5 Annoying Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

June 09, 2014 | Pettiglio Lauren
5 Annoying Email Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

We’ve all seen it. That email pops into your inbox that makes you cringe (and simultaneously comforts you that you weren’t the one that sent it). But those annoying messages aren’t all bad. In fact, they are one of the easiest ways to make sure your campaigns will crush their goals because you get to learn from others’ mistakes without having to make them yourself.

The best part about being an email marketer is that you are your own audience. That is, you have an inbox, you get emails, so you know what gets your attention and doesn’t.

Recently, a few things have been popping up that have been getting my attention for all the wrong reasons. So here is a list of the things I find myself saying in annoyed (and relieved) tones to my inbox and what you can do to avoid that reaction with your own campaigns.

5. “Great! Now what?”

You sent me an email and it had some great copy. Maybe even a visual and a catchy caption. You’ve got me! Yet, you have given me nowhere to go. Just when you got me interested and eager to hear more, I have hit a roadblock.

Sure I can go search for your website, but am I going to be directed to the content that hooked me in the first place? And if I am going to dive in to your offer, wouldn’t you want to know it’s me rather than an unknown visitor to the website? (Hint: You would.)

Best practice: Always give your prospects a place to go. Just because the main goal of the messages is awareness doesn't mean it can’t turn into a potential sale. Set yourself up for success by guiding your prospects to an appropriate secondary action and build on that by setting up measures by which you can track these engagements to prioritize follow up.

4. “Wait… what?”

There were some good words here, but you tried to say so many things that I’m deleting the message before I got to your most important point, which is obviously buried at the bottom because, of course, you are saving the best for last.

It’s so hard balancing messages and it is very easy to fall into the trap where more is better. But sometimes more is just more. And often, more is just confusing.

Best practice: Stay focused on the main purpose of the message and keep true to that. Keep the CTAs prominent and high in the email – people like the simplicity of not having too many things to dig through.

Video is a great tool to use when you have a long or complex message to convey. Since most people retain more of what they see and hear, consider using a video to increase message retention. You can transform your email from a long, bulky series of paragraphs to a simple, clean intro with a sleek video.

3. “But I thought this was about…”

One of my biggest pet-peeves involves opening an email promising A but instead getting B. And your prospects will let you know if they feel the same way by way of the unsubscribe button. A catchy subject line is imperative for good open rates and getting more eyes on your content, but the contents of the email still needs to follow through on that message. Keep a close eye on your metrics, but often what you are gaining in open you are losing in clicks.

Best practice: Ensure your subject line is relevant to the content in your message and monitor your metrics. Consider measuring the “click to open rate” (# click/# opened) as an indication of whether or not your audience is getting what they expect. And always watch your unsubscribes – if your rate jumps up, you could be getting into “false promise land.”

2. “Click here for… nothing. If you click here you get nothing.”

Dead links are the enemy. And things happen. Content is late or links change at the last second. Perhaps your email marketing tool decides to add some code that breaks a link or, better yet, replaces it with something useless.

We’ve all done it before, but seeing this and getting that tiny pang of fear that a link may be broken somewhere always reinforces the importance of taking the extra time to test everything. That functionality (or lack thereof) can make or break an email send.

Best practice: Always test. Send tests to multiple people/devices if you can, but always at least to yourself to avoid the dreaded dead-link response from your audience. Also consider your audiences’ device preferences and ensure your message works as intended on at least the top used devices. It is important to track email to relate activity and engagement to specific individuals and campaigns, but if the link fails then there is nothing to track.

1. “I mean, I’m not the grammar police but COME ON people!”
I am not the world’s best speller. In fact, I don’t even think that I could recall enough School House Rock Jams to pass middle school English. But if you are emailing me with the intent of driving action, at least take the time to run it through a spell check. And please make sure that things like my name and company are spelled correctly.

Best practice: Clean your data and keep it clean; if database errors are causing silly-looking mistakes, see what processes you can employ to keep your data at its best. Also, always proofread your emails. This seems like a silly thing, but if prospects are too busy counting the misused words or misspellings, your message will resonate for all the wrong reasons. 

Any of these ring any bells? What are your inbox groans and the lessons you take from them?

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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