It was a dark and stormy afternoon as the publicist tapped away at his/her keyboard producing what was surely the finest example of the world’s worst marketing email. How unfortunate that the publicist didn’t know how really, truly, astoundingly, resoundingly bad the email was as it zipped across cyberspace to email boxes where it would be heartlessly ignored, deleted or sent to the purgatory of spam.
There ought to be a Bulwer-Lytton worst writing contest for misguided marketing emails. Reading them would help you know what your creative marketing shouldn’t look like. In lieu of such a handy archive, here are some dandy pointers about how to avoid writing the worst marketing email in the world.
First, avoid generic statements in the subject line. Hannah Fleishman of Blogspot.com says the subject line should, in brief, invite the recipient to enjoy a clearly identified benefit about a specific product or experience. Skip all the exclamation points and the vague subject lines such as “Hurry! 50% Off Now!”
The next opening gaffe is to send your email as a “do not reply” message even if a call to action is embedded in the text. Fleishman notes that marketers shouldn’t make recipients feel like they are in a one-way conversation. Encouraging a response is a basic interactive marketing strategy.
Aim for simple yet sophisticated design. Fleishman says that aside from avoiding clichéd tools, such as WordArt, you shouldn’t use complicated images that slow downloads. Free design tools can make the work easier.
Also, Fleishman emphasizes, don’t select overused visuals, including free clip art and stock photos. It will make your email feel generic.
One last word about images: Many email recipients choose to receive their messages in plain text, which doesn’t support art. So make sure that your copy sufficiently describes what you are promoting.
If you are going to use the recipient’s name on an image or in the opening greeting, make sure that this dynamic content is appearing correctly, Fleishman says. Check to be sure that your email service provider has the ability to change the name in the greeting to correctly correlate with recipient addresses.
Here’s another point about personalization from John McTigue at Kuno Creative: Use good market research. Make sure your email is relevant to recipients. There’s nothing quite so appealing to someone 30 years old as receiving an offer to purchase cemetery space.
Content should be clear and genuine. Think friendly letter; don’t use “valued customer” talk. Furthermore, Fleishman stresses sticking to a single, valuable point. For example, if you are a florist offering a special on roses, don’t piggyback information about a discount on carnations.
Also, remember what your mother taught you about tidy writing. Nothing can muddy an email like poor spelling and grammar. As McTigue of Kuno Creative notes, once people see mistakes its “end of attention span.”
Didn’t your mother teach you anything? As any savvy marketer knows, you don’t dangle an offer in front of recipients without giving them a way to accept it. That’s like asking someone if they want a treat and then passing around an empty plate. So embed a response link in the copy or provide an obvious button. It’s the simplest interactive marketing strategy.
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Alicia R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.