Ep [15] 5 Mistakes You're Probably Making - And How To Fix Them – Email Growth Society

Ep [15] 5 Mistakes You're Probably Making - And How To Fix Them

CWEG 15 | Email Marketing Mistakes

There are a lot of email marketing "mistakes" that we can make when approaching this. These are not necessarily technical "we need more graphic-to-live text-balance" kind of mistakes but mistakes that need a total mindset shift. After conducting a short listening tour, I have compiled some of the top themes that I am hearing, as well as the how (and why) you may want to adjust those approaches yesterday. Reflect on this one - and let me know if you have any questions along the way. Send them to conversations@emailgrowthsociety.com.


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5 Mistakes You're Probably Making- And How To Fix Them

I know a lot of you are ready for your 4th of July emails. Hopefully, you took some tips from the July ‘21 Email Ideas episode. One thing is certain this year friends, you may want to get your emails out ahead of the holiday or after. Stats show that people are going to spend money between July 1st and July 5th so you have some time to break through the clutter, not thinking that July 4th is the only day you can spend so do take advantage.

One more thing to call out ahead of the episode as a friendly reminder, this can be Spam Season Part One. I have literally received an Overstock email every single day. That is seven days of overstock emails. Do these emails add value to my life? No. They are simply sale after sale, usually with the same summer house items that I can buy or I need to buy now because they're going quick. You can imagine that I have unsubscribed at this point. What could Overstock do to change this up some? How about doing a room preview that shows how the sale items look like and offering up some decorating tips? One message is, “Don't be overstock, please.” Rant over.

CWEG 15 | Email Marketing Mistakes


On to the episode. I have been on a listening tour and we'll be continuing this into the fall of 2021. There seem to be some themes when it comes to email mistakes and I hate to use a negative word so we can also think of them as email opportunities. With any mistake, there is learning and change that can come from it. I have compiled the top five that I have heard over and over again. They're nagging at me a little bit. Hopefully, in this episode, you will A) get some awareness of these opportunities. If your mentality is similar to some of these, maybe this is a moment to reflect and B) help you to solve them for the future or change your mindset. Let's chat about them, shall we?

"It's Just An Email Address"

First, lose the mentality of, “It's just an email address. We're only asking for their email address.” Back when email was new, it was an exciting moment when you heard, “You've got mail.” These days though, email is so common that all ages, occupations and demographics are using it. By the year 2024, researchers estimate that 4.4 billion people will be using email. However, the fact that everyone has an email address doesn't make it less meaningful or valuable. In fact, the reverse is true.

To give it a monetary value in email addresses worth $113.48 but look at it from the perspective of potential and trust. People look in their inbox quite a bit, typically 143 minutes daily. Some people have had the same email address for many years. Meaning you could be communicating with them for a long time. There's potential to build rapport and market to them. It's a great privilege when somebody entrusts you with their email address.

There's always a human on the other end of an email. Marketers should focus on adding value to their day.

They invite you to form a dialog. Don't abuse this privilege and never forget that there's a live person on the other end. It's not an email address. It isn't just an email address. My motto after developing copy for email is, “Would I appreciate receiving this email myself?” If the answer is even remotely no, I’ve got to get back to the drawing board. PS, this starts at your pop-up or your opt-in form on your website. Please don't place it on your site with the notion that you are going to hit them with all of these promotions.

Don't be an Overstock.com. Instead, when you put that pop-up box on your website, think of it as you are going to bring them in with the intention that you want to get to know them. Email is a relationship after all. We've got to scrap this mentality. Having an email address is a huge thing and honestly, for a consumer, this is their first sales transaction with you. They know what's coming. Consumers know what's coming so you need to think of it as, “I'm lucky to have this email address now. There is a human on the other end and how am I going to add value to their day.”

Emailing Your List Whenever You Want

The second mistake or mentality shift we need to make is, you cannot email your list whenever you want to. Just because someone is your friend doesn't mean they want you to drop in on them five times a week. That would drive you insane. Every business is different but it can be a clear boundary violation when your newsletters or email campaigns feel like an intrusion or a nagging pest.

Alternatively, you don't want to pull a disappearing act either. Some brands send emails consistently and they disappear for one reason or another. Likely, with small businesses, it's because you're one person juggling many things. A brand that sells seasonal products should maybe slow down its volume but to disappear completely is bad for your sender's reputation. That's a fun fact. All email senders have a reputation. We've talked about this before, which is based on the Internet Service Providers, the ISPs used to determine whether a sender is legitimate or a spammer.

CWEG 15 | Email Marketing Mistakes


If you send emails then disappear only to reappear some months later, a lot of your subscribers will have changed their address or may forget about you. Those who forget about you may mark you as spam, which is detrimental to your reputation. Use good judgment to send emails at appropriate intervals and to not suddenly disappear. It makes you seem flaky and nobody wants to do business with somebody who's inconsistent.

In the show or with clients, I say, “Even if you're sending once a month, that's better than doing fourteen emails in a month and you disappear for three so you've got to have some consistency to your email.” That’s a huge mistake that a lot of businesses are making. You also need to remember that you cannot email your list whenever you want to. You have to remember that human element and have some strategy behind it as well.

Forgetting Quality Over Quantity

Now, we’ve got to have the quality over quantity conversation. The more emails don't necessarily mean the better. This is one thing I'm hearing over and over again. My list is 29,000. Sometimes people and I've heard it week over week, boast about the size of their list. It's impressive to hear that someone has 20,000, 50,000 or 100,000 email addresses on their list. Quantity doesn't always indicate quality. Are your subscribers engaging with your content? Are there any fake or low-value email addresses on your list? Are these people your targets?

Some people deactivate or change their email addresses. Their work or education situation changes and with that their address. There are also people who sign up for lists using disposable addresses. Role-based audiences like Info@ or Admin@ are rather risky too because a number of individuals check them the chances of them clicking and reading are slim. You also never know when one of the people who checked that inbox will mark you as spam.

Contrary to conventional knowledge, a huge list is not always a successful one. There are smaller lists with greater engagement and ROI and a large number of subscribers can definitely be a plus but only if those subscribers are real and clicking on your content. There are big lists that are in serious jeopardy. As email marketers, even if you're a business owner sending email, you are an email marketer. You have got to care about your list hygiene. You cannot keep bringing in new names especially if you're not doing the necessary re-engagement flow to move out your unengaged looking at your bounces and moving those out. It’s removing any fake email addresses or things like that are making a 50,000-person list but the quality is not there on the other end.

People will react to a good offer, but you've got to make it special, and you have to make it infrequent.

Not Looking At List Health

Just a reminder there. To go right into that, I'm finding that there are so many businesses that are not looking at their list health. This goes hand in hand where we're bringing in all of these leads and they're all going into the database and our list appears to be growing but it can be easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking that you don't have to maintain your list, just keep adding subscribers to it. Throw it all up against the wall and what sticks, sticks. This is untrue.

For your list to perform, you have to scrub it regularly and remove invalid low-quality contacts. Keeping them in there is harmful as it drives down your sender reputation and causes your emails to land in spam. Not to mention, if you're trying to move the needle with email then you'd better believe that your email metrics have got to be accurate. The more bad we've got in there dragging our email metrics down, how are you ever supposed to get a picture to move, to understand and how to read that data to move your email forward.

Think about it. What are the chances that anyone will see you there if you're in the spam or if this person has never opened an email? You must land in the inbox or your efforts and resources have all been in vain. Furthermore, you want all of the addresses on your list to be authentic and permission-based. Everyone there should want to be there because they have elected to receive your newsletters and they are your target audience.

Buying a list is not effective if it puts you at risk of being marked as spam. In addition to that, if you partner up with another brand for a giveaway, make sure that your values are aligned so you're not getting a ton of users that are never going to buy from your brand. Even thinking about that, if you're doing a giveaway, make sure the prize you're giving away draws in the right type of people. A lot of times, we're giving away a crazy amount of Amazon gift cards. I might subscribe even though I have no intention of ever buying from your brand.

CWEG 15 | Email Marketing Mistakes


You've got to maintain your list health. You've got to ensure that you're taking the bad stuff out. You've got to know that because you're bringing in 10,000 users this month, what did you lose? What did you remove? Focus on your list health. One thing I always recommend is that you mark a recurring task on your calendar, like at the end of the month, the last day of the month that says, “List scrub,” and you go through the necessary protocol.

For those folks that haven't opened in the last 90 days, we move them through a re-engagement flow. We remove anybody that's been through the re-engagement flow which hasn't opened yet. We move them completely out of the system, we remove our bounces and things like that. It's pretty easy. It's worth it for you to do it both from a humanity perspective from I-need-to-drive-my-business-forward-with-email and also from a technical perspective on getting into the inbox through your email service provider.

Only Sending Promotional Emails

The last one, I saved it. The only thing you ever send us promotional emails. If this is you right now, I want you to pay attention to this one. There is a misconception that if you've built an email list, you can bombard your audience with endless promos. People won't mind. It's what they subscribe to, right? Wrong. No one wants to have their inbox flooded by promotional emails. I have given you a great example of Overstock.com. People will react to a good offer but you’ve got to make it special and you have to make it infrequent.

If all you're doing is trying to sell, your readers will pick up on it and it will start to become across as obnoxious and in turn, they will ignore you or unsubscribe. Focus on educational and entertaining content. In our episode that we did with Jen Burris, she shifted to her email, having tips and tricks on what is the best outfit to wear for date night. She went through piece by piece. You can do this. You can match it with these shoes. Here are the great accessories to wear. Did she get sales from that email? Absolutely. Did she go out and say, “Today only. 20% off.” No.

If you find it hard to strike a balance, use the Pareto Principle so 20% promos, 80% informative and educational content. Even better, find an educational angle for your promos. If you're selling yoga mats, for example, and you're running a sale, make your email about three easy ways to stick to your yoga routine and end with a call to action button that leads people to your offer. This is not the first time you have heard me say this but the more that I experience working with brands and business owners, I am shocked that there is this mentality of, “We need to constantly be sending promos,” and then you have the article on the other side of the internet saying, “Email is dead.”

You cannot make your own rules. There are certain rules you should never break, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be the first to try something new.

This is why we have the other articles because people are sick of this mentality and they're starting to lose faith in brands. Brand reputation is going down and we're starting to assume that every time a brand sends us an email, it's going to be some promotional offer when a few days ago, I got another one. Imagine me who bought on Tuesday, for instance, using promo code A now getting an email two days later on promo code B. How do I feel about it? Maybe the sale was better.

It's a real slippery slope in any way I can imagine. The bottom line here is by creating value and being generous with your knowledge, positioning your company as a subject matter expert. If you'll strengthen your brand and drive up engagement, there's no doubt about it. It might not happen the first month because if your mentality is focused on email drives X dollars, that is where you're going to need to shift.

If you've been doing promos for however long consistently and you start to shift to this educational strategy, you're going to need to see that shift happen. I promise you that it is going to pay you back in the long run. People will open your emails because they come to know you as always sending something worth reading. Instead of Overstock, for instance. I already know every single time they send me an email, it is because of a new sale.

I want to wrap this up by saying you cannot make your own rules at the end of the day. There are certain rules you should never break but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be the first to try something new. There is a balance with email. We know the same formulas for how to knock it in spam traps, list health, etc. Deciding that you're never going to scrub your list is breaking one of those fundamental rules and not making your own rules is important.

On the same token, trying something new is always okay. Try to do the 80/20 educational promo for 90 days. Look at your engagement and compare it to your baseline data when you were running promos. It's great to do that and it's always encouraged. Give yourself time to learn about the people on your list. What are their expectations? What do they respond to and refine? Email is the best thing because it's a living, breathing thing. The unusual idea you have may be brilliant and that's why you can always run your own tests. Make sure you're testing. Find out what your audience needs, wants and reacts to. Keeping your subscribers in mind is the most important concept at the end of the day.

For me, I have realized that the human element of email is not even secondary. It's the third thought. Let's get that back to the front, folks. If you've had some reflection, great. You need that. Remember that email is so much more than a lot of other marketing channels because there is a lot of copy development and design work that goes into each email. Sometimes, we tend to push email into an asset category like it's an infographic.

The reality is every email sent is a new opportunity to build relationships and engagement for your brand. Understand that and embrace it. If you find yourself in a position where you simply cannot be all in, definitely think about getting some help to be the extension that you need to fulfill a successful email channel. As always, if you have any questions, send them my way at Conversations@EmailGrowthSociety.com. I’m happy to help as always. Until next time, happy emailing. Remember, do not be like Overstock. Have a good one.

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