3 Bad Email Marketing Practices Keeping Readers from Clicking Through

blog author
Sam Swiech
Content Marketing Manager

Whether it’s the typical embarrassing relative who shows up during the holidays or the colleague whose jokes simply aren’t funny, we all deal with embarrassing situations that make us uncomfortable.

While strange relatives and cringe worthy co-workers are something we take in stride, you may have a bigger problem on your hands if your teeth clench every time the topic turns to your email marketing results in company meetings.

If you can relate, don’t worry.

Most email marketing campaigns end up missing the mark on achieving what they set out to do. It’s evident by the sheer number of terribly written and poorly designed emails we’ve programmed ourselves to ignore each time we scroll through our inbox.

Instead of sweeping the problem under the rug, it’s time to expose exactly what’s wrong with the typical marketing email and more importantly, how to reverse the negative trend and get people taking active interest again.

Let’s start by going back to the essentials:

The goal is not getting people to open your email. You need them to take action within it.

If you think a particular email was “more effective” than another simply because more people opened it, you’re focused on the wrong metric.

Email clicks are more important than opens for the simple reason that clicks prove your emails are actually compelling to readers.

Want an even better metric?

Start focusing on click to open rate. This tells you how well the three basic elements of a marketing email (subject line, content, and CTA/offer) are working together to inspire a next action.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what bad email habits are keeping your emails in the spam bin.

1. Fanatical subject lines that create expectations your content doesn’t deliver on

When you struggle to move the needle on your email campaigns, it’s easy to start doing whatever it takes to get that email opened. That usually means writing up headlines filled eye-catching “action words.”

If this is what you’re worried about getting right, you’ve already lost sight of the goal.

Packing your headlines with buzzwords only sets yourself up for failure if your offer isn’t actually what those buzzwords describe.

An e-guide or discount they’ve come across before isn’t “exclusive.” These kind of words can foster just as much disappointment as excitement when the offer doesn’t deliver on the headline’s promise.

The common sense cure to this problem was perfectly described by MailChimp with this simple line of advice:

“Your subject line should (drum roll please): Describe the subject of your email.”

Ground-breaking, I know, but it’s absolutely true.

Take a second to think about what makes you open, read, and take action on the mail that shows up in your inbox. The headline describes something you’re interested in, the copy articulates it further, and the offer is exactly what you expected.

2. Over-the-top design that overcomplicates your message

What’s the goal of email marketing again? Clicks. It’s not about wowing readers with complicated layouts and innovative design techniques. You’re delivering a message and an offer, not a modern art piece.

If you’re starting with design and filling in copy as an afterthought, you’ve got it backwards.

Email is a text-driven world. People open emails to learn more about what that subject line was all about. It’s a text-driven world. With that said, it’s important to only use graphics that support the copy. Anything else is clutter that keeps your reader further from understanding what the offer is.

Let’s look at an example of a company that’s doing email marketing right:

Uber

Uber delivers consistently amazing emails. The offers are simple, the copy is straightforward, and the design compliments both the message and the offer with an equally simple layout.

And surprise, this is a screenshot of the mobile version. It mirrors the desktop version almost exactly without cluttering up your screen with pictures of sleek cars or other elements that aren’t needed.

3. Giving too much away within the email itself

Not to be a broken record, but again, the best way to see why this is important is to remember that to goal is a click.

While it’s hard to give away too much the tiny subject line, emails are big open canvases that can tempt some marketers to deliver “the goods,” when it only needs to point to those goods somewhere else.

When it comes to crafting great email copy, it’s all about keeping the reader curious and intrigued. If you start telling a story, don’t finish it and slap a CTA on the bottom just in case they liked it.

Use text, language, storytelling, color, and design to draw the reader to that one spot they need to go next.

Well-written, well-designed, well-timed emails are what make people take interest from open to click through. Do this more than once, and you’ll start sticking out in inboxes as one of those companies that “do it right.”

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