Dissecting SPAM: Email Marketing Mistakes You Should Never Make

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I was going through my SPAM folder this morning, and noticed an email so bad that violates so many principles of proper, effective (and legal) email marketing that I just had to share my take on it.

1) Email address: The sender used the name “Louis” but the email address was a string of 18 (yes, 18) seemingly random characters followed by @yahoo.com.   Real businesses use a “normal”-looking email address and that email address should be on your own domain, not a free email account such as hotmail, yahoo, gmail, or (even worse) aol.

2) The first line stated: “You are receiving this email because we wish you to use our 3D/2D animation services.”  This is entirely backwards – you should focus on what the reader should want, not what you want.  They might as well have said “You’re receiving this email because we want you to give us your money for something you may not even need.”

3) The next paragraph had 4 sentences.  ALL 4 SENTENCES started with “We” – not a single “You.” While that’s slightly better than “I” since “We” could potentially include the reader, in this case it didn’t.

4) This was followed by a list of services with inconsistent formatting (some lines had one service per line, others had 5 or more services on the same line) and was riddled with spelling errors such as “Aanimation.” This was particularly ironic because one would think that an  animation company would be more conscious about visual aesthetics.  Furthermore, they listed 49 services in about 34 lines of text.  There’s no focus there – it’s the regurgitation approach to sales where the person just spews out everything they can and will do, without regard to what the other person really wants.

5) There was absolutely nothing compelling about the email.  There was no sense of urgency, no clearly outlined benefit, and no call to action of any kind.

Email marketing mistakes to avoid6) The email address in the signature didn’t even match the yahoo address that sent the email.  This tells me they likely use lots of throwaway free email accounts to spam out thousands of unsuspecting, unqualified prospects in the hopes that volume will make up for lack of strategic targeting and effective email marketing technique.

7) There were no instructions on how to unsubscribe, no physical address, or anything else that makes an email FTC-compliant.  Had this been a US-based firm, they could be fined thousands of dollars PER EMAIL.

How can you make email marketing work for you? It’s simple enough on the surface, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

1) Make sure the recipient wants to receive your email if you’re taking the mass email approach.  Have them opt-in through a form on your website, or otherwise confirm that they do want to receive information from you.

2) Use a professional, compelling subject line.  The purpose of the subject line is to get them to open the email.  If they don’t do that, the email is wasted effort.  Make it appropriate for your audience.  If you’re targeting professionals, a professional subject line is important, particularly if they don’t (yet) know, like and trust you.

3) Customize it with the recipient’s name where possible.  Most autoresponders can do this.

4) Make it about the reader – what are their problems that you can help them solve? What do they want? At least learn the basics of writing effective sales copy, or hire someone who understands this. Give them a reason to take action – this could be a free report giveaway, a free trial, free consultation, discount on service, coupon, or other incentive.

5) Use a proper signature – include the company name, address, website URL, other contact info, and any disclaimers or notices that apply to your business.

6) And remember, the email is not where the sale takes place.  So use the email for what it is – a tool for moving the reader to take action and go to the next step in the sales process.  If you do a lot of business by phone (such as taking appointments by phone), make sure your phone number is prominent.  The same goes for web URLs.  Include the https:// to make them clickable links in more email readers.

There’s much more, but we hope this helps you get a better handle on what not to do and what to do in email marketing.

If you’d like to see how we at W 3 Group marketing can specifically help your business get more customers, more sales, and more profits, call us today at 404-669-6682.

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