

Test your subject lines, how the email looks on different devices; is it mobile optimised? Do all the links and images work? Is your call to action compelling, your content interesting? Have you made any spelling or grammatical errors? Make sure you have not made any mistakes by testing and testing again.

Email marketing still provides one of the highest returns of any direct marketing channel but is often underestimated. Used properly it can be enormously successful and avoiding these common pitfalls should help you make the most of it. Good luck!