Email marketing, ubiquitous for everything from businesses, to charities, to political advocacy groups, has powerful potential to build customer or audience awareness and loyalty. However, there are some distressingly common errors, in using this tool, all of which are largely preventable.

Are you segmenting your email list?

Email, unlike many other forms of marketing, cannot be avoided. Your recipient must expend their own time to read and then delete your email to make room in their mailbox. Thus, you need to ensure that you are contacting each person only when and how it will be useful to them. Segmenting your list is one way to make sure.

Collect audience data when they sign up for your email list. Even if you don’t, you can still infer a great deal from webpage visitor demographics. So…use it to create a customized message for each group. This allows you to be parsimonious with your readers’ time, including only that news, explanation or other material that they’re most likely to appreciate.

Are you reviewing each email campaign’s goals?

Yes, sales are important, but so are some other outcomes to any communication with someone via email. Did they open it? This indicates continuing interest in getting these messages. Did they click onwards to your site? This certainly suggests curiosity about either the message, or its timing. Did they navigate around your site as a result? This gives you information on which site elements are most compelling and useful to that reader, and which (such as memory hogging animations) should be discarded. Did they forward your email? Knowing this gives invaluable insight on your audience, and can be a worthwhile goal for an email campaign.

Are you letting the look and feel of your emails stagnate?

Make sure you give your readers a reason to open up each new message. While keeping your firm’s identity clear, you should seek to create novelty via a tweaked layout, modified introductory text, and perhaps a change in format ( for example, if you usually ask a question, then once in a while, make a statement, and vice versa). The key is to remember that this is just like a piece of paper mail in that you still need a consistent “letterhead” appearance.

Are you using all the available techie tools?

Look for ways to update your messages, and even make them more visually compelling, without adding to download time. As one example, without affecting the HTML in your webpage, you can use CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. These permit you to separate the structure of the webpage from the way it is presented. Thus, you can be confident that your content and layout is displayed in a pleasing and effective format, no matter whether it is viewed on a laptop, a hand-held device, or when printed.

Are you giving your readers a reason to take action in every email?

Distinguish your message from all those other marketing mailings, which scream “Discount Offer” and/or “Buy Now”. Why should your reader respond? You need to first find something to give the customer that justifies their taking action. This could be some benefit related to the general field of your enterprise. For example, if you sell garden equipment, you could provide a seasonally appropriate tip on soil preparation. The ‘gift” could alternatively be a link to a relevant news story, exclusive access to an online publication, an alert about changing regulations or market conditions, or an instructional video. Such niceties build a relationship with your readers.

Are you personalizing your emails?

If your email list really represents people who want to receive your messages, you can leverage this goodwill by targeting those recipients who purchase frequently or interact with you regularly. Don’t just personalize their emails with their names. Express your appreciation for their support, perhaps with a thank you note, and more frequent mailings. However, make sure that every message still contains something useful.

Are you using a schedule that includes editing and re-evaluation?

In anything involving writing, there is always the possibility of improvement. Get some help to proof and edit anything you plan to send. Make sure you have a schedule incorporating a chance to rework the content or the presentation. Build in enough time such that, if circumstances alter, you can even cancel the mailing or delay it.

Are you connecting your emails to season and holidays?

Don’t be limited to the biggies, for example, Christmas. Check the list of special days and capitalize on them to the maximum. Somewhere in the list are days that are meaningful to your message (for example, MLK Day is relevant if your cause uses volunteers, or if your firm can highlight employee volunteerism). Find seasons and days relevant to your readers, for instance, Women’s History Month. Please avoid tacky mistakes like assuming that someone with an apparently Hispanic surname will necessarily appreciate a Cinco de Mayo-themed mailing!

Are your emails staying the same too much?

Keep current on what others are trying, and how these efforts are working. Be willing to use any new ideas that apply to your situation. Check out up-to-date email marketing advice blogs.

Do you have an email marketing strategy?

Every marketing effort needs to arise out of a strategy in order to use resources effectively. Emails, which can be so irritating if sent in a seemingly random or ill-considered fashion, are no exception. Be sure that you have planned what to do in terms of email marketing for at least a few months ahead – six months is a good goal. This will give a unified feel to your campaign and prevent annoying repetition.

Email is awesome – use it well!

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