Topic: Marketing

Retailers: 7 Reasons Your Email Marketing Isn’t Working

By Bob Phibbs

email mistakes

I used to get a series of direct-mail postcards from a local stationery store.

Each month the retailer would feature one product I might need in my business: paperclips, printer paper, pens - you get the idea.

It was a calculated strategy to touch their customers twelve times a year.

Direct mail is expensive and, unless you want to support the US Post Office and various paper companies, one that, while it can be effective, may not give you a high ROI or be terribly cost-effective...

Especially when the Direct Marketing Association tells us that email marketing has an ROI of around 4,300%. According to DBS Interactive, one study shows that email-driven traffic is 15 times more likely to convert customers to your site than social media.

To me, that shows email pays for itself any time you use it.

But is your email working that well for you?

Just because there is no cost to send email from your retail shop, doesn't mean you can just send out whatever pops into your mind.

You have to take the time to construct one if you want to be effective. And while many people tout the open rate of an email, this should no longer be considered the holy grail because many people can preview an email in the preview pane without ever really opening it.

As with any marketing, the proof of its effectiveness is do your customers do what you want them to do? Do they visit your website, stop by your store, click to your content or purchase your product?

And while email marketing is the focus of this post, you can also look at any direct-mail marketing or your website with the same eye.

Here are 7 reasons your email isn’t working:

1. The person viewing it doesn’t know who you are

While you can purchase lists of emails or physical addresses, your return is usually very, very low because your recipients still won’t know who you are. You are essentially cold calling them, hoping at that moment, they’ll be looking for whatever it is you are selling and respond to its call-to-action.

How to correct it: People who know you are your greatest opportunities. Find more ways to provide value for being on your email list so you can grow that group of warm leads. That’s not just another coupon offer, and another sale, or another friends and family discount. It’s really understanding who is on your list to begin with and knowing how you can help them.

2. The person viewing it doesn’t know what you want them to do

When a customer opens an email, do they know what do you want them to do? If you didn’t create an email clearly enough, they won’t know what you wanted them to do, and they will quickly click to delete.

How to correct it: Always have someone look at your test email and see if your call-to-action is clearly understandable. It could be you want them to come in or you want them to click and find more information, but it must be abundantly clear to the casual reader. Font choice, color and action verbs make your intentions clearer.

3. Too many messages in the email

Just because you can put a lot into a single email doesn’t mean you should.

How to correct it: Less is more. Find one strong message you want to promote. Tell a simple story around it and finish it off with a clear call to action.

4. Too many images in the email

Clip art was wonderful - back in 1994. An email cluttered with images overwhelms and confuses your readers. And images that are too big will keep your email from quickly loading and opening on your readers’ devices, especially on their older computers.

How to correct it: Select one great image from a site like Yes, it will cost you a bit, but you want to look unique. It doesn’t have to be big, but it does have to represent what you are talking about in your email.

5. Too much text in the message

It’s wonderful to be descriptive, but its a fine line to overwhelming. We are all becoming more visual. We are scanning more, and we don’t have time for lengthy paragraphs.

How to correct it: Keep your text to about five sentences. Break it up every sentence or two to make it easy to scan.

6. Boring subject lines

I received an email with the subject line: “We found some stuff for you.” I didn’t open it, and I doubt many would.

How to correct it: Monitor your own habits for selecting to open an email – or not. The subject line has to be a headline to get the reader to want to know more. Adding the first name of the contact in the subject line has been proven to increase open rates.

7. It’s all about you.

Great so you’re having an event, a sale, or you received an award. Your readers don’t care. You have to tell them how the information you are sharing in an email relates to them.

How to correct it: Use the words you and your extensively. Create your messages with a person in mind and relate everything back to how that person can reduce stress, save or make money, have more time or feel better with your product, service or information.

And it should go without saying that you should always greet your reader with "Hello" or other salutation and close with either "Thanks for reading" or other signoff appropriate to your brand.

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