Are you doing it wrong? Fix common email marketing mistakes

    By 2020, the number of email users is projected to grow to 254.7 million. According to Econsultancy, 73% of in-house marketers worldwide said that email marketing provided a strong ROI, the most of any marketing channel.

    But why do some email marketing campaigns work, and others go straight to trash? Here at Next Step, we use research-based strategies to remove friction from the decision-making process at every single stage, whether for websites, user interfaces or tweaking an email marketing campaign to generate more engagement.

    We’ve put together some do’s and don’ts for your next email marketing campaign.

  1. Don’t
    Blast away

    Segment your email list

    Instead of sending the same email to everyone on your massive list, ensure that your emails are relevant to the user.

    If you are B2B, consider segmenting your list based on:

    Job Title.

    Go beyond typical demographics- gender, age, geography, etc. Instead, ask yourself: What do these people do every day? What are their top priorities? What keeps them awake at night?

    One of our clients, a global software company, needed a unique approach for every person on their clients’ corporate ladder. By knowing the specific differences between the IT Pro and the CxO, we were able to cultivate messages that mattered to each segment.

    When you segment your list by Job Title, create an actual persona before you develop your email: give them a real name and a specific role. Take the time to flesh out what their biggest fears and goals are. The more you key into what matters to them, the more likely you’ll come across as a partner, not a pest.

  2. Spot in Buying Cycle.

    No matter how tuned in you are to your persona’s deepest goals, if you jump ahead, you’ll lose them. Each stage of the buying cycle requires a different approach. Segment your list according to the following stages:


    When 2,000 MailChimp users were sampled, the results were clear. Those who sent 11,000 segmented campaigns to almost 9 million recipients had a higher open rate than those who sent the same email to everyone, regardless of their interest.

    Here’s what happened to MailChimp’s users when they went from general blasts to segmented email campaigns:

    Increased opens by 14.31%

    Increased clicks by 100.95%

  3. Don’t
    Bore the user

    Think WIIFM? (What's In It For Me)

    People don’t need to read your email to judge it. 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. And 47% of email recipients will open your email only if they like the subject line. If they don’t like it? Delete.

    Getting instantly shuttled to the trash is slightly better than getting reported as spam, but it won’t do much for your ROI.

    How do you avoid either of those situations? Put yourself in your user’s electronic shoes. She’s battling an overflowing inbox, doing triage: Open. Delete. Save for later. Repeat. Use the subject line to show how your email brings her value and you might end up in the right bucket.

    For example, one of our clients specializes in providing all the back-office services essential for maintaining a business. Their expertise in early stage startups runs so deep that they created a rich, free resource. Each month they emailed a free chapter of a book that helped CEOs avoid common growing pains and pitfalls.

    But people weren’t opening the email. See what happened when we rewrote the subject lines.



    The Equity Headline, or the Unintended Effects of Regulation

    The hidden perils of stock compensation. Chapter 3 helps you craft a safer route.


    Unique Opens: 1868 (~3.5x increase)

    Total clicks: 112 (~2x increase)

  4. Don’t
    Ask any "quick questions"

    Be specific

    Between 2015 and 2016, Yesware data scientists analyzed over 100,000,000 emails and discovered that although “quick question” and “quick request” are among the top 10 subjects used, they are also the least effective.

    • 51% average open
    • 36.3% “quick question”
    • 25.6% “quick request”

    Unless you have a strong personal relationship, it’s easier for the reader to ignore your request. He’s already got enough on his plate.

    Don’t be coy. Let readers see that you have relevant, actionable information.

    Instead of irritating your reader with an unknown, let them immediately know why you’re in their inbox. According to Yesware, “next steps” had a higher response. (70.5% open rate, 49.6% reply rate)


    Try This:

    Subject: quick request

    Subject: Next Step: Scheduling your Discovery Meeting

  5. Don’t
    Use ‘No Reply’ email address

    Keep communication open

    When faced with a ‘no reply’ email address, you’re signaling that you’re not open for communication.

    We know from Behavioral Science that removing friction from any interaction is key to gaining trust and momentum. If they have a question or need to reach out, this kind of email address is introducing risk.

    You can easily solve this by using ‘contact@’ or ‘info@’. Keeping a variety of lines of communication open in each email sends the message that you're available and that your relationship is dynamic.

When it comes to client communication, email is still a highly effective strategy. Avoiding a few common mistakes will upgrade your next email marketing campaign.

  • Shirin Oreizy
    Shirin Oreizy
  • JoAnne Tobias
    JoAnne Tobias

Curious how Behavioral Science can guide your users?Contact us today.

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