Saturday, August 29, 2009

Top 12 email marketing mistakes

As a marketer, I can't help but notice and critique emails, letters, and voice mails I get from people trying to introduce me to a product or service. Cold calling or buying lists and doing email marketing is sometimes a necessary evil when it comes to getting the word out about your product, especially if you are new. So I can definitely feel for their thankless plight. I've been there. But my tolerance runs short when they don't even take the time to pay attention to some basic rules that at least increase the chance that I will not immediately hit 'delete'.

Normally, when I get lousy email solicitations from people trying to promote a product or service, I delete before I get past the greeting. But I actually took five minutes and wrote this company back. Mainly because I wanted to help them. See, they were selling a very valuable product in my mind, SEO. Who doesn't want to improve their rankings in search engines? In this situation, someone actually was promoting something I am interested in but they blew it by violating some simple, basic rules. This is the actual email I sent back:

Hello xxxx,

Thank you for your email. I normally ignore solicitations like this but I just can't help but provide some (hopefully) helpful feedback. Search engine optimization is actually something I am interested in and need for my business. But your solicitation (the one chance you had to make a first impression) violates about a dozen basic rules of marketing:

  1. You don't even address me by my name.
  2. You address me as Dear Head of Business Development (which I'm not).
  3. After that generic greeting, I’m blasted with a HUGE run-on paragraph that is so daunting, it does anything but make me want to read it (I still haven't read it).
  4. There was no greeting - at least start with a friendly "Hi".
  5. Your name or contact info is lost in the sea of run-on sentences at the bottom.
  6. There is not one single link in your email that I can click on to get more info.
  7. There is no indication that you took any time to find out about my company at all.
  8. Your email was sent to our customer service address when my direct email is super easy to get on our site. When I am answering customer support requests, I am in "help" mode, not "evaluate new products" mode.
  9. I see sequential numbers scattered in your run-on paragraph that appear to have info after them - ever heard of bullets?
  10. You are in the SEO business and yet you spelled "optimization" wrong (and it wasn't just a European spelling - it was a typo)
  11. In the first sentence, you reference the online advertising mistakes I am probably making. First, we don't do any online advertising right now. Second, instead of telling me how stupid I am, why not tell me how smart I'd be if I chose your service to help me improve how I reach my customers?
  12. You don't even provide a website. At least not one that was easily placed in the beginning or end of the email. I did not read any of the mess in between.
Those are just the glaring ones I could think of and type out without losing any more than 8 minutes of my day. Do I need SEO? Badly. Will I use you to get it? Absolutely not. You lost me as a potential customer but perhaps this feedback will help you keep the next one.




The Rudy Family said...

You are so cool! I want to be just like you some day. Oh wait we have totally different professions. But I want to be like you, only in my profession. That is great feedback hope they read it!

Becky Smith said...

Being a word lover, editor, and "letter examiner: myself, I was impressed and delighted with your line up. Excellent, excellent points. Kudos to you not just for finding the problems in the email but also for sharing them with us.

Good stuff!

Mandy said...

You did that company a huge favor if someone pays attention. Somehow I doubt it - some of your points are very basic business knowledge which would indicate bigger issues at the company than lack of marketing knowledge.

Scott Hardigree | Indiemark said...

Great post. Here's an article that speaks about setting mutual expectations, another often overlooked key to email marketing success:


P.S. If you like to critique email you should check out

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