I admit it – I’m a little obsessed with signing up for stuff as being an email marketing expert and all, I like to see how others do their marketing.
The idea is for inspiration, but mostly I just get a big fat reminder of what NOT to do.
Here I am sharing some of the things I see and what to avoid when it comes to email marketing.
Some are serious no-no’s and some are innocent mistakes. Many are things I’ve done myself, so no judgement here.
NO. 1 EMAIL ME 17 TIMES IN 4 DAYS
Yep, there are people that actually do this! Normally it’s around a launch which I understand involves more emails and you have a lot going on. But seriously, 17 emails?
And it’s not like I’m opening them or clicking or indicating any form of interest that you might flag me as such. So just no, please stop.
Except I don’t quite want to unsubscribe yet as I am finding it amusing to see how many you can actually send.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Warm up your audience with quality content ahead of your launch so they are in a place where they are ready to buy and then you’ll only need to send a few more emails than usual.
NO. 2 RESEND TO UNOPENS AFTER ONLY JUST A COUPLE OF HOURS
I get it – you have something really important you want to say or there is a bit of a deadline. But do you really need to send me the exact same email (just with a different subject line) just 2 hours after you sent the last one?
I was busy… living my life. Or, you know, SLEEPING.
Maybe wait a little while longer?
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you must resend to unopens, only do it for your most important emails… and give it at least 3 days before you do.
NO. 3 THE HIDDEN UNSUBSCRIBE BUTTON
Or worse, no unsubscribe button.
Not only is it illegal but it leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth – that even if you had the most amazing offer ever I would never buy from you.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Embrace unsubscribes!! We only want people on our lists who are interested in being there.
NO. 4 WRONG NUMBER, WHO DIS’?
Wait… did I sign up for your email list? I can’t remember since I haven’t heard from you in months and months.
Ohhhhhhhhh I see, it’s just because you are launching again OR have an affiliate you want to pimp.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Keep in regular contact with helpful, inspirational or funny content – and don’t sell in every single email.
NO. 5 “SORRY I HAVEN’T EMAILED YOU IN 3 MONTHS, BUT…”
A close relative of the above, but the intention is slightly different.
Time got away from you and email dropped off the priority list. I get it, it happens.
Just please don’t remind me every time you have had a huge time away and apologise for it.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Just get back on the horse and start the conversation again.
NO. 6 THE OVER-HYPED OPT-IN INCENTIVE
How is the ultimate guide or checklist to achieve X only include 1 page of content and 5 pages telling me about how wonderful your business is?
Yes, I get it – you need to “sell” your opt-in incentive to get people to sign up but please don’t spin it as the best thing since sliced bread.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Make your opt-in super valuable and you won’t need to worry about over-selling it.
NO. 7 THE 30-PAGE E-BOOK OPT-IN
On the flip side, others like to give so much away as if to prove themselves or justify the email sign up.
If this is you know that, longer does not equal more valuable.
If I get a 30 page e-book I’m rarely going to find time to read it. It will just sit in my downloads folder gathering virtual dust.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Focus on a quick win or outcome on your opt- in and forget about the page count.
NO. 8 THE AUTOMATED WEBINAR
Now there are many marketing experts who swear by this tactic. I’m not one of them.
Please don’t pretend a webinar you are hosting is live and answering people’s questions on the call when I can see that magically the next one that is coming is in 15 minutes from now OR that there is no actual chat going on.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you want to have a pre-recorded webinar, awesome – that is a great way to build your email list without having to turn up many times a week. Just don’t pretend it’s live.
NO. 9 THE CLICK-BAIT SUBJECT LINE
Yes, we want our subject lines to encourage people to open and read our emails.
But if your subject line has nothing to do with the actual content then I’m left with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
We don’t want to leave our subscribers with the “oh, is that all it is” vibe.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Make sure your content matches the subject line and delivers on the promise
NO. 10 GIVE A FALSE COUNTDOWN
I just signed up to your email list and now you are making me an amazing offer that expires in 20 minutes.
But the thing is if I sign up again with a different email address, I’ll get the exact same offer and the clock is reset.
Yes, urgency is an important factor in getting people to buy but please do it honestly.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Either use legitimate deadlines or use great copywriting to emphasise the urgency. Even as simple as saying “this is the last time I’ll email you about this” can be effective (as long as it’s true).
NO. 11 INCLUDE 12 IMAGES IN YOUR EMAIL
Not only will this set the spam filters into effect, in some email providers you need to change the setting to display images.
And we wouldn’t want people missing out on your big sale just because you were worried about a type written email being not good enough.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Use words. Simple is better and often more effective.
NO. 12 THE IMMEDIATE POP-UP
Pop-ups. Love them or hate them, they do have their place online.
Where we go wrong is when they come up immediately. Before website visitors have even had a chance to see what you are all about.
I see it often, heading to someone’s website, getting the pop-up and clicking the x because I want to have a look at the website first. After awhile I might decide I want to sign up after all. So I have a look around and can’t see another sign up form anywhere. I hit refresh and the pop-up doesn’t appear back because I’ve been cookie-d. And a new subscriber is lost.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: If you want a pop-up, have it set so it only comes up after a certain amount of time and/or on exit intent. Also, make sure to have your signup form in another easy to find place on your website for those repeat visitors.
NO. 13 HIDDEN SIGN-UP FORMS
The opposite of the intrusive pop-up is the hidden sign up form.
These are those that are hidden right down in the footer or in the sidebar (which also appears way down the page when looking on mobile devices).
Only a small proportion of your visitors will see it and we want more people to see it!
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Put your signup form in a prominent position like on an announcement bar, header or within blog content.
NO. 14 SIGN-UP FORMS ON SALES PAGES
Each and every web page on your website has a purpose. Some pages are to help people find what they need (Home), learn more about you (About) and build trust (Blog). All of those are great places to put your sign-up forms as signing up to your email list is an easy next step that doesn’t require the commitment of credit card details.
However, on product, services and sales pages you want to remove this option.
When someone is on these pages you want them to buy and not get distracted by a signup.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Keep your signup forms to pages where it is the logical next step.
NO. 15 EMAIL JUST FOR THE SAKE OF EMAILING
I admit, there are weeks when coming up with something to email my list just feels forced. Or life just gets in the way.
Yes, with a great content plan and strategy how often this happens is significantly minimised but it’s never totally eliminated.
So on those weeks I just “skip it”.
Consistency matters. But not at the cost of sending below average value and entering people’s inboxes without something to share.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Create a great content plan but if you are just not feeling it – skip it and come back to it the next week
NO. 16 ASSUME PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO BUY FROM YOU
I’m allllllll about giving value in emails: providing helpful information, sharing funny stories, dropping truth bombs or giving motivational pep talks.
However, if that is all we do then we are missing opportunities.
If we don’t tell people what we do and how they can buy from us, how will they know?
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Make it easy for your audience to buy from you. Send the occasional promotional email or mention your products and services naturally in conversation or as a part of your signature or P.S.
There you go, 16 email marketing no-no’s. Some more extreme than others.
And I admit there are some I still need to improve on. It’s a constant work in progress.
Which one stands out to you? Have you experienced any horror stories?
And what small action can you take today to improve your email marketing experience?
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