guest post by Jeff Swift
Email marketing is an incredibly resilient strategy. Despite regular predictions of its demise – often citing the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Google Wave (RIP), and now SnapChat – email simply isn’t going anywhere. People open their emails. They click on links in their email. And they are motivated to donate by high quality emails.
When email is done right, it’s incredibly powerful. When it’s done wrong, it can be a disaster. Three of the most common email mistakes are easy to commit and often difficult to address:
- Emailing the wrong people
- Sending the wrong content
- Ignoring your audience
Emailing the wrong people
Sending an email newsletter out without having accurate data is like walking blindfolded across the street. There’s a chance nothing will happen, but it’s a bad idea.
Not only should you know your recipients’ names and email addresses, but you should ideally know quite a bit more about them. If you know their zip code, for example, you’ll be able to just send them emails about events in their area. If you know basic consumer information – what magazines they subscribe to, for example – you’ll know whether you should reference the outdoors or video games in your next email.
Email inboxes are very personal spaces. People have no problem clicking unsubscribe or marking as spam if they don’t feel the email is sent specifically to them.
The right people will know that a newsletter is meant for them. Don’t send to the wrong people. Email and demographic appends are worth the investment – as long as you use them!
Sending the wrong content
Now that you’ve got your audience sorted out, it’s time for the easy part: writing the actual email.
Nothing is more unnerving to a writer than a blank screen. That blinking curser just taunts you. Fortunately, with accurate data on your audience, you never have to start with a blank screen again. Make a list of what you know about your audience – do they prefer electric cars or NASCAR? Do they mostly live in big cities, or are they spread out across the countryside?
Put yourself in their shoes. What would you want to see in your inbox, if you were them?
When you hit that sweet content spot, you’ll know. Your open rates will climb, your click rates will meet your goals, and your list will grow.
The wrong content won’t get anywhere.
Ignoring your audience
Once you’ve got the right audience and the right content, it’s time to click send. But that’s not the end of it.
Your audience will give you invaluable information with every email, as they open, click, forward, unsubscribe, or take action on your website.
When you find something that works well, do it more often. When something flops, make sure you don’t do it again.
This sounds like obvious advice, but the fact is that many email lists are used like billboards – they just broadcast information out there and don’t bother to see how it’s received. Honor your investment in the data you collected about your audience and be willing to accept data directly from them.
Using data in email campaigns sets you up to succeed. Learn about your audience, target emails accordingly, and make sure to learn as you go.