E-mail Campaigns That Fail

E-mail Fails. (credit: eROI.com)

E-mail Fails. (credit: eROI.com)

The more experience you gain as an email marketer, the more you come to understand the true purpose of an email. It isn’t simply to blast something to subscribers without relevancy or reason. It isn’t to make a quick, dishonest buck off them. It isn’t to pull off a massive bait-and-switch. It isn’t even to release the hounds on the competition.  It’s about nurturing, building trust and relationships, and ultimately increasing and solidifying the reputation of your brand.

Every email sent must have a purpose and needs to personally relate to the subscriber. If the email lacks personalization or has no purpose, you’re taking a risk that may cause subscribers to not only opt-out of your emails, but also mentally and emotionally opt-out from any future engagement with your brand. When this happens, the recipient immediately becomes emotionally unsubscribed. We in the industry identify it with a very technical term: email marketing fail. >>Full Story

Thoughts// As marketing funds continue to take a hit in this down economy, it is no secret that email marketing continues to be a “workhorse” in its ability to deliver amazing read/click rates at a fraction of the cost of other digital media (with the exception of search).   But as more of us descend down the e-mail hatch and start to use it indiscriminately, “email failure” becomes rampant.   So, what does an email marketing fail look like? Our friend Dylan Boyd at eROI.com recently examined and aerated 11 different types of e-mail failure.   Some of our favorites include:

  1. Sending to an unsubscibed address:  Hands down the “ultimate sin” in e-mail marketing
  2. Emails that lack functionality:  The example cited, Becker Surfboards, used a large image file to send subscribers a “e-mail message” that a) doesn’t fully utilize the medium and b) more than likely will result in a blank e-mail showing up with folks who automatically block images
  3. Personalization fail:  As in sending an e-mail with a “Dear _____” or worse, addressing a consumer by the wrong name.   If you’re not sure about how accurate your database is, don’t set yourself up for failure by using the personlization tools.  Focus instead on making your content invaluable to your readers.
  4. Shameless “Partnering” E-mails:  While we’re not huge fans of this,  most industry leaders say that it is ok to occassionally send stand-alone e-mails with messages from your partners; the risk is that you’re taking a chance on alienating readers who’ve signed on because they trust you and want to hear from your state, city or company.   If you must send stand-alone “partner messages”, we highly recommend sending it to a (smaller) segmented list of readers who have have essentially “double opted” to recieve partner e-mails
  5. Opt-out games:  “You want opt-out? Opt-this!”.  Sure, it’s a good idea to temp someone wanting to opt out of your list with more relevant offers (e.g. “just e-mail me when the new travel guide is ready” etc.) but as examplified by this DEX e-mail, why try to confuse the reader to signing up for messages from your list renters?  Fail.

Let’s face it; as we wrote last year, we’ve all made mistakes with e-mail marketing. But keeping these fails in mind along with industry best practices can keep your e-mail marketing campaigns well tuned.

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