Digital Marketing

Am I supposed to know who you are? And other email marketing mistakes

Rant incoming. If you use email marketing, it could be the most profitable spiel you’ve read in a long time.

I’m on many email lists on many topics: entrepreneurship, hypnosis, marketing, food, some comedy and entertainment …

I see a lot of great emails in my inbox.

And a lot of rags.

Here’s a problem that I’ve seen more than usual. I don’t know if more is happening or if I am on the wrong lists; Either way, it shouldn’t happen at all.

An example:

Let’s say I sign up for Generic Industry’s fine and esteemed list. This means that I want to receive news from Generic Industry. Maybe I’m looking for good deals or the latest GI gossip, who knows.

What I’m expecting to see are emails from … well, you know, generic industry.

Instead, what do I see?

John Jackson emailing me with the subject “A special offer for you.”

If I click on it, I see that John Jackson is the vice president of customer outreach for the generic industry, with a special offer on his gadgets for my eyes only.

Okay …

Then 20 minutes later, I received an email from Daisy Donaldson. The point is “time is running out!”

I open it and find that Ms. Donaldson is the Generic Industry Engagement and Marketing Manager. You want to warn me that the gadget deal ends in just 12 hours.

… okay …

How many mistakes are these email marketers making?

First of all, who are these people? Can’t be expected to know who John and Daisy are. I never subscribed to your emails and now you are selling me something?

One of the rules of email marketing: don’t look like spam.

The solution: The name of the email should be the name of the company (for a large organization) or the name of the person (for a solopreneur). Of course, firm like John Jackson, boss whatever, that’s actually a nice, personal touch. But the name in my inbox should be one I recognize, not some mid-level stranger I’ve never heard of.

I don’t know why so many organizations do this. Do you think it seems more personal? Maybe yes, at the cost of making you look like a spambot.

Plus, your emails are your opportunity to build your brand … and a confusing and inconsistent brand is an oxymoron.

Second, these subject lines …

Fun fact: I don’t care about “specials”. Most people don’t. Sure, some people, addicted to the rush to buy things, don’t need to hear more than that.

If you attend to them, I’ll jump off your list.

Most of us don’t care if it’s the “last chance.” to get a deal on something. If you want to sell me 100 tires, I don’t care if you’re offering me a 99% discount. I don’t want any of that.

“It’s the beginning of scarcity, William! Read something from Cialdini, ignorant!”

I have read Cialdini. Scarcity is powerful, but scarcity alone has only recently. I just drew a stick figure on the back of an envelope. It is one of a kind, super rare! Will you buy it from me for a dollar?


Well then.

Tell me it’s my ‘last chance’ and I’ll tell you I don’t care.

Tell me this is my last chance to buy a never-before-seen video of Milton Erickson working with a client, and you have my attention (and my business).

I am surrounded by scarcity every day. I only worry about the rare things that I really want.

Also, my inbox is full of emails telling me it’s my ‘last chance’. The irony is that there is nothing more common than a matter of sheer scarcity.

If that’s all you can manage too, you’re breaking the next rule of thumb of email marketing: don’t be boring.

In third place …

Is anyone coordinating these emails?

I often get five emails in an hour, from different people in the same organization, telling me that I only have two days to enroll in their last course.

A smart approach is to figure out the timing of your messages. Suppose you are promoting a course; Maybe send three messages on the day of its launch, one per day for the following week, and then five on the last day of enrollment.

A silly approach is to leave the different teams to their own devices. Readers will go days without hearing anything and then they will receive all emails in one group.

That’s not a rhythm, that’s premature ejaculation in email form.

Which brings me to the next rule of thumb for email marketing: think about how each email connects to the others. Are you overwhelming your readers for no reason? Are you starving them? Is your email a welcome and entertaining distraction, or is it a series of uploads designed to test your patience?

This lack of coordination really hit an organization recently.

They sent me an email with the subject: “This is the LAST you will hear about this opportunity!”

(Ugh, boring! And what chance? If I don’t know, then I don’t care!)

Just to get a ‘final warning!’ (Urghhhh!) About it a few hours later.

It’s time for another email marketing rule: don’t lie to your readers. This was an honest accident, I’m sure, but it was still a lie.

Anyway, let’s recap:

Don’t look like spam.

Do not be boring.

Think of your emails from your reader’s perspective.

Do not lie.

Follow those rules and you will look more professional than half the professionals out there.

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