I must be getting cranky in my older age. Little things are starting to annoy me more now.
So, email marketers, I'm begging you to fix your email-marketing programs. Get your act together so I can
enjoy my morning coffee without spitting it out in disgust.
My email-marketing pet peeves aren't just about aspects of your emails but also how you run your programs and processes. Here
they are, divided into two categories, Program Management and Email Practices:
In my advisory role, I meet with many email marketers each year, often
discussing their email programs in great detail. Several consistent themes emerge in meetings and conversations, including:
- Not owning transactional emails. I was pretty
harsh toward a client about this recently, because I believe strongly that email marketers should drive all aspects of customer and subscriber emails. You own the whole customer email channel, not
just the broadcasts you send from your email platform.
- Blaming IT for unfinished projects. This excuse is almost as old as "My dog ate my homework." As the email marketer, you
are responsible for making the case to management to fund critical IT resources. Develop an ROI forecast, and show how much money the company leaves on the table every day that IT does not work on
your customer-facing project.
- Asking "What's the best ...?" Really? Just stop. The "best" time of day, ESP, subject-line length or CTA wording doesn't exist. Yes, we have
"generally accepted" best practices, frameworks and guidelines. But something that works for one brand isn't necessarily right for you. Figure out your specific needs, and test.
unaware. I'm amazed that many email marketers don't know the other marketing technologies their companies use -- or even basics such as the percentage of subscribers who bought at least once,
average customer lifetime value or what percentage of subscribers they consider inactive. Understand the bigger picture, and you will be more successful.
- Not knowing how to use
Google. Almost every email-marketing question has already been asked and likely answered in some way. Through the magic of the Interwebs, most of these answers are available free, just for
you. Here, let me Google that for you.
- Not testing your own processes regularly. When was the last time you tried to update a preference
or unsubscribe from your own emails? Whoops! That link no longer works.
I'm a daily email consumer, just like your subscribers. My next pet peeves are
tactics I see every day when navigating my inboxes:
- Administrative footer text in light gray, tiny font. OK, who started this practice? Are you wondering why people never
click on your "Update Preferences" link? Why they click the spam button more than your "Unsubscribe" link? Hint: They can't find them.
- Simple tasks made
difficult. Don’t make me think or jump through hoops. See one of my biggest pet peeves, difficult email address change processes.
- "FWD:" and "RE:" in the subject
lines. I'm on to you. Hell, I've been on to you since Day One. The only thing worse than this stupid trick is the "Official Business Inside" stamp some shameless direct mailers print on their
- An individual’s name for the sender name. This overused B2B tactic works if you're Seth Godin or your name is your brand. For everybody else, I don't know who Mary
Smith is or what company she works for. Building brand affinity is an important aspect of email marketing. Use the company, division or brand you want your subscriber to recognize.
pre-header text practices. Look at your email in your inbox and on a smartphone. Did you notice that right after your perfect subject line it says, “If you’d no longer like to receive
these emails, unsubscribe here.” Or, “Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.” Useless. Learn what pre-header text is, and add some great content to the top of your
- Finger-unfriendly emails. Virtually all mobile devices use a touch-based navigation. Please, please, please, put some space between those text links.
- Tactics for tactics' sake. Want to use symbols in your subject line? Knock yourself out. But do it for a strategic reason. Don’t do something just because everybody else is doing
I'm out of space but not pet peeves. What drives you up a wall, whether as a consumer or industry observer?
Until next time, take it up a notch.