Hate is a pretty strong word, if you’re abusing the sanctity of someone’s inbox you’ll likely end up being hated. So, if customers have been nice enough to hand over their email address you need to tread lightly.
It’s great that you’re keen to use the medium of email to get your prospects’ attention, but your emails might actually be annoying them, without you knowing it. This is a dangerous position to put your brand in, especially because email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.
To ensure you’re not causing your subscribers to reach for the unsubscribe button, here are the five types of emails which your customers hate.
1. Non-personalised/irrelevant emails
If you have been given a customer’s email address it is likely they share some affinity or interest in your business. But that’s not to say that they’re interested in EVERY single aspect of your business or EVERYTHING that you sell or provide.
For example, I am subscribed to a few deal and voucher code websites and have purchased a lot of restaurant vouchers and discounted breaks. Based upon this you would expect that the brand would have built up an accurate picture of my likes and dislikes. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Despite picking a number of restaurant discounts and opting for vegetarian options, I was recently sent an ’exclusive’ raw fish platter discount. Not an offer I intend to take them up on any time soon.
And this type of mistake is not just limited to food. If a young person has taken out car insurance they’re not going to be interested in your retirement plans for example.
Segmenting your email list and personalising the messages you send out is key to ensuring that your contact database does not receive emails that aren’t relevant to them. What’s more, personalisation pays off, as research has shown: ’segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue’.
The main email platforms have inbuilt segmentation applications and you can slice your list a variety of ways, including:
- Purchasing history
- Content engagement
- Stage in the purchasing cycle
Or, if you want to ensure your prospect gets the right content from the start, why not add a few tick boxes so subscribers can choose what they want to receive when they sign up. Here’s what Buzzfeed’s newsletter sign up box looks like on their site:
And here’s how high street retailer H&M has embedded segmentation into the email sign up process:
2. Intrusive emails
We’ve all received emails from businesses that we’ve purchased from. But what we haven’t asked for, or expected, is to receive emails from them on a regular basis. Retailers are notorious for doing this – I sometimes receive an email a day from a well-known high street department store, just to let me know about their latest offers, despite never having signed up to receive them.
If you’re sending out these types of mailings on a regular basis, your database will most probably unsubscribe or worse, will ignore these emails and often delete them. This will be lowering the open rate and making your marketing efforts wasted, as you won’t receive any data from these subscribers. Instead of bombarding someone who has provided an email simply to authorise a purchase, think about growing your list organically. Whilst this process takes much longer, you’ll see better results off the back of it, from higher engagement, higher purchase rates and brand advocacy.
When customers hand over their address to authorise a purchase, ask them if they would like to opt-in or out of email newsletters and marketing. If they want to opt-in, ask them to select from a list of options regarding the type of content they’d be interested in receiving. Or simply send them content related to what they purchased.
Most email campaign providers support this permission-based email marketing, even requiring a subscription confirmation email (double opt-in) before adding a contact to your list.
3. Repetitive emails
Nobody likes repeating themselves, right? So why would your customers want to keep reading or receiving the same email over and over again?
I see these types of repetitive emails when a sale begins or a limited time offer is ending. Whilst it’s true that everyone loves a bargain, if they were interested they would have taken action either by the first or second email. Sending out the same message a third or a fourth time is just going to infuriate your email database, especially if they had taken action after the first email and you continue to bombard them.
Here are some examples from my own personal inbox of emails I’ve received from the same company in a period of 48 hours:
Needless to say, I didn’t open this emails, nor did I go on to purchase anything.
4. Ugly layout
An email’s design is just as important as the content. That might sound superficial but looks are everything when you’re trying to promote your brand.
A beautifully laid out, logically structured email that looks great on both mobile and desktop will mean you receive a higher click-through rate and potentially more conversions. Here are a few examples from my inbox that failed to impress and were far from mobile-friendly:
This is a desktop screenshot. There’s far too much information and snippets from articles and a really tiny side bar. It looks more like the company’s website and is terrible to view on mobile. If you want your database to actually engage with your emails and take action, the phrase ‘less is more’ has never been truer.
The UK’s largest online property website regularly sends out property alerts that are not at all mobile-friendly. This is a screenshot from my mobile of how the email displays as soon as I open it:
The email requires a lot of scaling and resizing just to be able to click on the call to action, this is likely to be negatively affecting their click-through rates and ultimately their conversions.
To restore your faith in the world of email marketing, here are some nice emails to look at from companies doing it well:
A simple one column layout with a large, attractive image, minimal but meaningful copy and a clear call to action. Creative Boom knows how to visually appeal to their email database.
Here’s an example of Not On The High Street creating a beautiful sales and promotions mobile-friendly email:
5. Emails that don’t reflect the customer’s purchasing behaviour or stage in the buying cycle
Some businesses do have automation set up correctly on their website, for example, if a prospect has been browsing cameras on a website but didn’t purchase anything, a brand’s email automation will be triggered to send through an email relevant to the customer’s browsing history. This technique is an ideal way to guide your customers through the sales funnel.
But, some company’s get this so very wrong.
Say a customer has been interacting with your website and downloaded a guide or requested a demo of some software but still hasn’t become a customer, then including this customer, who is further down the funnel, with top level content about your other services is a waste of your resource and their time. In fact, you might cause them to drop out of the funnel altogether and to engage with a competitor who is actively targeting them with more relevant and compelling content.
This type of scenario is a good example of why automation and triggered emails must be set up on your site and should mirror your subscriber’s behaviour. You can significantly shorten the path to purchase if you deliver consistent messaging at every touchpoint and stage in the purchase cycle.
If you’re keen to start email marketing to your prospects, or want to improve your current offering, please get in touch with Receptional.