Why Email Marketing Doesn’t Work as Well as It Could

Email Marketing Block PartyDo you remember the advice, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?” It isn’t always applicable. Email marketing may not be broken, but it desperately needs fixing. While it is the most effective, cost efficient tool available today, its performance is far below its potential. And, as long as we consider that acceptable, it will stay that way.

In 1997, when email marketing was new to a lot of companies, I created my first campaign for a client. The company had a great story and customers who actively followed it. We decided on the offer and sent a text email to 10,000 addresses. The process took a little time because we linked the database with Outlook to send the message.

We had two computers going; one to send the emails, the other to watch the website. It was a heady experience because orders started coming in before the send process ended. There was no comparison between our direct marketing campaigns that took weeks for responses and emails that provided instant gratification.

That first email had an advantage over today’s sophisticated campaigns. It was a new channel for the company and many customers. I’m sure that the newness factor contributed to some of the responses. It also had a lot of limitations. We couldn’t track deliverability, opens, or clicks. We could only send the email and watch orders come in.

Today’s technology makes everything easier.

And, that’s the problem. We are a click or two away from copy, graphics, and metrics. Our emails have become cut and paste duplications of previous successes. We’ve forgotten that a copy is never as successful as the original.

The tools for email marketing have made it so easy that we take it for granted. If sales sag a bit, we throw together a quick email. If inventory levels get too high, it’s time for another email. When anything happens out of the ordinary, we send an email. And, sometimes, we try to blast our way out of boredom by sending an email.

Enough, already! It’s time to give email marketing the respect it deserves. When someone subscribes to your program, they are inviting you to visit their inbox. This is the same place that friends and family gather to chat about their lives. It is hallowed space. If you treat it as anything less, you risk alienating your host or hostess (also known as your customer and protector from bankruptcy.)

Good guests get invited to return.

Being a welcome guest in someone’s inbox requires you to send the information he or she wants to receive. It is the right message at the right time. As simple as that sounds, it requires a lot of “roll up your sleeves” hard work and persistence.

Today is a good day to start. Look at your emails for the last few months. How many are cut and paste, “I need to get this out now” editions? How could you change and improve them so they meet your customers’ needs better? If you remember to think about your customers and put them first, your sales are guaranteed to follow. And you will continue to be invited into their inboxes. Let’s get this party started!

For more information on how to improve your email marketing, read:

Email Optimization: How Simple Changes Increase Open Rates, Click Through, Response, & Average Order Size

And, check out our email marketing playbooks:

Email Marketing Made Simple - A Guide to Profitability

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31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing

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