October 31, 2014

10 Ways You Can Avoid Becoming An Email Robot

craft email marketingNow that you know how not to be a social media or content robot, let’s look at another great marketing tool that is often abused: email marketing.

I know. When you’re busy and doing everything yourself, it’s easier to slap together an email as fast as you can without bothering to customize it or really consider what would provide the most value to your customers.

But if you don’t do this, you’ll quickly see your contact list shrinking and your sales dwindling.

Never fear!

Below are 10 ways to avoid this.

10 Ways to Avoid Becoming an Email Robot

Really Customize Your Email

Just a few years ago, simply putting “Dear Sally” at the top of an email was the pinnacle of customization. But now there’s no excuse for you not to go deeper with your emails.  There are plenty of tools that help you track customer behavior online, which can guide you to delivering more customized content and offers in email. While most entry-level email marketing programs don’t offer these capabilities, it may be time to graduate to one that does.

Don’t Over Send

We all have examples of companies that send emails too frequently. What do we do with those? Either ignore and delete or unsubscribe. You don’t want that to be your company’s email. Instead, test out different schedules to figure out what works best. I recommend that my clients send one email newsletter and one to two promotional or announcement emails each month. It’s not too much, but it keeps them on the minds of their contacts.

Don’t Make It Lengthy

Like with blogs and websites, consumers want to speed read their emails and get to the good stuff quickly. If they have to scroll and scroll, they’ll lose interest. Break your content up into chunks (most templates will help with this), use headers and subheaders and add in bullet points or lists to break up content. You can also cut off the copy and include a hyperlink for people to click to keep reading on your site.

Don’t Make It Look Icky

While some people do prefer a text-only email (and you can add in a text version when creating an email), most want an HTML version rich with pictures and color. You’ll get better engagement if your email is attractive.

Write Like a Human

Because, after all, you are. There are plenty of sources that provide recommendations for writing to your audience’s reading level. If you know they’re all PhDs, fine. Use highfalutin language. But assume they’re not and write in a conversational tone that makes it easy to skim and understand.

Include Contact Info

If someone wants to email you when they get your newsletter, but you have a “do not reply” email, it gets frustrating. Include an email address, phone number and web links for your company in each email.

Make It Easy to Unsubscribe

There’s nothing more frustrating than a difficult unsubscribe process. I click the spam button for them, which is, of course bad for the company. So make sure you have a simple, one-click link for contacts to unsubscribe. Forcing them to receive your emails doesn’t do anything to nurture that customer relationship.

Create Lists

All of your contacts likely don’t need to be lumped into the same group. If you’re in retail, you can separate your list into those that buy women’s clothes, those that buy men’s clothes and those that buy kids’ clothes. As well as those who haven’t yet made a purchase. Or if you have a long sales cycle, you can use key behaviors (see #1) to sort them into whatever stage they’re in in the sales cycle. Then you can target your content to each list rather than mass mailing everyone the same email.

See What They Respond To

In my MailChimp account, I can see the 5 most clicked emails. If I’m smart, I’ll go into each and see what was so appealing to my contacts, then try to create similar content in subsequent emails. By paying attention to patterns, in terms of content and open times, you can better tweak future campaigns.

Keep Your Strategy in Mind

If you’re just aimlessly sending emails out because you’re supposed to, stop and consider what your goal is. Is it simply brand recognition? To increase sales through your emails? Get more subscribers? Make sure each email addresses that strategy and your goals.

Email Robot Photo via Shutterstock

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Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

19 Reactions

  1. Creating targeted lists is the key to getting the right content and offers to the right people. It requires a little effort in the setup, but pays great dividends in the end.

  2. Thank you for helping us prevent ourselves from becoming email robots. You are so right that when we are doing something just because we think we should be doing it, it probably needs to be reexamined. Short is good, but there needs to be a reason for the email. What are you trying to communicate to your prospect? What do you want them to do as a result of receiving your email? If you can’t answer these two questions, and if the answers aren’t obvious after you’ve finished reading the email, then don’t send it in the first place! No one needs another time suck!

  3. I totally agree that segmenting lists is the absolute key to email marketing. Without proper segmenting, you really have no choice but to send out vague, generic, robotic emails to a lot of people who are going to lose interest very quickly.

    I will say, though, that sending auto responders is still a great practice – but as you had mentioned in your post, they should be short and written like a human. I typically advise sending 4 auto responders over a 3-week period.

    Thanks for posting Susan!

  4. I like the “Write Like a Human” part. As a customer, I’m more interested to read email newsletters that sound conversational. I really appreciate it when companies/websites take the time to prepare a decent email for their subscribers. If it ‘s boring and look like a robot sent it to me, it goes straight to my trash folder.

  5. E-mail is out of control on many fronts. There are newsletters, autoreminders, spam and human generated e-mail. The easiest one to tackle is those we generate each day.

    Most of us are tired of blindly sent marketing e-mails for products we’re not looking to buy. If you are in that business, keep the e-mail short and to the point with minimal graphics and links. Otherwise its headed for the trashbin, and eventually you may find that contact off your list.

  6. Please is there any tool that would inform you on the number of people that opened the mail you sent? Great post Susan, I really gained a lot

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