June 14, 2011

Four Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Some marketing emails I receive are so bad I wonder if the person who created and sent the email did so on purpose.  Are they getting revenge on a bad boss or client?  If you don’t want to fall into the “bad email marketing” category, here are four mistakes to avoid in your next email:
1.    Bland or Misleading Title – Your email title is often the only chance you get to capture your audience’s attention.  Why waste that opportunity with an email title that doesn’t compel the recipient to click through and read your email?  One restaurant I occasionally eat at has a track record for sending emails with titles that leave room for improvement:
a.    "We Belong to the Land" - advertising a one-man play (The title was in quotes on the email.)
b.    “A Matter of Taste” – promoting a wine tasting event
c.    “Gift Cards for Everyone!”  - trying to sell gift cards (Based on the title, I was expecting this to be a gift card giveaway.)
d.     “Thanks for Sticking With Us!” - thanking you for your business (Regardless of your type of business, certain phrases such as this title tend to imply that your customers have had negative experiences in the past.)
Get creative with your email titles but make certain that the titles you use imply exclusivity, offer a benefit for the reader (does not need to be a coupon or sale), and pertain to the purpose of the email.  For instance, Ace Hardware sent me an email with the title “Thank you for being one of our best customers!”  The restaurant could easily have used a similar email title that has a positive connotation and makes the reader feel appreciated instead of leaving the reader wondering if they want to risk a bad experience by visiting the restaurant.
2.    Irrelevant Graphics – Other than your logo and standard footer, and navigation bar for ecommerce sites, any graphics you include need to be relevant to the purpose of the email.  Having a wine tasting event?  Use an image of a glass of wine, a person drinking wine, or people at a wine tasting. Using the graphic below for a wine tasting doesn’t help to create any positive emotion that would compel a reader to spend money by registering for your wine tasting event.

3.    Bad Copy – Does your copy help create a scene or emotion that will cause the reader to click-thru and make a purchase, register for an event, or fill out a contact form?  If not, why are you wasting this opportunity?  Even battery-powered, scented candles can be sold by using email copy such as “It’s cold and dark outside, but you’re relaxed and rejuvenated indoors with your everlasting wax candles.  No open flame or melting wax to worry about.  And, each candle lasts more than 100,000 hours.  Available in three stress-reducing scents.”
Also, communicate to your readers in their language and terminology.  The restaurant mentioned in #1 used this copy in their email trying to get readers to buy gift cards:

Firstly, who says, “Let’s close the deal.”?  Secondly, giving someone a restaurant gift card as a present will probably not result in the gift receiver “marveling at your generosity”, especially if the gift receiver spent half a day shopping for the perfect present for you.  Email copy that conveyed how buying this restaurant’s gift cards at the last minute could save the gift giver from the embarrassment of not having any gifts to give would have been an improvement over the existing copy.
4.    No Call-to-Action – Using “click here” should be outlawed in emails.  (If you’re not certain about this, it’s time to A/B test the call-to-action used in your emails.) What action do you really want the reader to take? Use a call-to-action that spells out what action you want the reader to take such as “Register Now” or “Find Your Favorites”. 
The bottom line is that if you’re not sending out quality emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re only hurting your business or organization.
Now, it’s your turn.  Take a look at emails you’ve sent in the past.  Are there any parts of the emails that could have been improved?  Or, have you ever dealt with a client who refused to allow you to improve their emails?


June 5, 2011

Why the Fat Lady Sang

It isn’t over till the fat lady sings.” In my family, this quote is used during sporting events with anyone attempting to gloat before the event is finished. After all, the opera isn’t finished until the fat lady sings.  In the case of Halls latest online marketing campaign, it appears that the fat lady sang before the campaign ended.
I learned of Halls’ The Operahh of Irritations campaign via email.  The campaign requested that people state, via Twitter or facebook, what irritates them and Halls would have opera singers sing those comments, which could be watched live on facebook.  I tweeted my comments for the opera singers, including the hashtag Halls created, and clicked through to the campaign facebook page only to see two bored opera singers with nothing to sing and that I was one of 61 viewers. 

Later that day, the Halls Twitter account @GetHalls followed me.  (The Halls Twitter account had about 45 friends – accounts they were following - and 23 followers that day, May 20.)
While I missed the operatic version of my tweet, I couldn’t help but think about what companies could do to improve the results of their marketing campaigns:
·    Identify Your Customers – Who are they?  What are their likes and dislikes?  How does your campaign idea fit with your customers?  If the campaign isn’t a good fit, are you really going to attract enough new customers to make up the revenue for the customers you’ll lose with this marketing campaign?  What percentage of Halls customers are opera fans?  (On the positive side for Halls, their reach was so low with this campaign that there aren’t that many people who will look at a bag of Halls and think of the opera.)

·    Use Twitter to Build Relationships – It appeared that Halls didn’t even have a Twitter account before they decided on their opera campaign, and Halls did a poor job of creating their Twitter account.  Make certain when you create your company account that you use the company logo, include your URL and a description of your company, and make certain any background image you use ties in with your brand.  Don’t assume that anyone knows about your company or what products you make or sell. 
How can you tell what this company does?

Next, search for people tweeting about your industry and build relationships with them.  (Search for complaints, too, and don’t just search based on hashtags.) It’s okay to tweet those people and say that you agree with them, or just tweet them a link to some resources that are not on your web site.  (During a short stint with a small ecommerce site, I tweeted a man who was looking for a specific item that the site didn’t carry.  My tweet included two links to competitors’ sites.  If you don’t have the product that someone tweets they’re looking for, point them in the right direction.  They’ll remember you tried to make their life easier.)  Then work on increasing your interaction with your customers and potential customers.  Ask for their input and feedback, share exclusive news with them, etc.  Make interacting with you so enjoyable that people tweet about you.
·    Tell the Truth – People can find out the truth in a hurry.  If your campaign wasn’t a success, don’t claim that it was.  Just tweet your thanks to everyone who participated.

·    Test in Advance – If any part of your campaign involves using equipment for video or transmitting a live feed, test everything in advance. Twice.  The last thing you want is to have technical problems the moment your campaign is supposed to be live.  You might not think that technical problems affect your brand/company image but the people deciding which vendor to hire or which product to purchase will disagree with you.
If Halls had planned ahead, this campaign probably would have had better results, even though I doubt many Halls customers are big opera fans.  What do you think?