I’ve been a Citibank customer for years since 2008. And, I began receiving their promotional emails since then like these ones:
I rarely opened them. I opened one yesterday, which “inspired” me to write this post. :’) I’ve been doing email marketing (eDM) since 2006; I have to say, Citibank Singapore’s eDM campaigns were poorly developed. It’s a bit surprising to me as Citibank has made some positive digital efforts during recent years.
Here are the top 5 areas of mistakes companies make on email marketing from audience, content, design, SOP to timing I observed in the past.
1. Sending marketing emails in bulk to everyone in the list – AUDIENCE
This is the promotion email from Citibank I opened yesterday. It’s a promotion email for an offer of Triumph, an international women’s underwear brand. How on earth do you promote those to men customers? In the good faith of cultivating a good relationship between couples? I don’t think so.
Sending your email messages to all members of your eDM list is untargeted, ineffective, unwise, and dangerous. It’s not advertisements that people hate, but spams. Blasting the email to all gets your target audience the “spam” feeling regardless of how the emails were acquired.
Always segment your email list and create custom audiences.
2. Creating cold, not personalized or targeted email messages, adding little value – CONTENT
The above screen capture is exactly the email content itself, which looks very 1990s, far from modern email marketing practices.
Personalize yourself – the name of the sender. If sending all your emails from your company name like “Citibank Singapore”, it’s confusing. And, some users might start to ignore everything sent from this name if they don’t like some of emails from this sender. This is better if presented as a department name. Or, name it after your segmentation such as Citibank SG Lifestyle, or Citibank SG Retail.
If you want to go one step further, use the name of your social media manager (which I often recommend to clients; other team members are also good) so that they can even get connected later. E.g. “Estella Lim, XXX”.
Personalize the greetings. Living in a world everyone is surrounded by social media, your greetings should be social too and personalized. “Hello [FIRST NAME]” (better), or simply “Hello” is fine, followed by your email message. Make it conversational. Consumers don’t like reading corporate style messages nowadays.
Personalize the content of your email message. The least every company can do is to create more targeted email segments and create the content specifically for that audience segment. The best way is to utilize machine learning (A.I.) technology to empower the personalization process and deliver the exact desired value.
Last but not least, carefully craft the subject line; it’s not easy. But, it’s very important to get your recipients to open the emails. Check out the infographic from Unbounce.
Labeling with “ADV” is required by Spam Control Act, but it can easily get people associate it with spam. Use double opt-in to build your list. And, it decreases the open rate.
3. Design fails
The biggest design mistake some companies still make is not designing for mobile email clients. And, a busy design is not rare. By “busy”, I mean the email layout is scattered or crowded without a core focus and it often includes one too many call-to-actions (CTA). Trust me, ONE CTA is the best option.
Including text and text links could give a boost to your open email campaign click rate. Don’t just use images, which many companies do.
Don’t develop very long emails; keep it short and simple. According to Boomerang, emails between 50 and 125 words had the best response rates at just above 50%:
4. Sending email campaigns without testing first
When you are ready to send your email campaigns, DON’T. Test it before you launch it. The least you should test is sending it to the top email service providers in your target markets such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, Yandex, and QQ Mail and 163 Mail for Chinese markets.
See if you can really receive the test emails from these email providers as sometimes you can expect bounce emails. If you can, get a real feeling of the design, content, and CTA. Compile a checklist for the test. Sometimes one word could land your emails in the junk box and waste all your campaign efforts.
Also experiment with different preheader text (the short summary text that follows the subject line), which can have a huge impact on eDM open rates.
Conduct heatmap analysis if you are using a new design developed from scratch. And, don’t forget to check the tracking and social sharing implementation of your email campaigns.
Life is about timing. —Carl Lewis
Carl is right. And, timing is also important for successful email campaigns. It takes time to test and identify the best time and day of the week to send the emails. Test by different segments and time zones. Frequency is also important. Too many or too few emails within a specific time period are not good.