Email marketing: how to make sure people want to hear from you

Posted under Email

email marketingThe number of unsolicited email newsletters that arrive in our inboxes these days means that the good ones really do stand out from the crowd. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending hours and hours on each one, it simply means giving subscribers what they want and doing things right, so being courteous and respectful to your recipient. If you do, the chances are, they will continue to want to hear from you.

You don’t want to see recipients heading for the unsubscribe button – so if you’ve managed to succeed in securing new email subscribers (and by law you have to make sure people have opted in to avoid data protection issues) you need to give them what they signed up for – more of the same high quality, useful and original information.

Your audience is full of busy people, snapshot paragraphs which will entice them to click a link to a larger article on your website will work perfectly.

Put yourself in their shoes – ‘if I received this info would I be keen to know more and decide it’s worth my while clicking onto the link?’ If not, don’t waste your time. You need to be a very critical editor of your own work. Although you might like what you’ve written, if it has no real value to your end recipient, it’s just not worth publishing and you are wasting your time.

Here are five obvious tips but even these basics get overlooked time and time again and provide the perfect excuse for recipients to lose patience with you and unsubscribe. Hopefully, you’re not guilty of any of these:

1. No essays – don’t write reams of copy, people need short, snappy sentences; they need to get the gist of what you’re saying in as few words as possible. The email should whet their appetite not include every cough and splutter – save that for the linkable article or download where the detail will be expected and adds real value.

2. No spam – we’ve talked about this before but can’t emphasise over and over again that spammy language in subject lines will not work. Your recipients’ servers don’t like it for one and may block it (read more on this in a separate blog: which email subject lines work best) and if it does manage to reach their inbox, human nature means we are all suspicious of something that has ‘free’ or shouts in capital letters at us. It may promise the world but we all know better and so recipients will give it a wide berth and it goes unread. What a waste!

3. Be friendly – treat the conversation as though you were talking to someone
face-to-face so be courteous, polite and use the type of language you adopt in your business as a whole. For some reason, some companies decide that email marketing gives them an opportunity to take on a completely new persona, they shout out messages and use phraseology that is completely out of character to the personality of their business. Not sure what this hopes to achieve other than confuse the audience. Email marketing is an extension of your business messaging, it simply provides another very useful online marketing technique to talk to your audience and gain more followers.

4. No mistakes – talking of going wrong, there is absolutely no excuse for errors in email marketing. Check it many times, get someone else to check it and test a sample send first of all before launching it on your entire database. Mistakes smack of unprofessionalism and obviously don’t promote your business in the best light. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot like this e-shot below which has a random word, *organisation*, in the middle where they clearly forgot to insert the correct automated field.  People will be puzzled and not respond which is the whole point of the exercise…

email marketing blunder

5. Ask for feedback – this really should be a two-way conversation, so don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, comments or any other call to action. Email marketing engagement is key to developing this as a successful channel that ultimately brings more leads and more potential sales for your business – otherwise, why bother at all?

These are just some of the common areas where email marketers in business come unstuck. I’ve listed these as they are my particular pet hates. There are plenty more and I’d love to know your favourites so please do share…..

My biggest concern is that businesses think they should be email marketing but don’t give enough thought to how they address their audience. This is PR – every online message you send out is PR and reflects on your business reputation so it’s worth remembering that when you start your next email marketing campaign too.

Peter Corder

Peter Corder

A former journalist, Peter founded Media Matters back in 1994, having worked for a number of newspaper publishing groups across East Anglia and the East Midlands in senior editorial roles.

He began the business from converted outbuildings next to his home near Stamford before moving to offices in Lynch Wood back in 2007 to cope with increasing client workloads.

Peter has now stepped back from the coal-face of the business but still provides support to the Media Matters’ team and to some clients.