Email is the foundation of demand generation. No matter what else you’re doing, if you want to reach a specific prospect with a tailored message, email is the way to go. Plus, compared to other channels, it’s cheap!
However, it’s very easy to do email wrong. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I see:
- Not setting objectives. Plan what you want the outcome to be or you’re begging to fail. Set a quantifiable objective for every email you send – ideally tied into something with ROI like sales, demo requests, form fills, registrations, etc. Because if your email isn’t making money (or moving prospects closer to you making money), there isn’t any reason to do it.
- No “What’s in It For Me?” (WIFM) – sending a message that doesn’t have a benefit for the reader. If your email can’t make your prospect feel like they will save time, money, their life will be better or if the offer doesn’t fit their needs, they’re not going to engage or respond.
- This includes personalization – just putting the name in of the prospect in an email won’t increase response with people who aren’t engaged with your company. Personalize with benefit-oriented details like how your product is the best solution for the prospect’s industry, how the customer’s past purchases mean they need this offer, or something valuable they’ll learn tailored just for them.
- Using email for the wrong things. Email is most effective at nurturing engaged prospects and communicating with customers. Cold prospecting is a challenge because getting someone who doesn’t know your company to respond is a big ask. If you do prospect with email, be prepared for low response and if you’re buying a list, run the numbers at a projected response rate like .5% to make sure there’s a return on the investment.
- Email with too many calls to action. Always make it super clear what you want your reader to do and clearly lead them to it. If you have more than one call to action or if your copy doesn’t make it clear that you want them to “click here”, they just won’t. It’s okay to repeat your offer a couple of times, but only give them one thing to do.
- How long should copy be? As long as it needs to be. Don’t cut any personality or WIFM just to make the copy short. That being said, I like email copy that can be read on one page without scrolling. But if you need more copy to make a relevant point, do it.
- Writing your subject line as an afterthought. I’ve got a whole blog on this.
- Ignoring the preview text. In today’s smartphone world of email triage, your subject line and preview text may be all that’s seen. Use your preview text to work with your subject line to help get your email opened and read.
- Worrying too much about graphics. For email, the impact of graphics is way less than list, offer, subject line and clear, benefit oriented copy. Make sure your template supports your brand, loads quickly and the email works without images in case your prospect has them turned off and that’s probably enough.
- If you’re not testing, you’re wasting an opportunity. And if you’re not reviewing your reports, you’re not taking advantage of a chance to find out who opened, what worked and what you can do better for next time. For hints on testing, see my blog here.
P.S. Not using a PS – click here to learn why.