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Is E-mail Marketing One of Your Online Marketing Goals?

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Assuming that a sale or lead is the only important goal for its users to achieve is a common mistake many people make in search campaigns. After all, these are the figures they see when looking at where they're making money.

However, every Web site has different buying cycles, and users are each visiting at different stages of this process. You aren't just looking to convert that sale -- you also need to stay in the minds of potential customers who aren't quite ready to buy.

Plus, once you've done the hard part and clinched the sale, you want to do everything you can to ensure you have a happy returning customer. This is where e-mail marketing has a huge part to play as an online marketing tool, so here are some tips on where mistakes are commonly made.

Why Your E-mail Marketing Campaign is Useless

If your e-mail marketing campaign makes you a small but regular profit, then you might be satisfied with that -- but what if it's doing more damage than it's worth?

What if your e-mail marketing messages are actually damaging your brand among a wide audience? Is that worth the small number of sales they generate? While there are plenty of deliverability, style, and content issues you should work on to get the most out of your e-mail marketing, instead consider how you can avoid harming your brand with clumsy marketing.

If you're committing the following e-mail marketing mistakes, then your campaign will likely cause more damage than it's worth for the tiny number of sales it's achieving. If you haven't got the skill or time to enhance it, you'd do better to scrap it.

  1. Contacting for no reason: Speaking as a consumer now, I don't care if your head of sales wants a weekly marketing e-mail; I only want interesting and useful stuff reaching my inbox. If you have nothing new to offer since the last time you e-mailed me -- no new product, great discount or interesting article -- then there's no reason to be in touch and I will resent the intrusion.

    Of course, it's different if your leads have signed up to a newsletter: then you can send it out weekly, although you will have to work harder to keep subscribers. Decide what your tactic is and stick to it -- don't just send half-hearted sales pitches for no reason.

  2. Sending without consent: This isn't just bad for business, it's actually illegal -- yet I still occasionally receive unsolicited marketing e-mails from largish companies. We're not talking some spammy outfit operating from a country you've never heard of, but legitimate businesses operating within this country.

    Most of them probably don't know they are breaking the law. Don't worry too much, there's an "implied consent" clause. If a customer gives you their e-mail address during the course of a sale, or if they haven't opted out of receiving e-mails when given the option, then you're fine. Of course, you should still treat their inbox with respect.

  3. Making it hard to unsubscribe: Perhaps a lead receives your e-mail and it doesn't annoy them, but they just don't want to receive any more of them. They scan your message but can't see an unsubscribe button, or worse -- they click the unsubscribe button but have to log into your site or navigate a complex form in order to complete the process.

    There's no need to place additional barriers in the way to stop people unsubscribing. They aren't going to decide that, because it's so hard, they'll just remain subscribed. Instead, you'll turn a disinterested recipient into a downright hostile one, effectively ensuring you'll never make a future sale with that customer.

  4. Sending inappropriate content: Maybe you're a retailer and this week you have a great deal for families. So, you package it all up with a load of other family-friendly content and send it out to your list.

    Unfortunately, because you've failed to target only families, you end up sending it to a bunch of single people, retirees, and child-free couples. All these prospective customers feel like your content isn't relevant and unsubscribe.

    It's vitally important to target your contacts with relevant messages. You may want to target as many people as possible with your offers, but target the wrong people and your subscriber list will soon drop off.

  5. Offering poor content: No matter how good your deals, if your copy is badly written and your layout is poor and clunky, it's not going to score the CTR you need and it won't make your business look good.

    It doesn't matter if you're offering half-price tickets to see England play in the World Cup Final; if your copy is riddled with typos and clunky phrases, you won't get the response you're expecting. What's more, you'll damage recipients' perception of your company.

    There's no excuse really. If you've found some brilliant deals that are relevant to your target audience, why would you package them in a badly worded e-mail? It's such a little thing to get right, but get it wrong and your e-mail marketing will fail to sell and alienate your potential customers.

Respect the Inbox

When you send a message to a customer's inbox, you must offer them value or you're simply an unwanted intruder. It's their space and you have to respect it; otherwise you're no better than an unwanted doorknocker.

Failing to respect your recipients' inboxes won't just ruin your sales figures, it will harm your brand. In the long run, that's going to hurt your business.

Conclusion

It's important to ensure you're making the most of your e-mail marketing campaigns and that your online campaigns are measured and integrated to work together.

For example, you may find that the non-converting paid search keyword, which you just stopped bidding on, is actually generating e-mail subscribers to potential customers at an early, research stage of the cycle -- affecting sales further down the line.

Avinash Kaushik emphasised the point at SES London, that you need to track each stage of the buying cycle and measure all of the possible the goals and actions you want people to make in their user experience -- not just the main goals. So by tracking this more closely you have far more information available to let you build upon and improve the performance of your online campaigns.


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