Mismanagement can turn your email marketing efforts into something that actually drives people away from your brand and stirs up negative brand sentiment. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with email marketing – sending untargeted messages, using media that doesn’t load properly, including broken links, and many many more. I won’t name any names, but when it comes to my own inbox, these are the most recent email faux pas that caused me to hit unsubscribe:
1. My Preferences Weren’t Stored
Giving subscribers a way to manage their preferences instead of just unsubscribing them is a great way to retain users and make them feel like they’ve bought into the idea of your communications… That is as long as you actually respect those preferences. It’s a good idea to send out different types of communications with different subject matters and frequencies, just know that not every subscriber is going to want every type of communication and you need to use an email management platform that allows you to segment these users by preference. For instance, someone may not want to get your daily update, but they may really enjoy your monthly recap. If you give them the option to opt out of one and still receive the other, you need to actually stop sending them the one they don’t want (particularly if the one they don’t want is the one with a higher frequency). I hit unsubscribe recently for this very reason. I was getting 2-4 emails a day when really I just wanted one a month.
2. No Creativity with Offers
You have to give people a reason to open your emails. This is where a surprise promotional offer or exclusive content can be used as bait to get the open and the click-through to your site. If you just constantly send the same offer over and over, two things will happen. First of all, people will start to view that promotion as your regular offering and be disappointed when they can’t get that price all the time. And secondly, subscribers will ignore your emails. I recently unsubscribed to emails from a certain pizza company because at this point I basically know I can get a $6 medium 3-topping pizza all the time and don’t need to reminded of it every day.
3. Way Too Many Emojis
I know this seems like a ridiculous reason to unsubscribe from emails, but open rate data constantly reminds us how important email subject lines are and some companies really miss the mark when it comes to crafting an enticing email subject line. Emojis aren’t altogether bad, but overuse can annoy subscribers… especially when they’re being used so much that it feels like passing notes in Junior High School all over again. Okay, I said I wasn’t going to name any names, but I’m talking to you Staples! Whoever is responsible for your email marketing should be fired because these were just a handful of the emails I received before I hit unsubscribe to get off of this crazy train:
“Weekly ad deals + coupons = ☺”
“Attention: Ink prices have been ✂”
“😎 Approved! You're getting over 50% off. You're welcome.”
“How low can we go 😉 on ink?”
“☺ Congrats! We chose you to get the COUPON inside!”
“PSST! ✱ Open to reveal over 70% off | New Daily Deals”
“☺ You’re eligible for up to 80% OFF. Because you rock.”
“✂ Earn it! ✔ You've unlocked 20% off ink & toner.”
I think the purpose behind this parade of smiling faces in my inbox was to make the Staples brand seem like my pal, but it just made me feel like a child, and eventually I just couldn’t take being talked down to anymore.
4. High Rates of Communication
The cardinal sin of email marketing is bombarding users with too many emails. I’ve known business professionals that believe that the only way to overcome inbox clutter is to email subscribers multiple times about special offers or exciting news so that they won’t be ignored. However, the reality is that overly frequent communication just adds to the clutter in subscribers’ inboxes. It’s kind of like trying to get the neighbors’ dogs out of your yard by bringing in more dogs to chase them out – doesn’t make much sense does it? I recently unsubscribed from a company’s emails because they were emailing me several times a day with communications for each of their 3 brands, which meant that in total I was getting 10+ emails a day from this one company.
5. I Never Signed Up
In addition to this being in really bad form, it’s also illegal in certain instances. You should never buy email lists, re-appropriate lists of people that signed up for emails about something else, or draw on your social connections to promote your brand. Recently I started getting these emails from a local business consultant who was offering her services to business owners. I had no idea who this woman was and I knew I didn’t give her my email address, so I looked into it further. Come to find out, I had signed up for a local networking group that this woman used to help run and then when she decided to launch her own business, she apparently took the group’s subscriber list with her to hit everyone up for work. I didn’t appreciate this kind of unscrupulous behavior, so needless to say I also reported the emails as spam (which will cause her email sender reputation to take a hit) and blocked her on LinkedIn.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!