“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” – The Captain (Cool Hand Luke)
It pains me to say this, but a shocking amount of content marketers and demand generation specialists just don’t put a lot of effort into their automated email campaigns. I don’t know if it’s laziness, ignorance, or arrogance, but many of the emails I receive in my personal and work inboxes fall short on so many levels — and I’m not just talking about the occasional typo (although there are too many instances of grammatical errors and funky verbiage to mention).
No, the biggest and most frequent issues with these emails involve a fundamental ignorance of basic best practices — including unpredictable frequency, ineffective CTAs (or, worse yet, no CTAs at all), poor targeting and segmentation, excessively promotional language, and emails that aren’t optimized for mobile. Of course, there are a million mistakes marketers can make when ideating, writing, developing, executing, and optimizing their marketing automation campaigns, but I’d like to focus on the five I just mentioned for two reasons: 1) they’re all extremely common, and 2) they’re all extremely easy to fix.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Unpredictable Frequency Toys with Email Recipients’ Expectations
There’s no right or wrong timeline for delivering the emails within your automated campaign; your scheduling will vary based on your industry, the products and/or services you provide, the audience you are trying to reach, and your typical sales cycle.
That said, you do have a responsibility to meet your email recipients’ expectations. So when you tell them you’ll be sending additional messaging in 3 days, send it in 3 days. Do what you say you will when you say you will to keep your audience engaged. If you don’t, you risk losing the opportunity to deliver key messaging that could’ve pushed them further through the marketing funnel.
Slapping Together Routine CTAs Is Lazy and Unproductive
You need to declare your desired outcomes before you even begin drafting the emails in your automated campaign, and each email should have a clear and engaging call-to-action that compels the recipient to take the desired action. This could be downloading an eBook or case study, viewing an on-demand webinar, or scheduling a demo of your products and services. Whatever you hope to achieve, you have to clearly state the desired action in a way that gets your audience excited to participate.
Obviously, your CTA needs to be reflective of the content of the email in which it’s included. While you should have a concrete understanding of the action you want your audience to take, the copy of the CTA will be informed by the copy of the email. According to research from Unbounce, 90% of online users who read a headline will also read a CTA, which means your big-ticket copy sections need to be on point.
Once the content of the email is in place, you should use the following tips to craft your CTA:
- Use verbs to stress action
- Inspire urgency by using words like “Now” or “Today”
- If the offer you’re prompting is free, be sure to let your audience know
- Whenever possible, use “me” rather than “you” to personalize the CTA
Whatever you do, make sure the CTA is in a prominent position in your email, and don’t hesitate to use the same or similar CTAs at multiple locations (e.g., above the fold and in your conclusion). Check the analytics around clickthrough rates (CTRs) regularly, and be sure to optimize based on the data at your disposal.
Know Who You’re Emailing and Why
My inbox is constantly flooded with promotional material that doesn’t speak to me directly as a consumer (e.g., Gap notifies me of sales for women’s shoes – not very helpful given my gender). And when this happens more than once from the same sender, I immediately unsubscribe. Life is cluttered and complicated enough without receiving irrelevant emails from ill-informed senders. Instead, senders should be focusing on delivering targeted, mutually beneficial emails.
Hopefully, you’ve created accurate, actionable personas based on the objective and empirical data at your disposal to get a clear picture of your ideal target audience and avoid the sort of mishaps I just mentioned. (If not, stop reading and click here.) Further, you should be tracking user behavior and how your audience typically interacts with your content to segment them into distinctive buckets. This is absolutely critical to your email marketing success because it helps inform the messaging you want to deliver and adds a level of personalization that humanizes your brand and makes your company more relatable.
Lastly, segmentation isn’t a set-it-and-forget it exercise. You should be reviewing the data consistently to continue improving your targeting. Even if you’re already receiving amazing results, you can always improve your outcomes by narrowing down the messaging based on more distinct segmentation. This is just one of the many benefits of marketing automation, which makes it easy to segment leads based on interests, behaviors, and needs — and enables marketers to personalize their efforts.
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Chill with the Sales-Heavy Messaging
No one wants to be sold — at least not explicitly. If someone has opted-in to receive your email campaign, you’ve clearly piqued their interest, so you should speak to them in a way that fosters that interest rather than manipulates it. Come from a helpful place of friendship instead of pressuring them to make financial decisions on the spot. Tell them more about the features and benefits of your products and services to get them excited about what you have to offer.
The best approach is to focus on your potential clients’ needs rather than your offerings. If you can clearly express how your products and services benefit the consumer, then you’ve subtly established its inherent value without cramming your company’s greatness down your audience’s throat. This approach is especially critical in your subject lines, which is where a significant percentage of your prospects are going to be won or lost. When your messaging is subtle, concise, and persuasive, there’s no need for the hard sell.
It’s Time We All Got On Board with Mobile Optimization
It’s a little awkward that I even have to mention this, but if your email campaigns aren’t optimized for mobile, it’s time to remedy that problem. It’s been almost four years since Google unleashed Mobilegeddon on her loyal subjects, but somehow thousands of marketers have yet to adjust to this brave new world — which means they’re missing out on some serious benefits. Just look at these stats:
- Nearly 40% of consumers utilize mobile devices while in-store shopping (Deloitte).
- The majority of emails are opened on mobile rather than desktop (eMailmonday).
- More than 50% of consumers who have a poor mobile experience are less likely to engage with the sender (Wow Local Marketing).
As you can see, optimizing your campaigns’ mobile responsivity is paramount in meeting your goals and driving leads through the marketing funnel. Naturally, the Act-On platform allows users to preview how their emails will look both on desktop and mobile, as well as the various internet service providers available.
Marketing Automation Provides Simple Solutions to Common Problems
Like I said, these are common problems, but they’re also easy to fix. And taking the time to resolve these issues will increase your deliverability and engagement metrics, which should likewise increase your conversion rates and the quality of the leads you’re passing to sales.
Marketing automation platforms, like Act-on, enable you to streamline the process of optimizing your email campaigns and improve your overall lead nurturing efforts. You can easily set up various email campaigns and gain insights to customer behavior that will allow you to continuously improve the success of your email marketing efforts.