7 Email Marketing Mistakes Even the BIG GUYS Make.

15 Apr

I opened up an email the other day from a big-name marketer that said, “The link to video 1 is inside”. iStock_000024086772SmallI was very interested in the content so I opened up the email and clicked on the link to watch the video. The link I clicked took me to a landing page that had three videos but this one happened to be video 2, not video 1!

Now it wasn’t a big deal because I enjoyed watching video 2 and when it was finished I went back and watched video 1. But it did make me think that something went wrong in the process that this big-name marketer was releasing. And it also made me question the quality of his products and services if a basic mistake like this got through.

Whether you’re well established or just starting out it really pays to take the steps to avoid these kinds of mistakes. It could be as small as missing a few sales all the way to damaging your reputation as a quality information or service provider.

So let’s talk about …

7 Email Marketing Mistakes even the BIG GUYS make:

And what you can do to avoid them. There are definitely more than 7, but if you pay attention to these mistakes and take a few simple steps to avoid them, your email marketing efforts will pay off better than ever.

Email Marketing Mistake #1 – Incorrect or Broken Links

It happens way too often … I see someone send out a second email and in the subject line it says, “OOPS, fixed link”! Now, like I said, the example above wasn’t a big deal, but I have seen where people’s sales have been drastically impacted because their order form link did not work properly. Ouch! (Before posting this … it happened again by a BIG NAME marketer. He had to send out another email with an ‘Embarrassed Face’ to fix the links!)

Of course, the simple remedy is to make sure you test each and every link in every email before you send it out. It’s best to get a second set of eyes on this and have your mom, friend or virtual assistant double check every link to make sure it goes where it is supposed to. Even if you make one single change it’s best if you retest it one more time before it goes out. It’s better to be safe than sorry when your reputation is at stake.

Email Marketing Mistake #2 – Incorrect or poor subject line

Of course we all know that it is very important to build your list of email subscribers. As they say “the money is in the list”. But the second most important metric besides the number of subscribers is your open rate when you send emails out to your list.

The subject line or the ‘title’ for your email is so important you have to be sure to make it good! It has to get the attention of your audience and entice them to open it up to read what you have to say. Some people waste this opportunity by forgetting to put a subject line in for example, “default email template”… (No really, I have actually seen this!) Or by using a very bland headline like “monthly newsletter”.

Catchy headlines do not have to be all that fancy either. They can be as simple as asking a question like “Want Proof?” Or “Are You a Quitter?” Both of those email subject lines make me want to open it and say, “Proof? Proof of what?” or “I’m not a quitter what are you talking about?”

Other intriguing but brief subject lines such as, “Your action guide enclosed” or “Instant procrastination killer.” These are intriguing and pique the reader’s interest to make them open it up. Another way is to offer a benefit-based subject line such as, “5 Five-minute or less Blogging Tips that = Big Results!” Right away I know what that email is about and if I want to open it. Most likely if I want short blogging tips that have big returns I will open this email for sure.

If you’re stuck for ideas for good subject lines just go to your inbox and take a look. Most likely, you will have emails from very good marketers in your niche that you can leverage. Just search for emails from a particular person that you know is good at email marketing and take a look at their subject lines. Very quickly you will be able to model your subject lines after them. Of course I mean pattern after, not copy!

 Email Marketing Mistake #3 – No Permission to Market to List

These mistakes are in no particular order, and this one proves it! Now more than ever, you have to have permission to send emails to your list. If you don’t, you are at risk and your email service provider is at risk. The bottom line is DON’T send SPAM. That means, get permission, get confirmation and only send emails to a list you have permission to market to. Infusionsoft takes a fairly strict approach to insuring that you actually have permission even when you import an email list. They will ask where the list came from, did they give you explicit permission and how often you have emailed them in the past. If you answer positively, you will be able to send broadcast emails, but Infusionsoft compliance team will be in contact with you if you start getting too many SPAM complaints. You may even be restricted if your complaint rate is too high. You can read more about compliance here: Infusionsoft Compliance Guide

Email Marketing Mistake #4 – Too many emails, too frequently

There are no hard-and-fast rules, but if you email too frequently you may burn out your list. There are all kinds of opinions on this, but be aware of your opt-out rates and think carefully about how often you are mailing your followers. If you are providing short, concise content that is immediately actionable, then a daily email may be okay. If it is a daily sales pitch, you will quickly be ignored, opt-ed out on and potentially start racking up SPAM complaints.

If you are committed to sending frequent emails but still want to consider the email preferences of your tribe, you should have a preferences center that allows them to select the type and frequency of the email they receive. Giving your followers a choice will allow you to maintain a bigger list because rather than opting out, they can back off the frequency and you can still stay in touch with them.

I personally know this works very well. Have you ever gotten overwhelmed with your inbox and went on a house-cleaning mission? You click through and unsubscribe to the ones you don’t read anymore, but there are many you don’t want to lose contact with. Still they are just emailing way TOO frequently. If there is a choice to cut back on the frequency, I will choose that rather than unsubscribe altogether.

This is not hard to provide; you offer a simple form that the person can select the type (newsletters, announcements, tips/tricks, case studies) and frequency (occasionally, monthly, weekly, daily). Your CRM system like Infusionsoft then uses these tags to determine who gets the emails. This is all automated, so you shouldn’t have to intervene in this ‘self-serve’ system. Give your email list members a choice and they will stick with you longer!

Email Marketing Mistake #5 – No Email List Segmentation (aka lack of focus)

Going along with the preferences center is effective list segmentation. If you want to connect with your audience, especially in their inbox, you need to try to talk directly to their needs. So if you have an email list interested in mobile apps, you will have different topics and language for those that are developing business apps from those that are developing gag apps or game apps.

This segmentation can be built over time and eventually hone in on your readers’ interests. The easiest way to start is to ask them. Send an email that links to a questionnaire form, they fill it out and when the emails are sent, Infusionsoft segments the list and sends only the emails that are pertinent to the interests of each contact. This helps focus your message directly to their interests. You will improve the engagement and strengthen your connection.

Email Marketing Mistake #6 – No Call To Action

Unless you are doing all this purely as a hobby, you have to make sure you have a clear goal for your email, one call to action or CTA. Keep in mind, that while you have your reader for a brief moment, you have to attempt to get them to do the ONE THING that will advance them on the path of doing (more) business with you. That could be to read your blog post, rate and review your podcast, or click on the link to the landing page with a video to tell them more. But only have them do ONE of these things per email. Many have the attention span of a gnat and you have but a few seconds to convince them it’s worth taking the next small action. Do not ask for everything all at once, it just dilutes your main CTA effectiveness. In fact, it may kill it altogether. If you give to many choices, then the easiest choice is to save it for later and move on to the next email (or Facebook post).

Email Marketing Mistake #7 – Not Testing the Effectiveness

Once you are in the rhythm of sending regular emails to your tribe, you need to avoid becoming complacent. The big mistake many people make is they do not regularly measure and assess the effectiveness of their marketing campaign. Software systems like Infusionsoft maintain several metrics that you can monitor to judge the effectiveness of your message getting through and ultimately if your call to action is working. First of all is the initial reaction to your email. That includes the open rate, the opt-out rate and … heaven forbid, the SPAM complaint rate.

If you search for industry standard open rates, the average is around 31%. However, this number is nearly meaningless because it really depends on your market, how you generated your list and ultimately how engaged your followers are. I don’t have data, but I firmly believe that people that are more a ‘consumer/shopper’ market have FAR lower open rates than those in a specific hobby niche or business development niche. One look at your inbox (or your spouses) and you will find offer upon offer from EVERY consumer brand and store. Very few of those emails are ever opened.

However, if you consistently provide interesting, entertaining and educational content, your open rates could be much higher! The important point is be sure to get a good baseline and track the changes over time. If you start sending too many sales emails in a row, you may see your open rates plummet. If you come up with an instructional series that is tightly coupled content-wise from week to week, your open rate may shoot up.

Another big metric that you should be tracking is the ‘call to action’ response rate. You can monitor this by having Infusionsoft complete goal when a link is clicked. This at least tells you your reader has clicked the link to opt-in or go visit your blog or salespage. Each step of the process should have a goal. (I will talk about step-by-step goals in depth in another post.)

The ultimate email marketing goals will be:

  1. Goal – Delivery
  2. Goal – Open
  3. Goal – Click CTA Link
  4. Goal – Opt-in to Webinar or Video Series
  5. Goal – Purchase Product
  6. Goal – Upsell premium
  7. Goal – Refer a friend or share or tweet

By knowing what the goals are, you should set up measurements or metrics for each goal and then continually track and watch for the changes and the trends. As you are tracking these metrics, you begin to make changes and test. Keep it simple and test A vs. B. One subject line vs. another. Once you see what works you convert to more of that same style. Then you move to the next elements to test and track the results. Over time, you get better and better based on what works and where the improvements are coming from. This is called optimization. You optimize the achievement of your goals by measuring, coming up with A/B testing and assessing the results based on measurements.

So the things to test:

  • Frequency of emails
  • Subject lines
  • Length of emails
  • Links back to blogs or other resources
  • Content types: Stories vs. editorial vs. tips/tricks

Avoid these mistakes and you will see your email marketing effectiveness grow, which will in turn grow your audience and ultimately the financial returns for your business.

If you would like a check list of the 7 ways to avoid these mistakes, along with killer email subject line ‘templates’, just enter your email below and I will send it in PDF file format for you to print and pin up next to your monitor! 🙂


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