10 Things That Can Destroy an Email Marketing Program

  |  December 27, 2012   |  Comments

Keep an eye out for consumers' top concerns that can force them off your list.

Your consumers are in complete control. They are empowered by their choices, with their devices, and have the ability to leave you with a click of a button. Here are 10 things that concern them and can force them off your list.

1. They do not remember who you are. This can easily happen if you do not send them their first message quickly or let a lot of time lapse between messages. If your branding is not clearly defined, it is going to be harder for the consumer to recognize you.

Rx: Send the first message quickly, stay in touch, and keep reminding the consumer about your value proposition.

2. You send them too many campaigns. When the consumer signed up you may have promised them a message a week, important updates, or emails tailored to their preferences. Your campaign frequency has now gone up significantly.

Rx: Cap your frequency to match your consumers' preferences, and if they do unsubscribe, offer to reduce the frequency to a minimum.

3. Your emails are just not interesting. If the consumer considers your campaigns to be boring they are going to lose attention quickly.

Rx: Spice it up a bit, even if you are talking about "ball bearings." Factor in some user-generated content or questions - this is what will keep the consumer engaged.

4. You do not stop selling. I once opted in to receive emails from a financial institution to learn more about their loan instruments. I even opened an account. The nurturing campaign turned to an aggressive selling campaign, forcing me to get off their list.

Rx: Mix up your messaging; the best thing might be to include useful informational content in every marketing campaign.

5. You are not relevant. Many times, we are so influenced by the merchandising or information calendar that we forget what the consumer's preferences are. We either forget that the consumer has already purchased a particular product or target her with things that she has no interest in.

Rx: While it would be ideal to segment the consumer based on her preferences, keep asking the consumer if you are missing the mark and factor in her comments into your marketing campaigns.

6. You expect your consumers to test your content. How many times have you received an email where the images are broken, the formatting is messed up, or worse yet, the landing page takes you to the land of nowhere?

Rx: Test your campaigns internally and then test them in a control group. Only then should you release them to the entire list.

7. It takes too long to load. If you do not have the bandwidth to scale, you could really turn the consumer off. The consumer might wait for a couple of seconds and just hit the delete key.

Rx: If you are having page load issues, consider deploying your campaigns in smaller segments.

8. You look horrible on mobile. Many of us look at mobile when we are mobile. It is an absolute horrible practice to take the same content and render it on mobile because it is very hard to read.

Rx: Design your message with mobile in mind and reduce the amount of content for mobile devices - don't just optimize it. Remember, you can segment and target those that tend to open on mobile devices.

9. You flaunt their data. You might think it is good personalization by displaying the consumer's account number or her home address within the content. Many consumers are alarmed that you know so much and that you are showing it off, so they resort to doing two things - reducing the amount of information they share with you or switching back to paper statements (I did that with a major credit card company).

Rx: Remind consumers that their data is protected and encrypt information to show them how secure it is.

10. You screw it up completely. I received an email from a very reputable electronics retailer telling me that my monitor was ready for pickup. It wasn't my monitor, because that email was intended for someone else. You may have heard about the airline that goofed up by mixing the names and frequent flier numbers; or the bank that sent out an email to their consumers with someone else's bank logo (it was the fault of their ESP).

Rx: Audit your partners to make sure they know what they are doing. Test before you send. If you do screw up, apologize and have a crisis plan.

Bad email image on home page via Shutterstock.

See these Email Marketing concepts in action during Sundeep's ClickZ Academy workshop: Email Marketing: Driving 51% Engagement at SES Chicago 2012.

This column was originally published on Oct. 9, 2012.


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Sundeep Kapur

Sundeep Kapur has been assisting organizations with their converged channel marketing strategies since 1990. From direct marketing to digital to converged, he is a passionate teacher who works with businesses across multiple industries, helping them to enable technology and services to brand, and personalize and speak to consumers more effectively.

He is an industry-recognized expert who has delivered keynotes, run panels, and delivered "relevant, inspirational, and outstanding" education for organizations around the world.

Sundeep is also an avid user of social media, having leveraged words, pictures, and video into a conversational digital book. His daily dose of best practices can be found at, where he has more than 1,200 articles on best practices.

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