Five email marketing mistakes your start-up is making

Here, we look at what small businesses are doing wrong with their email marketing endeavours.

Right now, you’re sitting in front of your computer. As you sip on your cup of coffee, you’re looking back on how your business performed. One of the things on your mind is your recent (failed) email marketing campaign.

You’re considering tossing it aside because your numbers didn’t exactly meet your earlier expectations. You’re now on the cusp of agreeing with a lot of other people in your exact predicament: email is dead, and the marketing world has moved on from the 1990s.

If your email marketing plan failed then it’s probably because of a variety of reasons. In fact, a new infographic from highlights just what’s wrong with today’s email marketing endeavours. There are plenty, but the author dwindled the number down to just five.

Here they are:

  1. Being too informal: you’re boring your customers with trivial information.
  2. Bombarding inboxes: you’re sending way too many emails in a short period of time.
  3. Sending confusing messages: you’ve sent too much information.
  4. Overwhelming customers: the design and messaging is complicated for your readers.
  5. Missing targets: you didn’t filter your lists and your message is too generic.

There is no doubt that these are common errors made by the inexperienced small business owners or novice marketing experts. Let’s face it: just because most of us old folks have been using email since the 1990s it doesn’t mean we’re gurus on the matter. It takes a certain finesse to launch the right email marketing campaign. Some may even refer to it as a fine art.

Over-emailing ‘bad for business’

Companies should be ‘careful’ when sending emails to their clients and avoid ‘bombarding’ them, the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM) says.

Lisa Turner, IDM’s marketing director, comments that too many emails can be seen as an invasion of privacy, which means that any emails sent should be correctly addressed and relevant to the recipient.

Turner explains that in research conducted by Habeas, daily emails were found to be the most disliked online marketing technique along with pop-up advertisements.

She adds that in order to make sure a company’s emails are not classified as junk and thus proving an annoyance to customers, business owners should ‘include clear and easy information on how to stop receiving emails’.

Turner says that according to the Habeas research, nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they have two or more email addresses which they give out to companies depending on how much they trust them.

‘Marketers want to be admitted to that ‘inner circle’ of trust,’ she adds.

What’s trending in email marketing?

In the last couple of years, there have been growing trends in the world of email marketing. These trends, as many have noticed, have garnered tremendous success for those who have tried it. Whether they’re B2B or B2C companies, entrepreneurs and marketing gurus are quickly finding out for themselves that the greatest source of success is embracing specific tools.

These are the four trends that are currently proving to be the best in this marketing field:

Email automation
Mobile emails
Email personalisation
Email engagement

By the end of the year, the total number of email accounts around the world is projected to soar to more than 4.3 billion. With 92 percent of online adults utilising email, and nearly two-thirds (61 percent) using it every single day, email marketing is still the main component of an effective marketing campaign.

Want to do it the right way? Here are five supercharging tips for startups looking to explore this avenue:

  1. Subject line
  2. A recognisable name, email
  3. Social sharing options
  4. Effective CTAs
  5. Timing is everything

Subject line

If there is one thing you hone in on and meticulously study, test and experiment with it’s the subject line. If you want to improve your open rate then your subject line is imperative. What makes a subject line effective? One that is captivating, engaging and compelling. In other words, your recipients are just dying to open it.

Simply put: the right subject line is short, descriptive and gives a reason to click the email.

Here are a few examples of the best email subject lines::

  • ‘Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring’ (Warby Parker)
  • ‘Happy Birthday Lindsay – Surprise Inside!’ (Rent the Runway)
  • ‘What are our customers saying?’ (DocuSign)
  • ‘Read your review for John Mulaney’ (Ticketmaster)
  • ’10 Engagement Tips to Gobble Over Thanksgiving’ (AddThis)

Short and sweet, concise and right to the point. That is the art of subject lines.

A recognisable name and email

Not only do email service providers maintain certain alarm bells to detect spam, but recipients also have a nose for detecting junk. According to one statistic, nearly half (43 percent) of email recipients hit the spam button due to name or email address in the email sent.

What does this mean for you and your campaign? Well, you must have the proper name and email address that your audience knows, recognises and trusts. If not then they’ll simply be transferred over to the spam folder. Of course, this isn’t something you want at all.

An additional tip: at the end of emails, provide a brief note urging the customer to place your name on the no-spam filter to avoid the emails accidentally being placed in the junk folder.

Social sharing options

Social media and email marketing go hand in hand today. For whatever reason, marketing gurus thought the two were mutually exclusive, which, as the data and trends suggest, is incorrect. Think of it this way: social media has helped email marketing enter the 21st century.

Perhaps you’re asking how one can even integrate the two. Well, there are ways to do it, and effectively to boot. Here are five ways to merge email marketing and social media:

  • Add social media icons in all of your emails.
  • Collect emails on social media.
  • Design and send out dedicated email campaigns for your social media accounts.
  • Offer Facebook and Twitter followers an incentive to submit their email address.
  • Produce content that can be viewed across various platforms.

Studies have shown that 2016 is the year where social media-email marketing integration will be accelerated by brands and marketing experts. Don’t get left behind in this advertising endeavour.

Effective CTAs

Next to subject lines, call-to-actions (CTAs) are essential to a successful email marketing initiative. Without an effective CTA then you might as well end your objectives in this campaign right now. Interested in the best CTA out there? Continue reading…

Each email campaign must have an opaque and fully outlined target. Your CTA will hold your subscribers’ hands to complete your desired target. If your goal is to peruse your blog, sign up for your monthly newsletters or refer your product to others then your CTA will help accomplish this.

If done correctly then you’ll quickly notice how crucial your CTA is. It’s simple: make it clear, to the point, visible and action-oriented.

Timing is everything

In life, timing is everything. And in the world of email marketing, that is no different. Indeed, there isn’t the perfect, No. 1 solution out there for when to send emails. It really depends on a case-by-case basis. Everyone has their own unique audience, location, industry, etc.

When you’re unsure, you can always take advantage of the many email automation tools out there. For instance, GetResponse incorporated a time zone segmentation feature, which helps you optimise the precise timing of your emails.

Final thoughts

Your start-up is hip, new and technologically sound. Therefore, you let out a big sigh when someone on your team mentions the term “email marketing.” However, pay a little bit more attention to that person on your staff, and perhaps award them a cigar for that kind of thinking!

Like anything else we do on a day-to-day basis, there’s always trial and error. Email marketing, despite its commonality and long tenure in the Internet landscape, is complicated business. Even if you make a couple of mistakes (we’re only human), you shouldn’t give up.

With the right subject lines, timing and CTAs, you’ll see a jump in open rates and click-through rates. Eventually, you’ll meet your end goal of greater bottom lines. Go on: send your emails.

See also: Reactivate your email list and re-engage subscribers

Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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