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10 Content Mistakes That Can Damage Your Email Marketing Campaigns

10 Content Mistakes That Can Damage your Email Marketing Campaigns

Let me ask you a question. Do you ever feel like you work incredibly hard and never get the results that the marketing gurus promise? What’s happening there?

Let me make an assumption here that you have the basics handled. You know you should build a quality subscriber list, segment those subscribers and establish a good sending frequency. If you do these basics right, in theory, your email marketing efforts should generate $38 dollars for every $1 spent, but, for some reason, your numbers are nowhere close to this.

There are a couple of possible reasons that you are facing this lack of results. However, in this article, I’m going to cover a big one: your content. You just have to realize that drafting an email isn’t the same as writing a blog post, and it’s not the same as writing a landing page.

Email writing has its own rules and many of us forget that there’s an actual person on the other end when sending newsletters or promotional emails. If you need help pinpointing the errors in your content, here’s a quick cheat sheet of 10 common mistakes.

1) Desperate subject lines (Clickbait)

Look, I know that the average person receives about 90 emails every day and you want your email to stand out from the rest. We all do, and it makes perfect sense as the subject line is the first thing you recipient sees.

As an email marketer, one of the biggest challenges that you face is writing a subject line that motivates subscribers to open your email. It is no wonder then that you might be tempted to try and use some hyped-up BuzzFeed style subject line.

Is it going to stand out? Yes, it will. Will it do your business any good? No, it won’t, in fact, it will do you a world of hurt. And I can prove it to you. Just imagine that as a subscriber to the Emercury newsletter you received emails like this:

You’ll never believe these cheap ways to get more email subscribers!!!

5 tricks to boost your email reputation – #3 will shock you!

Are you going to have a good opinion of Emercury after this experience? You probably won’t. And neither will any of your subscribers if you use subject lines like these.

It’s enough to send one email with an overhyped subject line and your subscriber will forever lose trust and remember you as that clickbait company. It’s ok to use language that sparks curiosity, but don’t use low-effort lines that come of as cheesy or spammy. You’d be surprised how many people use the “this is spam” button to report that an email is cheesy or annoying.

Also on the topic of misleading subject lines, never make false promises. If your subject says “FREE SHIPPING”, but the fine print inside says you only offer free shipping for certain products, the recipient will be disappointed and this will kill your email reputation.

2) Auto-generated message previews

When you receive an email, your email client will show a small preview. This is to give you a hint what lies inside the email beyond the subject line. If the email sender doesn’t manually define what should be in this preview, then the email software will simply automatically generate some content, and the results aren’t often pretty.

Often, this produces some bad results. For example:
  • a preview that displays a long line of code or a source URL if the email starts with an image
  • a preview which is merely a duplicate of the email subject
  • a preview that says “To view this email in a browser, click here.”
  • a preview that says “View email as a webpage”

The only thing you have to remember is that previews are limited to 100 characters. Now, that may not sound like much, but it’s just enough to add a follow-up to your catchy title or give more details about the product mentioned in the subject line.

Here’s a good example:

Spring & Summer Collection Out Now! – 50% on skirts & dresses + FREE Standard Delivery

The email subject, Spring & Summer Collection Out Now already sparks the recipient’s interest, but by adding information about sales and free shipping in the preview, your email becomes irresistible.

3) Your content is irrelevant and offers no value

Let’s try a thought exercise. Pull up the last email that you wrote and just put it on your screen. Take a few deep breathes and try to imagine that you’re the average random person on the street. You’re not the person who wrote it, and you have no clue how marketing works. You’re just some John or Jane getting an email notification.

After you put yourself in this mindset, read this email very slowly. And when you finish, ask yourself a few questions
  • Did the content of the email help you in any way?
  • Was it relevant for your needs, did it offer you helpful information or solve a problem you were facing?

If the answer is no, then you might want to revise your strategy completely.

Your email has to offer value, or else

Providing value to the reader isn’t some fancy bonus that grandmaster marketers worry about. It is something that lies at the core of all email and content marketing. It has to give substance to the reader consuming it. Every sentence needs to make them a better person for having read it. Yes, really.

4) Spelling & grammar mistakes

You have no excuse for this one. Sending emails with spelling and grammar mistakes will always make you look unprofessional, ruin your credibility, and make people unsubscribe.

According to Grammarly, the most common mistakes made in emails include:

  • Misspelled names or names in a lower capital letter – this shows you don’t care who the reader is
  • Misspelled words – a professional marketing email is no place to confuse they’re and their, trust me
  • Not capitalizing the first word in a sentence
  • Overusing passive voice
  • Improper use of commas

Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes a typo can go unnoticed despite proofreading the copy several times. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for 100% grammatically correct emails.

Use the following tools to improve the quality of your emails:
  • Grammarly – a free online tool that picks up common spelling, grammar, and style mistakes
  • Hemingway App – highlights improper use of passive voice and sentences that are hard to read and makes your text bold and clear, as all emails should be!
  • Proofread Bot – analyzes your text in seconds and points common mistakes in various languages
  • Trust My Paper – a professional community of writers who can write the text for you or give you feedback on how to improve your writing.
  • Readability Test Tool – paste a direct URL or type in your text to find out if it’s easy to read.

5) Your email is too generic

Paradoxes are pretty cool, aren’t they? Funny that in marketing and business we have quite a few of them. One of the main ones in email automation is this catch 22 you get with email automation.

In order to get more out of email marketing, you want to automate an increasing number of things. But at the same time, you want things to feel even more personal, almost as if the email was hand-crafted for each individual recipient.

It’s easy to get caught up with the power of email automation and forget the human aspect of it all. And if you do, you might end up crafting very generic and bland emails without even realizing it.

Yes, when you craft your automations and flows you want to think like a robot, almost imagine that you are an automation machine. It does help with setting up the automations. But the paradox is that at the same time you have to put yourself in the shoes of the humans that receive those emails. It’s very easy to get this wrong and end up with emails that sound as if they were written by a robot.

Some simple tricks to make those emails feel more personal

Opening with “Dear client,” is one of the worst mistakes that you can make, because it shows you don’t value the reader individually. Use these tricks instead to create a sense of exclusivity and build loyalty:

  • Use the recipient’s name in the subject. For example, Netflix sends emails like “John, we just added a new documentary you might like”. Hard to resist, right?
  • Include personalized recommendations based on previous orders.
  • Use phrases like “exclusive invite” to make your client feel valued
  • Send exclusive discount codes for clients who haven’t visited your site in a long time to get them to come back.

6) Your email goes on forever

The attention span of the modern Internet user is shorter than that of a goldfish. Yes, that’s an actual thing that they found in this Microsoft study.

This doesn’t mean in any way that your recipients are stupid or unable to understand anything longer than a tweet. It means that they’re busy people with lots of things weighing on their mind. They took a few seconds of their time to open your email hoping to get some quick value out of it, if possible.

You have eight seconds to draw their attention, so don’t write an email that takes forever to get to the point, because they won’t stick around until the end.

According to recent data, to have at least a 50% response rate, emails should be between 50 and 125 words or 20 lines of content. Anything that goes beyond 200 words is considered too long.

But what if you have more to say?

What if you wrote this really insightful article that’s 1000 words long? Well, you can always include it as a preview, followed by a Read more link. If the recipient wants to read it, they’ll click it.

When it comes to writing emails, you should keep it short and sweet. The reader shouldn’t have to read entire paragraphs to get to the point or decipher the overly formal language. They are willing to open a longer article too, as long as the content is compelling and helps them in some way.

For example, if you sell online security tools for businesses, an email linking to a blog guide on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to avoid them will be greatly appreciated.

7) You use images all wrong

Images can do wonders for your email marketing campaign, but only if you use them correctly.

Here’s how you can strike that perfect balance:
  • Don’t send an email comprised entirely of just images. Many people have images turned off by default, so they won’t see them. Besides, image-only emails aren’t mobile-friendly.
  • Use at least one image in your email, preferably as a link, because people are likelier to click on an image link as opposed to a text link.
  • Don’t use cliché stock photos: a multicultural team smiling at a laptop, two businesspeople shaking hands, ladies that are laughing at salads, you know the ones. They show the reader that you don’t have any imagination and that you don’t care. If you’re on a budget, use royalty-free sites like Unsplash, which has genuinely beautiful photos.

8) You have no clear call to action

Everything you write in your email should build up to an effective call to action. Whether you want your recipient to download an app, subscribe to an online service, or buy a product, you should include a clear call-to-action statement. Here are some ideas:

  • Shop Now! works well around the holidays or during the sales season, when people are already in a shopping frenzy.
  • Read More is a simple but effective way to link to a compelling article
  • Browse Now is great when announcing new product collections
  • Try For Free is a great CTA for product demos or limited trials
  • Yes, I want to receive special offers is a far more effective CTA if you want to get people to subscribe compared to the traditional Subscribe Now. No one could say no to special offers, can they?

You can play with your CTAs until you find the style that best resonates to your message, but remembers, too much of a good thing can hurt you. If you include too many calls to action, the reader will just get confused and click on none of them.

For most emails, one call to action is sufficient.  You can, however, include a maximum of two CTAs if you have both a free and premium version of the same product/service.

9) You use attachments (please don’t)

Unless your subscriber specifically asked for a PDF or a resource of any kind, do not add email attachments. Even then, it’s safer to just include a link to your file, because marketing emails with attachments frequently get flagged as spam.

Email attachments are one of the oldest ways of hiding malware, so don’t blame your clients if they’re reluctant to open the email. Besides, there’s another reason why attachments are a bad idea: they take longer to download and they slow down large campaign sends.

For users, attachments create a bad experience if they open the email on mobile. If they do click on the attachment, they might not have the right app to open it. Or, if their downloaded files don’t open automatically, the file could be left forgotten in the mobile system somewhere.

Next time you want to add an attachment, include a link to the downloadable file instead. Or, better yet, create a special landing page. This will optimize user performance and allow you to track user visits too!

10) You sound like a cheesy door-to-door salesman

You’ve just launched a new product that you really, really believe in. In fact it’s so amazing you want to run down the street and shout about it to the entire world. That’s great, but figure out a way to explain why it’s great in a calm way that isn’t offputting.

Everyone wants to try out a revolutionary product or service, but if you sound like an overenthusiastic salesperson pitching a pyramid scheme, you’ve just won a trip to the Spam folder.

Go easy on words and phrases like these:
  • Buy now – it’s overused and spammy. Try using “discover” or “invest” instead
  • Cheap – it sounds pejorative and makes you think of low quality. Use “affordable” or “great value” instead
  • What if I told you that… – it sounds like a cringy infomercial and won’t make you look respectable
  • I didn’t believe it either, but… – instead of sounding empathic, it sounds like a cheap way of backing up an impossible claim

You deserve success, so stop sabotaging yourself

Bonus tip: Apart from these 10 email marketing mistakes, double check that your emails follow customer behavior. That alone is a separate subject we’ll cover in future content. Just remember the following: every email that you send has to make sense at that time in the customer journey. You need to do a lot of digging in the data and do an in-depth analysis to understand your readers and their journeys. Fortunately, this is easy to do with Emercury’s reporting features.

And speaking of Emercury, do you have an account with us yet? Remember, for a limited you can get a complimentary free account. It takes just 2 minutes to register and we hold nothing back from the free tier. We include almost every feature we have (very few features are reserved for the “paid plans only”). It has everything you need to start making a serious profit from email marketing and get a handle on your email marketing skills.

That’s not all, however. Emercury is more than just a platform that delivers emails. the moment you get your complimentary free account, you also get enrolled in our members-only newsletter. That alone is worth investing the next 10 seconds to signing up. You’ll get informed the moment Emercury releases more killer content that helps you become an expert at email marketing.

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