Three Deadly Sins of Email Marketing

If we were to ask you, “what emails do you enjoy receiving?” and “which do you detest?” — you’d likely be able to tell us right away. But it doesn’t always work the other way. For some reason, when we’re the ones sending the emails, we often rush through the process and hit send without thinking about the user on the other end. Can good email marketing take place if this is our habit?

We have some good news, and we have some bad news.

The great news is that email marketing is alive and well, even forty years after Ray Tomlinson sent the first email.

The bad news is that without consideration, it’s easy to commit one of these three deadly email marketing sins.

Email is an incredible tool to grow your business, but it can do more harm than good if misused.

Deadly Sin #1: You’re too afraid of losing subscribers

Saying “losing subscribers can be a good thing” is the antithesis of what many believe is a telltale sign of the demise of your email marketing. But when subscribers drop, don’t lose hope too quickly—it might be a sign you’re doing something right.

Things to consider when evaluating this serendipitous event:

  1. The people who don’t want to be on your list will no longer receive your emails. Call us captain obvious, but think about it. If you had a birthday party, would you want people there who didn’t want to be? Probably not. Your emails and subscribers should feel like welcomed friends who give a rat’s ass about what you have to say. 
  2. You’re honing in on your niche. In email marketing—well, any marketing—you can’t be everything to everyone. Why would email be an exception? Sometimes, emails are crappy, and that’s why subscribers drop like flies. But not you, intentional email guru! You’re getting closer to your niche, which at first might mean fewer people reading… but the people who are reading are the right people.
  3. To have unsubscribers, you had to have subscribers. Maybe they came to the party for a quick little discount or something else that was of immediate value, but after they got what they wanted, they said, “peace out!”

Consider these two insights: First, they wanted what you had to offer. And selling to people who already have experience with your product or service is more manageable than leading new people to your water. Second, it could be the alternative: that your email wasn’t valuable. So what? Now you can make it even better. Learning is GOOD.

Deadly Sin #2: You aren’t optimizing for mobile phones

In 2011, Constant Contact reported 27% of emails are opened by mobile phone. In 2018, this increased to 68%. Given this data, we scratch our heads at why 1 in 5 email campaigns aren’t created with mobile-friendliness in mind.

Creating for mobile phones is creating for the people. The people, however, will give you “the hand” if your email is spammy or an atrocious UX [user experience]. When you send an excellent one, however, Hubspot tells us that 59% of email marketing viewers are more likely to make a purchase if the email has a steller UX.

So, how do we create this stellar UX? Let’s glean some knowledge from Peter Morville’s “UX Honeycomb Framework.” We will list a few to start.

  1. Provide value via interesting subject lines – In a UX design course in my Master’s program, I remember learning a core principle aboux UX and micro-copy: “your text should move people from point A to point B without being remembered.” Okay, it was something along those lines. Having “unmemorable” text could be bad, but it can also be good, because people likely remember something horrific. Isn’t the goal to get the reader to your CTA, anyways? If they arrive there, but don’t necessarily remember the text, you’ve done good. Most don’t even reach the “end.”
  2. Focus on usefulness – Our brains process information visually quicker than via text, and we’d be damned if we didn’t carry this fact over into how we email. Let’s say you’re a local restaurant looking for customers to try a delivery service. Should you explain it in two paragraphs? Or should you explain it by a picture—maybe a happy family around a dinner table with your logo on the box. This is especially helpful in light of mobile-friendliness, where people want to digest your information quickly.
  3. Horizontal scrolling, the silent killer  – Have you ever been victim to web pages or emails that are too wide to see in one frame? How likely were you to stay and try to scroll to finish a sentence or get the whole picture? Probably very unlikely. Instead of creating “wide” emails, go vertical. Even so, the email shouldn’t be too long.

Again, mobile-friendliness is sympatico with timeliness. We don’t typically get on our phones to stay on one piece of content for an extended period of time.

Deadly Sin #3: Create complications

The reason for the email should be simple.

The CTA should be easy to find.

And the “unsubscribe” button should absolutely not be hidden, even if you want readers to stay.

We both know that making it impossible for people to unsubscribe isn’t suddenly going to encourage them to purchase your product. It will only make them furious – at least it makes me feel this way when this happens.

When you remove unsubscribe, you also:

  • Contribute to a poor user experience
  • Neglect the opportunity for your lists to be “cleaned out” or cleansed of people who don’t want to be there
  • Increase the chances that your reputation goes to crap
  • Risk breaking the law–yeah, really. 

In some countries, you “have to honor that opt-out within 10 days or else you will most likely be violating spam laws in a lot of countries.” Let’s just vow to do things the proper way.

Bring your email campaigns back to life

We love a good story and a good email. Are you looking for a partnership in the marketing game? From blog writing, email campaigns, and website updates, Red Mallard is here and ready to be your ally in content marketing. Get in touch with us today so we can get the ball rolling.

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