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13 Frighteningly common email marketing blunders to avoid like tainted Halloween candy

Becca Fieler  Marketing Manager for Content Strategy and Development

· 8 minute read

Becca Fieler  Marketing Manager for Content Strategy and Development

· 8 minute read

What do Halloween candy and email marketing messages have in common? They will both be immediately trashed if they seem suspicious, appear creepy, or are proffered – unsolicited – by strangers.

Email marketing blunders are like tainted candy

You carefully inspect your children’s trick-or-treat goodies, tossing any that are remotely questionable. Your subscribers will do the exact same thing upon receipt of your email marketing messages. In addition to giving your email a quick visual scan to analyze general aesthetics, your clients and prospects will also make a split-second decision about the relevance, content, and readability prior to clicking the delete button (or worse – the dreaded unsubscribe button).

Don’t subject your email campaigns to the same grim fate as tainted Halloween candy. Avoid these 13 frighteningly common email marketing blunders to ensure that your messages are received as blissfully as a bag full of name-brand sweets.

1.   Abhorrent Automation

One of the scariest mistakes that marketers make is putting their marketing automation software on auto-pilot. More likely than not, this ghastly practice will result in a spine-chilling number of unsubscribe requests and SPAM reports. Automation requires a little more finesse and a lot more quality content than your automation platform can boast. Make sure that you don’t let your automated emails fly without direction and purpose.

2.   Cadaverous Content

No one wants to read articles that bore them to death. Your content must be engaging and interesting, not stale and musty. What you include in your marketing emails should inspire further inquiry by your subscribers. Stale sales pitches and putrid product promotions are not likely to spark prospects’ interest unless you dress them in a snazzier literary wardrobe, such as a case study, story, testimonial or editorial. Make sure that you don’t send out spiritless emails that make your readers snore.

3.   Chilling Calls to Action

Nothing will stop your prospects cold like a missing, confusing or misguided call to action (CTA). Create startlingly successful calls to action by hooking subscribers and positioning your CTA with striking lead-in copy. Use descriptive buttons to attract more clicks, and then give your readers the treat they seek on the landing page. Don’t trick your subscribers into clicking through to something sinister (such as irrelevant content). Make sure that you include a clear CTA that animates your recipients into taking action.

4.   Dastardly Design

What can instantly scare away even the bravest of subscribers? Dastardly, dreadful email design and layout. Not only will a poorly-designed email make a terrible impression on your prospects, it will also diminish your credibility while you rack up more sickening unsubscribe requests. Email marketing messages should be as tempting to your leads as Halloween candy is to a child. Make sure that your layout and design is visually appealing and readable on all devices so that your readers don’t run in fear.

5.   Eerie Inconsistency

Befuddling your prospects with a bizarre schedule of email communications will not earn you any favors. Subscribers should know when to expect your messages, and those emails should be instantly recognizable as being from you and your brand. Strange detours from your normal routine or brand are unsettling to your readers, resulting in your emails being cursed to the recycle bin. Make sure that you set up an editorial calendar to stay organized and on-schedule as well as lay out your brand guidelines so you don’t have a reputation nightmare.

6.   Fiendish Frequency

Do you eat all of your Halloween candy in one day? Most likely, you have a piece or two per day for several weeks or months so that you don’t make yourself ill. The same principle applies to the frequency of your email messages. Too many emails in too short a period of time will make your subscribers sick. Make sure that you don’t haunt your subscribers with fiendish frequency, opting instead to give your communications a zombie-like pace for slower, but more predictable, connections.

7.   Foggy Focus

If your readers cannot determine what your email is about at a glance, sinister fog has clouded your focus – and your chance at obtaining any additional business with your message. Emails that have a clear and intentional point will generate more leads and goodwill than messages that befuddle your subscribers (assuming that your audiences are segmented and receive only the most relevant content). Make sure that you don’t expect your audience to consult a crystal ball to translate your email’s alarming ambiguity.

8.   Horrifying Headlines

Like subject lines, headlines have the power to repel and repulse or enchant and captivate your readers as they skim your message. Creative, insightful and conversational headlines and sub-headings can have a mesmerizing effect on your subscribers, spawning more intense interest in your message – and more leads as they read through your email with hypnotic fascination. Make sure that you break your messages up with bewitching headlines that won’t send your prospects scurrying away frantically.

9.   Impish Irrelevance

The two quickest ways to make your clients and prospects shriek in horror is to send them content that is not relevant to their needs, wants, or location and addressing that content to the wrong person. Know your audience. Target your emails. Dissect and segment your email lists by demographics, topics of interest, service needs, and other data points that will ensure your marketing messages are meaningful. Use emails to nurture your client relationships with relevance. Make sure that you don’t disgust your audience with impish irrelevance or shockingly foul personalization.

10. Pallid Pictures

In email marketing, visual elements can add to your credibility or bury it in a shallow grave. Don’t haunt your campaigns with sallow stock photos or obsolete imagery. Bring your emails to life with pictures of you and your staff, your products, your environment, and your clients. Have no fear of the camera. Candid photos are immeasurably more relatable than out-of-date headshots or generic stock images. Make sure that you encourage your staff to participate in your marketing by posing for spellbinding pictures that will help take your brand from lifeless to enigmatic.

11.  Screaming Subject Lines

There are a number of subject line mistakes that will make your subscribers scream, from using all capital letters (which is interpreted as shouting) to crying wolf in an attempt to convey a sense of urgency in all of your messages. The same goes for subject lines that sound like advertisements. Endless product promotions provide no value and are bound to get trapped in spam filters or viciously trashed by your subscribers. Make sure that your subject line reflects the killer content in your email message.

12.  Vanishing Value

Like a witch or magician, your email message could either conjure value for your prospects or make it disappear before their eyes. This vanishing value trick is one to avoid in your email campaigns. As readers engage with your messages, they should be enthralled and enchanted by the relevance of your content, the beguiling imagery you use, the sword-like sharpness of your point and the credibility of your brand. Make sure that you invoke value and intrigue your readers with “what’s in it for me” benefits throughout your message.

13.  Vile Vernacular

Don’t spook your subscribers with vocabulary they don’t understand. Many marketers mistakenly utilize buzz words, industry-specific jargon, or other technical terms that their prospects just aren’t accustomed to. In certain industries, this has become freakishly common. Make sure that the message you send isn’t mutilated with gruesomely complex lexicon that makes your prospects cringe.

Moving Past Email Marketing Blunders

What should you do if you are unwittingly perpetuating these monstrous marketing mistakes? Sometimes it can be frightfully difficult to identify errors, and even more challenging to toss ineffective marketing tactics in the trash. Consider tackling your email campaigns one at a time and building a Frankenstein team of colleagues and associates from multiple departments to solicit their feverish input. Everyone has something to say about marketing – from the sales team to the customer support department – no souls will willingly hold their tongues when asked for their opinions. Strategize and move on with new and improved messaging for better prospecting and lead generation.

How many of these frighteningly common email marketing blunders have you seen in your inbox this week? Are there any other hideous marketing practices that should have made the list of prevalent mistakes?

How to Cultivate Relationships With Prospects via Email

Technology enables us to reach out and connect with more people than ever through mediums like email. Although developing rapport electronically can be more challenging than interacting directly with prospects, many of the same rules apply. This complimentary whitepaper from Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Marketing for Firms outlines best practices to keep in mind when cultivating relationships with prospects via email and explains how, when done well, email marketing can be an asset to growing your business and connecting with new clients. Download the whitepaper now.

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