One of the first things people do after only just opening their eyes in the morning is to check their email in the fear that they’ve missed something pretty important going on – whether in their private or business lives. On the other hand, email marketing has proven to be one of the most effective tools in the sales and marketing toolbox, so passing on this way to stay on people’s minds can only hurt your business.
According to Hubspot, there will have been 5.6 billion active email accounts by the end of 2019, so the pond is not so small, but can every fish be a big one when there are so many? The answer is yes, but you need to be sure to make no mistakes while doing it. Here are 10 email marketing faux pas to watch out for.
1) Deceptive subject line
You must have received emails like this at some point or other – those that are just a ploy to get you to open, read and respond even though you have no idea what they’re about or who they’re from. If you’ve never spoken with someone, a subject line such as this: “Re: Next week’s meeting,” or “Following up on yesterday’s call” is meaningless or just plain mean.
Refrain from sending emails with this kind of subject lines, because the recipients will consider them lazy, dishonest and spammy. There are plenty of classics out there to be used instead (“Question about…”) or you could try a funnier approach (“You can’t buy this at Amazon…”).
2) Lazy greeting
If you’ve started an email with “To Whom It May Concern,” you’re guilty of using a lazy greeting. We are living in times when the name, email address and the professional title of the person you are emailing can be found on the Internet in a matter of minutes. Take the time to do a little bit of digging to find out about the recipient of your email and write the greeting accordingly.
But if you really cannot get your hands on any information, you can always address your email on the department you are aiming to reach. For example, if you’re applying for a job, you might address the email, “Dear Hiring Manager,” or if you are looking to buy something and want details “Dear Sales Team.”
3) No proofreading
Even if you’re not a professional writer, that is no excuse to be sloppy with your writing in today’s digital world. It doesn’t matter if you are sending only a line or two of text, if you want to make a good (first) impression, you need to make sure nothing has slipped by you. There are some great tools that can help with this particular problem:
– Microsoft Word’s “Review” feature catches misspellings and punctuation
– Hemingway Editor catches misspellings, punctuation, run on sentences and passages that are difficult to read
– Grammarly edits your work in real time.
Once you’ve proofread for grammar and spelling, double check that your recipient’s name, company name and email address are spelled correctly. No spell check will catch the missing “n” you leave out of a prospect’s email address – that’s up to you.
4) No formatting
In 2018, Litmus found 46% of all email opens happened on mobile accounts. So, if you’re writing eight-sentence long paragraphs without bullets or formatting, it’s likely that a large portion of your readers will close your emails before they’ve read a single line.
Also, no one likes to read long emails – even from desktop. A good way to get beyond this obstacle is to format your emails with short paragraphs (no more than one to two sentences each), bullets, links and lists. This keeps the recipient’s eye moving down the page, makes your message more mobile friendly and increases your chances of getting a reply.
5) No CTA
Every email you send should have a purpose and a request. It is recommended that you include small closes in every interaction you have with a prospect. That way you get them to commit to something and that is always a win, no matter how small it might seem.
That commitment could be asking your prospect to read a blog post, schedule a call or make an introduction. By asking for these small closes, you’re getting your prospect used to saying yes to small requests and preparing them to say yes to the bigger ones in the future.
However, the trick is to make you call to action specific. That can make or break your deal even if the prospect has said no to you previously – change the close if you need, but be specific about it. For example, rather than asking for another meeting or call, ask for general information that’s easier to give – something along the lines of: “I’m trying to get a better understanding of your organization. Where can I learn more about…?”
6) No signature
Sending emails without a wholesome signature – and by that, we do mean by just signing your name at the bottom – simply isn’t enough today. Your email signature is valuable goods and a great way to include plenty of information about you and your company, without cluttering up the body of your email.
By including your title, headshot, contact information – together with any potential recent industry accolades – at the end of your email, you’ll avoid boring the reader with a long introduction before they’re ready to learn more about you.
Your email should get right to the meat of your message to grab the reader’s attention. Pack important information about you into the signature. That way, by the time the reader gets to the end of your email, you will have already shared your message, including the benefits and a call to action. When they get to the signature, the reader is more invested in learning about you and your company with you being ready with an action-packed signature that demands a second look.
7) Using an unintelligible font
When you’re sending professional correspondence, keep things clean and simple with Arial, Times New Roman or Trebuchet MS fonts and leave other, “more creative ones” for your personal email account.
Stick to these three, because they are proven to be easier to read. Times New Roman uses a heavy serif design with contrasting line weights that guide the reader’s eye from one letter to the next. Arial gives similar letters the same angles and lines which gives your message a non-invasive and recognizable look that appeals to many readers. Trebuchet MS flicks at the beginning and end of tough letters give this font legibility that’s hard to beat.
8) Not getting to the point
You might be surprised to learn the average time spent reading an email grew to more than 18 seconds between 2011 and 2018. But that doesn’t mean you can – or should – bury the lead.
Start your emails with a killer opening line and introduce the reason for your email in the second or third sentence of your first paragraph. This immediately grabs the qualified reader’s attention and should earn you those 18 seconds.
Don’t get hung up in the small talk – this isn’t a family reunion. Keep your email short (as much as you can), easy to read and more efficient in your mini-presentation. Introduce your ask early and it will result in quicker response rates.
9) Sending emails instead of calling
Most of us prefer to be contacted via email rather than over the phone – 61% of people said so in a recent survey by Statista. But there are times when you just need to pick up the phone anyway. If you’re spending more than 20 minutes writing an email, find yourself writing more than three paragraphs or think your message would be better understood or received in real time, give the recipient a call.
10) Sending emails late at night
Sending emails late at night or on the weekends does not show you’re full of hustle. Actually, off-hours emails can have the opposite effect. Not all of us can be Elon Musk, but in this instance, you may not want to follow in his footsteps by sending emails after 1 AM.
Sending professional emails outside of normal business hours (8 AM to 5 PM) can signal your company is understaffed, you’re not skilled in time management or you’re desperate for the recipient’s business – which are not the signals you want to send to business associates. Stick to sending emails during business hours and if you must answer emails on nights or weekends, schedule them to send first thing in the morning during the work week.