Practical Ecommerce

4 Things Not to Do in Email Marketing

Email is holding strong as the marketing vehicle that often produces the highest return for ecommerce merchants. Email can help to not only increase sales, but also make everyday administration and customer services operations easier and more efficient. That assumes, however, that the email program is executed properly. When it is not done properly, the result can be harmful.

Here are four common mistakes to avoid in email marketing.

Spend too Much Time on Creative

A general guideline in direct marketing is the 40-40-20 rule. This states that for any direct marketing campaign, 40 percent of the revenue will be driven based on the audience you are sending it to, 40 percent will come from the offer, and 20 percent will come from the creative. Although this classic rule doesn’t account for variables like social media, it still provides insight.

Following creative best practices is very important in email marketing. However, spending too much time on creative will slowly chip away at your potential return. I’ve seen marketing departments agonize over images or debate the perfect font color. I’ve seen them drag out the process so long that the offer actually lost revenue because it wasn’t deployed on time. Make sure your creative is effective. But avoid the painstaking back and forth to get it absolutely perfect. Remember, for most emails your creative will be responsible for affecting only approximately 20 percent of the final revenue.

Creative can be done simply and effectively.

Creative can be done simply and effectively.

Batch and Blast

This is a term in email marketing that means you are sending the same email to a large group, or to your entire database. This type of easy email marketing — which was used with great success years ago — has become dated and not nearly as efficient. With advances in email technology, such as the ability to generate dynamic content or triggered messages based on behavior of your site visitors, these batch-and-blast emails are becoming less effective. Consumers are unique, with personal interests and lifestyles. The more you know about your email subscribers — i.e., the more the data you collect about them — the better you can design a segmentation and personalization strategy, to provide a nice lift in your email ROI.

Increase Frequency to Simply Increase Sales

Changing your email frequency should be done only by actively measuring the responses from your subscribers. Often email programs can be increased without producing more complaints or unsubscribes. However, increasing frequency just to capture additional sales can also be detrimental if you sacrifice your customers’ expectations and tolerance levels. In addition, there is typically a plateau in an email program, where the conversion rate of sales generated will decline.

Use Events or Tragedies

This seems like common sense. However businesses sometimes use painful anniversaries or events for promotional purposes. For example, some businesses used the recent September 11 anniversary to offer tasteless promotions. Perhaps the businesses were not meaning to offend. Perhaps they were simply trying to come up with new promotional ideas. But unfortunately they offended many people. In the age of social media, one email mistake by a small business owner could produce a huge amount negative publicity.

The safest option is to avoid an email promotion based on a painful anniversary or tragedy.

Yankee Candle received both positive and negative social media attention in response to their promotion of the "Boston Strong" candle.

Yankee Candle received both positive and negative social media attention from its promotion of the “Boston Strong” candle.

Carolyn Nye
Carolyn Nye
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Comments ( 2 )

  1. John Brissette October 23, 2013 Reply

    As a graphic designer who currently focuses exclusively on email, I fully support the 40/40/20 rule, however we used a slightly different way of thinking of it as 1.) Offer 2.) List 3.) Timing 4.) Creative, in that order.

    I’ve spent hours trying to explain this to marketing managers who thought their response was dwindling because I used a particular font or color treatment, and not because the offer wasn’t compelling.

  2. Nikhil Khandekar October 23, 2013 Reply

    Well, creative is life for many professionals. Not going far with creative is not a very good idea, I am afraid. I don’t recommend agonizing over images and font color because there’s hardly anything creative about it. Creative is what engages the audience, not marketing mores.

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