1. Not having permission
There is only one way to add someone to your email list, and that is to have them opt-in. Your email marketing list should not include names and emails from:
• Purchased or rented lists
• Personal contacts you have manually added (unless they have given express permission to do so)
• Contacts you have acquired through another site, even if you own the other site
There’s nothing wrong with manually adding emails you’ve acquired through trade shows, conferences or even through your personal or business address book; just be sure that each person has given clear permission to be added to your email list.
2. The hard sell
It’s more or less a given that no one has joined your email marketing list to be constantly sold to.
Make your newsletter all about selling, and you’re very likely to start seeing your unsubscribe rate increase drastically.
Instead, make your emails about informing, educating and entertaining. Feel free to promote your products or services, but do it sparingly and in a low/no-pressure manner. Some marketers keep to the 80/20 rule – 80% content, 20% pitch – but there are no hard and fast rules. If your marketing funnel ends at your website (with your website being your main tool for selling), you may not even pitch via email at all.
3. Not proofreading
It can be tempting to hit that ‘send’ button without proofreading your email. However, you need to check that your emails do not contain the following:
• Broken links
• Skewed formatting
• Incorrect merge fields
• A garbled text version of your email
An email with formatting errors, poor grammar or obvious typos can seem unprofessional and can give the impression that you just don’t care.
It’s easy to avoid this by having someone else take a look at your emails before you send them, or by simply sending yourself a test version of the email (both HTML and text) before you send them to your subscribers.
4. Sending too often
The tricky part is that what defines ‘too often’ will be different depending on your business and your niche. In some niches, subscribers expect an email every single day, while in others once or twice a month is quite sufficient. You probably already have a feel for how often your subscribers want to hear from you. If you don’t, take a look at your email analytics and see if there are any correlations between unsubscribe rates and how often you’ve sent emails.
A good rule of thumb is 1–2 times per week, unless your own research and analytics tell you otherwise. Any more than this and you may risk annoying or overwhelming your subscribers.
5. Coming across as a spammer
Unfortunately, there are many ways you can come across as a spammer without even realising it.
One of the best ways to make sure no one mistakes you as a spammer is to use a name people will immediately recognise in your ‘reply to’ email address and ‘from’ field. You could use your full name, your company or website name, or a combination of both.
Some other ways to avoid being labelled ‘spam’ include avoiding:
• Using all capital letters
• Using lots of exclamation points
• Overuse of words or phrases like ‘free’, ‘click here!’, ‘credit’, ‘win’ or ‘guaranteed’
• Overuse of images
• Using numbers or characters in place of letters
Hopefully you’re not committing any of these email marketing mistakes, but if you are it’s never too late to change your approach.
Jim Kirk, Senior Consultant, Goldmine Media
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