Three Big Reasons Your Email Marketing Sucks

By now, you know that email marketing is pretty important. Even in 2019 going into 2020, email marketing is not only still a thing but it’s still one of the channels with the highest ROI around. It’s responsible for closing out the funnel (or helps continue the flywheel, or whatever customer journey model your business uses) and has a well-deserved reputation for being an all around great channel when done right.

So why does nobody give a damn about yours?

Why does it seem the only time people open your emails is to unsubscribe or mark you as spam?

If we’re being honest here, about 95% of all email marketing is garbage – and you probably fall into that 95%.

Let’s keep it real here. I mean, if your email marketing was great, you wouldn’t be reading an article about why yours sucks, right?

Anyway, from my time working at an email provider back in the day all the way up to today at an organization that relies very heavily on email marketing for day to day business, I’ve noticed that there are three stand-out reasons why most people get nowhere with email and since I’m awesome – and sick of seeing them – I’ll run them down now:

You’re Not Targeting Properly

You should already be aware that sending a mass email bomb to every address in your database is not the move. We all know that segmentation of lists is what you need to do in order to be successful but – and here’s the thing – are you sure you’re doing that correctly?

A lot of people will segment based on like birthdays or anniversaries if you’re a membership organization or by product lines like events, or products, etc. but that’s not nearly enough.

In order to be successful with your email, you can’t be just targeted, you have to be hypertargeted. What I mean is that most of the time in order to close a sale, you need to segment by details, not just the generalities.

You have a ‘previous customers’ segment? Great. It’s a start. Now let’s get into exactly what they bought, when they bought it and why they bought it. Until you start creating workflows and content around that, you’re going to struggle.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say last year around early November, I went to your site and bought cookware, five new sets of silverware, napkin rings and other kitchen stuff. In my order history, it’s clear that the rest of the year, I don’t really buy these kinds of things from you. It’s probably safe to assume I’m getting ready for family meals around the holidays.

Now, let’s say this year, you’re having a sale on your holiday cookware or you have newer versions of what I bought last year or something like that.

This would be the perfect time to set up an email to tell me about it.

Don’t spam me all year round with this kitchen doodad or dining table decoration because I’m probably not going to care. Yes, I previously purchased cookware and stuff from you but it was for a very specific purpose – I didn’t suddenly become a master chef, especially when a quick look at my order history shows that I don’t have a track record of buying this kind of stuff.

OK, maybe this example wasn’t the best but you get the idea.

If you have training courses and someone completes the first class of a series, send that person an email congratulating them on completing the first step and a link to the next steps – don’t send that email about that class to someone who took something completely unrelated just because they took some class from you in the past.

Be very specific with who you’re targeting and why you’re doing it. If your segments are too broad, you might as well not even be segmenting.

You’re Talking Too Much

This is the one most companies struggle with – ya’ll just don’t shut up.

Either Company A is sending out four or five emails per week about their crap or Company B is sending out one email that is like three pages long but they said ‘OK, well, people are unsubscribing because we used to send too much email so let’s just send one – but cram ALL THE INFO in there!’

Both ways are dead wrong. Stop it. Nobody wants all that.

Your email marketing is absolutely not meant to be a dissertation on why you’re great and you have the best everything and here is every detail humanly possible and here’s like six different items in one email just in case you don’t want one of the things we have, you’ll want the others.

It’s also not meant to be a sea of crap that people have to wade through in order to find messages they actually want from like their friends, job or family members.

If you’re sending out more than two emails per month, you’re wrong – and in my honest opinion, two emails per month is really pushing it already. Anything more than that, you’re not a company anymore, you’re inbox filler AKA spam.

I mean really, what are you thinking with sending two, three emails every week?

When did nagging and annoying and begging people become part of a sound marketing strategy? You think you’re gonna ‘wear ’em down’ with your constant messages to the point where they’re going to buy just to shut you up?

I’ve read articles that said ‘Send as many emails as your subscribers will read!’ but really, that’s nonsense. I mean, that’s like saying ‘Go to the zoo, jump in the exhibit and kick the bears for as many times as they will put up with until they maul you! That’s how you know when to stop!’

Don’t try to push the limits to see how much of your crap your subscribers are going to put up with. That’s not a good look.

If your emails are more than at most one or two short paragraphs, you’re wrong – and again, in my honest opinion, more than a few sentences is really pushing it. Anything more than that, you don’t have an email message anymore, you have a wall of text that no one is going to read.

Speaking of, if you have a wall of text and no images in your email body, you’re boring and talking too much.

Think of it like you would think of a social media ad, a few lines of text, some images and a link or two and boom, you’re done.

Sure, you want to give all the details about your amazing products and services but guess what, if the reader cares enough, they’ll click your links to see the details. If they don’t care enough to click, they don’t care enough to buy either so who cares, right?

You’re Talking AT People, Not WITH Them

This is one that even marketers with the best of intentions often get wrong. It’s a very easy mistake to make and can sink your conversions faster than anything else:

You’ve forgotten that email, just like every other marketing channel, should be a two-way conversation.

What do I mean?

Well, it’s basically when you use your email messages as a soapbox instead of a communication channel. It’s when you make your email messages all about you and not your customers. Instead of talking about how you can help solve your customer’s problems or sending them articles and information that you think they would care about, you end up basically just talking about how great you are.

You’re having a 50% off sale on a new widget? Great.

You forgot to tell me why I want that widget. Sure your discount is great but nothing is cheaper than free – as in not buying it at all.

You sent me an email from a generic reply address like an ‘info@’ or, worse yet, a ‘noreply@’. Great.

That makes me really wanna open that one up! I wonder what kind of generic message I’ll see once I do!

Basically, you need to treat your email marketing like you do your social media ads. You need to start conversations with your email marketing, not shut them down. Generic email addresses, unmonitored accounts, soapbox or boring content are all not conducive to starting conversations.

Make your message relevant, interesting and customer focused. Figure out what problem this particular email is going to help the user solve and then focus on that and that alone.

The Bottom Line

So to sum it up, the phrase to remember when doing email marketing is ‘Customer-centric’. This means:

  • Make sure the people you’re emailing are the right people. That’s marketing 101
  • Make sure you’re not bombarding people or sending out novels no one will read
  • Make sure you make your messages are focused on your customers, not yourself.

If you’re grandstanding, spamming or carpet bombing your subscribers, you’re going to fail.

Make your messages extremely specific, timely and interesting, and you’re going to have a much better time.

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