Email marketing is one of the most personal forms of digital marketing. In the wise words of Henry Ebarb, CEO and co-founder of Eightfold, “Getting access to someone’s contact information is about as close of a touch point as you can get to your customer.”
When users opt in, your organization interacts with them on a deeper level. Email makes it easier to gain trust, build loyalty and, most importantly, keep a steady flow of patient appointments.
Learn What NOT to Do in Email Marketing
Because it’s so important, how can you ensure you don’t make mistakes that break trust between your brand and your audience? Here are some of the top email marketing mess-ups to avoid this year.
Mistake #1: You Don’t Have a Targeted, Defined Audience
One of the first steps to any new email marketing campaign is to have a product or service to promote, as well as a defined audience for that product or service. Automation tools allow you to segment your subscriber list based on specific attributes, like age, gender and interests. Fleshed-out content, personalization and workflow will come later.
Once you know what product or service you’d like to promote, you can segment your list and define an audience to target. For example, to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, UCLA Health sent emails on a rolling basis to specific patient populations. They worked with population health to prioritize and invite the highest risk eligible patients first. Messages were segmented based on language preference (English vs. Spanish) as well as patient portal activation (active vs. inactive).
The campaign was a massive success; the unique open rate for the vaccine invitations was consistently above 60%.
Related Article: Turbocharge Your Marketing Strategy With Email Automation
Mistake #2: You Don’t Use Personalization or Automation Tools
Does your email marketing strategy begin and end with e-newsletters you send to a broad audience?
No single newsletter could possibly meet the needs of all subscribers. What’s the most efficient method of delivering the right content to different audiences? How will you know if you were successful? When you commit to marketing automation, the answers are at your fingertips.
Marketing automation uses tools and data within your CRM to deliver custom content based on your audience’s interests. Automation makes it possible to:
- Respond quickly after someone subscribes by sending a welcome email.
- Schedule content delivery so that you don’t have to manually coordinate every newsletter release.
- Personalize messages by including the user’s name in the greeting.
Mistake #3: Template Design Isn’t a Priority
Do you recreate your emails from scratch each time you send one? Or maybe you use a generic template that doesn’t match your brand style or stand out in any way?
One mistake that some email marketers make is not prioritizing custom template design. You can streamline your email marketing efforts by taking the time (and budget) to create well-designed, professional templates. Then, you can run A/B tests to see which design templates resonate best with audiences.
This year, ditch the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) template builders, which have limitations and restrictions. Custom template creation gives you unique content blocks that look crisp and clean, yet on-brand.
Related Article: 6 Ways to Review and Improve Your Automated Marketing Emails
Mistake #4: Your Emails Blend in With Your Competition
When it comes to email marketing, how bold are you?
When trying to stand out, simplicity rules. You have few words and little time to demonstrate that your email is worth a click. A thoughtfully-crafted subject line and snippet along with a good mobile experience can slow your subscriber’s roll so that they absorb every juicy detail.
- Start with a short, compelling subject line: Your subject line should create a sense of urgency without feeling spammy. And you have only 25 to 50 characters to do it. A busy subscriber will likely scan past “[Organization Name] Spring Newsletter.” But, “How to Feel Your Best This Spring From [Organization Name]” will likely pique their interest.
- Write an enticing snippet: This is the first line of text after the subject line. Leaving it blank could result in an error message. Instead, use this small window of opportunity to share an interesting fact, summarize your email or highlight a new offering. It’s just one line, so be concise.
- Use mobile-friendly design: Users are often opening your email on their phone, so keep things tight and clean. Succinct content and smart use of headers make for easy reading. And don’t go overboard with images. When they don’t display correctly, images become big white gaps that detract from your content.
Mistake #5: You Don’t Have Enough Content to Distribute Through Email
Once you’ve enticed users with your exceptional topic and easy-to-read format, they’ll expect regular emails from you. It can be challenging to keep developing fresh content — especially if you’re managing newsletters on multiple topics. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
How to feed the content beast:
- Get personal: Introduce the people behind the products and services you offer. Staff interviews are easy to pull together and make for compelling content. This information may already exist in staff bios or clinician profiles, and all you need to do is summarize.
- Repurpose existing blog and web content: UCLA Health has perfected this process. “We partner with our content editor to determine which pieces to repackage for email. We then write a headline, adjust copy, and add a call to action. The information goes into our template, and we resize images. Then we’re ready to send,” said Anne Machalinski, senior manager of marketing at UCLA Health.
- Riff off newsletter articles that performed well: Compile a “Top 10” list at the end of the year highlighting popular articles. And write articles with follow-ups.
Related Article: B2B Marketers: Make Your Email Newsletter a Thing
Mistake #6: You Set It and Forget It
Some newsletters will be more successful than others. Analytics provide valuable insights into what’s resonating with audiences and where there’s room for improvement. This information is available in real time, so check early and often — and be responsive to what the data shows you.
Jennifer Coffman, email marketing manager at Cleveland Clinic, told me, “If you’re not managing the campaigns and understanding the behaviors and overall data, it can affect your relationship with your audience and your company’s reputation. Don’t set and forget.”
Pull It All Together
In 2022, it’s time to rethink your email marketing initiatives. It’s time to ditch the common mistakes above and take your email marketing to the next level. Make this the year email marketing has the biggest impact for your business.
Ahava is the president and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005.
Ahava is passionate about content and prides herself on tackling the toughest content projects — from healthcare to higher education to hip-hop (seriously).