Email Marketing | 12/14/2016
8 Reasons Your Email Campaigns Aren't Working
You just finished a series of blog posts on Social Security claiming strategies, and you’re pretty proud of it. It’s bursting with actionable information and refreshing insights. The CTAs are perfect.
Now you want to get more out of that content. What better way than an email campaign?
So you break the blog posts down into five emails and send the first one to your list. Not many people open it, and only one clicks the CTA.
You send the second one. Even fewer people open it and no one clicks.
Third email. Minimal opens. No clicks. People start unsubscribing from your list.
By the time you send the fifth email, only a couple people open it and more people have unsubscribed from your list than ever before.
What is going on here?
The answer to that question is not always obvious. The following is a list of common missteps advisors sometimes make with email campaigns. Each offense affects your campaign’s performance. These are the most significant problems. Each one can drag your open and click rates down and drive unsubscribe rates up.
1. The content is self-focused
Some of my favorite emails come from Helpscout. Check these out (click to enlarge):
Notice how only one out of the three emails has anything that even closely resembles a pitch for Help Scout? Their emails are customer-focused rather than company-focused.
I’ve seen too many advisor emails that just spout off a bunch of numbers about the state of the markets, and what that means for domestic stocks versus global stocks, and what the next quarter will probably look like, and how their firm is on the leading edge of research in this area. A lot of pre-fab content falls into this category and most of it is hard to read.
None of that information tells your clients what the state of the markets means for their specific portfolio and their actual plan.
Make sure your emails are talking about your prospects’ problems, not your own. Remember, they’re the hero, not you.
2. The audience isn’t segmented
If your campaign is about Social Security claiming strategies, then you should only send it to people who will care about it – namely, people in the 50 to 70 age range.
The young professional who is saving up to make a down payment on a house is going to see “Social Security claiming strategies” in the subject line of the first email and automatically delete it because it has no bearing on his life.
Same goes for pretty much anyone over 71. Yes, they care about Social Security, but their claiming strategy has already been locked in by then, so you’ll just irritate them if you tell them they’re doing it wrong. If you have a lot of young professionals and people over 71 on your list, that’s going to affect open and click rates.
Make sure you’re getting the most relevant message in front of the most relevant audience.
3. The subject line is misleading
I got an email once with the following subject line: “Emergency – Please Help.” I should have known better, but I opened it and it was just another email from a marketing company I had signed up to receive emails from. The “emergency” was that they hadn’t heard from me in a while and wanted to know if I still wanted to receive their emails.
I unsubscribed from their list immediately.
Most clickbait headlines and subject lines are the bane of marketing (along with those tiny opt-out buttons on sign-up forms that say, “No thanks, I don’t want to be rich,” or something similar). Yes, you should write engaging subject lines, but most people are tired of “Wait until you read this…” or “I couldn’t believe it either.”
If you send enough emails like this, it will impact people’s perception of your firm.
Make sure you use engaging subject lines and have the content to back them up.
4. You’re sending from email@example.com
This is a sure-fire way to get stopped by inbox filters. It’s not that your readers will mark your email as spam, it’s that their provider will direct your message straight to their spam folder. In many cases, your readers will never even see the email.
Make sure you’re sending your emails from an email address that can send and receive emails.
5. You’re sending the emails from an address nobody checks
People will reply to your emails. It is inevitable. No matter how many CTAs you throw in there about “Click here to contact us” or “Submit your questions here,” at least one person will reply directly to the email. That’s a problem if you’re sending them from an email no one checks, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sure, it would be nice if people used the contact form, but you have to be flexible here. If someone replies to your email, but no one checks that account, you could damage a potentially lucrative relationship.
Sending from a personal email has been proven time and time again to improve open and click rates.
Make sure you use the personal email of someone on your team. It could be your receptionist, it could be the intern, it could be you (preferably it would be whoever’s signature is at the end of the message), just send it from someone’s personal email.
6. You haven’t established a relationship with your readers
I was recently looking into finding a new webinar host as ours is not the most user friendly. I found one that looked interesting, so I signed up to receive their emails and see what they had to offer. I think I was on that list for two weeks before I jumped ship.
Emails from this guy (I think he was the president of the company) were so tactless and poorly constructed (not to mention riddled with spelling errors) that I ended up reading them only out of morbid fascination that anyone would be willing to send such an email.
Every message was about why my business was going to fail if I didn’t use his webinar services. Remember, I had zero previous relationship with this guy before signing up to receive his emails. He knew nothing about what kind of business I was from or how I would use his services. He just sent me the same email pitch campaign he sent everyone else.
It came off as desperate, tacky, and I quickly lost interest in working with this company.
If his system was set up to get to know his subscribers and then send them helpful tips with a soft sell every now and then, I would have continued reading longer. If you’re struggling with how to write these emails, just ask yourself if your emails are valuable to people who never become clients.
Make sure to build and maintain a relationship with your readers so when you’re ready to ask them to buy something, they trust you.
7. It lacks focus
If your weekly/monthly updates feature articles of interest, you’re probably including a few links to the different pieces. That’s great.
But email campaigns should have a tighter focus – one link maximum. Actually, you don’t have to include any. You can just encourage readers to reply to your email. But if you’re going to include a link, make sure it’s just one. You can include the link multiple times throughout the email, but every link should lead to the same place.
This issue goes back to the foundation of your campaign. What is its main purpose? If your main purpose is to get people to sign up for a Social Security review session, then include a link to that landing page and leave out the link to download an ebook or subscribe to weekly emails. The more options you give your readers, the less likely they are to do the thing you really want.
Make sure you only use one link per email (although you can insert that link multiple times).
8. You’re not using an email marketing system
If you’re BCC’ing your whole list, most email providers are blocking you. And once your email address has been blacklisted, it’s really hard to undo.
Also, if you’re BCC’ing, then you’re almost definitely not following the CAN-SPAM Act’s guidelines, which leaves you vulnerable to a hefty fine (up to $16,000 for each email sent).
Managing the unsubscribes alone should be enough of a headache to get a low-cost email system up and going. Drip is a great introduction to email marketing – and it’s free if you have fewer than 100 subscribers. Even if you have more than 100 subscribers, it’s still among the cheapest options out there.
Without an email marketing system, you’re missing out on analytics, mobile optimization, automation, easy list segmentation, and much more.
Make sure you’re using the right tools for your campaigns.
If you avoid these campaign mistakes, your next campaign should turn in better results. Do you have a great idea for an email campaign but you’re not sure how to set it up?
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