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The Other 7 Common Mistakes of Email Marketing

"Cheap shot, Grok," you grump. "Get me all pumped up for a top 12 list and then only give me 5!" Yeah, but you came back didn't you?! <chortle> Course you did, 'cause this is great stuff.

So, with no further ado, here are the remaining mistakes I urge you to avoid when you go about building relationships and driving action through email marketing. Let's unite that Cheshire Cat with his smile!

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"What a wonderful site! You know how to put the powerful academic principles of marketing and sales into practical language. A great asset for getting past the current day hype in marketing."
Professor Allen Weiss
, Marketingprofs.com


Missed out on the first five? No worries, mate (Hi, Down Under!) … take your time and check out 12 Common Mistakes of Email Marketing. Then come on back.

6. Creating individual emails instead of campaigns.

Remember the hammer analogy from last time? Good. Now add this: No single ad constitutes a campaign, Rome wasn't built in a day, and friendship isn't a first-sight phenomenon. You have more to say and more to accomplish than can be said and accomplished in a single email.

A very important thing to do as you develop your campaign is build upon your previous (successful) efforts. Your individual emails have to be interconnected, with a logical flow and a united presentation - after all, they are all pieces of that big “puzzle” that is your company. In a way, it's like the old Burma Shave signpost campaign … you want to keep your customers eager and on the lookout for more of what you have to offer.

7. Obedience to unwritten rules.

Do you really want to be like everyone else? Do you want to communicate the same message as your competitors? No, of course not. You want to be unique, you want to stand out from the crowd. So don't follow it! Dare to be different in a believable way. That's how you get noticed. I'm not suggesting you go overboard (commercial relationship-building requires tact and tends toward the conservative end of the spectrum), but if your emails sound, act and look like everybody else's emails, what's the value in doing business with you rather than them?

8. Ignoring timing.

It should come as no surprise that you've got to think about timing your message. Who is your audience and when are they most likely to read your email? Rebecca Leib presents some very useful information on timing in her article Does Anybody Know What Time It Is? Does Anybody Care?

Your goal is to give your customers the right message and send it when they are apt to take the time to read it. This isn't the same as suggesting you should time your message to exactly when you think your customer is going to act on it. Seasonal situations aside, an important tenet of advertising is this: "Tell the customer WHY and wait for WHEN. Quit trying to predict the moment of need."i

9. Overtargeting

Be careful to avoid over-segmenting your data base in your efforts to reach your target audience. It's a myth that you only need to get your message to the decision-makers. Truth is, decisions are seldom made in a vacuum. Don't neglect the influencers!

10. Event-driven marketing

It's best to steer clear of designing an email campaign around a single event (unless it's a major, well-branded event that strengthens your Unique Selling Proposition). When an event is over, folks will immediately forget the marketing pitch behind it, and besides, 99.5% of the people you've spent the effort to reach won't be coming to The Do anyway. Where does your message go when this happens? Up in tendrils of smoke.

11. Great production without great copy

"Slick, clever, funny, creative and different are very poor substitutes for informative, believable, memorable and persuasive." The name of the ecommerce game is persuasion; getting people to take the action you want them to take. Don't even dream of neglecting those magical words that are going to help you craft your brilliant, perfect message.

12. Confusing "response" with "results"

"Slick, clever, funny, creative and different ads are most likely to generate comment, or response." Buzz doesn't feed the bulldog and excitement alone won't bring in the cash. See the problem?

I recently heard a great saying: Intelligent folks learn from their own mistakes; wise folks learn from the mistakes of others. Now you've got all 12 of the most frequently made mistakes in email marketing, and you're in a great position to learn from them. So go, Grasshopper, and be wise!


i All quotes from "12 Common Mistakes Advertisers Make." A Power Point presentation by Roy H. Williams


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Hey Everyone,

If you missed Jeff Eisenberg's, CEO of Future Now, presentation at the 84th Annual DMA Conference & Exhibition. check out our resource center for "Creating Emails That Drive Action and Build Relationships." 


Beyond Search Engine Positioning

You might be asking, “Why’s my favorite Conversion Rate Guru talking about Search Engine Optimizing and Positioning (SEOP)?” Well, it’s tough to convert traffic if you don’t have any, know what I mean? You probably know search engines remain the most popular way people find websites and account for over 80% of the traffic to some sites.

Having a website that’s a killer conversion machine is a big part of improving your results. So is insuring a high ranking in search engine positioning. But beyond positioning, you want to make sure what the search retrieves is persuasive and drives action. I’m not an SEOP guru, but my friend Anthony Muller of Zenhits, author of “The Buyers Guide to Search Engine Positioning and Optimization Services" is. So I asked him to share some of his best stuff.

Anthony cautions it's a misconception that high rankings on major search engines are enough to determine whether your e-biz will succeed. “Search engine positioning is a must," he says, "but there is a lot more to it.” A high ranking by itself does not mean more traffic, and even more traffic does not mean more sales if your website can't maximize conversion.

What good's a high ranking that's so badly worded, nobody clicks on it? Or an okay-worded ranking that brings in only a fraction of the traffic you'd get if your copy captured browsers' attention and moved them to action? Not good … in fact, maybe even doubly bad! You look undependable if your listing is so short it seems like you can’t be bothered with the details. Worse, suppose you sit at the top of the list with a vague, misleading blurb. Imagine how annoyed folks are going to be when they click through and don’t find what they expected. And guess what happens when you lure folks to a site that doesn't engage them in the conversion process? (Hint: we've been here before.)

Conversion, in Anthony's words, "is about getting the prescribed response." For search engines, the action you want to motivate is a click. Here’s what you need to know so you get the clicks you want.

An SEOP Fable

Phil sells designer clothes for pet sharks. He goes to an SEOP company to generate traffic for his niche market. The company says it will do several things: identify valuable keywords, get him high rankings on top search engines, optimize his home page and create an information page (an added webpage that is keyword rich). Phil checks the company out and gives their proposal a thumb's up.

They get busy and locate some keywords and synonyms, then proceed to optimize Phil’s home page, targeting the phrase “Shark Clothes.” Since the SEOP expert's goal is a high ranking, she puts “Shark Clothes” in the title tag of the home page (part of the HTML code the search engine looks for). She succeeds! Phil gets a top ranking on Google that looks like this:

Shark Clothes
... for sharks who are fashion-conscious and shark owners who are embarrassed by their naked pets.

Like most SEOP companies, this one is good at getting high rankings, but it doesn't understand conversion. What we have here is a top ranking that doesn't drive action. No persuasion. No calls to action. No real appeal to benefits. The conversion rate of this ranking will be a fraction of what's possible.

Compare that listing with this one:

Buy Top Designer Shark Clothes Now and Get FREE Shipping
Are you a hip shark looking to stand out from the school? A shark owner who wants to strut your pet in finery on his morning walk? Phil has what you need.

What’s different? The imperative "Buy" gets attention and creates momentum toward taking action. "Now" reinforces the urgency. FREE shipping provides a clear benefit. Then a “richer” descriptive sentence appeals to emotion and creates strong mental imagery. This listing is likely to get 20-50% more clicks than the first one! And all we did was add a few very important words in a very specific way to create a link that doesn’t just sit there, but actively converts traffic.

This gets Phil the click, but it isn't the end of the story. Anthony reminds us, “You have to remember the mentality of the generic SEOP / SEO expert is to “Bring you the horse” not “help him to drink.” If you neglect the conversion capability of your site, then all the extra traffic from your conversion-sensitive high ranking will mean little.

To do your job well, Anthony emphasizes, "You need a significant and steady level of traffic. This makes the conversion tweaking process much more efficient." Think of your visitors as really cool lab rats (I mean this in the most flattering way) and they are going to help you map out that conversion maze. In the end, "once the conversion is done, more traffic at higher conversion just makes more bang for the buck."

Wanna play Math? Let’s say you get 3000 unique visitors a month and have a conversion rate of 3% (which is higher than average). That's about 90 sales per month. If your improved search engine rankings get you 5000 visitors a month, then at the same conversion rate (3%) you'll have approximately 150 sales a month. Goody … more money in your pocket. But my loyal readers know you can do even better. Let’s assume you increase the conversion rate of your website to 5%. 5000 visitors at a conversion rate of 5%? That's 250 sales per month. Don't you love the mileage of a few extra words and an efficient conversion process?

Nobody's gonna wrap this up better than Anthony, so I leave you with this closing thought (eat your heart out Jerry Springer): "Traffic is of prime importance, conversion is of prime importance, one's existence without the other is a horrible waste of potential and earnings."


click here for a printable version of this entire article

P.S. If you enjoyed this issue, why not share it with your colleagues and friends? They'll appreciate it.

GROK is taken from the landmark novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein. It is a Martian word that implies the presence of intimate and exhaustive knowledge and understanding. Our "GROK" is a keen observer of the world around him and he takes a particular interest in the World Wide Web. The folks at Future Now like him a lot because he's taught them that "sometimes the price of clarity is the risk of insult."

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