Common email marketing mishaps (and how to avoid them)

Previously on the Trader blog, we gave you a basic introduction to email marketing and how it can be used by builders’ merchants and other retailers to generate and retain trade. There is no doubt that email marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. However, that is rarely the case.

15th January 2016

Previously on the Trader blog, we gave you a basic introduction to email marketing and how it can be used by builders’ merchants and other retailers to generate and retain trade. There is no doubt that email marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. However, that is rarely the case. Consider the marketing emails you subscribe to through your personal email account. What percentage of these marketing emails do you actually read? What factors dissuade you from opening them? How many of these emails actually result in a purchase?

In this article, we discuss the barriers to email marketing success – and how you can avoid them as a merchant.

#1 Spam

The number one reason a customer will delete, ignore or unsubscribe is undoubtedly spam. If a customer decides that you’re sending emails too often and doesn’t think the content of the emails is worth their time, they’ll stop reading them – and may even view your company in a more negative light.

Avoid it: Track the response rates to your emails carefully, particularly if you increase their frequency or send multiple emails during a short period of time. Similarly, don’t stick to a schedule (eg. once a week) just for the sake of it – only send out emails if you want to communicate valuable information with customers.

#2 Sending too infrequently

At the other end of the spectrum to email spam is a dearth of emails. If a customer gets an email from you out of the blue six months after the last one, they may have forgotten they’d ever subscribed. By this point, their interest in your company may have waned for good – and they might be annoyed that you still have their email address.

Avoid it: Ensure you send marketing emails at least once a month, and handle unsubscribes correctly.

#3 Emails are about products, not your customers

You might have a new brand of product in store that you’re excited to sell, but you can’t expect customers to care about these products unless you explain their worth. If your subscribers are met with marketing emails that are just about your business and products instead of content that’s aimed at themselves, why would they continue to read them?

Avoid it: Explain product benefits in emails (or link to explanations in the form of blog posts or product pages on your website) and frame titles and copy in terms of problem solving for customers. For example, instead of stating that rock salt is in-stock, use a title such as ‘Keep your business running this winter with these products’

#4 Hard selling

Good marketing emails take time to write and assemble, and if you’re limiting them to one per week then you quite rightly want to make the most of them in terms of maximising sales opportunities. However, overloading titles and content with capital letters, exclamation marks and keywords such as ‘bargain’ or ‘hot deal’ can get your emails caught in spam filters. Additionally, using too many calls to action can confuse customers and communicates mixed messages.

Avoid it: Ensure you have a clear target or message for each email, with a single call to action that helps achieve it. Use titles to persuade curious customers to read the email, but don’t use the space to ‘shout’ or oversell.

#5 No valuable content

Marketing emails are often used to showcase new products or special offers to subscribers, but this approach will only achieve limited results in the long term. If subscribers only expect to see offers within emails, when they aren’t looking to buy from you they are likely to delete emails immediately.

Avoid it: Link to blog posts, news articles and other relevant content in your emails. You can also include interesting content and information in the emails themselves.

If you can avoid all of these common email marketing mishaps, you’ll already be doing better than most email marketers! For more technology tips for merchants, stay tuned to the Trader blog.

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