In this post, we’ll be looking at the top mistakes we’ve seen email marketers make in 2009, packed full of useful tips and unusual analogies.

1. Focusing on email marketing metrics

First off you should be looking at conversions; these are the best indications of engagement and are far better than opens and clicks. If you are running campaigns that don’t end in an absolute conversion (sales/form submission) then track how deep they go into your site, or something as simple as time on the site is a much better indicator than whether they opened.

Looking at results from individual email marketing campaigns is almost pointless, it’s like navigating by looking up when you are on a boat, there is no perspective. Every campaign should be benchmarked against previous campaigns in order to ascertain how the campaign is doing against the average. Ok so you got a 35% open and 10% click – not bad but how does it compare to the same time last year?

2. Treating everyone the same

Yes I know email marketing chaps and chappettes have been banging on about this since the dawn of email marketing but really it doesn’t have to be complicated! Just select the people who didn’t open you last email and send them the same email again but with a different subject line – go on try it.

Or just send a follow up email to those who opened but didn’t click through, or even those who clicked with some sort of “thank you for your interest campaign”, this requires zero integration just some design time – and if you get some templates built you can run these yourself, every email service provider has an WSYIWYG so why not use it?

Recipients are desperate to be treated differently, how would you feel if you got an email that’s message was “We noticed you didn’t open our last email and we really value you so would this content interest you? Still not interested what would you like to see?” – after I’d got myself off the floor I’d click and reply like there was no tomorrow.

3. Thinking deliverability is someone else’s problem

Yes your ESP’s can help advise you on what will get the ISP’s upset but at the end of the day you have all the power. If you create engaging innovative campaigns, deliverability will never be an issue.

Not sure how to do this? You should know why people are signing up to your email marketing list, I would imagine that you are providing some sort of incentive – ensure that you are delivering on that incentive and you will be a long way towards this goal. To really add value you need to be delivering content that they can’t get anywhere else, to do this you need buy in from the rest of the company you can’t be expected to do all the content yourself.

4. Not setting up a proper welcome program.

Imagine you are in a bar, an attractive man or women (depending on your preference) comes up to you, says that they think you are cute and that they would like to get in touch at a later date – could they have your email address. Scenario 1 you get an email the next morning saying how nice it was to meet you and that they hope you can meet up again soon, then a few days later they suggest a coffee. Scenario 2 you hear nothing for 2 weeks you then get a marriage proposal, along with an offer that if you agree to marriage within the next 48 hours you’ll get 10% extra love thrown in.

Which one would you respond to? This is exactly the same for your subscribers, they have trusted you with their personal data, and you then ignore them until you get around to doing another campaign.

By setting up an automated (we call it Automations) email campaign that goes out on signup then follows a predefined sequence, you have a sales team effectively working for you reminding your prospects why they agreed to hand over their email address to you. Again this doesn’t have to complicated, if you really can’t face doing a sequence of messages just an instant welcome message will pay massive dividends.

5. Treating email as DM with no stamps

You can’t follow the letter style or the brochure style, the closest to offline you can get with email,whilst doing it right is to think of it as a flyer. Email is not the destination, it is a way of getting people to go somewhere, watch out another analogy coming. If you were a package holiday company you wouldn’t focus on the planes – if you’ve been on a package holiday you‘ll see that they really don’t focus on the planes.

Emails should state the value of clicking through and make it as easy as possible to do so. Long emails that have too many images aren’t the way to a successful campaign, time spent reading your emails delivers almost no value. No one can convert or truly communicate with you unless they are on your site.

To finish

I really believe that a well run email marketing program has the potential to effect the bottom line of any business so if yours isn’t and you are reading this thinking “how am I going to do this?” or even “he is just plain wrong!” just get in touch, no pitching I promise.

All the best and enjoy the festive season (we’re starting tonight)…