gotta tell you - when you fall into one of these holes,
you don't wind up in a very interesting place (although
you certainly can wind up learning from your mistakes, but
who wants to waste that kind of time and money?). So how
do you keep your head above ground? Just pay attention to
these mistakes of email marketing, and you'll find
yourself smiling like the Cheshire Cat!
years ago, my clever friend Roy
Williams created a list of the 12 common mistakes
advertisers make. With his permission, I've taken his
sound ideas and recast them to apply to your email
campaigns. Email marketing is, after all, a form of
advertising. But it goes beyond conventional advertising,
because it is also your princial pathway to building a
long-lasting relationship with your customers. You really
don't want to mess that up, do you?
thought not. So let's look at these mistakes, one by one.
The desire for instant gratification
an email campaign is like trying to push a car up a
hill get your car rolling from a dead stop. You think
you're going to manage it all in one push? Nope. It
takes time to work up some momentum. And before you
achieve a decent speed, you're gonna start wondering
if you are even up to the task. Be patient!
have proved the only variable that influences the
success of any campaign is the power of your message.
So make sure you are saying the right thing.
"Uncover the story that is uniquely yours; focus
your campaign; commit to your message."i
And be prepared to give it time.
you get your momentum, it will be hard to stop it!
Sure, along the way you're gonna have to give the
occasional push, but with the momentum established,
the job becomes much easier.
Attempting to reach more people than the budget will
is the reach versus frequency issue. Let's say you are
going to buy inventory or place an ad in an email
newsletter. You can afford to make 100,000
impressions. Do you go for 10 placements in one
newsletter that goes out to 10,000 people, or do you
opt for one placement that goes out to 100,000 people?
Same number of impressions, but the first option
exposes fewer viewers to multiple impressions.
about it this way: Would you rather reach 100% of the
people and convince them 10% of the way of them, or
reach 10% of the people and convince all of them all
the way? When it comes to maximizing your email
marketing efforts, this is a useful analogy: Your
message is the nail, repetition is the hammer, and a
block of wood is the customer. If the nail is sharp
and you hammer effectively, you will pierce through
the wood and clinch the customer.
more information on this topic, check out "Email
As Advertising," written by my colleague Bryan
Eisenberg, which will appear in ClickZ on November 12.
it doesn't hurt to remember this: "Retention
fades with sleep." Repetition has its rewards.
3. Assuming the business owner knows best
When it comes to stuff in which we you have a huge
personal investment (your kids, your homes, your
businesses), you risk losing your objectivity. Hey,
it's a human thing. Too much knowledge about your
company and what you offer leads you to answer
questions nobody is asking. When you're inside the
bottle, it's hard to read the label. But that's also
when you risk pushing your own interests at the
expense of your customers' interests. Sometimes it
helps to bring in an objective outsider to give you
4. Unsubstantiated claims
Folks make claims all the time that miss targeting
their customers' needs and simply wind up turning them
off. Specifics about yourself, your way of doing
business and your products are far more persuasive and
cut to the chase far more effectively than
generalities. So get credibly specific!!
5. Improper use of passive media
Passive media are sight-based media - newspapers,
magazines, billboards, direct mail, and yes, even
email - that require the user to sustain focused
attention in order to process the message. Intrusive
media are sound-based - radio and television. Sound is
heads above sight in its ability to get your message
lodged into your customers' brains. The best use of
passive media is as a follow-up to intrusive media.
This is a toughie, and there's not much you can do
about it at this stage of the technological game. It
is largely one of those obstacles you have to factor
into your marketing equation. Trust me, now is not the
time to go lining your emails with .wav files - and
that misses the point anyway. The huge advantage of
email marketing, passive though it may be, is its
relative low cost. It's worth the effort, but be aware
of the limitations.
Passive media is an effective way to reach those
customers who are actively in the market for your
product or service. You'll improve the effectiveness
of your emails if you can use this to your advantage.
Exactness is the key attribute of passive media - you
can give a lot of specifics that your potential
customers can check as many times as they want, simply
by revisiting their online mail boxes.
Hmmm. This is a lot of stuff to digest all in one
gulp, isn't it? And my editor (the one who counts words)
is looking the tiniest bit grim. Tell you what. How
'bout you think on these gems and come back for the
remaining seven mistakes in my the next issue. Same Grok
time. Same Grok channel.
i All quotes from "12 Common Mistakes
Advertisers Make." A Power Point presentation by
Roy H. Williams.
just wanted to let everyone know:
Set Up Scanning and Skimming So They See
spent your time to write right. Not only is your text
persuasive, but now you're ready to make sure your reader
engages with your text on your webpage. This is a
usability issue. So how helpful is it when the terms folks
use for talking about usability stuff sound different, but
seem to mean the same thing? Take scannability and
mean there's a difference … and I need to understand
it?" you wonder. You bet! If your visitors can't scan
and skim your web pages quickly and efficiently as
soon as they first arrive, aren't going to stick around to
dig deeper. Not good. Even though these two activities are
related, they are distinct experiences in the usability
equation and require separate treatment. If you lump
scannability and skimmability together, chances are you're
going to miss the Usability Boat.
do you keep your visitors scanning and skimming merrily
toward taking the action you want? I'm so glad you asked!
we go any further, I'd like to refer to one of your
favorite references: the dictionary.i
To look over quickly and systematically (scan the
horizon for signs of land), to leaf through hastily.
To give a quick and superficial reading, scrutiny, or
consideration (skim the newspaper).
see that they’re similar but not quite the same? Both
scanning and skimming are information-gathering
activities, and humans perform them quickly, usually
without thinking about them very much. But they don’t
work exactly the same way, and they don’t serve exactly
the same purpose.
of it this way: You're on the frontier of the wild and
wooly west, and your trusty horse crests the hill. Before
you is a vast expanse of territory. You don't know if
there's danger out there. So you look around. A copse of
trees to the left … a lake in the distance … a tendril
of smoke drifting above a small rise … a wooden fence
close to you on the right. Your "scan" suggests
things look pretty safe. So you spur your horse to a trot.
Passing the fence, you notice a piece of paper nailed to a
post. You approach. It's a "Wanted Dead or
Alive" poster. You dismount and get a bit closer, and
"skim" the contents, looking for the most
salient facts first that will help you decide if you need
to bother with the fine print.
difference between scanning and skimming? Now let's apply
it to your website.
visitor arrives and her eyes immediately begin scoping out
the situation (see The
Eyes Have It)
to determine if she's in the right place. First, she will
scan the visible screen for prominent elements,
determining if they mesh with her mental image of her
mission. As she scans, in addition to collecting “top-level”
clues like headlines, she will be evaluating larger-scale
issues such as legibility, arrangement and accessibility.
This is where the more prominent features including the
size of your type, the layout of your page and your use of
color come into play. You want to help her minimize the
time she spends on finding, sorting, and selecting
information and get her engaged in the conversion process.
If she doesn’t find top-level clues that she’s in the
right place, or if she finds the page too hard to deal
with, she’s back on her horse, galloping to another
is the second - but no less important - activity. It is a
reading-based activity, a refinement in the
information-gathering process. When your visitor has a
fairly good idea of the lay of the land, she is going to
start engaging with your copy. But she's not ready to stop
and read anything thoroughly. She’s still not sure
whether it will be worth her while. So she's going to
start with just a superficial skimming, looking for the
highlights and the important key words that will help
direct further involvement. This is where bolding key
words, bulleting, keeping paragraphs short, making sure
the first and last sentences in each paragraph are strong,
choosing a legible font, and even the effective use of
hyperlinks (see How
Many Holes Are In Your Bucket?)
all make a difference.
this is a critical distinction we help our clients
understand as we guide them in improving their sites and
their copy. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that can
make a big difference in your results. Try it - you'll
Definitions are taken from The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition.